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Prelates may issue ‘formal act of correction’ on Amoris Laetitia: Cardinal Burke

November 16, 2016

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said that Catholic prelates could take the extraordinary step of making “a formal act of correction of a serious error” if Pope Francis does not clarify the teaching of Amoris Laetitia.

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In an interview with the National Catholic Register, the American cardinal said that he and three other cardinals have issued a public call for the Pope to clarify the document because of “tremendous confusion” in the universal Church. He stressed that the request was motivated by concern for the good of the Church:

For us to remain silent about these fundamental doubts, which have arisen as a result of the text of Amoris Laetitia, would, on our part, be a grave lack of charity toward the Pope and a grave lack in fulfilling the duties of our own office in the Church.

If Pope Francis continues to maintain his silence regarding the cardinals’ questions, then “we would have to address that situation,” Cardinal Burke said. He continued:

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.

Responding to the observation that only three other cardinals had joined him in appealling for clarification, Cardinal Burke said: “Well, numbers aren’t the issue. The issue is the truth.”


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  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Nov. 17, 2016 3:34 PM ET USA

    Theological progressives make the assumption that if you don’t agree with their particular understanding of a problem, it’s because you don’t recognize the existence of the problem, followed by a condescending and shortsighted lecture about the problem. There are always victims to the selfishness that precipitate divorce, and this is a much bigger problem than the pangs of guilt liberals are always trying to assuage. Cardinal Burke is a hero in the struggle against religious vanity.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Nov. 17, 2016 9:36 AM ET USA

    I thank God for this action. Clarification, if possible, is absolutely of profound importance. A split in the Church has already become obvious. If it continues, the Devil will seemingly have had his way. The break up of families and divorce are the mother lode of a rotten pile of errors and our Church will have failed in one of it most profound and duty-bound obligations. We really need to pray a lot for Cardinal Burke and his companions, as well as the Pope whom we love & wish to succeed.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Nov. 17, 2016 7:21 AM ET USA

    The Holy Father has the grace of office. After his election, he explained that he had told himself not to change, that he was too old to change and that he would be himself. Today, if this still holds true, the Church might well be in for a bumpy ride. If, as all indications appear to attest, the Holy Father harbors convictions necessitating "a formal act of correction" he is nevertheless bound to overcome them in his public teaching. Pray that he might persevere in humility and in truth.

  • Posted by: Comares - Nov. 17, 2016 4:44 AM ET USA

    This man has not got over his demotion. Four Cardinals have a problem and the rest have a greater pastoral appreciation and understanding of the pain that people go through as a result of separation and divorce. I am not in favour of divorce or separation but I can understand that it can be an incredibly painful experience. There are also those who are the innocent parties. Do we treat all, guilty and innocent the same? There has to be some way for the Love of God (Grace) to be there to help.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Nov. 16, 2016 7:49 PM ET USA

    The cardinals are spot on. The tremendous division AL has caused require, demand clarification. As Mr. Lawler has pointed out ("On Request for Clarification....") clarity is clearly lacking when yes means no in some places, no means yes because I want it too, yes rarely means yes and forget no meaning no (yes, he did not put it in those terms but no I don't think the phrasing too untoward). As things seem to be going, it appears that the Prelates will have to act.

  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Nov. 16, 2016 7:04 PM ET USA

    Cdl. Schönborn was absolutely clear: Amoris Laetitia IS in concert with Familiaris Consortio, and must be interpreted accordingly. i.e. no Communion for the divorced and remarried who remain conjugally active. If the four Cardinals interpreted AL correctly, according these parameters, their "problem" would go away. The real question: "just how many times does Amoris Laetitia have to be clarified?"

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Nov. 16, 2016 6:43 PM ET USA

    Everyone knows he has the support of more than 4 cardinals. It would be unsurprising if Cardinal Muller helped write the dubia. One can even imagine a conversation with the Pope Emeritus: "hypoethetically, Holy Father, if a Pope is in grave error on a fundamental point of morals, and refuses to listen to private or public admonishment or clarify himself, what should the cardinals do?" Though one can imagine the answer might be "my son, you do not need to ask me. I trust that you know what to do"

  • Posted by: ALC - Nov. 16, 2016 6:01 PM ET USA

    I applaud Card. Burke for suggesting this action. I hope it is not necessary, but he is right in that, unless the Pope issues a clarification, they have no choice. It's time someone stood up for the truth and stopped this slide into confusion and murkiness.