i-nrNZBTS-XLCardinal Raymond Burke, a senior American churchman in Rome who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Pope Francis’ push for reform, is roiling the waters yet again, this time arguing that the Catholic Church has become too “feminized.”

Burke, who was demoted from the Vatican’s highest court to a ceremonial philanthropic post, also pointed to the introduction of altar girls for why fewer men are joining the priesthood.

“Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural,” Burke said in an interview published Jan. 5. “I think that this has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.

“It requires a certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of (a) priest, and most priests have their first deep experiences of the liturgy as altar boys,” the former archbishop of St. Louis told Matthew James Christoff, who heads a Catholic men’s ministry called the New Emangelization Project.

“If we are not training young men as altar boys, giving them an experience of serving God in the liturgy, we should not be surprised that vocations have fallen dramatically,” Burke said.

Burke, 66, spoke to Christoff during a visit to La Crosse, Wis., where Burke served as bishop in the 1990s before being named archbishop of St. Louis. In 2008, then-Pope Benedict XVI called Burke to the Vatican to head the church’s top court and made him a cardinal.

That prestigious position lent weight to his increasingly sharp criticisms of Francis, who succeeded Benedict in March 2013.

In an unusual move, Francis effectively demoted Burke in November, shifting him from his job in the Roman Curia to a largely ceremonial post as patron of the Order of Malta, a global Catholic charitable organization based in Rome.

Burke said he recalled “young men telling me that they were, in a certain way, frightened by marriage because of the radicalizing and self-focused attitudes of women that were emerging at that time. These young men were concerned that entering a marriage would simply not work because of a constant and insistent demanding of rights for women.”

He said that “the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church” as well.

The focus on women’s issues, he said, plus “a complete collapse” of teaching the faith and “rampant liturgical experimentation,” led the church to become “very feminized.” That turned off men who “respond to rigor and precision and excellence,” Burke said.

“Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women,” he said. “The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved.”

Burke, a liturgical traditionalist as well as a doctrinal conservative who is renowned for wearing elaborate silk and lace vestments while celebrating Mass, also said that “men need to dress and act like men in a way that is respectful to themselves, to women and to children.” BT

By David Gibson, Religion News Service