Pope Francis denied that he removed Cardinal Burke as the leader of the Vatican’s highest court and appointed him to a ceremonial position because the cardinal raised concerns about the pope’s leadership.
He said Cardinal Burke expressed gratitude when offered to become chaplain of the Knights of Malta, a charity group.
“We needed a smart American who would know how to get around and I thought of him for that position. I suggested this to him long before the synod.… He thanked me in very good terms and accepted my offer. I even think he liked it because he is a man who gets around a lot. He does a lot of travelling and would surely be busy there. It is therefore not true that I removed him because of how he had behaved in the synod,” he told the Argentinian paper.
At another point during the interview, he revealed he is planning to visit three Latin American countries next year, but did not say which. He also clarified he plans to visit his home country in 2016 but not for the Eucharistic Congress in Tucumán to be held in July.
As for his upcoming 78th birthday on Wednesday, Dec. 17, the pope said that since it falls on a day when there is no mass, he will have lunch with all the staff and it “will be just another day.”
In yet another display of his storied humility, Francis said that becoming pope was the last thing on his mind 21 months ago.
“When I came here I had to start all over again, All this was new. From the start I said to myself, ‘Jorge, don’t change, just keep on being yourself, because to change at your age would be to make a fool of yourself,’” he said. “That’s why I’ve always kept on doing what I used to do in Buenos Aires. Perhaps even making my old mistakes.”