Another Letter From the Four Cardinals To the Pope. This Too With No Response
By Sandro Magister
Seven months on from the “dubia,” Pope Francis has received midway through this spring another letter from the same four cardinals, signed by Carlo Caffarra in the name of the other three: Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, and Joachim Meisner.
And to this letter as well, like to the “dubia” before it, he has not responded.
The four cardinals were asking the pope for an audience. To talk with him about the divisions generated by “Amoris Laetitia” and about the resulting “situation of confusion and disorientation” in much of the Church.
The letter was in Francis’s hands back on May 6. But the prolonged absence of a response has expanded its nature. As has already happened with the “dubia,” the four cardinals now think it right that the letter be offered for the reflection of the whole “people of God,” from which arises the demand for clarification to which they are giving voice.
The complete text of the letter, translated from the original Italian, is reproduced further below.
But in the meantime it is also useful to point out that, during the 45 days that have passed between the delivery of the letter to the pope and its publication, the Babel of interpretations of “Amoris Laetitia” - but not only this - has continued to grow.
The following facts can be presented in this regard:
- In Poland, the episcopal conference has announced that in October it will publish guidelines for the application of “Amoris Laetitia” that will hold firm, without exception, the teaching of John Paul II on the divorced and remarried, who will be able to receive communion only if they resolve to live “as brother and sister.”
- In italy, the episcopal conference of the region of Sicily has published “Pastoral guidance” on the eighth chapter of “Amoris Laetitia” that provides for “practical solutions distinguished according to the situations,” including absolution and communion for the divorced and remarried who live “more uxorio.”
- In Belgium too, the bishops with a “Pastoral letter” have given the go-ahead to communion for the divorced and remarried, even if simply “decided in conscience.”
- In Argentina, in the diocese of Reconquista, Bishop Ángel José Macín, installed there by Pope Francis in 2013, has publicly celebrated the full readmission into the Church of around thirty divorced and remarried couples that continue to live “more uxorio,” giving them communion - he said - at the end of a collective course of preparation based on the indications of “Amoris Laetitia” and of the subsequent letter written by the pope to the bishops of the region of Rio de la Plata.
- Also in Italy, the theologian Maurizio Chiodi has published in the latest issue of the authoritative “Rivista del Clero Italiano” an essay in which he argues in the light of “Amoris Laetitia” for the possibility of communion for the divorced and remarried on the basis of “a theory of conscience beyond the alternative of the norm.” The “Rivista del Clero Italiano” is published by the Catholic University of Milan, under the direction of three bishops: Gianni Ambrosio, Franco Giulio Brambilla, and Claudio Giuliodori. And Chiodi was appointed by the pope a few days ago as an ordinary member of the renovated Academy for Life.
- Again in Italy, in Turin, the Catholic priest Fredo Olivero has confirmed that the interconfessional group “Breaking bread” in which he participates meets once a month to celebrate the Eucharist now according to the Catholic ceremony and now the Protestant, all of those present receiving communion. He has said that he is sure this is the true “personal thinking” of Pope Francis, according to what he said on November 15, 2015 during his visit to the Lutheran church of Rome. He added that the dogma of transubstantiation must be reinterpreted in a “spiritual” vein, and that according to Jesus the Mass can be celebrated by anyone, not only an ordained minister. Fr. Olivero made this disclosure in the latest issue of “Riforma,” the weekly of the Waldensian Church.
- And finally, at the Vatican, it turns out that has been set up a commissioncharged with reinterpreting in the light of “Amoris Laetitia” the encyclical of Paul VI “Humanae Vitae” on contraception. The members of this commission are Pierangelo Sequeri, head of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Angelo Maffeis, head of the Paul VI Institute in Brescia, and Philippe Chenaux, a professor of Church history at the Pontifical Lateran University. The coordinator is Gilfredo Marengo, a professor of theological anthropology at the aforementioned institute founded by John Paul II and a longstanding supporter of revisionist ideas.
This is the state of the facts. And this the letter to the pope from four cardinals who are not resigning themselves to it.
In addition to Italian, English, Spanish, and French, the letter is also available in Portuguese and German:
It is with a certain trepidation that I address myself to Your Holiness, during these days of the Easter season. I do so on behalf of the Most Eminent Cardinals: Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, Joachim Meisner, and myself.
We wish to begin by renewing our absolute dedication and our unconditional love for the Chair of Peter and for Your august person, in whom we recognize the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Jesus: the "sweet Christ on earth," as Saint Catherine of Siena was fond of saying. We do not share in the slightest the position of those who consider the See of Peter vacant, nor of those who want to attribute to others the indivisible responsibility of the Petrine "munus." We are moved solely by the awareness of the grave responsibility arising from the "munus" of cardinals: to be advisers of the Successor of Peter in his sovereign ministry. And from the Sacrament of the Episcopate, which "has placed us as bishops to pasture the Church, which He has acquired with his blood" (Acts 20:28).
On September 19, 2016 we delivered to Your Holiness and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith five "dubia," asking You to resolve uncertainties and to bring clarity on some points of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, "Amoris Laetitia."
Not having received any response from Your Holiness, we have reached the decision to ask You, respectfully and humbly, for an Audience, together if Your Holiness would like. We attach, as is the practice, an Audience Sheet in which we present the two points we wish to discuss with you.
Most Holy Father,
A year has now gone by since the publication of "Amoris Laetitia." During this time, interpretations of some objectively ambiguous passages of the post-synodal Exhortation have publicly been given that are not divergent from but contrary to the permanent Magisterium of the Church. Despite the fact that the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith has repeatedly declared that the doctrine of the Church has not changed, numerous statements have appeared from individual Bishops, Cardinals, and even Episcopal Conferences, approving what the Magisterium of the Church has never approved. Not only access to the Holy Eucharist for those who objectively and publicly live in a situation of grave sin, and intend to remain in it, but also a conception of moral conscience contrary to the Tradition of the Church. And so it is happening – how painful it is to see this! – that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta. And so on. One is reminded of the bitter observation of B. Pascal: "Justice on this side of the Pyrenees, injustice on the other; justice on the left bank of the river, injustice on the right bank."
Numerous competent lay faithful, who are deeply in love with the Church and staunchly loyal to the Apostolic See, have turned to their Pastors and to Your Holiness in order to be confirmed in the Holy Doctrine concerning the three sacraments of Marriage, Confession, and the Eucharist. And in these very days, in Rome, six lay faithful, from every Continent, have presented a very well-attended study seminar with the meaningful title: "Bringing clarity."
Faced with this grave situation, in which many Christian communities are being divided, we feel the weight of our responsibility, and our conscience impels us to ask humbly and respectfully for an Audience.
May Your Holiness remember us in Your prayers, as we pledge to remember You in ours. And we ask for the gift of Your Apostolic Blessing.
Carlo Card. Caffarra
Rome, April 25, 2017 Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist
1. Request for clarification of the five points indicated by the "dubia;" reasons for this request.
2. Situation of confusion and disorientation, especially among pastors of souls, in primis parish priests.