Local man goes to Rome to interview Cardinal

Local man goes to Rome to interview Cardinal

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U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, stands with, from left, Father Ronan Murphy, Richard Smail and Father Joseph Ganiel, pastor, Holy Child Parish, Runnemede. The three went to Rome so that Smail could interview the cardinal for an executive leadership program he is enrolled in.

Richard Smail of Mays Landing travelled to Rome in January to interview Cardinal Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature to gain his insights on leadership. 

“As an employee of the Federal Aviation Administration, I am currently in the midst of completing a nine-month executive leadership program for the federal government, and one of the many requirements is for us to interview high-level leaders in society so as to gain their insight and perspectives on leadership,” Smail explained. 

“I sought to interview Cardinal Burke because I have intently read about and followed his ascent through the ranks of the Catholic Church over the years and have been greatly inspired by his bold and outspoken leadership on the tough issues confronting our church in these times,” he added.

A parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Smail, 25, went to Rome with his uncle, Father Joseph Ganiel, pastor, Holy Child Parish, Runnemede, and friend, Father Ronan Murphy.

The interview was conducted in the cardinal’s office at the Apostolic Signature, minutes away from St. Peter’s Basilica. 

“His Eminence was very gracious in accepting and granting my interview request and he spoke very candidly about his experiences as a leader and cardinal in the Catholic Church,” Smail said.

Cardinal Burke was serving as archbishop of St. Louis when Pope Benedict XVI named him head of the Apostolic Signature in 2008.

When it comes to moral and political issues — especially abortion and same-sex marriage —Cardinal Burke has been one of the most-outspoken U.S. bishops.

Before the November 2008 U.S. presidential election, he said the Democratic Party “risks transforming itself definitively into a “party of death.”

In 2004, he was the first U.S. bishop to say publicly that he would withhold Communion from Catholic politicians with voting records that contradicted church teaching on fundamental moral issues.

A canon lawyer, Cardinal Burke worked for the court from 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.

A native of Richland Center in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., he did his 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 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

He returned to Gregorian University from 1980-84 to study canon law and taught there as a visiting professor of canon law from 1984-94, when he was appointed bishop of La Crosse. After serving La Crosse for eight years, he was appointed archbishop of St. Louis in 2003.

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