BOMBSHELL: The Four Cardinals Letter to Pope Francis – “Seeking Clarity”

UPDATE:  I’d be willing to bet that The Four are merely the tip of the spear.  I’d wager that they represent a large gang of quiet Cardinals who want answers, but because they are presently in curial or diocesan positions they are hesitant to raise their heads too high.

___ ORIGINAL published on: Nov 14, 2016 @ 01:39 ____

Four Cardinals (aka The Four) who presently do not have a curial or diocesan role wrote a letter to Pope Francis in September.   The letter also went to Card. Müller, who is Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Four asked five pointed questions in the classic form of “dubia… “doubts” … that needs only “Yes” or “No” answers.   They did not get a response.  Therefore, in the spirit of Matthew 18:16-17 (“If your brother will not listen to you, take with you two or three witnesses. If then he will not listen even to them, tell it to the assembly.”), they have gone public.

The questions are about the Pope’s Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris laetitia!

Sandro Magister has it.  HERE

The basic structure of what you will read.

  • There is a forward, about the status quaestionis.
  • There is an introduction from the Cardinals about why they wrote the letter.
  • There are the questions themselves.
  • There are expansive paragraphs for each question.

It is thick reading, but rewarding.

The Letter from The Four was dated 19 September, which was some 10 days after Pope Francis sent a letter to Argentinian bishops giving his informal approval to a problematic document they wrote about how to implement Amoris laetitia.

The questions, or dubia, concern the concrete issue of sacraments (Penance and Eucharist) for the divorced divorced and civilly remarried who refuse continence as well as about absolute moral norms.

You should go to read the whole thing there…. but here is the introduction:

To His Holiness Pope Francis
and for the attention of His Eminence Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller

Most Holy Father,

Following the publication of your Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”, theologians and scholars have proposed interpretations that are not only divergent, but also conflicting, above all in regard to Chapter VIII. Moreover, the media have emphasized this dispute, thereby provoking uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation among many of the faithful.

Because of this, we the undersigned, but also many Bishops and Priests, have received numerous requests from the faithful of various social strata on the correct interpretation to give to Chapter VIII of the Exhortation.

Now, compelled in conscience by our pastoral responsibility and desiring to implement ever more that synodality to which Your Holiness urges us, we, with profound respect, we permit ourselves to ask you, Holy Father, as Supreme Teacher of the Faith, called by the Risen One to confirm his brothers in the faith, to resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity, benevolently giving a response to the “Dubia” that we attach to the present letter.

May Your Holiness wish to bless us, as we promise constantly to remember you in prayer.

Card. Walter Brandmüller
Card. Raymond L. Burke
Card. Carlo Caffarra
Card. Joachim Meisner

Rome, September 19, 2016

[…]

 

3. The “Dubia”

1.    It is asked whether, following the affirmations of “Amoris Laetitia” (nn. 300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person “more uxorio” (in a marital way) without fulfilling the conditions provided for by “Familiaris Consortio” n. 84 and subsequently reaffirmed by “Reconciliatio et Paenitentia” n. 34 and “Sacramentum Caritatis” n. 29. Can the expression “in certain cases” found in note 351 (n. 305) of the exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live “more uxorio”?

2.    After the publication of the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (cf. n. 304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s Encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” n. 79, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?

3.    After “Amoris Laetitia” (n. 301) is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (cf. Mt 19:3-9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration, June 24, 2000)?

4.    After the affirmations of “Amoris Laetitia” (n. 302) on “circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,” does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s Encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” n. 81, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?

5.    After “Amoris Laetitia” (n. 303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” n. 56, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?

The letter of The Four is humble and respectful, but clear.   They clearly did not want to be adversarial in tone.  The Four merely want some clarity about “grave disorientation and great confusion” which has been provoked by now infamous elements of Amoris laetitia.

In particular, keep in mind that many people have wondered whether there is an ongoing effort to undermine the Magisterium of St. John Paul II.

You know what will happen next.

The Four will be pilloried by the liberal catholic smear machine, who will seek brow-furrowed quotes from their current darlings, their exemplars of pastoral sensitivity, their hopes for sweeping “change”.

The fact that The Four do not presently have curial or diocesan roles means that – short of having their red hats taken away – the Pope can’t remove them from offices that they don’t hold.

This, folks, is a big deal.

UPDATE:

The Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter… which, frankly, has no credibility until they start being honest and stop using the word “Catholic” in their title) has twisted the move of The Four.  Get this spin from Fishwrap“:

Four semi-retired cardinals [Card. Burk, 67, is not “semi-retired] have publicly questioned Pope Francis’ most recent teachings on family life, issuing an open letter to the pontiff with five yes or no questions about how he understands church teaching following the publication of his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.  [It is not that they “publicly questioned” the Pope’s teachings.  They are asking questions so that they can have clarity about the Pope’s teachings.  There is a difference, at least in common English parlance.]

While the cardinals say they are writing the note in “an act of justice and charity” to allow the pope to “dispel all ambiguity” [There is no question that there is ambiguity in the Apostolic Exortation.  Reasonable people want ambiguity in important matters cleared up.] about his exhortation, they take a defiant tone [No. There is nothing defiant about the tone used by The Four.] and pit Francis’ document against others written by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  [No. The Four did not “pit” Francis against John Paul II.  FRANCIS pitted Francis against John Paul II… or so it seems.  So, The Four have asked, giving Francis the benefit of the doubt, how does what we read in AL harmonize with what we read in the Magisterium of John Paul II.  They want to know if there only seems to be a conflict or if there really is a conflict.  That’s a reasonable thing to ask, even for the sake of lifting any suspicion from Pope Francis himself!]

Publication of such an open challenge to a Catholic pontiff from some of his cardinals, who normally act as the pope’s staunchest defenders, is exceedingly rare.  [They asked questions.  They didn’t issue challenges.]

[…]

Remember what I wrote, above, about how the lib catholic smear machine would paint The Four?

Thus beginneth The Smearing of The Four.

Please share!

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85 Responses to BOMBSHELL: The Four Cardinals Letter to Pope Francis – “Seeking Clarity”

  1. Tony Phillips says:

    To be fair, I have trouble keeping up with my email, so I can empathise with Pope Francis. Getting back to every To, Dick and Harry who sends you something within the time frame they want is pretty impossible. And I haven’t got a dozen dicasteries and a papal Twitter account to manage.

    I don’t know if those cardinals emailed him, but if they did who’s to say it didn’t end up in the pope’s junk mail file, and if they sent it snail mail–well, the Vatican postal service isn’t exactly the best in class. Look what happened to all those copies of the 5 Cardinals’ Book.

    Sometimes you’re better off just picking up the phone. [Not in matters like this, no, it isn’t.]

  2. JabbaPapa says:

    There’s the real risk of a major schism if the “liberal”-“progressives” go too far in their desire for the adoption of worldly political views as if they could become doctrine.

    The fifth question is IMO the most difficult, as it concerns the false, secular notion of “conscience” not as the prompting of one’s soul by God and His Angels towards the Substance of the Revelation in Christ and in His Holy Church and towards ever-deeper Conversion and Faith, but as a crass internal dialogue between outward society and inner desires. It also directly concerns some core Errors of the Modernist, Relativist, and Americanist Heresies.

  3. Robert of Rome says:

    Galatians 2:11 comes readily to mind.

  4. Robert of Rome: Indeed, it does.

  5. CharlesG says:

    What if they get the wrong answers? Isn’t the Magisterium worse off in the long run then?

  6. Elly says:

    This scares me. Why not just leave things vague until a future pope can clarify the truth?

    Also what would it mean if Pope Francis answered that a past moral teaching is no longer valid? Wouldn’t that contradict everything that we believe about the teaching authority of the Catholic Church?

  7. Cornelius says:

    I expect they will receive only silence, as the letter from the 45 or so theologians did identifying 19 heretical interpretations of statements in AL.

    What then?

  8. Traductora says:

    The Pope does not have the authority to change the teachings of the Church. He has obviously been trying to do so or at least give the impression, even if indirectly and working through others, that he can do and has done so. But his vagueness and confused wordiness and habit of speaking through others have made it very difficult to challenge him on this and receive the clarification necessary.

    What he has done has sown tremendous confusion among the faithful and even among the bishops, who are being asked to implement things that conflict with everything they have done throughout their lives (for example, in terms of annulments). Even in my fully Novus Ordo backwater, I hear people wondering about it and in fact if any of the moral teachings of the Church are valid anymore.

    This needed to be done because souls are being lost and, frankly, people are getting discouraged and leaving the Church. The cardinals sent this letter to him privately and he refused to answer. Making it public is the only way to deal with it. And they phrased the questions in such a way that the only answer can be yes or no, thus cutting off his usual way of handling things, which has only made the deadly confusion worse.

  9. Imrahil says:

    Unrelated to the topic, but

    and for the attention of

    is a very cool attempt to say “cc” in a classical letter style.

  10. Liz says:

    :( Prayers.

  11. Unwilling says:

    The notion that a YES/NO answer can be had for Christian teaching, that there is a one truth and ortho-dogma, is a manifestation of the pathology of “rigidity”. These Cardinals need not cognitive palliation but emotional counselling to address their latent brokenness.

    [If you are not choosing to be jocular – which I would prefer to believe – perhaps you ought to read what the Cardinals wrote.]

  12. Cornelius says:

    I think Galatians 2:11 is a similar but also very different circumstance. Peter erred out of fear and honest confusion and it’s clear in retrospect that he was open to correction.

    PF is not, I believe, operating that way: everything that he’s said and done since his elevation speaks to a determined will to fundamentally alter settled Church teaching and to wield the power of the papacy to that effect. We are living in a far more perilous situation. Not hopeless, but perilous.

  13. Back pew sitter says:

    There is an update at Rorate which underscores how the Cardinals have been snubbed in their request for clarification:

    [Update – Our Roman Correspondent Fr. Pio Pace sends us the following: “Following Amoris Laetitia, the reaction of the Cardinals who had spoken against the new made-up moral doctrine at the time of the Synods had been expected. Here it is: four among them have chosen to make public the dubia that they had presented, formally, to the Pope a couple of months ago. It’s a true earthquake — of a moral nature. Four members of the Pope’s own Senate (I’ve been told indeed that those who presented, but did not wish to go public, were more numerous) present him questions on Faith and Morals, according to the procedure of the dubia, which must be answered: either positive (yes) or negative (no) — with modulations, if necessary, but must be answered. And the Pope made known to the Cardinals that HE WOULD NOT ANSWER THEM. In all truth, it’s this silence that makes the earth tremble.”]

  14. Kerry says:

    When terrible storms threaten the barque of Peter, is it better to stay on board, or leap into the tempest? Remember Him who holds the helm.

  15. scotus says:

    St Thomas More made the point that in law silence betokens consent. What would consent me in this case? A Yes to all the questions?

  16. scotus says:

    Oops. ‘mean’, not ‘me’.

  17. polycarped says:

    Not sure of your point Kerry. I don’t think anyone in all of this is suggesting leaping into the tempest. Quite the opposite. These Cardinals are clearly trying to prevent the helmsman from sinking the ship or perhaps he has metaphorically fallen overboard and they are trying to reel him in. The barque will be fine and we remain fully aboard.

  18. kiwiinamerica says:

    OK great…….but Francis will not respond to this. Not a snowflake’s chance in hell, since we know that the objective right from the get-go was to undermine traditional Catholic teaching and practice on important moral issues.

    So where to next? And how many of the remaining 100+ cardinals are on board with this? Note that 3 of the 4 cardinals are retired which tells me plenty.

    The next airplane ride from Francis is going to be very interesting, since that’s when we’ll hear from the great man himself on this issue. I have a little bet with myself that the words “rigid” and “doctors of the law” will feature prominently.

    And now the money question; have these four cardinals walked this through with the……er……..previous Pope……..er…….second Pope……….er………..Pope emeritus…….or whatever his current title is? What does Benedict XVI have to say about this?? Anything? He darn well should! This fiasco is partly his doing!

    I just had a thought……..when Pope’s quit, bad things start to happen!! How’ bout that? What a surprise!

  19. Kostadinov says:

    As a German (now living in Switzerland) I take some comfort from the fact that German cardinals do not only speak up at the wrong side of this issue…
    if I ask my 3y old son if he broke one of his toys and he remains silent, then this tells a lot…
    but who am I to judge… after all, I am one of these disturbed souls that cling to the TLM (after discovering it by accident on Pentecost Monday 2013)

  20. donboyle says:

    The Holy Father received Cardinal Burke in audience on November 10. This might have come up.

  21. JamesM says:

    @scotus

    I think when it comes to the teaching of the Church, repudiation requires an active statement.

    These dubia all boil down to the same central question. “Does the teaching of the Church still apply?”

    The Holy Father has been presented with clear questions that can only be answered with a yes or no. Until he actually gives an answer then surely there is no change?

  22. Traductora says:

    There is a list on the French blog L’Homme Nouveau of the ones who were probably signatories but did not want their names publicly released at the moment because they are vulnerable and Francis is known to be vindictive. The names included many Europeans that you would expect and also a number of Africans.

    Fr. Hunwicke’s blog post for today mentioned the fact that there is a climate of fear in Rome unlike any he has seen before, the result of Francis’ unprecedented removals and expulsions of cardinals and bishops who dare to question him. I know many people will charge the non-signing cardinals and bishops with being “careerists” afraid to lose their cushy jobs, but I think a lot of them are worried more about being forced to abandon their people. They feel that they should try to stay in place as long as possible and hope to stabilize the Barque of Peter and protect the passengers, so to speak.

  23. TNCath says:

    Predictably, I don’t expect an answer from this pope anytime soon, if ever. However, what the cardinals have wisely done is present indisputable evidence that Amoris Laetitia is severely flawed. It’ll likely take the next pope to address it, whenever and however that may happen, which will be just as interesting to watch.

  24. Pingback: Normalization Process™ – And The Post-Conciliar Clean-up Begins … | The Deus Ex Machina Blog

  25. Dan says:

    It is an important step these Cardinal’s are taking and it does need to be done now because souls are on the line. It is easy to get so wrapped up in the politics of the Church that we forget that the Church exists for the salvation of souls and because of that we are compelled to act when we see things that put others in harms way. Hoping that the next Pope will reconcile any errors of personal judgement of the current one does not help anyone today.

    Pray for these and other Cardinals, Bishops and Priest that would stand up and seek clarification. With all respect to our Holy Father, he has shown himself to be a very prideful, rigid man who has no qualms against crushing anyone in his path for simple daring to disagree with him. Pray also for Pope Francis daily.

  26. MGL says:

    The answers should be:
    1. No.
    2. Yes.
    3. Yes.
    4. Yes.
    5. Yes.

    If the pope responds with these answers, we’re all good. We will finally have a clear acknowledgement that Amoris Laetitia is in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church, and no-one will be able to pretend otherwise.

    If the answer to any one of these questions varies from the above, we will likewise have clarity, but hold on to your hats. It’s going to get VERY turbulent.

    I would also argue that silence implies the second case. After all, if nothing has changed, why not just say so outright?

    This is perfect. Modernists seek to avoid clarity at all costs, burying their subversions of Church praxis and teaching under a mountain of “pastoral” this and casuistic that, in order to change everything while pretending that nothing has changed. Pinning them down to unambiguous yes or no answers is precisely the right approach.

  27. anilwang says:

    Personally, I’m glad he didn’t clarify. Every time the Pope has been asked to clarify something he originally left ambiguous, he clarification either adds more ambiguity or clarifies in a way that is, to put it bluntly, heretical.

    But, IMO, the request to clarify needs to be done regardless if for no other reason than to give orthodox bishops room to be orthodox (while the question isn’t answer, they can’t be in defiance of the Pope….), to remind people at the next conclave that we need a clear Pope not a Pope that speaks in koans and considers down to earth teachings like the Theology of the Body (which even the uneducated grandmothers in his former parish understand) as too abstract, and so that the next Pope will be a able to use the dubia as material for his first encyclical on clarity.

  28. snoozie says:

    THREE retired and only ONE active?….are you kidding me???

    Where on earth is the rest of the college?….WHERE. ARE. THE. SHEPHERDS???

    man….Matt 24:48-51 is just bursting in living color….mostly red and purple.

    end days.

  29. JabbaPapa says:

    Unwilling :

    The notion that a YES/NO answer can be had for Christian teaching

    … is entirely correct for the first four questions, including because of how well they have been framed.

    The fifth one is a lot deeper in its theology, so not so easy.

  30. LarryW2LJ says:

    Wow! This truly is a “big deal” Father! Agree with you 100%.

    Just shows you the “modus operandi” of the two schools of thought. One view chooses to ignore what they don’t like and chooses to either ignore it, explain it away, or scream “Conscience!”, or otherwise perform mental gymnastics to justify their actions.

    The other views seeks clarity and truth and does not hesitate to RESPECTFULLY question and get at the Truth. This is not rigidity – this is seeking the Truth. Because if we truly believe that Jesus is ‘The Way, the Truth and the Life” then we will never be embarrassed or frightened away from seeking that Eternal Truth and proclaim it to the world. And that is truly the mission of the Church, to proclaim the Truth of the Gospel to the world.

    God bless and protect these cardinals!

  31. CradleRevert says:

    I’m always trying to give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt, but his lack of response is very telling….and disheartening.

  32. jhayes says:

    I think the Cardinals have made a mistake in framing the last four dubia as if Amoris laetitia and Veritatis splendor cannot both be valid and Francis must choose between them.

    Benedict answered the same question in his 2005 Christmas address in which he said that there is. no conflict between the documents of Vatican II and prior teachings (as of Pius IX, in his example) as long as you interpret the prior teachings correctly

    It is like a lawyer asking “Have you stopped beating your wife? Answer “yes” or “no”.”

    I suspect that framing is why Francis has not answered.

  33. snoozie says:

    If enough of them ‘raised their heads’, in bold numbers, he couldn’t, he dare not, whack them all off. Where in God’s Name are the MEN?…where are the true Fathers and shepherds of souls??? francis will ignore this and crickets will chirp, and next month C. Burke will be made (quitely) the on-site Bishop of a broom closet in a Siberian nursing home, while the “quiet cardinals” slink back to their “curial or diocesan positions”, sufficiently chastened.

    If this isn’t the moment to make a stand for Christ, His Church, and the Truth, then for Christ’s sake, when is? Y’know, that magnificent book “Lord of the World” was very moving in a particular point; that a faithful remnant flock can take all the worst a world at the end can throw at it; all the persecution, mocking, violence, and pain, if we have a good, faithful shepherd leading us through the fire…..someone we can trust as a true father. I find it quite ironic that francis counts this among his favorite books.

    WHERE ARE THE MEN???

  34. Imrahil says:

    However, on a closer look…

    with all due respect, but they would have done better and served their aim of clarity better if they had kept their argumentations out of the dubia themselves. Just: “Are there any cases whe someone living more uxorio with another can be admitted to Holy Communion? If so, is that because the Church does no longer teach he commits mortal sin? If so, does the Church still teach that adultery is generally a mortal sin? If both of the above, are there any conditions when the excuse begins to apply? If so, could you please name them (does not strictly fall under the yes-no-structure of the dubia)? Oh and generally, does the Church still teach Veritatis spendor 81 and 56?”

    They could have put an annex there and said, “our own position is this”, etc., followed by the frankest of argumentation. But including in the dubia themselves phrases such as “the teaching of St. John Paul II grounded on sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition”, read: “it looks jolly well as if you, Pope Francis, broke with sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition, now will you please be so kind to say ‘yes I do'” was… well… improvable.

  35. Unwilling says:

    Fr Z rightly believes I meant to play for absurdity. I should be more circumspect where the reductio sought is the living actuality. Amends.

  36. Bosco says:

    My guess is that some spokesperson will dismiss this by stating:

    “Pope Francis has answered these same questions, or variations of them, time and again in his various addresses and exhortations. There is no need to respond to that which has already been answered definitively. Pope Francis has much bigger matters to tend to than answer every query that comes his way.”

  37. wised says:

    I learned long ago that if I received a document that was in any way confusing it was always better to respond in writing asking for clarification. In business hierarchy, ambiguous directives often served a purpose that protected the hierarchy from being seen as dogmatic, especially in a strong corporate culture that was trying to adjust to a relativity that was contrary to such a culture.

    A phone call could be denied. It could result in a response that further confused the issue. It often only delayed the written request for a clarification. This well written, respectful request (with specific doctrinal points) requires a similar response.

    Well done.

  38. norancor says:

    The whole of the dubia devolve to this:

    1) We now appear to have a class of sinners exempt from a firm purpose of amendment, who are now allowed to have recourse to the Sacrament of Penance, presumably by omitting their adultery. This indulgence on the part of the Holy Father destroys the Sacrament of Penance, because no sinner is compelled to have a firm purpose of amendment if a certain class of sinners are allowed to approach the Sacrament without a firm purpose of amendment.

    2) We now have a class of sinner, having failed to return to a state of grace through Penance, that can knowingly and with consent of the Supreme Pontiff and Church in general, commit sacrilege against Our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. There is no man that can tell me the Church knowingly allowing sacrilege can withstand the scrutiny and judgment of God.

    Galatians 6: 1, 6-10 —

    Brethren, and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are spiritual, instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. […] And let him that is instructed in the word, communicate to him that instructeth him, in all good things. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting. And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing. Therefore, whilst we have time, let us work good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

  39. Gerard Plourde says:

    I’m sure Pope Francis will address the questions posed and answer them faithful to the Magisterium, guided as he is by the Holy Spirit in accordance with the teachings of our Catholic Faith. Let us continue to pray for him and for all who serve the Church – clergy, religious, and laity – that they may continue to expand the Kingdom of God here on Earth.

  40. msmsem says:

    Honest question – what is a reasonable time to expect a response when dubia are presented? Sure, it’s easy enough for us to say, “The answers are clear: N/Y/Y/Y/Y; get that response drafted stat!” but perhaps it’s not that easy in reality. I don’t know – never having presented dubia to Rome, I’m just wondering…

  41. LeeF says:

    @msmsem: Pope Francis already said he would NOT answer, not that he needed more time for reflection.

    Faithful courageous and orthodox bishops just need to answer the dubia for themselves and act accordingly in their own dioceses. As apostolic successors, they are authentic teachers of the Faith.

    Of course I guess a response from Rome if someone appealed against a decision of an orthodox bishop, would be to overrule said bishop in an ad hoc manner without stating a general universal rule.

  42. Lavrans says:

    If he takes the view that he is but the Bishop of Rome, then Lee F is correct. We will have an Eastern Orthodox-style Catholic Church in the West, with national or diocesan churches differing on any number of practices, but all claiming to adhere to the same, infallible truth. Permit me to say that we already have that happening in the West since Vatican II, and likely before. The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, under Bishop Bruskewitz, seemed like an altogether different church than the Diocese of Rochester, New York under Bishop Clark. I, and many like me, think that the Catholic Church should not be so heterogeneous, and that it is the Pope, not merely the Bishop of Rome, who ultimately has the task of unifying so vast and diverse a Church, so that praxis matches theory.

    We may have to wait for a Pius XIII or Benedict XVII to clarify and correct. If His Holiness remains predictably (scornfully?) silent, there is nothing more to do. Cardinal Burke, however, may ultimately go down as a modern-day St. Athanasius. I pray that he does.

  43. MGL says:

    msmsem, these aren’t exactly the LSATs here. The Holy Father doesn’t need to spend a few months cramming to make sure he passes the test. These are basic yes/no questions about a document that he himself released.

    Of course, since the Dubium was addressed both to the pope and the CDF, Cardinal Muller may choose to answer the questions himself, independent of whatever the pope chooses to do.

  44. Imrahil says:

    Dear norancor,

    to be fair, that is all quite true if working on the premise that they are a class of sinners. If that premise falls, and it is said (for example) “only, hitherto, they have been treated as such because, well, it’s really somewhat not in order what they do and, well, they are so hard to distinguish from real sinners in the external forum”, then the thing looks a whole lot of different.

  45. Benedict Joseph says:

    In September 2016 the publication of Pope Francis’ letter to Monsignor Sergio Alfredo Fenoy clarifies any ambiguity in “Amoris Laetitia.” The entire situation has been illuminated for what it is.
    That said there appears, unsurprisingly, to be a further agenda at play within the “Amoris” conundrum. The Domus Sanctae Marthae surely foresaw the development we learn of this morning and they were prepared for it. We need cast the mantle of trusting naiveté far aside. “Amoris Laetitia” was not a simple statement about marriage, it was a high-impact slug inaugurating the real contest.
    Cardinal Maradiaga illuminated the profile of this pontificate clearly in January 2015. “The Pope wants to take this Church renovation to the point where it becomes irreversible.”
    We know what we are dealing with, and so do the Cardinals who have now approached the dilemma with the appropriate protocols and procedures. God willing these four courageous men, with a vast number of their confreres in the College of Cardinals, will see this brought to its proper conclusion very soon, no matter what the cost, no matter what the scandal.
    Saint Teresa of Jesus who hoped to see her Carmel’s inhabited by virile nuns, said something to the effect that she would give her life to save one soul. Is our hierarchy composed of enough men willing to endure an ecclesiastical martyrdom to forestall the metamorphosis presently underway?
    Oremus.

  46. Emilio says:

    With the upcoming Consistory upon us for the creation of some worrisome Cardinal-elects, it’s edifying to know that there are actual living Princes of the Church worthy of the symbolic color they bear, being more than willing to endure the public savageing and white martyrdom they will endure for this.

  47. anna 6 says:

    Looking at the list of names, one can see men who are “Benedict friendly” cardinals, and in at least two instances, are actual personal friends of the Pope Emeritus.
    That said, I can not imagine Benedict XVI wanting to involve himself in this situation, but there is no doubt that his enemies will blame him for doing so.
    Either way, it is very interesting…

  48. Kerry says:

    Polycarped, not suggesting anyone leap overboard, but that, no matter what, hold the course.
    Or to bend a quote from Stephen Decatur, “Da…n the documents. Full speed ahead!”

  49. FXR2 says:

    I fairness to His Holiness why would he respond to a letter from 4 of 211 Cardinals. 3 of the 4 are retired and none of them occupy a position of authority. This shows there is no dissent to AL. If there is infact dissent from other Cardinals and Bishops it is high time stop being pusilanimous show some intestinal fortitude and stand up and be counted.

  50. norancor says:

    Greetings Imrahil, I appreciate your response.

    The entire premise of this exercise on the part of the Marxist Kasperites is to define a new class of people…. people who have not and CANNOT get an annulment (otherwise you would just encourage in the typical way you would the divorced) because they don’t have grounds, but still wish to be allowed to receive Communion and presumably go to confession for everything ELSE they do wrong.

    The practical effect is to to carve out a new class of unrepentant sinner, and that cannot be. The Identity of Penance and the Eucharist is profaned by the concept, and profaned intrinsically.

    That being said, the pope and others are saying just as you are, evading the question by mudding the waters. Well we don’t know…. it’s a complicated affair…. its a matter of conscience… they aren’t really a new class of sinner, but the objective reality is that they are, and no amount intentional or accidental prevarication can avoid this inevitable conclusion. This is the point of Dubia #5… playing “footsy” with conscience.

    Sinners must repent of, and rectify, their state in life, to receive absolution and return to a state of grace in order to be admitted to Communion without committing sacrilege. It is no more complicated than that, and oikonomia (the un-“Orthodox” theology being used) is pure and unadulterated heresy that profanes both Penance and the Most Holy Eucharist.

    It isn’t just the problem of the defective state in life. The Orthodox need to be taken to account for their notions of sin, repentance, and the power of the Keys that they have. The entire edifice of Eastern Orthodox theology on this point – borrowed by the Kasperites – is a disaster.

    We ALL have to decide which we want: God; or self. There are a bazillion situations, and the Church has no end of mercy for the sinner — but all mercy depends on contrition and the willingness to choose God with an undivided heart.

  51. Erlenmeyer says:

    There is an exclusive interview with Cardinal Burke dated today on the Catholic Action For Faith and Family website:

    http://www.catholicaction.org/interview_with_cardinal_burke_about_the_dubia

  52. chantgirl says:

    Thank you to the Four!

    I wrote Cardinal Burke after AL was released and begged him to say something. I am sure many others wrote letters too, to many prelates. I am grateful to know that some of our spiritual fathers are listening and have the courage to speak up.

  53. arickett says:

    This story rings a bell with me

    A group of priests get together and think up some trick questions to attack a holy man.

    Anyone else remember that story, this does the four no credit

    The church has always had problems and political preists is one of them,just because we agree with them does not make it right

  54. Joseph-Mary says:

    Yes, the public signitures of those who cannot be demoted any more. Others who write or support efforts of clarification can be greatly persecuted, exiled, removed, or demoted in the current time at the Vatican. I cannot say more.

  55. FXR2 says:

    chantgirl,
    I concur, and prayers for 4 Cardinals and to all of those in a position authority in the Church who must stand up for Catholic teaching despite the risks.

  56. Geoffrey says:

    This is indeed stunning. I wish more cardinals and bishops had signed the letter. There is a tremendous amount of confusion out there, though I find solace in “The Catechism of the Catholic Church”, promulgated by Saint John Paul the Great and prepared by the future Pope Benedict XVI.

    It seems to me that the Holy Father knows full well that he cannot change the teaching of the Church. Doctrine cannot change. It can develop, but that concept definitely cannot be applied here. That leaves only altering “pastoral practice”, which is turning into a real nightmare of confusion.

  57. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    I agree with snoozie: WHERE ARE THE MEN? We have these four Cardinals, God bless them. We have two of them (Burke and Caffarra) and one other (Pujats, retired) and three bishops (Schneider, Luan, and Laise) who signed the Declaration of Fidelity (sign it yourself: http://www.filialappeal.org/). Bishop Schneider in April issued his own incisive Reflections on Amoris Laetitia. We have 45 theologians who wrote to the College of Cardinals. Prof. Claudio Pierantoni has just published an excellent article pointing out the parallels between the Arian crisis and the Amoris laetitia controversy.

    But where are the more than 200 other cardinals and some 5,000 bishops? Are they really so terrified of the opinion of their colleagues or anyone else, of losing position, of stunting their careers? What do they have to lose? By their silence, they risk losing everything.

  58. Landless Laborer says:

    Elly said: “This scares me. Why not just leave things vague until a future pope can clarify the truth?
    Also what would it mean if Pope Francis answered that a past moral teaching is no longer valid? Wouldn’t that contradict everything that we believe about the teaching authority of the Catholic Church?”

    One of the conditions of infallibility is non-conflict with former teaching. A pope can follow the conditions of infallibility, define and declare: A is true. B is true. C is true. If the conditions for infallibility are met, there is nothing anyone can ever say against these three.
    A future pope can come along and declare D, E, F, etc. But he cannot declare A, B, or C to be untrue no matter how carefully he follows the conditions for infallibility, for by declaring such, he ipso facto becomes fallible.
    All the cardinals and the Pope know this. This is why nothing can be stated plainly, i.e. yes or no by the modernists, because to do so would expose them to fallibility and condemnation, it doesn’t compromise the doctrine of indefectability of the Church.

  59. Imrahil says:

    Well, that supposes that A, B, and C actually were infallibly taught to be true.

    A Pope did once (fallibly) teach error concerning the Beatific Vision, and a future Pope – his successor, in fact – defined a dogma to the contrary.

  60. andromedaregina says:

    I’m grateful the Church is functioning as it should, and grateful for the opportunity she gives its shepherds to stand firm in their love of her and her Spouse. It’s also good to know what the score is at the end of the game. God – All; the rest – Zero.

  61. SPWang says:

    2016.
    What a time to be alive.

  62. Mike says:

    I hope the trads that pilloried Burke for his previous silence will publicly apologize now.

  63. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    Without getting into too much detail… If divorced and civilly remarried are allowed to receive Communion I for one would be MOST upset.

    It strikes VERY “close to home” to this one Catholic. A Catholic who gave up A LOT to get back in line with what the Holy Catholic Church Founded by Jesus Christ teaches.

  64. yzerman123 says:

    Sadly, the Fishwrap carries as much credibility as CNN and the New York Times.

  65. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Other statements recently made by His Holiness and by various other bishops and priests cause a couple of dubia on another topic come to mind.

    Would a person who knowingly and intentionally violated the law of a state (for purposes of discussion, let’s say they violated the immigration laws of Chile) to enter that state and who remained in that state illegally also be fairly characterized as living in a persistent state of unrepented sin? Would the violation of such a law be grave matter if the immigrant was merely seeking better economic opportunities by breaking the immigration laws of Chile?

  66. robtbrown says:

    Gregg the Obscure says,

    Would a person who knowingly and intentionally violated the law of a state (for purposes of discussion, let’s say they violated the immigration laws of Chile) to enter that state and who remained in that state illegally also be fairly characterized as living in a persistent state of unrepented sin? Would the violation of such a law be grave matter if the immigrant was merely seeking better economic opportunities by breaking the immigration laws of Chile?

    If those people are seeking a better life, the answer is no.

  67. ChgoCatholic says:

    *UPDATE: I’d be willing to bet that The Four are merely the tip of the spear. I’d wager that they represent a large gang of quiet Cardinals who want answers, but because they are presently in curial or diocesan positions they are hesitant to raise their heads too high.*

    I pray that you are right. Moreover, I pray that if they are indeed the Curia’s version of the “silent majority,” that much like our silent majority here in the US, they decide to clear their throat collectively in the next (papal) election.

  68. Curley says:

    I can’t imagine being Francis and having this going on and being so near to the recent devastating earthquakes outside of Rome. It would sure get me re-thinking things. I echo the sentiments above about the silent majority in the next conclave. Maybe some “brexit” Cardinals ready to show how fed up they are with the ambiguity and confusion … I pray

  69. HighMass says:

    They will try and silence these Four Princes of the Church….they should be heard and answered. t the liberals try to silence them….

    Pope Benedict we need you!

    Jesus help us.

  70. SenexCalvus says:

    What really shocks me about this latest development is not the stratagem of ambiguity and confusion, which has been utilized from the outset, but the shirking of duty that the Supreme Pontiff has displayed in refusing to answer straightforward questions. Since he has taken it upon himself to contradict the words of Our Lord concerning the adultery of divorced-and-remarried Christians, why not just finish the job and remove “et omissione” from the Confiteror (as is certainly the refusal to answer direct questions posed by those with a right to know)? While he’s updating texts, he could even add the following interpolation to the canonical text of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus enjoins the guileless use of Yes and No: “…unless it concerns a footnote.”

  71. Geoffrey says:

    I pray that the public release of this letter will inspire more cardinals and bishops to step forward. Who is qualified to provide a little fraternal correction to the Vicar of Christ?

  72. robtbrown says:

    Geoffrey says:

    I pray that the public release of this letter will inspire more cardinals and bishops to step forward. Who is qualified to provide a little fraternal correction to the Vicar of Christ?

    That’s the last thing I want. As Sandro Magister noted, the four signers are either retired or not presently in an active operational role.

    I consider the letter the first shot of the next conclave. I don’t think the pope understands the power of the Internet. The letter, the dubia, and the pope’s refusal to answer have now all been defused throughout the Church.

  73. WesleyD says:

    Benedict Joseph wrote:

    In September 2016 the publication of Pope Francis’ letter to Monsignor Sergio Alfredo Fenoy clarifies any ambiguity in “Amoris Laetitia.” The entire situation has been illuminated for what it is.

    I don’t quite agree. Even if the letter from Francis to Msgr. Fenoy were a public and official statement from the Pope (which it may not be), it merely clarifies the Pope’s intention regarding praxis: specifically, who may receive communion. This change in praxis would seem to necessitate a change in doctrine — but the letter to Fenoy doesn’t discuss doctrine. This new dubium asks the Pope to clarify whether doctrine is being changed (and if so, which ones).

  74. JabbaPapa says:

    Lavrans :

    If he takes the view that he is but the Bishop of Rome, then Lee F is correct. We will have an Eastern Orthodox-style Catholic Church in the West, with national or diocesan churches differing on any number of practices, but all claiming to adhere to the same, infallible truth.

    I don’t know about that — but a concerted effort to try and repair the Great Schism may lead to some greater degree of autonomy for the Latin Patriarchs.

  75. jbpolhamus says:

    I don’t see that they give Bergoglio any benefit of doubt whatsoever. He’s between a rock and a very hard place, and that Rock isn’t Peter. If he answers one way, he is teaching Formal Heresy; if he answers the other, he has caused a heretical document to be published and has put his name and approval on it. He is Anti-pope, and he knows it. That, in English parlance, is called being “snookered.” They have “snookered” the pope. Well done, boys. It’s only a matter of time.

  76. Pingback: Morning Catholic must-reads: 15/11/16 | CHRONICA

  77. Christ_opher says:

    This is wonderful news Thank you Card. Brandmüller, Card. Burke, Card. Caffarra, Card. Meisner and hopefully the other Cardinals that seek the truth. Having been in the situation of living with my girlfriend who is now my Wife. I owe a debt of gratitude to the Priest that clearly said that I was not able to go to communion and confession but was welcome to attend mass, go to adoration and receive ashes.

  78. robtbrown says:

    jbpolhamus says:

    I don’t see that they give Bergoglio any benefit of doubt whatsoever. He’s between a rock and a very hard place, and that Rock isn’t Peter. If he answers one way, he is teaching Formal Heresy; if he answers the other, he has caused a heretical document to be published and has put his name and approval on it. He is Anti-pope, and he knows it. That, in English parlance, is called being “snookered.” They have “snookered” the pope. Well done, boys. It’s only a matter of time.

    Before the Synod I wrote here that the pope’s allies have backed him into a corner. I have changed my mind: He backed himself into a corner, then pointed to people he appointed to show why he was there.

    And so, he wasn’t snookered by the 4 Cardinals because they didn’t push him into the corner. They merely showed him the place where he had decided to stand. By not answering, he shows himself to be blind to the problems with his position.

    Francis has surprised me. I knew that Rahner’s influence in Jesuit education has been considerable (add Fuchs). I also wasn’t surprised that German Existentialism would find its way into Amoris Laetitia as well as certain anti-intellectual comments denigrating theology. The surprise has been that he (and his cohorts, incl Rodriguez Maradiaga) not only ignored or were blind to the inconsistency of that approach to moral theology but also seemed to have forgotten that JPII and BXVI were on the throne of Peter from 1978 to 2013. There seems to be the idea that the Petrine ministry is only one of Ruling, forgeting the Teaching and Sanctifying components.

    The events following AL have been interesting. First, there were questions from people who are not subject to clerical discipline or the discipline of being in a religious institute. Then certain clerics starting questioning it. Now there are public objections coming from Cardinals.

    Perhaps the pope should take some wisdom from the Wizard of Oz: Jorge, you’re not in Argentina any more.

  79. robtbrown says:

    JabbaPapa says

    I don’t know about that — but a concerted effort to try and repair the Great Schism may lead to some greater degree of autonomy for the Latin Patriarchs.

    There are only a few Latin Patriarchs, none in the Americas.

  80. Lurker 59 says:

    Pope Francis’ positions, actions, and responses are not unknown, surprising, nor difficult to ascertain. They only are such when one expects him to be someone other than who he actually is.

    It is misplaced hope, perhaps the misplaced hope of a battered wife who hopes that this time her drunk husband won’t hit her when he comes home, but will instead surprisingly turn into the man she dreams is underneath the brute. It isn’t going to happen. The only way for her life to get better is for her to start to live and act according to the reality that is her husband.

    This dubia is beautiful, but it is magical thinking to believe that it is either a “gotcha” or the thing that is finally going to have Pope Francis “wake up” and “come to his senses”. It is not, because Pope Francis is Pope Francis and he believes and does exactly according to who he is. Pope Francis would never answer such a thing and such Cardinals surely would know that he would never answer such a thing.

    What the dubia is, is a rather nice way of saying “Dear John…”, or at least the start of it.

    Spiritual abuse, like any type of abuse, has to be named, brought into the light, and life has to be lived in such a way that removes the abuser’s influence. Trying to do that without schisming the Church will be difficult because Pope Francis is very demanding in having his program implemented, but it is that very program that is abusive, needs to be named as such, brought into the light, and ultimately ignored and repudiated.

    Sigh.

  81. thomas tucker says:

    I agree with lurker. I am beginning to wonder if this is going to end in schism. And, if so, where I will end up.

  82. Gilbert Fritz says:

    “I don’t see that they give Bergoglio any benefit of doubt whatsoever. He’s between a rock and a very hard place, and that Rock isn’t Peter. If he answers one way, he is teaching Formal Heresy; if he answers the other, he has caused a heretical document to be published and has put his name and approval on it. He is Anti-pope, and he knows it. ”

    This comment is no good. If Francis is an anti pope, (as opposed to just being a “not very good pope,” or even a “throughly bad pope”) then the gates of Hell have prevailed. Unless, of course, you claim that Benedict XVI couldn’t resign; and I don’t know how that could be argued. If the gates of hell have prevailed, what are we doing here?

    Please stop using the name Bergoglio, unless you really and truly don’t consider him Pope. If you really and truly consider this to be so, then please explain where you think the Church is now.

  83. KateD says:

    Stop what you’re doing. Hit your knees. Right now. Pray.

    Thank God for the courage of those four Cardinals!

    Through prayer we aid in manifesting God’s Holy Will.

    Look at what was accomplished in the American elections when we, as a people, hit our knees for our nation. While the media was heralding the death of the Republican Party, the people went to prayer. As a result, practically the whole country came out red and now, I wonder about the viability of the Democrat Party.

    This is what we need to do now, for our church, for our Pope, but most importantly for the defense and protection of these four holy Cardinals. Pray. Fast. Make sacrifices.

    Holy Mother Church is suffering and has been for a long time. Let’s make this the turning point for Her, and restore her to health.

    Double down on those prayer efforts. Surely we can do more for our Church, than we did for our country.

    Pope Francis has asked us to pray for him from day one. It’s not just rhetoric; isn’t it obvious that he is in desperate need of our prayers?

    Whoever is responsible for those 54 day novenas, and has the mailing list, should get the machine cranking for this cause.

  84. KateD says:

    Erlenmeyer, Thank you for the link.

    “knotty statements”….nyuck, nyuck.

    The four Cardinals are His Holiness’s most valuable treasure.

    There is no better way to express their loyalty to the Pope than what the four cardinals have done. Any wise, good and just leader seeks those advisors courageous enough to give their honest and forthright council, even if it differs with his own sentiments (especially if it does), rather than be flattered into error by hordes of sychophants and worse.

    I hope Pope Francis will understand this, have courage and embrace them.

  85. KateD says:

    *counsel