My family got to know Bishop Burke when he was the relatively new bishop of La Crosse, some twelve years ago. We have been privileged to have him as a dinner guest in our home and to interact with him on a number of occasions. The Diocese of La Crosse has a remarkable number of traditional Latin Mass apostolates for such a small diocese. The reason for that is Bishop Burke. Bishops throughout the country are now more and more bold in confronting dissident Catholic politicians in their flocks. The reason for that is Bishop Burke. He has truly been a leader in the episcopate of the Catholic Church. But the funny thing is that he is one of those men who really did not want or seek "higher office". He was simply chosen, essentially against his will. I think that bodes well for what God has planned for him.
We were both disappointed and yet pleased to see him move from La Crosse to become Archbishop of St. Louis. Then we were both disappointed and pleased to see him moved to the Vatican to become the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. But now we are just plain pleased to see him elevated to Cardinal.
The first American Pope? But let us pray that it may be so.
So what did my wife have to say to the media?
And that about sums it up.
Lorene Palm of Westby, who brought her children to attend the Mass, said it was exciting to have a cardinal come from this diocese.