Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Aquila call Catholic laity and clergy to be ‘faithful echoes’ of the Church

Faithful Echo campaign aimed to energize priests, laity at Oct. 31 event

Last week the Archdiocese of Denver served as a launch-pad for a movement to rally Catholic laity and clergy in rekindling their zeal for holiness and evangelization in response to the controversies and abuse crisis dominating media headlines about the Church.

“The Faithful Echo movement … is directed to drawing clergy and the lay faithful in ever closer unity to combat the darkness of the present confusion, error and division in the Church,” Cardinal Raymond Burke told more than 200 laity and priests attending the Faithful Echo Dinner Oct. 31 at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver. “[We] are all called to recognize the purity and beauty of the doctrine and discipline of the Church and to work together as living members of the mystical body of Christ, to safeguard and defend our Catholic faith.

“All of us … are called to be a faithful echo. A faithful witness of Our Lord in the world.”

Cardinal Burke is a member and prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest judicial authority of the Church. He keynoted the dinner, which followed a three-day priest conference attended by 80 clerics. The conference included talks by Cardinal Burke, by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by Father John Trigilio, president of the Confraternity of the Catholic Clergy, and by Curtis Martin, founder and CEO of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Cardinal Burke also addressed Denver’s seminarians. Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla for whom the saint gave her life, was a special guest of the dinner and conference.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila also addressed the guests, telling them that the Church today has the “same mission the apostles had in the early Church when they were commissioned to go out and make disciples of all nations…” (Photos by Brandon Young)

The events were co-sponsored by Catholic Action for Faith and Family, the Napa Institute, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and the Archdiocese of Denver.

In today’s climate of rampant relativism, it is critical for Catholics to faithfully carry out the Church’s mission, which is to give witness to the truth of Jesus Christ and the Gospels by word and action — to evangelize, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila said, addressing the dinner guests.

“We have the same mission the apostles had in the early Church when they were commissioned to go out and make disciples of all nations and to teach them all that the Lord has taught,” he said.

Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, served as emcee for the dinner.

“The response God always gives to a suffering Church is the holy people who are striving to be saints,” McKenna said in his opening comments, quoting a Denver seminarian whose remarks McKenna asserted capture the spirit of the Faithful Echo campaign. “The challenge is for [the] laity to become saints and [for the] clergy to become saints. With that we will overcome this crisis we’re experiencing today.”

McKenna said the seminarian, Deacon Christian Mast, was speaking to youths and young adults following the recent release of the independent review by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office of the Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo dioceses on clergy sex abuse going back to 1950.

Father Trigilio, who is also an author, EWTN personality and director of pastoral formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., affirmed those remarks.

“We want holy priests, we demand holy priests at the seminary, and we want holy faithful. Because that’s what our faith is about — the sanctification of souls,” he said. “And it’s a team effort [of] the mystical body of Christ.”
After last year’s grand jury report on clergy sex abuse going back 70 years in six Pennsylvania dioceses, Mount St. Mary’s expected a drop in seminary enrollment, Father Trigilio said. The opposite occurred as men of all ages enrolled.

“Lots of young, middle-aged, older men with zeal,” Father Trigilio said. “They were afraid that if they didn’t step up to the plate, who would take their place?

All of us … are called to be a faithful echo. A faithful witness of Our Lord in the world.”
– Cardinal Raymond Burke

“As I mentioned to the priests this week: The two things that are important for the priests are important for the faithful: You must have clarity of thought; know what the Church teaches and defend it. We also need sanctity of character.”

Cardinal Burke described the crisis in the Church today as one of “general confusion and error,” likening it to the fourth-century Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ.

“Without doubt the Church is presently experiencing one of the most serious crises she has ever known,” he said. “There is a strong perception that Rome herself is no longer secure and firm.”

To confront the gravity of the situation, on May 31 Cardinal Burke was among a group of cardinals and bishops to sign an eight-page “Declaration of Truths” reaffirming Church teachings in response to confusion that has occurred under the current pontiff.

“In the quite alarming situation of the Church, I’m frequently asked by both priests and the lay faithful who love the Church and the truths of our faith transmitted to us by Christ alive in the Church, What ought we be doing?” Cardinal Burke said. “My response is simple…pray with all your heart and give witness to the truths of the faith in the Church and in the world.

“With the help of Divine grace,” he added, “let us go forth, let us fight the good fight, let us stay the course, let us keep the faith.”

COMING UP: Banned books: Pushing back against the new ideology

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How would you know if you were being brainwashed? When something plainly false — contrary to common sense and right reason — is so constantly forced on you and you are not allowed to question it, it’s a good indication. This is the nature of ideology: imposing a position without truly establishing it or allowing it to be criticized. We have seen that something clearly opposed to the basics of scientific fact, such as the nature of sex as male and female, can be forced quickly upon American society through the influence of media and public education. And, perhaps not too surprisingly, even something as clear as 2+2=4 has been called into question by progressive educators, such as Dr. Rochelle Gutierrez, turning it into a sign of alleged oppression.  

In our time, dystopian novels have become reality. George Orwell best described the use of ideology in modern political regimes through doublethink, newspeak, and thoughtcrime. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the main character, Winston Smith, is coerced to accept that 2+2=5, showing his allegiance to ideology over reality. Orwell speaks of the way ideology gains power over the mind: “The Party is not interested in the overt act: the thought is all we care about. We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them.” This domination does not broker any opposition: “It is intolerable . . .  that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be.” If the truth can circulate freely, then ideology will fail.  

You might ask how the acceptance of ideology differs from accepting the mystery of faith, which requires our obedience to God. A key difference is that God’s revelation makes sense even while beyond reason. God does not shut down our thinking but wants us to ask questions and continue to come to know him and his creation throughout our lives. Faith cannot contradict reason because they both come from God, from his gifts of revelation and creation. You know you are facing ideology, however, when it refuses any discussion of contrary views. Catholics have been accused of hate for refusing to go along with the new ideology of human sexuality. This ideology claims to speak truly of the reality of human life, although it doesn’t add up, contradicting itself and the clear facts of science. The fight for the future focuses on speaking the truth. Without the ability to think, discuss, and read freely, it will be hard to respond to the ideological wave overwhelming us. 

Throughout the country, however, great books and humanities programs are being shut down for their emphasis on the Western tradition. Cornell West, an African American philosopher at Harvard, writing with Jeremy Tate, speaks of the spiritual tragedy of one American university closing down its classics department: “Yet today, one of America’s greatest Black institutions, Howard University, is diminishing the light of wisdom and truth that inspired [Frederick] Douglass, [Martin Luther] King and countless other freedom fighters. . . . Academia’s continual campaign to disregard or neglect the classics is a sign of spiritual decay, moral decline and a deep intellectual narrowness running amok in American culture.” For West and Tate, cancelling the Western canon shuts down the central conversation of the pursuit of wisdom that touches every culture.  

Canceling the pursuit of wisdom hits at the integrity of our culture itself, as Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, another dystopian novel, focused on saving books from the fire set on wiping them out, explains: “If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.” Books proved hostile in this all-too-real futuristic American society portrayed by Bradbury, undermining the state of contended distraction provided by an omnipresent virtual reality. The fight for truth necessarily entails the books we read and teach.  

In our current cancel culture, Catholics too are being silenced for speaking about reality. Amazon recently cancelled Ryan T. Anderson, who studied at Princeton and Notre Dame and now directs the Ethics and Public Policy Center, blocking the sale of its book on its platform for questioning transgender ideology. The book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement (Encounter Books, 2018), provides a well-researched and thought-out response to the movement overturning common sense and millennia of acquired wisdom. Even more than that, Anderson shows how we are experimenting on our children, subjecting them to practices of hormone therapy and surgery that have not been proven safe or effective. Anderson provides evidence of ideology at work, through its coercive attempt to force us to accept what contradicts clear scientific evidence: “At the heart of the transgender moment are radical ideas about the human person — in particular, that people are what they claim to be regardless of contrary evidence” (29).  

Anderson does not deny the need to help those who suffer from gender dysphoria, although the heart of the books focuses on whether or not we are willing to accept reality and to help others to do so. As Anderson explains, “determining reality is the heart of the matter, and here too we find contradictions … Is our gender biologically determined and immutable or self-created and changeable? … At the core of the ideology is the radical claim that feelings determine reality. From this idea come extreme demands for society to play along with subjective reality claims. Trans ideologues ignore contrary evidence and competing interests; they disparage alternative practices; and they aim to muffle skeptical voices and shut down disagreement. The movement has to keep patching and shoring up its beliefs, policing the faithful, coercing the heretics and punishing apostates, because as soon as its furious efforts flag for a moment or someone successfully stands up to it, the whole charade is exposed. That’s what happens when your dogmas are so contrary to obvious, basic, everyday truths” (47-48). Not only philosophers like Anderson, but many educators, doctors, scientists, and politicians have been cancelled for standing up to the blatant falsehoods of this ideology. 

Does 2+2=5? Is a man a man and a woman a woman? No matter the effect of hormones and surgeries, every cell in the body points to the biological reality of sex, along with a myriad of other physical and emotional traits. Shutting down study and debate does not get to the heart of the matter, the truth of reality and the way to help those who suffer. The ideology does not truly focus on tolerance of others or creating reasonable accommodations, as it seeks to impose itself and coerce us. The reinterpretation of Title IX manifests an “Orwellian fiat” by which sex discrimination, meant to protect women, now becomes a means to discriminate against them: “The Women’s Liberation Front highlights the strange transformation of Title IX into a means to deny privacy, safety, education opportunity, and equality to women” (190). Anderson’s book provides an essential overview of the goals of the transgender movement and how to respond to it from a philosophical and scientific perspective. We should not allow the book to be cancelled! 

The goal of this new ideology is not simply to accept and tolerate a particular position, but, as Orwell recognized, to change us. It constitutes an attempt to redefine what it means to be a human being and to change the way we think about reality. Anything standing in the way will be cancelled or even burned. The quick success of this movement, and other ideologies as well, should make us pause. Do we want our children to think freely and wisely or simply to conform to what is imposed on them without question?  

As Catholics, we are called to think in conformity with faith and reason, upholding the truth, even when inconvenient. We are called to continue to form our own minds and accept the reality of how God made us and how he calls us into relationship with him, as the true source of overcoming suffering and difficulty. If you are uninformed and unable to judge rightly and logically, you are more likely to become prey to the new ideology, especially as enforced by government control and big business. We need Catholic freedom fighters, those willing, with charity, to stop the burning of the great ideas and the cancelling of our own faith.  


Photo by Fred Kearney on Unsplash