A look at past St. Louis’s Catholic Church leaders

(KPLR) – In Wednesday’s Jacology, Charles Jaco looks at past St. Louis Catholic church leaders.

When North Korea purges someone, the message is pretty clear. Kim Jong Un removed his own uncle from office, and then executed him. One reason? The uncle didn’t applaud hard enough at one of UN’s speeches. In Cuba, a purge is usually accompanied by a trip to a re-education camp which is a euphemism for chopping sugar cane. At the Vatican, a purge is a good deal more discreet. Take a pair of former St. Louis church leaders, Cardinal Justin Rigali, and Cardinal Raymond Burke.

Pope Francis has lectured the church about spending too much time on abortion and gay marriage and not enough time on helping the poor. As part of that, the pope has announced that Rigali who headed the St. Louis archdiocese from 1994 to 2003, and burke who followed Rigali as archbishop of St. Louis from 2004 until 2008, have been removed from something called the congregation for bishops. That’s the body that selects bishops for church dioceses around the world, and in the U.S. The message was that both are too conservative for the new pope.

 Burke of course, famously fought same-sex marriage in St. Louis. He said he’d deny communion to pro-choice catholic politicians like Senator John Kerry and Senator Claire McCaskill. Rigali promoted one monsignor here to Bishop of Kansas City, where he was hit with sex abuse charges; Rigali then became Cardinal of Philadelphia, where he had to resign because of charges he covered-up for sexually abusive priests. The national catholic report describes Burke as, quote, “The consummate culture warrior, who believes the church’s problems are someone else’s fault”. The paper described Rigali as, quote “A man who has ruined everything he’s touched”. He left St. Louis a mess.

So here’s the question, are the parishioners of the St. Louis Archdiocese really that conservative? So conservative that they get a series of dogmatic leaders? So conservative that, parishioners wouldn’t tolerate a moderate, socially-conscious archbishop? Or did these men just end up in St. Louis? Either way, the message to St. Louis parishioners over the last twenty years from the Vatican has been, these are the kind of men you’re going to get.

I’m Charles Jaco, and that’s Jacology.

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Email: charles.jaco@tvstl.com

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