First American named to head Vatican high court

Clergyman is a controversial figure in Catholicism
June 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The archbishop of St. Louis, never afraid to inject himself into political debates, has been promoted to a post in Rome. Archbishop Raymond Burke will become the first American to head the Vatican's supreme court, and the second American bishop to hold an influential position in Rome.

Burke's disputes with public figures drew nationwide attention in his 4 1/2 years in St. Louis, which seemed to surprise the affable church man who grew up in rural Wisconsin. Some of the targets of his criticism have included John Kerry and Rudy Guiliani, as well as singer Cheryl Crow and basketball coach Rick Majerus.

In 2004, Burke said he would deny Communion to Kerry because of the Massachusetts senator's stance supporting abortion rights. He said the same about Giuliani last year.