Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

Raymond Leo Cardinal BurkePrefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
Rome, Italy

Information from 2010 Consistory of Cardinals

One of the world’s foremost authorities on Roman Catholic canon law, Raymond Cardinal Burke leads with an unwavering passion for the integrity of Catholic doctrine embodied in the words of Jesus Christ.

Born in June 1948 in Richland Center, Wis., Cardinal Burke’s path to the priesthood took him to Rome, where he was ordained by Pope Paul VI on June 29, 1975. One of his first assignments was teaching religion at Aquinas High School in La Crosse, Wis. His call to serve God has been expressed through a scholarly devotion to faith. He studied canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and later became the first American to hold the position of Defender of the Bond of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the church’s highest court. He now serves as a member of the College of Judges of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, of the Congregation for the Clergy, and of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. He was appointed Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, on June 27, 2008.

“My greatest joy is to teach the faith and celebrate the Sacraments for the flock which God has entrusted to my pastoral care. Having been called by Christ to the priesthood, I am ever more humbled by the reality of the priestly life and ministry. At the same time, I am filled with confidence, because the ministry belongs to Christ Whom I, through no merit of mine, have the privilege to serve.”

—Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

An official photo of Cardinal Burke and other resources are available for download in the Archdiocese of St. Louis Press Kit upon agreeing to the terms for proper usage

Coat of Arms / Crest

Cardinal Burke's Coat of Arms

The shield of the coat of arms is that of Cardinal Burke’s ancestors, the De Burgo or De Burgh family, Normans who settled in Ireland in the twelfth century. In Ireland the family name eventually became Bourke or Burke.

According to legend, King Richard the Lionhearted gave the arms to a De Burgo ancestor in recognition of his bravery while fighting the Saracens during the Crusades. The red cross, in fact, was the characteristic emblem of the Crusaders as they went forth to defend the Holy Land.

In the language of heraldry the coat of arms is described: “Or, a gross gules, in the dexter canton a lion rampant sable.” Or or gold is the color of the field of the arms and signifies generosity. The gross gules or red cross is a sign of

fortitude and refers to the cross of Christ from which alone comes salvation. The rampant lion in the dexter canton or right quarter of the shield symbolizes courage, while its sable or black color denotes constancy.

The crest of the arms, the Roman hat (galero) with fifteen tassels on each side, red in color (symbolic of shedding one’s blood for the faith), and the Latin processional cross, are the distinctive heraldic emblem of a cardinal in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church.

The motto is proper to Cardinal Burke and is taken from a favorite invocation which is found in a small volume containing the Gospels and Psalms, together with an appendix of prayers, given by Pope Paul VI to the 359 deacons whom he ordained to the priesthood on June 29 of the Holy Year 1975, among whom was Cardinal Burke. The invocation is: “O bone Jesu, fac ut sim sacerdos secundum Cor Tuum.” (“O good Jesus, make me a priest after Your own Heart.”) Contained in the Raccolta, the invocation refers to a text from the Prophet Jeremiah in which the Lord, through the Prophet, promises: “I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart, who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.” (Jer. 3:15)


  • Born: June 30, 1948, Richland Center, WI.
  • Parish of Origin: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Richland Center, WI (1948-1958), Saint Joseph Church, Stratford, WI (1958-).
  • Priesthood Ordination: June 29, 1975, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, by Pope Paul VI.
  • Episcopal Ordination: January 6, 1995, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, by the Venerable Pope John
    Paul II.
  • Installed as eighth bishop of La Crosse at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse, WI, by Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, February 22, 1995.
  • Installed as eighth archbishop of St. Louis at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, St. Louis, by the Rev. Msgr. Leopoldo Girelli, consigliere of the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States, January 26, 2004.
  • Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Burke Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, June 27, 2008.


  • Doctorate in Canon Law (JCD) with specialization in jurisprudence, Pontifical Gregorian University,
    Rome, Italy, 1984.
  • Diploma in Latin Letters, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, 1983.
  • Licentiate in Canon Law (JCL), Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, 1982
  • Master of Arts in Theology, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, 1975.
  • Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB), Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, 1974.
  • Master of Arts in Philosophy, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 1971.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 1970.
  • High School Diploma, Holy Cross Seminary, La Crosse, WI, 1966.

Administrative Experience

  • Member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, July 2010-present
  • Member of the Advisory Council of Magdalen College, May 2010-present
  • Ecclesiastical Advisor for Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, a division of The
    Cardinal Newman Society in Support of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, February 2010-present
  • Member of the Congregation for Bishops, October 2009-present
  • Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, 2008-present
  • Ecclesiastical Advisor for Wee Believers, Inc., May, 2009-present
  • Member of the Congregation for the Clergy and Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, 2008-present
  • Apostolic visitor for Seminaries in the United States, 2005-2006.
  • Archbishop of Saint Louis, 2003-2008.
  • Spiritual director of the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Association, 2002-2008.
  • Spiritual advisor of Eternal Life, Bardstown, KY, 2002-present.
  • International director of the Marian Catechist Apostolate, 2000-present.
  • Episcopal moderator of the United States Association of Consecrated Virgins, 1998-2008.
  • Member of the Commission on Religious Life and Mission, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2001-2003.
  • President of the Board of Directors, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 1996-2001
  • Member of the Subcommittee for the Application of Ex Corde Ecclesiae in the United States, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1998-1999.
  • Member of the Canonical Affairs Committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1997-1999.
  • Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, 1995-2003.
  • Board of Directors, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 1995-2001.
  • Prelate of Honor of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, 1993.
  • Defender of the Bond of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (Roman Curia) by the Venerable Pope John Paul II, 1989; nomination published 1989.
  • Adjunct Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of La Crosse, 1985.
  • Moderator of the Curia and Vice-Chancellor of the Diocese of La Crosse, 1984.
  • Consultant to the Congregation of the Clergy, 2003-2008.
  • Member of the Board of Trustees for Catholic University of America, 2006-2008.
  • Member of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee, 2006-2008.
  • Judge of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, 2006-present.
  • President, Board of Directors, Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, WI, 2001-present.

Pastoral Experience

  • Associate Rector, Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman, La Crosse, WI, 1975-1980.

Teaching Experience

  • Instructor of Religion, Aquinas High School, La Crosse, WI, 1977-1980.
  • Visiting Professor of Canonical Jurisprudence, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, 1985-1994.

Professional Associations

  • Canon Law Society of America, 1984-present.
  • Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1984-present.
  • Canadian Canon Law Society, 1984-present.
  • Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand, 1984-present.
  • Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, 1984-present.


  • Knight Commander with Star of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, March 12, 1997.
  • Role of Law Award of the Canon Law Society of America, October 4, 2000.
  • Doctorate Honoris Causa, Ave Maria University, May 7, 2005.
  • Doctorate Honoris Causa, Christendom College, September 2007.

Research and Published Writings


  • "The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin," Periodica, Vol. 96 (2007), 3-58.
  • "The Natural Moral Law: Foundation of Legal Realism," Die fragile Demokratic – The Fragility of Democracy, Berlin: Dunker and Hamboldt, 2007, 29-45.
  • "Prophecy for Justice," America Magazine June 21, 2004; Vol. 190, No. 20.
  • Commentary on the General Directory for Catechesis. Bardstown: Eternal Life, 2002.
  • Rechristianize America: Become a Marian Catechist. Bardstown: Eternal Life, 2002.
  • "Response: Role of Law Award," Proceedings of the Sixty-second Annual Convention, Canon Law Society of America, October 2-5, 2000, pp. 495-500.
  • "The Bishop as Shepherd," Lay Witness, 20 (1999), No. 8, 54-55. (Reprinted as "Tending God's Flock: The Bishop as Shepherd," in Servants of the Gospel: Essays by American Bishops on Their Role as Shepherds of the Church, ed. Leon J. Surprenant, Jr. Steubenville: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2000, pp. 65-71.)
  • "‘Thou Hast Given Him Dominion:' God's Plan for Man Within Creation," Be (July-August, 2001), 8-10.
  • "The Church and the Current Crisis in Rural America: A Time to Act," Catholic Rural Life, 41 (1999), No. 2, 4-7.
  • "A Crisis in Rural America," America, 181 (1999), No. 13, 8-11.
  • "Agricultural Ethic from the Perspective of the Christian Faith," Earth Ethics, 9 (1998), Nos. 3 & 4, 10-13.
  • "The Farm Crisis: What Does the Church Propose?" Origins, 27 (1997), 309-311.
  • "La confessio iudicialis e le dichiarazioni giudiziali delle parti." In I mezzi di prova nelle cause matrimoniali secondo la giurisprudenza rotale. Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995, pp. 15-30.
  • "Abogados, uniones matrimoniales irregulares y causas de nulidad matrimonial: Texto y comentario de una respuesta del Tribunal Supremo de la Signatura Apostolica." Revista Española de Derecho Canonico, 51 (1994), 639-645.
  • "The application of Canon 1095 and sacramental-pastoral activity concerning marriage." In Ius in vita et missione Ecclesiae: Acta Symposii Internationalis Iuris Canonici occurrente X Anniversario promulgationis Codicis Iuris Canonici diebus 19-24 aprilis 1993 in Civitate Vaticana celebrata. Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994, pp. 1095-1102.
  • "Doubt Concerning the Admission of Advocates Living in an Irregular Union to Patronise Marriage Cases in Diocesan Tribunals: Commentary." Forum 5 (1994), 49-55.
  • "The Distinction of Personnel in Hierarchically-Related Tribunals." Studia canonica 28 (1994), 85-98.
  • "Acta Tribunalium S. Sedis: Commentarium de responso in casu particulari de inidoneitate advocatorum qui in unione irregulari vivunt ad patrocinium in causis nullitatis matrimonii exercendum." Periodica de re canonica 82 (1993), 699-708.
  • "I divorziati risposati in un recente documento della Chiesa in Francia." Quaderni di diritto ecclesiale, 6 (1993), 261-279.
  • "Presentation." In The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches: A Study and Interpretation (Essays in Honour of Joseph Cardinal Parecattil), eds. Jose Chiramel and Kuriakose Bharanikulangara. Alwaye, India: St. Thomas Academy for Research, 1992, pp. 1-10.
  • "Il processo di dispensa dal matrimonio rato e non consumato: la grazia pontificia e la sua natura." In I procedimenti speciali nel diritto canonico. Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1992, pp. 135-144.
  • "La procedura amministrativa per la dichiarazione di nullità del matrimonio." In I procedimenti speciali nel diritto canonico. Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1992, pp. 93-105.
  • "Grave difetto di discrezione di giudizio: fonte di nullità del consenso matrimoniale." Ius Canonicum, 31 (1991), 139-154. Also in: Incapacidad consensual para las obligaciones matrimoniales, ed. Jose A. Fuentes. Pamplona: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, S.A., 1991, pp. 135-154.
  • "The Psychology of the Christian Vocation: Interpretative Key of Canon 1095." In Iustus Iudex: Festgabe für Paul Wesemann zum 75 Geburtstag von Seinen Freunden und Schülern, eds. Klaus Lüdicke, Heinrich Mussinghoff and Hugo Schwendenwein. Essen: Ludgerus-Verlag, 1990, pp. 199-213.
  • "Vatican Council II and Matrimonial Law: The Perspective of Canon 1095." In Vatican II: Assessment and Perspectives Twenty-Five Years After (1962-1987), Vol. 2. New York: Paulist Press, 1989, pp. 217-230.
  • "Canon 1095: Canonical Doctrine and Jurisprudence, Part I, Canon 1095, 1° and 2°." In Proceedings of the Forty-Eighth Annual Convention, 13-16 Oct. 1986, Washington, D.C.: Canon Law Society of America, 1987, pp. 94-107.
  • "Canon 1095, 1° and 2°." In Incapacity for Marriage: Jurisprudence and Interpretation, Acts of the Third Gregorian Colloquium. Rome: Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, Gregorian Colloquium, 1987, pp. 79-155.
  • "Lack of Discretion of Judgment: Canonical Doctrine and Legislation." The Jurist, 45 (1985), 171-209.
  • "Defectus discretionis iudicii propter schizophreniam: doctrina et recens iurisprudentia rotalis." Periodica de re morali, canonica, liturgica, 73 (1984), 555-570.
  • Lack of Discretion of Judgment Because of Schizophrenia, Analecta Gregoriana, No. 238. Roma: Editrice Pontificia University, Gregoriana, 1986.

Principal Pastoral Letters:

  • On the Memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, June 21, 2005
  • On the Reorganization of the Archdiocesan Curia, June 4, 2005
  • On the Pastoral Reorganization of the South City Deanery, Feb. 25, 2005
  • On the Pastoral Reorganization of the Northeast County Deanery, Feb. 11, 2005
  • On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good, Oct. 1, 2004
  • On the Dignity of Human Life and Civic Responsibility, Nov. 23, 2003
  • On the Christian Burial of the Dead, Nov. 2, 2000
  • On the Celebration of Mass for Special Occasions or Special Gatherings or Associations of the Faithful, Especially on Saturdays and Sundays, June 7, 1997
  • On the Preparation of the Jubilee Year 2000, Dec. 1, 1996