New US Cardinals respond, and don’t, to questions about Five Dubia of Four Cardinals

From LifeSite comes a piece by John Henry Weston about how the new US Cardinals reacted to questions about the Five Dubia submitted by the Four Cardinals.  HERE

Card. Farrell roughly pushed away a reporters hand with a recorder.



Cardinal Joseph Tobin, however, was ready with answers for The Tablet on the same question. In remarks very similar to those of new Cardinal Blase Cupich, [coordination?] Tobin called the Dubia to the Pope by the four Cardinals “troublesome” and said, “The Holy Father is capturing the work of two synods, so if four cardinals say that two synods were wrong, or that somehow the Holy Father didn’t reflect what was said in those synods, I think that should be questioned.”  [Okay… let’s question that for a moment.  First, it is interesting that the argument offered so closely connects Amoris laetitia to the Synod, rather than just the Holy Father.  I think a couple critics of AL made that point when they wondered whether or not it was a Magisterial document.  Also, just because a Synod offers items to the Roman Pontiff for his consideration, the Roman Pontiff is in no way bound to accept them as they were offered.  If he wants to write an Apostolic Exhortation, he can say in it anything it pleases him to say.  He can follow the Synod’s lead or not.  It should also be remarked that the Synod itself seems not to know what the Synod was saying, given the way that the first Synod was jacked around.  Confusion reigned over the Synod.  Confusion is in Amoris laetitia.  A reasonable and fair reading of AL reveals confusing points.]

Adding that the matters dealt with in Amoris Laetitia were complex, Tobin quipped, “just to simply reduce it to a ‘dubium,’ I think it is at best naive.” [Well… when one reads the dubia there is nothing naive or simplistic about them.  They are thoughtful, pointed, deep.]

Cardinal Cupich answered the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin on the matter, saying of Amoris Laetitia: “The document that they are having doubts about are the fruits of two synods, and the fruit of propositions that were voted on by two-thirds of the bishops who were there.”  [So?  This is a Synod, not a Council. Synods have no authority.  2/3 majority?  So?  This is an advisory body.  Also, if I recall an advisory body created by Paul VI recommended by a majority something that the Pope rejected, and rightly so.  The Five Dubia are not about the work of the Synod.  The Five Dubia are about questionable points in Amoris laetitia.   However, please note that it is hard to convey complete thoughts in a press conference to directly to a reported when placed on the spot.]

Cupich added, “I think that if you begin to question the legitimacy or what is being said in such a document, do you throw into question then all the other documents that have been issued before by the other popes. [I don’t see why that should be so.  It is one thing to read a document with clearly taught doctrine and, as a dissenter, disagree with it.  It is another to read a document that is hard to understand and, as a faithful Catholic, desire to know the Truth.] So I think it’s not for the pope to respond to that, it’s a moment for anyone who has doubts to examine how they got to that position because it is a magisterial document of the Catholic Church.”


If it is document of the Magisterium, then people should have a right to ask questions about it.




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  1. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    The comments by both Cupich and Tobin are demagogic and dishonest slurs. Cupich’s elevation of AL to the pinnacle of magisterial status is preposterous. As preposterous as Cupich’s longstanding claim that a priest or bishop does not commit a mortal sin when he gives Communion to known gay couples, adulterers, or abortion promoters.

    (Cardinal Burke proved years ago that each violation of Can. 915 is grave matter, a painfully obvious fact denied by the vast majority of American bishops. )

    And, of course, none of these slurs and smears is a response to the five yes-or-no questions.

  2. Benedict Joseph says:

    “I think that if you begin to question the legitimacy or what is being said in such a document, do you throw into question then all the other documents that have been issued before by the other popes.”
    The pope, Pope Francis, is the individual who has thrown into question a spectrum of documents that have been issued before by other popes on an array of theological realities.
    Are the laity regarded so mindless as to be blind to this? While woven masterfully for the low-info, uncatechised and madly hungry for an excuse to continue to live the self-comfort of mortal sin, it doesn’t work for those of us who have, only by the grace of God, survived a lethal post council spirituality substituting for the Cross.
    Disingenuous it is to craft private perspectives into Christian nomenclature for the comfort of the baptized who were never catechized, or if they were, long ago abandoned the mysteries of the faith for the “baptized” confections of Marx, Darwin and Freud.
    Sociologically couched greed and envy, unanimated science and mind games constructed to excuse concupiscence are no substituted for the treasure of Roman Catholic theology and spirituality.
    Jesus Christ alone is the determinant of history.

  3. Polycarpio says:

    A point of order. Are these really dubia? Or are they objections dressed up as dubia? Because if they are truly dubia, then the questions themselves are only relevant in connection with the clarifications they might illicit. Yet, these questions were so closely crafted, so skillfully composed and presented–and, let us say it, published, ex ante–that they do not come across as bona fide dubia. Do they

  4. L. says:

    This situation is disorienting. The truth seems to be so obviously on the one side, and the Holy Father and his familiars are on the other.

  5. Lurker 59 says:

    Those that go after the Four Cardinals do so calling them Pharisees, ridged, and all sorts of other such things. But upholding Amoris laetitia, as an authentic expression of sound Catholic doctrine and practice, rests on hair-splitting legalism resting on a fine point of naked voluntarism that would have made the historical adversaries of Jesus blush.

    There is MUCH that can be said on this topic, but the problem is that saying anything on the topic requires baseline common understandings; fundamentals, metaphysics, epistemology, basic definitions of terms. Those things are precisely what is being disagreed with because the Amoris laetitia supporters keep redefining terms to suit what is needed to advance their goals. The supporters of Amoris laetitia clearly like rules and order, but only when it suits their needs.

    Doctrine expresses and clarifies that which is already in practice as held in Faith. It is expression for the Faithful, a help for those who are flagging to become Faithful, and a condemnation for the Faithless.

    There is something really long that I could write here, but instead, I will point towards Babette’s Feast, which Pope Francis likes to talk about. If one watches that movie and thinks the message is that doctrine/rules/an ordered life/looking for Jersuleum is wrong, and one thinks instead of encounter between persons, one has not been watching the movie. In the end, not one iota of doctrine/rules/an ordered life/looking for Jersuleum is taken away or disparaged. Yes, new life is breathed into it and it is renewed, but no one iota, jot or tittle is lost or disparaged. There is transformation and renewal, not loss or turning away from that very structured and rule orientated way of life, the way of life that takes the grace of simple Catholic faith to be restored.

  6. jazzclass says:

    A little rigid, don’t you think?

  7. LeeF says:

    This purposeful ambiguity and defense of same, is really disgraceful as well as comical. If those cardinals who posed the dubia really are just obtuse, then why not set them straight by either 1) clearly answering the dubia, or 2) admitting that AL is ambiguous and explaining why ambiguity is OK and needed. Christ spoke the Truth clearly and unambiguously, and these guys should be ashamed of themselves to prevaricate and distract.

  8. LarryW2LJ says:

    Mark 10: 11-12

    Rigid much?

  9. un-ionized says:

    polycarpio, yes, you are right. another smokescreen to avoid dealing with The Real Problem.

  10. GrumpyYoungMan says:

    I would think answering “yes” or “no” would be a fairly simple exercise if someone wasn’t trying to hide anything.

  11. Ivan says:

    Certainly for such a certain, obvious and clearly questions (dubia), it will be a “yes” or “no”,- the best, if not only right way to give an answer.
    “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Mathew 5,37)

  12. Pingback: No Questions Allowed? |

  13. clarinetist04 says:

    To be fair to Cardinal Tobin, I thought his response regarding the Dubia to the NC Register was fairly reasonable (published yesterday):

    NCR: But one of the reasons why the Dubia came about, and certainly why they were made public, is because the Pope has decided not to dialogue or respond to them, and although he talks about building bridges, he’s not doing that with those who are critical of it, who are standing up for the moral law in these cases. Should there be more dialogue on this issue?

    CT: I wouldn’t accept that narrative necessarily, that the Pope has just refused to dialogue with Cardinal Burke or Archbishop Chaput. I don’t know. Maybe he might be expecting that the prior dialogue is missing because in this case you’re speaking of Americans, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. I think that probably a conversation among us, and if there was some further guidance needed coming from the episcopal conference, rather than from individual bishops, may evoke quite a different response. I don’t know if the Pope is planning a response to this or not. This all emerged in the last week or so, so I haven’t really studied the chronology here.

  14. KateD says:

    Truth is not confusing. It is straight forward and direct, almost abrasivly so.

    Have you ever listened to people very close to God speak? Lol. They do NOT mince words. Think Mother Teresa, Padre Pio. They are calm, sure and direct.

    Zero ambiguity.

    Confusion…anxiety…those are not the ways of Truth.

  15. EeJay says:

    There are two worlds in Catholic life as far as I see it. I go to mass every Sunday, afterwards sit down for a coffee with other parishioners and have a laugh or moan about life. VERY VERY rarely is any of this stuff (as described in your post) talked about, if it is then it is done quietly and out of the way. NOTHING has been said during a sermon about any of this, for TWO YEARS I’ve heard only one or two vague references to the synod. NOBODY TALKS ABOUT THESE THINGS IN CHURCH. Then we go home, log onto our laptops and let the games begin. We are all scared to talk, either that or we just don’t care. I hope it isn’t the latter as much as I regret the former. Libs and trads do not talk about these things in parish public life as far as I am aware for fear of starting an argument. Should we be hiding these things either in conversation or even in a sermon?

  16. scotus says:

    Has the Pope recently created a new post or something. Pontifical Obfuscator-in-Chief? And are Cardinals Tobin and Cupich vying to be the most suitable candidate to fill the post? Or maybe the next year after the Year of Mercy will be the Year of Obfuscation? In this year there will be a special door to which you bring your questions. As you approach the door the POC, or his representative, slams the door in your face and makes scurrilous remarks about your motives for approaching the door.

  17. Pingback: Morning Catholic must-reads: 23/11/16 | CHRONICA

  18. CharlesG says:

    I would ask Cardinal Cupich if anyone is calling into question the documents Familiaris Consortio, Veritatis Splendor or the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If there is anyone, it is not the four cardinals.

  19. RobS says:

    With regard to 2/3, it is my recollection that the attempts at minimizing mortal sin did NOT receive that level of support.

    God bless the authors of the dubia.

  20. Nicolas Bellord says:

    One essential fact is that Amoris Laetitia does NOT follow what the Bishops decided in the Synod. The Bishops proposed a process of accompaniment and discernment but in no way was it proposed that this should lead to communion for those continuing in adultery. Amoris Laetitia seems to suggest that it should – that is the problem.

  21. greenlight says:

    EeJay captures my own feelings perfectly. There’s a huge disconnect that hasn’t reached most of our flesh and blood Catholic life yet. No one in my circle of real life acquaintances is talking about this stuff and when it finally becomes unavoidable it’s going to be…unavoidable.

  22. un-ionized says:

    eejay and greenlight, my former circle talks about nothing but issues like this. they were pro-life but nothing else but pro-life. I finally decided that there were other facets to being prolife other than being against fake marriage, adultery, and abortion, such as proper treatment of the elderly. I also feel it isn’t my place to second guess men in red or other colored outfits who I think really agree and don’t realize it because they are not listening to the meanings of words. What Cardinal Tobin has said is right as clarinetist04 quotes above but people are too busy looking for a fight. Spillover from the election. People want to fight right now and if they can’t find something they will make it up. i am not saying that in this particular instance anybody is making stuff up but for myself i am staying alone now on this 4 day weekend that i have and praying that i will improve just a bit in my Christian walk.

  23. MrsMacD says:

    It’s the kind of stuff that makes you wonder if you’re coming or going or riding a horse. That is to say, the Cardinals gentle, respectful, kindly worded, official, common sense dubia, is so plain, so clear, so simple that a small child could understand it and what everyone else is saying sounds like a lot of banging on pots and pans and screaming and it doesn’t sound Catholic at all. I agree with KateD. We need to pray. We need to pray for our bishops and we need to pray for our Holy Father, that God grant them super abundant graces to do what they need to do.

  24. Andrew says:

    Quanta difficultas probandi, tanta operositas suadendi. (Tertullianus: De Anima)

    (The greater the difficulty of proving, the greater the effort of convincing)

  25. Joe in Canada says:

    I wonder if part of the confusion is over the word “dubia”. “Doubt” in English can mean “I don’t really think that’s true”, but “doubtful” can mean “I’m not really sure what that means”. The 4 Cardinals, it seems to me, have given the HF a chance to respond to some questions formed according to the second interpretation.

  26. TimG says:

    Well said MrsMacD!

  27. Lurker 59 says:

    EeJay~ I agree. The problem with “encountering”, ambiguity, non-rigidity, is that it leads to coffee clutches, not repentance, evangelization, and good works.

    If the goal is a vibrant energetic Church, this path doesn’t lead there but rather to breakdown and institutional failure.

    Anybody who has studied Comparative Religion or Sociology of Religion knows that doctrine and adherence to weird, often esoteric, ancient practices are what makes a religious cult viable. If you don’t have those walls, the religious cult breaks down over time and dissolves back into the culture and becomes indistinguishable.

    Both the OT and NT are very clear on the need for doctrinal clarity and cultic purity and separation. Too many people misread the NT and think it is calling for an inclusive Church without doctrinal or cultic boarders.

    Besides, from a purely pragmatic point of view, being open and inclusive doesn’t attract and engage as many people as being weird, esoteric, and exclusive.

  28. norancor says:

    A thought:

    Cd. Cupich and his unorthodox brethren sound like they are angling to exploit the dubia as the next phase of devolution, according to what he said in his comments. Framing the dubia as a “questioning” of a papal document that would open up questioning all other papal documents is a neat turn of phrase, and works according to their aims. How?

    Notice the inversion. According to Cupichian logic, asserting clarity and orthodoxy is deemed a form of disobedience now, and not only that, the mere idea of asking for clarity and orthodoxy opens up the possibility of questioning and undermining all other dogmas, ie papal documents.

    Notice how the Greek bishop called the four cardinals heretics over this? It is a complete inversion of the dogmatic order, with heterodoxy condemning orthodoxy as heresy.

    This makes me think the Holy Father pointedly DIDN’T answer the dubia because it exposes an opportunity. He now has the opportunity to allow Burke and the others to proffer a convenient disobedience which will then allow Kasper and Marx and others the chance to undermine every papal document, and those all truths of the Faith, because the four dared to question AL and the pope.

    I don’t think the Holy Father has any intention to clarify or retract this long hoped for Sankt Gallen/Kasperite goal of Communion for adulterers.

    I think the synod and AL should be seen merely as the first salvo. Undermining Matrimony and Penance via the heresy of Pastoralism is just the opening volley in a much wider plan of action. The intent here, at least on the part of a large group of cardinals, is to call into question, per the norm of Modernism, all truths of the Faith.

    In this way, I would see Cd. Cupich’s words as a lazy mistake, because they are a TELL, showing how the cultural Marxists are thinking about this.

    I could be completely wrong. I actually pray I am. But I don’t think so. My thinking squares with the past 50 years of devolution and especially the past five years of devolution.

  29. Jusabeliever2 says:

    I have been very patient with the “modern church” over 50 years….and I am now giving up. The only recourse I have is to withhold contribution. So be it.

  30. jbpolhamus says:

    Sophistry. Angels on the head of a pin. Bergoglio is clearly not intelligent enough to create such tactical and strategic machinations. He can hardly express himself, much like Obama, without a prepared speech. This is quite simply heresy and the subversion of the church at the highest levels. I will be keeping clear of them until this charade is well and truly ended. I grew up in a church trying to strip itself of its own identity AND MINE. I did not allow that to happen then, and it will not happen now or ever. When I looked at myself in the mirror of faith, as in the Letter of James, I REMEMBERED what manner of man I was, and I have never forgotten it. I was deliberately denied that identity growing up, by the very priestly agents of our church’s destruction. But once I found it I have EVER worked to strengthen and deepen that identity. Bergoglio’s church and actual Catholicism are two different things. When his church is dead, MINE will still be very much alive and standing, founded and built not on the sands of time, but on Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Universal King. Until then, I have better things to do with my soul.

  31. chantgirl says:

    There is disagreement and confusion over the magisterial weight of Amoris, there is disagreement and confusion over what Amoris actually says, there is disagreement and confusion over the proper implementation of Amoris, and we are surprised that anyone is asking questions?!

    Is Cardinal Tobin suggesting that Archbishop Chaput should have waited to implement Amoris until the USCCB coordinated a uniform response? Does Chaput not have the right to teach his flock according to his conscience and the law of God? Am I misunderstanding what Tobin is saying here?

    Clarification was requested from the Pope and he either ignores the question or passes off the job of answering to one of his underlings. It is his primary job to teach and confirm the brethren. If he cannot or will not do his job, well, I pray that God resolves this.

  32. EMF says:

    Hello Norancor and others –

    I read about the retired Greek archbishop who appeared to allege that the four cardinals were apostates, heretics, and schismatics.

    Here is reply… Enjoy !

  33. pseudomodo says:

    [X] Judge
    [X] Teacher
    [ ] Lawmaker

  34. KateD says:


    I’ve had the same experience. Only one parishioner I spoke with on Sunday knew who Cardinals Burke, Cupich, Sarah and Bishop Casper were. They knew who our bishop was and that he was a good one. They had not heard about the “dubia”, nor AL. They had a vague recollection of a thing on the family….”in Philly, right?”

    Perhaps that is as it should be? In the normal course of things, maybe it’s better that the laity not be disturbed by the turbulence above.

    Most of the people at our Church, if not all, seem to be really well intentioned, good and honest folks. Father dutifully leads bible studies and his homilies are always poignant.

    It reminds me of scuba diving. You dive down and everything is so quiet. The only sound that breaks the silence is the ocassional Garibaldi gnashing away. Everything sways rhythmically back and forth as the little fish tranquilly go about their business. In the mean time massive waves roll over head and pound the beach. There could be a full squall raging on the surface, but below little breaks the serenity of the community. They are blissfully ignorant of the goings-on up top.

    The problems with the synods on the family and AL and the ambiguity and confusion are not of God, and therefore cannot remain in His Church. Even if it’s a massive wave, might it eventually roll on by?

    The titans of the Church should engage. But it seems the hierarchy was created in such a way that it promotes an atmosphere down here, for us small fish, which is insulated from all but the most destructive of events.

    Maybe that’s the point of the release of the Dubia. Maybe we small fish need to be apprised of the ELE threat posed by the AL tsunami so that we can save our tails…

  35. Landless Laborer says:

    How do you plead, guilty or not guilty?
    Trying to reduce the philosophy of law to black and white is naive at best.

  36. Austin says:


    What is the point of a poorly constructed dubium? One has to polish the point at issue so that it can answered with a simple affirmative or negative, so it has to be tightly argued.

    They were not published before they were submitted and ignored.

  37. JKnott says:

    Is there a reason why Cardinal Mueller hasn’t commented on this? I don’t understand his silence.

  38. jbpolhamus says:

    They’re not poorly constructed at all. They are quite specific, and admit only two answers. If Bergoglio answers one way, he invalidates his document as heresy, a document which he has caused to pe published in his name. and for which he claims Magisterial authority. If he answers the other way he will declare himself a formal heretic. So…he’s check-mated through his own incompetence, poor advice, lack of theolgical training, and agenda-pursuing hubris. Of course he can not answer at all, except that in not answering he ignores the duty of his Teaching Office, and opens the door to correction because of his own over-reaching egotism. That is not poor construction, that is EXPERT construction, based on facts, logic and tactical awareness. Bergoglio is done, whether he goes or not. His teaching authority is zero at this point. He is Anti-Pope.

  39. kurtmasur says:

    jbpohlamus wrote:
    “If Bergoglio answers one way, he invalidates his document as heresy, a document which he has caused to pe published in his name. and for which he claims Magisterial authority. If he answers the other way he will declare himself a formal heretic. So…he’s check-mated through his own incompetence, poor advice, lack of theolgical training, and agenda-pursuing hubris. Of course he can not answer at all, except that in not answering he ignores the duty of his Teaching Office, and opens the door to correction because of his own over-reaching egotism. ”

    Yes, the above is very well put, especially the comment about his egotism. In the spirit of Bergoglio-speak, I refuse to take his “humble” public gestures at face value. Dig, dig…he is probably hiding something with his trademark public gestures of humility. Perhaps some insecurity? Huge ego? Arrogance? Rigidity and contempt towards tradition even?

    With regards to Cupich’s remarks, I immediately thought the same as norancor, that perhaps it is part of the liberal agenda to eventually formally put into question the magisterium of previous popes, specifically calling into question past papal encyclicals and other papal documents. In fact, the process has just begun with the 2 synods and AL, which directly contradict documents such as of Saint John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio.

    I’m afraid we got no choice but to “make noise” (hagan lío) and let it be known to the powers that be, that they are being watched by us the faithful, and that we’re not indifferent. There is no other choice.

  40. kiwiinamerica says:

    How many times has Francis bloviated about the need for “vigorous and fearless” debate within the Church? We now know, of course, that this is the post-Vatican II dog whistle for the questioning and undermining of Catholic tradition in the areas of liturgy, morality and catechesis. That’s the way it’s been for the last 50 years. When the defenders of Catholic tradition do a little vigorous debating of their own, however, a miracle happens; Francis suddenly goes silent! Wow… that is amazing!! Furthermore, the “company men” like Cupich and Tobin suddenly jump into action and yell “Whoa!!” and accusations of schism and heresy get thrown around.

    So much for “vigorous and fearless debate”, huh?

    What a hypocritical rabble this gang truly is and what an absolute joke of a pontificate from Jorge the Humble.

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