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November 15th, 2016

Pope Snubs Faithful Cardinals

At last! Four faithful cardinals have stuck their necks out and  challenged Pope Francis to explain exactly what he means in Amoris Laetitia. Is he saying it’s sometimes OK to commit adultery or is he not? Yes or No?

They wrote the letter privately on September 19. As it’s now quite clear the Holy Father has no intention of replying, they have gone public.

What can one conclude from the papal silence? There’s only one possible answer: As St Thomas More said at his trial, “Silence gives consent”.  The Pope  doesn’t want to clear up the ambiguities, because he prefers confusion to clarity, darkness to light. Theologians, priests and bishops can go on giving different interpretations. That way, there is a doubt, and some of those living in irregular situations will take advantage of the doubt and receive Holy Communion. But as far as the Holy Father is concerned, it’s a case of the old Irish expression: “Mind you, I’ve said nothing.”

It is contemptible.

The four cardinals are Raymond Burke (of course!), Walter Brandmüller,  Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner. Cardinal Burke is the only one who is not retired.  Fr John Hunwicke says it must be a matter of grief that other Cardinals and locorum Ordinarii have felt unable to join this initiative because they still have diocesan or curial responsibilities. The Holy Father has several times shown his willingness to sack those who decline to go long with his novel ideas. Maybe we should call him the Merciful Martinet.

The Cardinals’ letter tells the Pope of the “uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation among many of the faithful” stemming from Amoris Laetitia. They explain that they are “compelled in conscience by our pastoral responsibility” to call on Pope Francis “with profound respect” to give answer to the questions posed,  reminding him that as Pope he is “called by the Risen One to confirm his brothers in the faith” and to “resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity”.

UPDATE ON NOVEMBER 18th: I am grateful to a reader identifying himself as “James”, who sent me an article from the New Oxford Review, which he submitted as a comment. I quote two short extracts here:

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said it may be necessary to make a “formal act of correction” if Pope Francis doesn’t answer a letter from four cardinals asking him to clarify aspects of Amoris Laetitia. In an interview with Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Burke said that if the Pope were to teach error or heresy, “It is the duty in such cases, and historically it has happened, of cardinals and bishops to make clear that the Pope is teaching error and to ask him to correct it.”….

…Such an act of formal correction would be extremely unusual. One example is the challenge to Pope John XXII in the 1330s. He had publicly taught – though only as his personal opinion – that souls in heaven would not actually see God until the Final Judgment, a teaching contrary to Church doctrine.

In response, several theologians challenged Pope John. A few were punished, but the Pope backed down after a joint letter by theologians from the University of Paris, under the leadership of Paludanus, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The letter professed total obedience to John, but affirmed that the teachings being attributed to him were contrary to the Catholic faith. Before his death John withdrew his heretical opinion.

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