From Father Z’s blog:
[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.]
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.
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. Burke, 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.