The St. Louis Post-Dispatch printed an article on Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former Archbishop of St. Louis, and St. Louis’ gift to the wider Church. The Post-Dispatch focused on the fact that Burke represents a church that is becoming more and more narrowly conservative and working to impose that bias on national politics:

When some American Catholics worry that the hierarchy is tilting toward the Republican Party, or taking the church back to the 19th century (or earlier), they often point to Cardinal Raymond Burke as Exhibit A.

What this means in practical terms is that Burke exemplifies the obsessive drive of the Catholic church to, first, dictate national sexual mores, and, as an afterthought, to tamp down the efforts of Catholic religious activists to develop the social teachings of Jesus into a rule for life. In Burke’s case it also reflects a desire to restore the lavish patina of the aristocratic Catholic past and undo the liberalization of the Church during the mid-twentieth century:

Burke is also a leading advocate of a restoration of the church’s older rites and traditions, like the Latin Mass, which he argues were heedlessly cast aside in the liberal “euphoria” after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. But Burke has been celebrating so many old-style liturgies and donning the most ornate regalia – long trains of watered silk, velvet gloves and elaborate brocades – that several Vatican officials said he had been asked to “tone it down a bit.” Whether he will is another matter.

It it interesting that The re-emergence of this new old Catholic Church in the U.S. is occurring in tandem with the rise of what many observers consider an American oligarchy. There are a number of books and articles that detail our drift from democracy to oligarchy; Winner-Take-All Politics by Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker, Who Stole the American Dream by Hedrick Smith, or, Lewis Lapham’s excellent article in Salon, “Has America become an Oligarchy”. There’s lots more. Just google “oligarchy” and “America.”