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 CNS Story:

BURKE-TRIBUNAL Jun-27-2008 (510 words) With photo. xxxi

Pope appoints U.S. Archbishop Burke to head Vatican's highest court

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has appointed U.S. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis to head the Vatican's highest court.

The Wisconsin native replaces Italian Cardinal Agostino Vallini who was appointed by the pope to replace Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who is retiring as papal vicar for Rome.

The pope made the announcements June 27, three days before the archbishop's 60th birthday.

As prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, Archbishop Burke will hear appeals of decisions issued by lower church courts.

A canon lawyer, the archbishop worked for the court during 1989-94 and was named a member of the body in July 2006. He also served on the Roman Rota, the church's central appeals court, before being named bishop of La Crosse, Wis., in 1994.

Archbishop Burke sparked debate within the U.S. church during the run-up to the 2004 presidential election.

He was the first member of the hierarchy to weigh in on the election-year controversy over withholding Communion from politicians whose votes contradict church teaching on fundamental moral issues.

After he was installed as archbishop of St. Louis in 2004, he said if Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry were to present himself for Communion while campaigning in St. Louis he would give Kerry a blessing but not Communion.

According to Pope John Paul II's 1988 apostolic constitution, "Pastor Bonus," the Apostolic Signature functions as the Vatican's supreme court and is charged with ensuring justice is administered correctly in all tribunals and by all offices of the Roman Curia.

Many of the cases handled by the court are appeals to sentences of the Roman Rota dealing with marriage annulments.

The Apostolic Signature also promotes and approves the establishment of interdiocesan tribunals around the world.

A native of Richland Center in the Diocese of La Crosse, Raymond Leo Burke was born June 30, 1948.

Following college and theological studies at Wisconsin's Holy Cross Seminary, The Catholic University of America in Washington and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he was ordained a priest June 29, 1975, by Pope Paul VI at St. Peter's Basilica.

He returned to the Gregorian University from 1980 to 1984 to study canon law. He taught at the school as a visiting professor of canon law from 1984 to 1994 when he was appointed to head the La Crosse Diocese.

Pope John Paul appointed him defender of the bond for the Apostolic Signature in 1989.

After serving La Crosse for eight years, he was appointed archbishop of St. Louis in 2003.

As head of the Vatican's highest court, Archbishop Burke replaces Cardinal Vallini who had been prefect since 2004.

The 68-year-old cardinal was named papal vicar of Rome when Cardinal Ruini retired at the age of 77 after serving the diocese since 1991.

The papal vicar governs the diocese in the name of the pope. He also serves as grand chancellor of Rome's Pontifical Lateran University and archpriest of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral church of the Rome Diocese.

END


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