Cardinal Raymond Burke, a senior American churchman in Rome who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Pope Francis’ push for reform, is roiling the waters yet again, this time arguing that the Catholic Church has become too “feminized.”
Burke, who was recently demoted from the Vatican’s highest court to a ceremonial philanthropic post, also pointed to the introduction of altar girls for why fewer men are joining the priesthood.
“Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural,” Burke said in an interview published Monday. “I think that this has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.
“It requires a certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of [a] priest, and most priests have their first deep experiences of the liturgy as altar boys,” the former archbishop of St. Louis told Matthew James Christoff, who heads a Catholic men’s ministry that called the New Emangelization Project.
“If we are not training young men as altar boys, giving them an experience of serving God in the liturgy, we should not be surprised that vocations have fallen dramatically,” Burke said.
The Catholic Church dropped its ban on girls assisting the priests during Mass in 1983, and today it is common to see more girls than boys helping on the altar. Only one US diocese, in Lincoln, Neb., still bars altar girls, though a number of individual parishes have barred them in hopes of encouraging more boys and men to consider the all-male priesthood.
In the interview, Burke also blamed gay clergy for the Church’s sexual abuse crisis, saying priests “who were feminized and confused about their own sexual identity” were the ones who molested children.