Vatican appointment for St Andrews alumnus

Tuesday 24 May 2005

A University of St Andrews alumnus has been appointed to the Catholic Church’s most senior doctrinal body in Rome.

Fr Patrick Burke, currently a Parish Priest in Stirlingshire, will take up his post as an official in the Doctrinal Section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in the Vatican in September. The department was, until recently, run by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

At 40 years old, he will be the youngest Scottish RC Church member in the Vatican.

Fr Burke studied Theology and Philosophy at St Andrews before going on to the Scots College in Rome to study for the Priesthood. He completed degrees in Philosophy and Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained in 1991. After a period as a curate in West Lothian, he returned to Rome to do a doctorate in Theology. During this second period in Rome, he lived at the Teutonic College in the Vatican and it was there that he met Cardinal Ratzinger who came regularly to the College and who shared an interest in the theology of Karl Rahner on which Fr Burke was doing his doctorate. Fr Burke completed his doctorate in 1997 and his thesis was subsequently published by Fordham University Press in 2001 under the title Reinterpreting Rahner. Fr Patrick is also Chaplain to St Modan’s High School in Stirling.

Fr Burke was born in Zimbabwe, moved to Scotland in 1982 and speaks German and Italian. He is currently Parish Priest of Our Lady and St Ninian’s parish in Bannockburn in Stirlingshire and Editor of Faith (a journal of Catholic Theology). He will leave his parish at the beginning of September and take up his new position on 12th September 2005. He will also be stepping down as editor of Faith.

John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy at St Andrews, who is currently in Rome delivering the McCarthy lectures at the Gregorian University, first met Patrick Burke when he was a student at St Andrews. Professor Haldane also wrote an endorsement of Burke’s Rahner book for Fordham University Press at the time of its publication.

Haldane describes Burke as ‘multiply gifted as a theologian and pastor’ and says that his appointment to Rome is ‘a mark of the high estimate of his abilities formed by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict’.

The request to thediocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh to release Fr Burke for service in the CDF first came some months ago at a time when Cardinal Ratzinger was still directing the Congregtion office.

Fr. Patrick said, “It is an honour to have been asked to contribute to the work of the universal church in this way. My sadness at leaving my parishioners in Our Lady and St Ninian’s in Bannockburn and Sacred Heart in Cowie, is tempered by excitement at the prospect of the new challenges which lie ahead. I am grateful to Cardinal O’Brien for his support and his willingness to release me from my current responsibilities in Scotland.”


For more information, please contact Peter Kearney, Director, Catholic Media Office – telephone 0141 221 1168 or email [email protected]. A JPEG image of Fr Burke is also available from the Catholic Media Office.

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or [email protected]; Ref: press releases/vatican View the latest University news at

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