Reverend and Dear brothers in Christ, You have been very much in my prayers throughout the time since the beginning of the so-called Synodal Way. After the conclusion of the Fifth Synodal Assembly on March 11th last in Frankfurt/Main, I have been praying for you most especially, so that you remain faithful to the Apostolic Tradition, to the truths regarding faith and morals handed down to us by Christ in the Church, which we, as priests, are ordained to safeguard and promote. The faithful have never needed more than today priests who announce to them the truth, who bring them Christ, above all, in the Sacraments, and who guide and govern them in the way of Christ.
I can only imagine your profound sadness at the positions taken by the Assembly, including the great majority of the Bishops, which are directly opposed to what the Church has always and everywhere taught and practiced. I share your sadness and experience the temptation to discouragement, which you, no doubt, also experience. At times such as these, which priests have experienced at other times in the history of the Church, we must recall the promise which Our Lord, who never lies and is always faithful to His promises, has made to us, when, at His Ascension, He placed into our hands the Apostolic mission: “… and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28, 20). Taking to heart, once again, the mission and Our Lord’s promise, we must soldier on, we must be His faithful “fellow workers in the truth” (3 Jn 8).
At times such as these, when even those who are Bishops betray the Apostolic Tradition, faithful Bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and lay faithful will necessarily suffer greatly precisely because of their fidelity. As we begin Holy Week, the week of Our Lord’s Passion and Death, and anticipate the Easter Season, the time of His Resurrection and Ascension, let us take to heart His words to those who would be His disciples: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16, 24). During these holiest of days, Our Lord pours out from His glorious-pierced Heart the strong graces of His victory over sin and death to strengthen us to be good, faithful, and generous disciples. During Holy Week and the Easter Season, let us lift up to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, especially through the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the sufferings of His Mystical Body, the Church, which is passing through a time of pervasive confusion and error, with their fruits which are division, apostasy, and schism.
Let us always remember, especially when the suffering we endure seems too much to bear, that we are not alone, that Christ is alive in us, that divine grace – sanctifying and actual – is at work within us. Let us ever remember Our Lord’s words to His Virgin Mother and Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, with whom we stand mystically at the foot of the cross: “Woman, behold thy son… Behold thy mother” (Jn 19, 26-27). The Mother of God is the Mother of Divine Grace and is, in a special way, the Mother of Priests who, in her Divine Son, bring countless graces to many souls. Our Lord’s Virgin Mother is ever at our side, even as she lovingly instructs us: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2, 5).
One in heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we also ever enjoy the fellowship of all the saints who will never fail to assist us, if only we call upon their intercession. In dark moments, let us not forget the reality and exhortation divinely spoken to us in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12, 1-2).
In closing, I assure of my union with you and of my daily prayers for you. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we have been discouraged for a time before the Mystery of Iniquity, but now, with our eyes fixed on Our Risen Lord and His unchanging teaching, may our hearts be renewed in ardor by His grace (Lk 24, 32). I urge you to be close to Our Lord Who has chosen us to be His brothers in the Holy Priesthood and to be close to one another in pure and selfless love of the Church, His Mystical Body, and in the suffering offered for the sake of love of Him and of our brothers and sisters for whom we have been ordained as true shepherds. Please remember me in your prayers.
With deepest fatherly affection, I impart to you and to Our Lord’s flock in your priestly care my blessing. Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Rome Palm Sunday, 2 April 2023