Today the Holy Father appointed Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. The archbishop, one of the leading experts of Canon law in the United States will leave the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri to take up his new post in Rome near the end of August.
The appointment came on the same day that Pope Benedict named Cardinal Agostino Vallini, current prefect of the Supreme Tribunal, as the vicar general for the Diocese of Rome - the highest diocesan administrator. The position was previously held by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, whose resignation was accepted by Benedict XVI upon reaching the age of 75.
In a statement to the archdiocese, the archbishop admitted that he was deeply humbled at the new opportunity to serve the Church. “Although you will no longer pray for me as your archbishop, especially during the celebration of the Holy Mass, I ask your prayers for me, that I may faithfully and generously cooperate with God's grace in fulfilling my new responsibilities.”
“Leaving the service of the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis is most sad for me. It has been an honor and gift for me to serve the archdiocese over the past four years and five months. It had been my hope to serve here for a long time, but, as the bishop who called me to priestly ordination often remarked, ‘Man proposes, but God disposes.’ I trust that doing what our Holy Father has asked me to do will bring blessings to the Archdiocese of St. Louis and to me. St. Louis is a great archdiocese which will always have a treasured place in my heart.”
In his new position, Archbishop Burke will serve as the head of the Church’s supreme tribunal, which ensures that justice is correctly administered.
Also known as the Church’s Supreme Court, the Tribunal also oversees the administration of justice within the Church, examining administrative matters referred to it by the Congregations of the Roman Curia, as well as questions committed to it by the Holy Father.
Archbishop Burke is known as an accomplished Canon Lawyer. Born in 1948 in Wisconsin and ordained in 1975, the archbishop completed his graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Burke was later named Moderator of the Curia and Vice Chancellor of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Prior to being named Bishop of La Crosse in 1994, Burke served as Defender of the Bond of the Supreme Tribunal for five years - the first American to hold the position.
In 2004, Burke became the eighth archbishop of St. Louis and has been one of the strongest voices in the American Church, speaking boldly against pro-abortion politicians who profess the Faith and assert that they are able to receive Communion.
The process for naming a successor for Archbishop Burke will begin immediately. Until he is appointed, an archdiocesan administrator will govern the archdiocese.