Thoughts on the Five Dubia and The Four Cardinals

The Smear Machine is grinding.  right on schedule, the liberal news outlets are closing ranks to discredit The Four Cardinals who submitted dubia to the Holy Father about what are generally admitted by reasonable people to be confusing points.

Thought: I suggest to the liberal catholic media to take a page from the lesson book of the secular MSM when it came to a certain recent election.  They were wrong from the start about just about everything.  Now, they have little to no credibility in the eyes of the no longer so silent majority.  Whatever side you were on in that election, take note of the role the media played.

Next thought: I’ve seen in comments and email statements that the dubia are about Communion for the divorced and remarried.  Yes and no.  That one issue is certainly a concern.  But if you read the dubia you see that The Four have asked His Holiness to clarify, after what he wrote in Amoris Laetitia, if there are still absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions.

What are The Four asking?  Breaking it down… QUAERUNTUR:

Are people who live habitually out of keeping with God’s commandments objectively (at least… if not subjectively) in the state of grave habitual sin?

Even if people are not necessarily in a subjective state of sin, can their circumstances or intentions transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice?

Can “conscience” authorize to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?

As you can see, these questions go way beyond the single issue of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.

Thought: In fact, another set of dubia could be conceived about the nature of the Eucharist and what Communion by reception of the Eucharist means.  But that’s another bowl of soupe à l’oignon gratinée.

In an interview at the National Catholic Register, Card. Burke responded to a question from Ed Pentin:

What happens if the Holy Father does not respond to your act of justice and charity and fails to give the clarification of the Church’s teaching that you hope to achieve?

Then we would have to address that situation. There is, in the Tradition of the Church, the practice of correction of the Roman Pontiff. It is something that is clearly quite rare. But if there is no response to these questions, then I would say that it would be a question of taking a formal act of correction of a serious error.

Some people are jumping up and down in little jowl-shaking circles, squawking that Card. Burke “threatened” the Pope.   They, hair on fire, are ready to defend the Pope from these mean Cardinals!  These same people have, in the past, as far as I can recall, not been zealous in defense of papal teachings, so this is a pretty interesting development.  At least of clear papal teachings…. 

I saw a piece at the Spanish site Religion Digital entitled: Burke amenaza al Papa con hacerle “un acto formal de corrección de un error grave”… Burke threatens the Pope with making “a formal act of correction of a serious error”

They found someone named Juan Mari Laboa, who quipped “There is no such figure in Canon Law. It’s crazy.”

Thought: I love it when libs start quoting canon law. It guides everything they do, you know!

In the Spanish piece we find:

Inasequible al desaliento, el cardenal norteamericano ha explicado, en una entrevista al National Catholic Register que, si el Papa no responde a la misiva, ” haremos frente a esta situación” . Para Burke, “existe, en la Tradición de la Iglesia, la práctica de la corrección al Romano Pontífice. Es algo que es claramente bastante raro, pero si no hay respuesta a estas preguntas, entonces yo diría que sería cuestión de hacer un acto formal de corrección de un error grave”.

Algo que, como explica Laboa, no es cierto. ” No se puede juzgar ni proclamar los errores de un Papa formalmente “, explica. “Como cualquier cristiano, puede dar su opinión, y hacerlo en público, pero no pretender que sea ningún ‘acto de corrección formal’. ¿Corregir formalmente al Papa? Es una locura “, apunta. Lo que sí podría -o debería- hacer Bergoglio, apuntan los expertos, es llamar a los cuatro cardenales y retirarles la birreta, algo que ya hizo en su día el Papa Pío XI.

What this?

Laboa says that: “You can not judge or proclaim the errors of a pope formally” he explains. “Like any Christian, you can give your opinion, and do it in public, but not pretend to be any ‘act of formal correctness’. ¿Pope formally Correct? It’s crazy , ” he says. What could – or should Bergoglio do, the expert says,  is to call in the four cardinals and withdraw the biretta, which happened in the day of Pope Pius XI.


Louis Billot, SJ, Cardinal from 1911 to 1927 when he resigned. Billot died as a simple priest – probably happier – at the Jesuit Novitiate near Ariccia, Italy.

So… The Four should be striped of the Cardinalate, quoth he!

Apart from being an abysmally stupid move from the point of view of strategy, for that would make The Four martyrs, giving them power when they have none now, and would underscore the importance of the dubia, it would undermine the entire purpose of the College of Cardinals.  But that’s how libs do things.  They use the boot to the knee, the rifle butt to the forehead, the bullet in the back of the skull.  It is long lib tradition.

Thought: Isn’t it ironic that when members of a consultative body (the College of Cardinals) offer observations or ask for clarifications, the libs, who want much greater involvement from consultative bodies at every level, have a spittle-flecked nutty?   The Pope calls for a little “lío” …  ¡Hagan lío!, quoth he… and when he gets some lío, the dissident liberals, newly converted to their ultramontantist papalism, cry FOUL!

Here’s my take on this “formal act of correction”.  Let’s not over complicate it.  YET.

Thought: Were a bunch of Cardinals, or even one Cardinal, to submit to the Holy Father a letter or document in which he corrects the Pope’s teaching, that submission would be “an act”.  If he presented it through channels, or even in person, but with a measure of protocol, which surely would not be lacking, that would be a “formal act”.  If the letter contained corrections of errors, that would make such a letter a “formal act of correction”.

This doesn’t have to be hard.  YET.

At the same time, there is a difference when a score or more of Cardinals sign on than when four sign on.

Thought: To this point, the Cardinals are asking questions.  They are requesting clarifications.  It is usually a good idea – when dealing at this altitude – not to ask questions to which you don’t already know the answers.   The dubia are framed as dubia, but surely the questions contain corrections.  This is a gentle way of presenting their concerns.   Shift a few words and drop the question marks at the end.  Right?  But it remains that they were framed as dubia, questions.

The Four turned to the Holy Father and asked him to be what he truly is: our teacher.

Considering that all of the faithful have the right to recourse to their pastors, to seek true teaching, this is a reasonable move.  If Joe and Mary Bagofdonuts have the right to recourse, why not Cardinals, whose actual role it is in the Church is to provide counsel on important issues?  Don’t Cardinals have at least the rights of the guy in the pew?  Libs will give you a different answer on each occasion.

Frankly, more Cardinals should submit more dubia more often!

Thought about the other point: Is there some procedure, some formal process, to correct a Pope?  There probably isn’t, other than to form a group of some sort and submit a letter or a statement to him.

Oh… wait… that’s what’s going on.

There is another kind of “formal act of correction”, however.  In the history of the Church, if memory serves, Popes have been condemned by Councils. Pope Honorius I ( +638), was anathematized by Constantinople III in 680 as a Monothelite heretic.  St. Pope Leo II subsequently recognized this Council.  It is the 6th Ecumenical Council.

So, Ecumenical Councils seem to be able to make a “formal act of correction” of a Pope, retroactively at least.  It is unlikely that a sitting Pope would ratify a Council which condemned him.

Hmmm… had Pope Francis thought about a Council, he might rethink his thought.  Once a Council were convoked there would be no controlling it.  Who knows what would happen?

Thought: There’s a bright spot in the cloud of confusion.  Libs are finally reading Canon Law!  They have turned to the Code, like hounds on the leash, flanks all a quiver, to charge forth with little yelps of glee in pursuit of their prey, all in the service of the Roman Pontiff.  Such zeal!

New converts often show this sort of zeal.  It must be an interesting experience for some of these people to want to defend everything a Pope says and come to his aid against the forces of evil!

Thought: I suspect that the Holy Father will determine that it is not in his best interest to answer these dubia.  I suspect that he will publicly ignore them.  The Pope surely knows how to write clearly when he wants to.  He surely knows how to find people who can write clearly if he wants to.  Had he wanted Amoris laetitia to be so clear that it could not be read in different ways, he would have written it that way.  Hence, the lack of clarity serves some purpose.  It is hard to determine what that purpose might be.  We probably need a little more time to watch how things play out.  However, if ambiguity is being used in such a way as to change the Church’s teaching, then I imagine that we haven’t seen the last “formal act” from Cardinals.

Meanwhile, let’s not forget that the dubia of The Four didn’t come like a thunderbolt out of the blue.  Since Amoris laetitia wasn’t there a letter sent by 45 scholars, Catholic priests and prelates?  Wasn’t there another letter signed by 790,000? Were there others?  I forget.

Thought: Those who say that Amoris laetitia is simply quite clear in every respect and that you must be ignorant of the Gospel if you don’t get it (read: You must be really stupid!) may be overestimating its crystal clarity.

Final thoughtsFor those of you who are really upset and who don’t know what to do in the face of all this confusion, I will remind you of my view of pontificates as parentheses.

In the history of the Church there are many pontificates.  Popes come and go.  Some pontificates are long and, like parentheses, some are short.  Some parentheses and pontificates are important and some are not.  Eventually God, the author of our history, hits “Shift-Zero” and the pontificate ends.  Another begins.   So, keep a historical perspective.  God’s providence is surely at work in this parenthesis as in every other.

Who can know what good and beneficial things, under God’s direction, will emerge out these catalysts and clashes?  Holy Church is indefectible.

The moderation queue is ON.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Biased Media Coverage, Canon Law, Francis, One Man & One Woman, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, Throwing a Nutty and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ChesterFrank says:

    I am no genius on any of this and it will take me a long time just to understand this post. With that out of the way, wasn’t the reason for Amoris Laetitia to bring about this discussion? Aren’t those four educated cardinals doing exactly what they are supposed to do, read the popes document and formulate intelligent questions so that they might eventually be resolved? The only easy part to understand in all of this is the politics.

  2. Curley says:

    If we continue to look at the recent election for lessons, I would also note how a big part of not only the Presidential, but also congressional victories for Republicans came from the Democrats overplaying their hand on so many cultural issues … gay mareydge, contraception mandate, trans issues and a lot of regular folks, even maybe liberally leaning thought, enough! Even with Francis picking his favorites for the college of Cardinals, if he keeps up with this confusion and purposeful ambiguity his successor could clarify these things VERY clearly in ways he won’t do now.

  3. comedyeye says:

    A canonist in my diocese wrote me today that the Pope is meeting quietly with the four cardinals.
    Don’t know where the info came from…….

  4. Unwilling says:

    Fifty years ago I was an adult convert. From October until April, I was a catechumen (for the first few Masses I attended, I actually left the church where it seemed indicated in the missal); I “understood” that the rest of the Mass was a Holy Mystery only for the baptised. A catechumen is in a state of sin, original mortal sin. Obviously, unbaptized, I was not fit to receive Communion… or so I thought. I was a very pious young man while a catechumen. I attended Mass daily and three times on Sundays. I prayed the Rosary every day and made the Stations most days. And carefully set aside a half-hour of mental prayer every evening. And I looked forward as the hart panteth to my Baptism at Easter (it was Palm Sunday). But now! With this new insight into the flexible understanding of the State of Grace, seemingly consistent with grave personal sin, should I not have been permitted after counselling by the priest (who was anyway trying to get me to read the Dutch Catechism) and after introspecting my good intention and feeling the approval of my conscience, to receive Communion before baptism?

  5. Lurker 59 says:

    What is going on isn’t akin to a competitive sport where two teams battle it out in a back and forth and the crowd frets, groans, and cheers depending on where the ball is. This is chess and in chess you win by knowing precisely what your opponent’s moves are going to be.

    You don’t go around asking a dubia like this without knowing full well the appropriate answers, what the position that you are questioning actually says, and, with a relative degree of certainty, the actual response that you will get back.

    Therefore, us spectators should not get anxious about the “what is next?”, because the “next” has already been planned for (by both sides). This is about being confident, trusting, and supporting those who are playing the game, lease they loose confidence. Support by prayer, by alms giving, by letters of encouragement where possible.

    This whole thing will unfold. It is not a game of chance where we might worry and fret.

    Pope Francis, his course of actions, and his personality are not that complex. Those who have written the dubia and who are supporting the writers behind the scenes also only have a few moves that they can make. The overarching concern is to avoid schisming the Church. Pope Francis, on the other hand, doesn’t mind schismatic attributes in liturgy, doctrine, or moral theology existing within the Church so long as they don’t encroach upon his authority. This doesn’t mean that Pope Francis is anything goes, for he has some very clear lines of what is allowable disunity and what is not.

  6. The Astronomer says:


    I am left wondering why the priest dubbed the Pope’s “Mouthpiece,” Father Antonio Spadaro S.J. calls Cardinal Burke a “Witless Worm,” on Twitter, then deletes his tweets? [Is there proof of that? Is there at least a screen shot somewhere?]

    Since when did the Holy See become so effeminately juvenile? I realize it is lacking in charity, but when I see a priest like Fr. Spadaro taunting good, orthodox Cardinals on Twitter, I want to smack him across the face with the back of my hand really hard. No wonder ISIS wants to break our crosses.

    We need a Pope like St. Pius X and a sidekick for him with the bravery of Don Juan of Austria. [Like the pontificate of Pius XIII.]

  7. adriennep says:

    “I never before had noticed the sublime harmonies of Catholicism, and the foul repugnance of error. Catholicism is the law of life, the life of the intelligence, the solution of all problems. Catholicism is the truth, and everything that departs from it one iota is disorder, deception, and error.”
    –Juan Donoso Cortes, Marquis of Valdegramas (19th century), “Essays on Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism.”

    Check it out on Wikipedia. He had finished his education in Humanities at age 11 and began to study law thereafter.

  8. rmichaelj says:

    As a father, my first concern ( after the will of God) is the raising of my children in the Faith. So many years of confusion. I was catechised in the 80’s and have firsthand experience of the tender “mercies” of the current ambiguity to be found amongst many/most of the Bishops and priest.

    This led to a dissolute lifestyle, by the grace of God I found my way back,and though I continue to struggle I’ve managed to protect my own children from most of the nonsense which filled me with a spiritual pride- deciding for myself what is right and wrong.

    My concern is that I may be forced to decide between heresy and schism. This is more than a political power game or intellectual exercise for my family and millions like me. This is about the world that my children will grow up in.

    May God bless the Four Cardinals for performing their duty. Prayers and fasting for their protection and continued fortitude.

  9. THREEHEARTS says:

    Mike Hurcum writes,
    He does not have to do a darn thing. Mr and Mrs Bagofdonuts are the majority in the church today and do not give a fig about the liturgy, the sacraments or birth control or abortion. For once get it into our heads the adulterers have gone to communion for years we all know that. Who has made any attempt to stop them???? Tell me any of you priests, have you never given communion to those whom you are fairly sure are in a state of sin? Have you ever asked them privately what is their state of grace or have they any. Told them to come to confession or do not come to communion. No! I did not think so. Fr Getalongwith and Fr Goalong with are in the majority too. All you priggish laity wallowing in your holiness have you ever approached those who are sinful and asked Mr and Mrs Donotjudgeme their state of soul. I am not boasting but I have and have had priests ask me to go to another church. I have made a priest to understand that some are taking communion back to their seat wrapping it in a paper and taking it home to their sick dog, This was told me by a Vicar General. Ikea had a grand opening locally and the papers covered those who had lined up all night for the bargains they had great delight in reporting the first in the line was asian fellow and catholic, The reporter asked why are not at church. He replied my sister is an extra to the ordinary minister of communion, she brought me communion. Any other stories of the same ilk and any regrets you did nothing about them.We need more John the Baptists among the laity> I do not think for one moment the priests are going to bat in defense of the Eucharist. The ones that do are vilified by bishops other priests and old bagofdonuts.

  10. Pingback: FRIDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit

  11. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Do I recall correctly that that which is unclear (or ambiguous) can’t be binding? That’s why it is permissible to disagree about whether the Blessed Virgin Mary died before she was assumed into heaven, if I recall.

    Isn’t there a principle in Canon Law that unless a new interpretation of texts/ ruling of the Roman Pontiff directly and explicitly contravenes an older one, the older canon/interpretation holds? That’s how girl altar boys were understood to be not possible for such a long time: the new Code omitted the old canon, but didn’t countermand it.

  12. Pingback: Thoughts from Father Z on the Five Dubia and The Four Cardinals |

  13. JabbaPapa says:

    Unwilling :

    Fifty years ago I was an adult convert. From October until April, I was a catechumen (for the first few Masses I attended, I actually left the church where it seemed indicated in the missal); I “understood” that the rest of the Mass was a Holy Mystery only for the baptised. A catechumen is in a state of sin, original mortal sin. Obviously, unbaptized, I was not fit to receive Communion… or so I thought.

    To reassure you, perhaps, I was a Catechumen in 2005, and similar understandings were given to me. Although it was ritually demanded of me only once, I nevertheless took my place in a side chapel during the Mass, rather than with the Congregation — to this day, I still move a little apart after the Eucharist to be in Communion with our fellow Catechumens in a gesture of Prayer for their conversions.

    But now! With this new insight into the flexible understanding of the State of Grace, seemingly consistent with grave personal sin, should I not have been permitted after counselling by the priest (who was anyway trying to get me to read the Dutch Catechism) and after introspecting my good intention and feeling the approval of my conscience, to receive Communion before baptism?

    And here is the exact sort of confusion that the dubia and these Cardinals seek at last to clarify and dispel.

  14. Pingback: Morning Catholic must-reads: 18/11/16 | CHRONICA

  15. Gabriel Syme says:

    Father Z,

    Regarding Spadaro’s “witless worm” tweet, above you asked:

    [Is there proof of that? Is there at least a screen shot somewhere?]

    I have found that a few Catholic blogs have a screenshot of the now deleted tweet, and evidence of the deletion. From what I can see he didn’t make the insult directly, but rather implied it via tweeting a movie screenshot (not that this makes it OK); see here:

    Hope this helps!

  16. Hugh says:

    Bbbuttt your Holiness, …….. um, “dialogue”??

  17. Traductora says:

    I think the good thing that will come out of this is that the truth, which had nearly disappeared under 50 years of Vatican II mush, will reemerge and be affirmed. It’s not going to be pretty getting to that point, however.

    People are paying little attention to what I believe to be the most important part of the dubia- the moral questions. Francis is essentially saying that there is no universal morality and that, furthermore, even if there were, because of their situations, some individuals are incapable of choosing it. So we have “mercy” where no moral choice is required.

    In other words, he is taking away the moral autonomy of the individual, the thing that gives that individual control over his circumstances and makes him responsible for his acts, and reducing the moral capacity and responsibility of the individual to about that of an animal. In the view of Francis, man is just an animal that needs to be under the control of the state, which will tell it what to do and where virtue will be judged solely by one’s adherence to the law of the state, whatever that law may be.

  18. The Astronomer says:

    Yes, Father, I can email you a screenshot of the Twitter post if you like. Email address, pls?

    In Christ,


  19. Blas says:

    Here you have an opinion of an italian priest. Seems the four sent the letter months ago and already received a signal that there will not be an answer.

  20. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Fr. Z.,

    I sent you an e-mail with the screenshots and context of the, “wireless worm,” comment. I do not wish to impugn anyone by doing so, but it does seem as if emotions are running high. I have deliberately stayed off of commenting on the Internet for a week after the U. S. elections, because I knew emotions would be off the charts. The current situation of the dubia is sure to raise the blood pressures of all involved, as well. Granted, everyone should approach highly emotional topics with reserve and self-control, but in this case, I suppose one has to make allowances for the ill-considered response, of which we are all capable. It seems to me that Fr. Spadaro’s comment is, charitably interpreted, something made in the heat of the moment, as many comments on Twitter are want to be. There is something to be said for the privacy of pen and paper.

    The Chicken

  21. FXR2 says:

    Perhaps you remember this from last year.

    Fr Z,
    The tweets you asked The Astronomer about seem to be found here (I am not vouching for the accuracy).

  22. TheodoreN says:

    Astronomer wrote: “I am left wondering why the priest dubbed the Pope’s “Mouthpiece,” Father Antonio Spadaro S.J. calls Cardinal Burke a “Witless Worm,” on Twitter, then deletes his tweets?”

    Over at OnePeterFive, Steve Skojec’s article from 11/15 ‘A Rapidly Emerging Schism’, contains a number of screenshots showing the snarky and disrespectful indirect responses back to the Cardinals by Fr. Spadaro via Twitter. I did not see the Witless Worm comment. Perhaps someone could use the Way Back Machine to see if he in fact made this comment?

    Also, regarding the next steps and the formal correction of the pope, from my limited introduction to this topic it seems we do not need to wait for a retroactive ecumenical council. Below is my brief summary of the steps the bishops could immediately take to correct a wayward pope up to the point of removing him (I’m basing this summary off Robert Siscoe’s helpful article at the Remnant entitled ‘Can the Church Depose an Heretical Pope’). I’m planning to read it soon but there is also a lengthier full length work on this topic from the 1970s by Arnaldo Xavier da Silveira entitled ‘Theological hypothesis of a heretical Pope’ with an English copy available online through traditioninaction. Here are the steps as I understand them per Mr. Siscoe’s work:

    1.) A heretical pope remains pope until the official deposition process by the Church is undertaken; 2) the pope has no superior to his authority on earth; 3) a pope who deviates from the faith should be deposed as the Church has a right to separate herself from her heretical head per divine mandate; 4) only the Church—acting through a general ‘imperfect council’ composed of her bishops (i.e. one that is not called to define doctrines or regulate the Church but only to juridically decide the matter of a heretical pope or as with the Western Schism in the 13th century to decide on the lawful Pope amongst many rival claimants)—has the authority to depose a validly elected Pontiff. Even this latter rule is qualified in that the Church through this council acts only in a ministerial function to prove the crime of heresy and to publically declare the sentence—God Himself reserves the right to actually remove the man from the office.

    I) The Church acting through said imperfect council composed of her bishops (no required number of bishops is stated in this article; perhaps someone on this forum can research if there is any consensus on the number required to make the council binding) first must establish that the alleged heresy committed by the Holy Father is in fact a material heresy, i.e. that it denies a revealed truth of the Church that she has definitively proposed as such through solemn pronouncements and/or through the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium.

    II) Next the Church must determine that the Pope has not only promulgated a material heresy but has formally committed to it through pertinacity (stubborn adhesion to the heresy). Determining formal heresy is more difficult than determining material heresy as the determination of pertinacity pertains to the conscience (internal forum) of the Holy Pontiff. Thus as Siscoe notes, this determination is typically established by ‘drawing out’ the formal nature of the heresy, usually through one or two public warning(s) (WE SEEM TO BE ON THE VERGE OF THIS NEXT STEP AS OF 11-18-16). This warning is actually required by canon law (2314.2 & 188.4, 1917 Code) which is itself based on Titus 3:10-11. This public warning seeks to give the defendant time to amend his teaching or find an excuse for the mistake committed through human error or weakness. Siscoe notes that even in the extreme case of a cleric apostatizing from the Faith, a warning is required before his office may be declared vacant.

    III) If the Pope were to remain hardened in his ways after being duly warned, his pertinacity in maintain the heresy would be established and proof of his departure from the Faith would be proven. He by this very act would pronounce a sentence against himself and essentially self-abdicate from the Chair of Peter.

    IV) In turn, the council of bishops (and Cardinals if they are also bishops) confirms the self-judgment of the Pope and judges him guilty with the declarative sentence: he is a heretic and thus one to be avoided by the faithful per Titus 3:10-11 and in keeping with the understanding that the Church has jurisdiction over the faithful. The former pope is now rendered impotent as the body can no longer associate with the severed head.

    V) Just as God joined the man to the office of Pope by the ministerial power of the Church, God now respects the declaratory sentence of the Church and separates the heretical man from the Petrine office.

    VI) The Church may now make the declaration of deprivation and declare the See Vacant which allows the Cardinals to elect a new Pope.

    Francisco Suarez summarizes the process neatly: “Therefore on deposing a heretical Pope, the Church would not act as superior to him, but juridically and by the consent of Christ she would declare him a heretic [declaratory sentence] and therefore unworthy of Pontifical honors; he would then ipso facto and immediately be deposed by Christ [divine punishment], and once deposed he would become inferior and would be able to be punished. [human punishment]”

    My questions for Father and those on this forum are whether these dubias address materially heretical propositions (my sense is yes they do), and if anyone has come across anything indicating how many of the world’s bishops would be needed to form that ‘imperfect council’ to levy warnings and declare sentence. Also, should the brave Cardinals continue to go down this road, the real problem with schism would arise if and when the see of Peter were declared vacant but Pope Francis would refuse to submit. In that case I envision the Church being deeply split between whole dioceses, perhaps even nations, loyal to the now anti-pope and a much smaller flock in communion with the new Pope who maybe wouldn’t even be allowed at the Vatican until all the smoke cleared.

  23. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    >>Meanwhile, let’s not forget that the dubia of The Four didn’t come like a thunderbolt out of the blue. Since Amoris laetitia wasn’t there a letter sent by 45 scholars, Catholic priests and prelates? Wasn’t there another letter signed by 790,000? Were there others? I forget.<<

    We also had Bishop Athanasius Schneider's Reflections in April, the subject of a PODCAzT, and the Declaration of Fidelity in August, still available for signing by all the faithful at

  24. cyrillist says:

    “[Is there proof of that? Is there at least a screen shot somewhere?]”


  25. jhayes says:

    In Amoris Laetitia, Francis writes

    308…I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, “always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street.”

  26. samwise says:

    “ultramontantist papalism” is about as unapplicable here as “promethean self-referential neo palagianism” or whatever appears in Evangelii Gaudium. Montanism is a heresy in opposition to the Church of the Bishops, which includes opposition to the Bishop of Rome as I understand it. Tertullian was a montanist.

  27. TimG says:

    It appears that Pope Francis is unwilling to respond directly and instead is using his indirect route of degrading them via the media. This is not charitable nor an act of mercy and I cannot understand why anyone is calling him the Pope of Mercy.

  28. TimG says:

    Fr Z…..Vox Cantoris has a screenshot of Fr Spadaro’s “witless worm” tweet

  29. OldLady says:

    Now I understand why Our Lady reveals herself in locations where people still retain a simpleness of faith. The more questions, the more confusion. Where is rigidity when you need it??

  30. Benedict Joseph says:

    As we excavate ever deeper we are getting to the heart of the dilemma. Last evening I heard Edward Pentin quote sources close to the Holy Father describing him as “boiling with rage” over this situation.
    Eureka. Finally a moment of unvarnished truth.
    The referenced “boiling rage” has been fueling the metamorphosis of Roman Catholicism for decades.
    This morning we read in the Catholic Herald that Antonio Spadaro SJ denies Mr. Pentin’s reportage – the same Mr. Pentin who produced the video of Cardinal Kasper “not saying” of the African episcopate “they should not tell us too much what we have to do,” implying that Mr. Pentin is feeding us a lie.
    He wasn’t then, and it is unlikely he is misquoting his sources at the Domus.
    Anyone who got through the sophomore year of high school already has a degree in this facet of human relations.
    Perhaps the deconstruction envisioned by the St. Gallen Group, underway with the Bergoglian cohort, is finally beginning to “splash back?”
    Quite the corrosive.
    Let those possessed of the Truth continue to speak. The laity yearn for your voice.
    Light indeed is the best disinfectant.

  31. LarryW2LJ says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Father. Didn’t Pope Francis encourage us to “make a mess”, shake things up and get people’s attention?

    I’m reminded of the old saying, “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.”

  32. Bthompson says:

    For those who want communion for the divorced and remarried, what option is there apart from ignoring the questions?

    The questions our perception of that any Pro-communion-for-irregular-situations responsum would have to boil down to “You have heard it said, ‘Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery’, but I say…” no bishop or Pope in his right mind would make a move like that.

  33. fichtnerbass says:

    Perhaps the Cardinals could nail their dubia to a church door – maybe in Germany somewhere – to make a point? In acknowledgement of a certain impending anniversary? Or is that a bit too cheeky?

    [Or maybe to a certain forehead? That would make a point.]

  34. TimG says:

    Fr Spadaro has posted an additional tweet regarding Lord of the Rings and Wormtongue. This is very sad really.

  35. JuliB says:

    “Can “conscience” authorize to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?”

    I could be wrong, but my rule of thumb is that when conscience prompts one to act, it causes one to take the more difficult path, the less popular, the sometimes persecuted path. I think of St. Sir Thomas More, of the bakers losing their livelihoods, etc. I do not think of taking Communion against the formal rules, nor of taking birth control.

    This is so terribly frustrating. I say this as someone who is waiting for the answer to a petition of nullity.

  36. Joseph-Mary says:

    As one poster wrote: My concern is that I may be forced to decide between heresy and schism. ”

    Yes, we are almost there. [Good grief. Calm down.]
    And we must obey legitimate authority EXCEPT in the case of sin. But what is sin any more? Divorced and remarried? Already some bishops are fine with these folks coming to communion and without confession, etc. Accompanying those in ‘irregular” (sinful) situations and life styles? No longer sin in that either? Might as well lead a gay parade then. What next? Approving sodomite unions? If all these things are for discussion and left in ambiguity so that every one can just go by their own ‘conscience” which may be dead if a soul is in mortal sine…then there are no absolute truths. Then Our Lord and the apostles must have been in error (which cannot be). The faithful are left with few shepherds seeking their true salvation or helping them to holiness. Is God no longer offended by sin?

    As for the holy and courageous C. Burke….he is a premier canonist and to call him a witless worm is to show the vitriol of the caller. But then many of the faithful are being called names these days and their cries go unheeded. I cannot help but think that if there was a way to excommunicate the Cardinal, it would happen. Saints have been excommunicated by peeved prelates in the past after all.

    May the Lord have mercy on His flock. Not false mercy either.

  37. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Montanism and Ultramontanism are not related, despite their names.

  38. OakesSpalding says:

    Yeah. When I put the Wormtongue tweet on Mahound’s Paradise I thought it was a “scoop.” I didn’t think it was up long enough for anyone else to notice or get a screenshot of it. But it turns out Deacon Nick Donnelly at pointed it out first.

    Nick was also the first to note that Spadaro had put up the deleted tweet again, with a further snark at Burke (or at a generic enemy of Francis or whomever) – “He’s a herald of woe” – and a jokey comment – “Nice to see what happend when I posted just some pics (& no comments) from the movie #TheLordofthe Rings Crazy things & wired hermeneutic!.”

    Vox Cantoris and 1P5 also picked up on the funny kerfuffle and Canon212 linked to my post under a different headline.

    So it’s nice to see that the Pope’s “mouthpiece” has time in his busy schedule to read the blogs and tweets of our small circle of rigid neo-pelagians.

  39. LeeF says:

    How long is it going to be before the various dicasteries are instructed not to act on, let alone respond to, valid complaints about sacramental and liturgical abuses when a bishop refuses to remedy such a situation?

  40. comedyeye says:

    May I remind all who is the sower of chaos and confusion?

  41. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Fr. Z:

    The Pope used one of your favorite lines!

    “And besides, they hate Vatican II.”

  42. OldProfK says:

    Quoth Father Zuhlsdorf: “There’s a bright spot in the cloud of confusion. Libs are finally reading Canon Law! They have turned to the Code, like hounds on the leash, flanks all a quiver, to charge forth with little yelps of glee in pursuit of their prey, all in the service of the Roman Pontiff. Such zeal!”

    Indeed. Let’s hope the Lord will turn a few hearts thereby.

    On the other hand, “Libs will give you a different answer on each occasion.” This, alas, is also true of at least some individuals, for whom reading Canon Law will be in the spirit of “Any chair in a bar fight” (cum ulla sella in pugno taberno? — pretty sure that’s butchered, sorry). The bright spot about that is that they continue to practice rank sophistry on the Internet, where self-contradiction is part of one’s permanent record.

    Good thing too, because if it weren’t for bad faith, they’d have no faith at all.

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