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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pope Francis to Demote Raymond Burke, Controversial St. Louis Archbishop: Report

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 11:15 AM

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See also: LeRoy Valentine: Decades After First Alleged Child Sex Abuse, St. Louis Priest Removed

Burke's troubling strategies in handling of child abuse cases is no secret to St. Louis, where he served as Archbishop from 2004 to 2008.

A 2004 Riverfront Times investigation into Burke's time as bishop in La Salle, Wisconsin in the early 2000s revealed evidence that he covered up sexual abuse cases and used a counseling fund as a way of extorting silence from victims. RFT also discovered that Burke allowed several priests to remain clerics in good standing long after he'd seen proof that those priests repeatedly preyed on children.

"He violated the two fundamental promises bishops have made relentlessly for the last 25 years," says Clohessy. "They promised openness and transparency, and they promised to protect the flock first. "

Though the Burke's fall from grace will surely impact the Vatican, Clohessy believes that the shakeup likely doesn't reflect a change in Pope Francis' tactics on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

"He's shown this real courage on other very thorny issues, like church finance and church governance. He's making dramatic changes, and he's proven to be a terrific communicator and a brilliant man," he says. " But the pope has been in here for a year and a half, and he has yet to discipline, demote, or even denounce a single complicit church official."

Without a specific denunciation, Clohessy thinks most people will interpret Pope Francis' motivations as connected to theological differences or some other issue, not sex abuse.

But this is all supposition, so far. We asked Clohessy, isn't it possible that this is the beginning of Pope Francis' next phase in his vision for the Vatican? A Vatican that explicitly punishes those who protect abusive priests at the expense of the flock?

"My heart wants to believe that," says Clohessy. "My head tells me otherwise."

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at

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