USCCB News Release
June 30, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bishops Praise Archbishop Burke's Appointment To Church's Highest Court
WASHINGTON---Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), praised the recent appointment of Archbishop Raymond L. Burke by Pope Benedict XVI as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, a court that serves as the highest tribunal of appeal of the Catholic Church. Cardinal George assured Archbishop Burke of the prayers and best wishes of his brother bishops.
"The nomination of Archbishop Burke by Pope Benedict XVI to this important position assures that the Church’s constant effort to ensure the correct administration of justice will be served with the untiring dedication and great expertise for which Archbishop Burke is so well known," said Cardinal George.
"As one of the Church’s foremost authorities on Canon Law, Archbishop Burke’s background and prior experience with tribunals of the Holy See, both the Apostolic Signatura and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, make him an ideal selection for this position. It is a great honor for all of us to have Archbishop Burke assume these new duties," he added.
Archbishop Burke was born on June 30, 1948 in Richland Center, Wisconsin. He was ordained in Rome by Pope Paul VI on June 29, 1975. He studied Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. In 1989, he became the first American to hold the position Defender of the Bond of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, He has served as a member of the College of Judges of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and worked for the Signatura from 1989-94. Prior to his installation in 2004 as archbishop of St. Louis, Archbishop Burke served as a canon lawyer for the Roman Rota, the Catholic Church’s central appellate court.
Archbishop Burke will replace Italy’s Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who has been named the new papal vicar for Rome.The history of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura reaches back to the fourteenth century. Since that time, the tribunal has fulfilled various functions, including at one point the hearing of both ecclesiastical and civil matters. It was reconstituted as the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in 1909 by Pius X. The Apostolic Signatura currently serves as the Church’s highest tribunal with regard to procedural and administrative matters. Included among the competencies enjoyed by the Apostolic Signatura are: the adjudication of recourse against decisions of other offices of the Roman Curia, hearing other administrative matters referred to it by the Roman Pontiff or the Holy See, and vigilance over the administration of justice in tribunals of the Catholic Church throughout the world.