Burke takes possession of Roman church

Cardinal Burke takes possession of his titular church in Rome

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Sealing his new status as a member of the clergy of Rome, U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke celebrated Mass at his titular church in Rome.

The cardinal, who is prefect of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican's supreme tribunal, formally took possession of the Church of St. Agatha of the Goths Feb. 5, the feast of the martyred saint.

About 150 people gathered for an evening Mass in the church, which was originally built in the fifth century. The church is connected to a convent that since the 1920s has housed the generalate of the Stigmatine Fathers. From 1836 to 1926, it was the site of the Irish College, the Irish national seminary in Rome.

Celebrating the feast day of a martyr, Cardinal Burke wore red vestments over his cardinal-red cassock.

In his homily, Cardinal Burke focused on the love of Christ, the fidelity of St. Agatha and a family of Greek martyrs honored in the little Rome church, and the faith of generations of Irish priests who ministered in the United States to families such as Cardinal Burke's.

By symbolically taking possession of the church, Cardinal Burke formalized his status as what he termed "a 'Roman priest' with his own church." He prayed that he would "always be able to fulfill with complete fidelity and generosity the office of assisting the Holy Father in his pastoral charity toward the universal church in the city and in the world."

The cardinal's titular church originally was build by northern European Goths, "who were adherents to the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ," Cardinal Burke said in his homily. The church was consecrated "for true worship" by Pope Gregory the Great around the year 590.

Cardinal Burke said St. Gregory's attention to caring for the little church and the faithful who worshipped there is an example of the pastoral charity the pope is called to exercise over the whole church with "the very near and strong support" of the cardinals.

Just as at the time of the Arians, the cardinal said, "today, also, confusion and error, sown by Satan in the world, abound, which threaten the life of the church and of the individual members of the church. We must pray that the holiness of the church, the body of Christ, may always resist Satan and his wiles."


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