Dubious dubia about the Dubia

Once upon a time there was a Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation that caused a lot of head scratching.  And so some Cardinals got together, four in all, and asked the writer of the Exhortation – or rather the Pope whose signature was on it – a few questions, five in all.  They were, you see, scratching their heads.

The Pope didn’t answer their questions, and that made a lot of other people scratch their heads.  There was a lot of head scratching.

Then two of the Cardinals died.  It would be wrong to read into that “then” that they died because the Pope didn’t answer the questions.  That would be a post hoc ergo propter hoc mistake.  They died, because, well, they were old and their time was up.

Two Live Dubia Cardinals™ remain.

Today I read that during His Holiness told Reuters:

In 2016, [Card.] Burke and three other cardinals issued a rare public challenge to Francis over some of his teachings in a major document on the family, accusing him of sowing disorientation and confusion on important moral issues.

Francis said he had heard about the cardinals’ letter criticizing him “from the newspapers … a way of doing things that is, let’s say, not ecclesial, but we all make mistakes”.

He borrowed the analogy of a late Italian cardinal who likened the Church to a flowing river, with room for different views. “We have to be respectful and tolerant, and if someone is in the river, let’s move forward,” he said.

“If someone is in the river”….  I think this is something like, “The Church is a big tent.  You might be under that end of the tent or under this end, but either way you are still in the tent.”

On the other hand, at LifeSite we find a piece which checked in with one of the Four Cardinals of the Five Dubia, Live Dubia Cardinal™ Burke.

Cardinal Burke, however, told LifeSiteNews that “The late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra personally delivered the letter containing the dubia to the Papal Residence, and at the same time to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on September 19, 2016, as he also delivered subsequent correspondence of the four Cardinals regarding the dubia.”

Burke added that, “During the entire time since the presentation of the dubia, there has never been a question about the fact that they were presented to the Holy Father, according to the practice of the Church and with full respect for his office.”

Cardinal Burke suggested that perhaps the Pope misunderstood the reporter’s question. “If the question of the journalist is referring to the formal presentation of the dubia or questions regarding Amoris Laetitia by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, the late Cardinals Carlo Caffarra and Joachim Meisner, and myself, then Pope Francis must not have understood him,” he said.

Hence, there is room within the comments of the Holy Father that allows for a simply misunderstanding, rather than a darker possibility.

The other Live Dubia Cardinal™ Brandmuller: “It is very clear that we wrote directly to the Pope and at the same time to the Congregation for the Faith. What should be left that is unclear here?”

What is unclear is whether there will ever be a response to the Five Dubia of the Four Cardinals.   It has been some 640 days since they were submitted… and received.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. bobbird says:

    I AM stupid. When I initially read PF’s comments about “first reading about it in the newspapers … a way of doing things that is, let’s say, not ecclesial, but we all make mistakes”, I thought he was criticizing HIMSELF. As in “I hadn’t caught up in my homework” or “My staff had been hiding it from me.” Now we have to face a fact: the kindest interpretation is that he has a bad or convenient memory. The worst interpretation is that we do not need to send him a Dubia, but a copy of the 8th commandment.

  2. dbonneville says:

    Bring a camera crew, and have Burke knock on the door, and hand deliver an envelope called “Copy of the Dubia”. In short, just redeliver said Dubia.

  3. Isn’t the lack of response itself a response?

  4. Prayerful says:

    There must be sort of affliction where the Holy Father becomes blind, deaf and dumb, the three monkeys in one prelate. Doctors should study this marvel.

  5. cpt-tom says:

    Copy of the 8th commandment indeed. What a weaselly response by the Lord’s Vicar on Earth. I am saddened more than anything. Then you add this lovely bit of news, and you begin to wonder if we really have a universal church anymore: http://catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2018/06/22/individual-bishops-should-decide-about-communion-in-mixed-marriages-pope-says/


  6. teomatteo says:

    I wouldn’t trust the leadership in the Vatican with my guppy. River or no river.

  7. richiedel says:

    Dear Anita Moore, T.O.P.,

    I was going to respond to your comment by not responding to it and so prove your point, but then I thought you might think I was ignoring you, but then I realized that you likely don’t even know I exist, and that this context might not correlate to that surrounding the Pope and the cardinals and their dubia because the Pope may very well know that the cardinals exist and that they may be very well expecting a response to their dubia whereas you wouldn’t be expecting a response to your comment from someone you didn’t know existed, but then I realized I could respond to your comment by saying all this and so essentially respond to you by still saying nothing, and then realized that in so doing that this context may correlate to the Pope and cardinals’ situation, after all.

  8. Charles E Flynn says:

    I am waiting to see if anything special happens on day 666.

  9. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Silence implies consent?

  10. stephen c says:

    Well …. the forsaken pagans of Ireland voted for a system where the war between people who want fetuses dead upon demand, on the one side, and on the other side people who want the fetuses to live to see another day just like the rest of us: …… the forsaken pagans of Ireland voted for a system where that war cannot legally be won by the fetuses, and a couple weeks later Pope Francis stated that, well, the people who voted for that were literally supporters of Nazism.

    And he said that, even though he knows he is generally considered a liberal. Good for him for that.

    OK, that was off topic. But to get back on topic – “maybe he misunderstood the reporter’s question”: that is charitable and probably true.

    I am old – not saying my “time is up”, but I am certainly not ever going to “die young” – and I hope that Francis outlives me, so there’s that. But I would also like to live to see a time where my Pope, the person we all pray for every day, communicates with the people who look to him as the “sheep look to the shepherd” or as the early Christians “listened to the words of Peter and Paul”, in a pure and simple way, and not through “reporters”.

  11. HvonBlumenthal says:

    If the Pope has forgotten that he received a letter, it will not be the first time. Remember Barros?

  12. HvonBlumenthal says:

    It is insufficient merely to say the right thing. The right thing has to be said at the right time. The right time in this case was before the vote.

  13. Dismas says:

    Vatican I detailed the boundaries of infallibility.

    So, if someone (perhaps not even physically manifest) is determined to push for heterodoxy in the Church, yet is cognizant of an impenetrable bulwark, why try a frontal assault against it when the flanks are wide open?

    Consider how certain damaging wordings are nebulous and vague, thus allowing both orthodox and heretical interpretations. Even if there is but a drip of truth admixed within a torrent of folly, it cannot be called out as completely false. As I see it, this has been the Devil’s game since before I was born.

    Back to the Dubia. It cannot be responded to because that would force the destruction of the carefully sewn lie. Everything else short of that is up for grabs.

  14. maternalView says:

    I’m all for being charitable but there does come a time when you do have to call someone out on their behavior. I have family members who decide to ignore questions put to them because they simply don’t want to answer no matter how many times you might call, text or email. They might pretend at first they didn’t receive any communication but at some point they quit pretending and just ignore you.

    The issue of whether the Pope received the letter personally is a side issue. He no doubt knows about it and it is his responsibility to investigate it as it involves questions of faith. There is absolutely no excuse for him to ignore a communication from Cardinals. That shows disrespect. Not a good example for the faithful.

  15. stephen c says:

    HvonBlumenthal – I agree with you.

    I for one believe there are almost as many angels praying for you and for me as there are praying for poor Pope Francis.

    I have made grievous mistakes in my time too. I prefer to think that the poor man is overwhelmed with his responsibilities, and that he has no idea that he is surrounded by people who are only pretending to be Christian. It would not be the first time that someone with the responsibilities of leadership was misled!

    Long ago – probably before you were born – I prayed to God that I would have many children. When I said that prayer, I knew I was a sinful, mediocre man. But I still wanted to be a father to many children! And now, closer to a century than a year later (trust me on the math), I have to wonder if one of the many children I might have had might have made many of the mistakes that our sad Pope Francis has made (obviously, any child of mine would not be Pope before, say, 2040 – but that is a different detail). I would maybe say to myself: thank you God, his sins are not great sins, they are only the sort of sins that people who do not speak plainly engage in, and after all is it so big a thing to refuse to speak plainly, they are not sins of the flesh but sins of pride and sins that mediocre people who follow second-rate philosophy engage in , in their humble respect for wrong-thinking people who claim to be better Christians, and who fool others into doing the wrong thing, or not doing the right thing ….

    As for me, I think it is a sin to not speak plainly. May God forgive those who did not speak plainly in the days before the Irish – those lucky people living on that beautiful island – decided that the killing of unborn children is what they call, in their evil foolishness, a constitutional right.

    Thanks for reading. God bless you for speaking the truth.

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