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Dubia cardinals make public plea for audience with Pontiff

June 20, 2017

The four cardinals who last year submitted dubia requesting clarification of Amoris Laetitia have now made public a letter pleading for an audience with Pope Francis.

In a clear sign of frustration with the Pope’s failure to respond to their request for a meeting, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, one of the four cardinals who submitted the original dubia, has released the text of a letter in which he again requests an audience with the Pontiff. Cardinal Caffarra’s letter was hand-delivered on April 25: eight months after the cardinals’ original request for an audience. Neither message has been answered.

The four cardinals—Caffarra, Raymond Burke, Walter Brandmüller, and Joachim Meisner—wrote to Pope Francis in September, pleading for clarification of Amoris Laetitia and pointing to tensions between the papal document and traditional Catholic teachings on marriage. When the Pope did not respond, the cardinals made public their request for clarification and the text of the dubia they had submitted.

In his April 25 letter, Cardinal Caffarra observes that confusion about the papal document has become increasingly evident and widespread, with different bishops and episcopal conferences issuing conflicting guidelines for the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. He expresses keen concern that “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.”

Writing on behalf of the four cardinals, Cardinal Caffarra emphasizes that their intention is not to question the authority of the Roman Pontiff but to safeguard the doctrine of the faith:

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).

Noting that many faithful Catholics have called for clarification—and that the confusion reigning over the apostolic exhortation calls into question Church teaching on the sacraments of marriage, confession, and the Eucharist—Cardinal Caffarra says that “conscience impels us” to seek a meeting with the Pope.

The Italian cardinal’s letter to Pope Francis was accompanied by a formal request for an audience, listing as topics for discussion the need for clarification of Amoris Laetitia and the current “confusion and disorientation, especially among pastors of souls, in primis parish priests.”


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  • Posted by: Retired01 - Jun. 24, 2017 11:38 AM ET USA

    Why does not the Pope answer? If the Pope were interested in clarifying, in feeding his lambs, he would answer. If he does not answer, the only logical conclusion is that he believes that he can better carry his agenda by maintaining confusion, a confusion that allows the heretical modernist agenda to gain ground and consolidate. Clarity, however, would prevent this evil. May God bless those who search, demand, and fight for clarity. May God bless the four cardinals.

  • Posted by: schndj2254 - Jun. 22, 2017 4:42 PM ET USA

    In the words of Monsignor Nicola Bux, a professor at the Theological Faculty of Puglia and former consultor to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Obedience to the Pope depends solely on the fact that he is bound by Catholic doctrine. “So whoever thinks that presenting doubts (dubia) to the Pope is not a sign of obedience, hasn’t understood, 50 years after Vatican II, the relationship between him (the Pope) and the whole Church.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jun. 21, 2017 11:06 AM ET USA

    It's not only the four Cardinals, every single Catholic needs to know with clarity and certainty what has changed in the official Church teachings and why.

  • Posted by: schndj2254 - Jun. 21, 2017 10:45 AM ET USA

    To Robert...Please!!! There is a world of difference between "attacking" the Pope and asking for clarification on his own teaching which is being interpreted in diametrically opposite ways. I see no need for an examen by those who are confused. They are the "little ones" who are in danger of being led astray by their own shepherds who do indeed need to examine consciences!

  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Jun. 21, 2017 5:56 AM ET USA

    To those who question the need for clarification, I can personally attest that what I believe to be a feigned "confusion" has arrived at the parish level. I teach RCIA, and know that twice divorced candidates for the sacrament of marriage, will now attempt to hide their marital history and to parish shop in order to find a priest willing to help them cover their tracks (or somehow ignore them). Stay tuned...

  • Posted by: WBSM - Jun. 20, 2017 6:04 PM ET USA

    Why make it public? I agree with the four cardinals in what the letter is stating, but I don't understand why they don't send the letter just to the Pope and not to the newspapers. The only reason I can imagine is that they fear he wouldn't receive it otherwise... and that thought is pretty scary.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Jun. 20, 2017 3:36 PM ET USA

    Let us pray that the cardinals' perseverance results in a loosening of the rigid stance taken by the Pope on this matter so far--and that the Pontiff does his duty to maintain the Church's teaching.

  • Posted by: marksauser4128 - Jun. 20, 2017 10:55 AM ET USA

    Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis. Time is greater than space. There is no need for Pope Francis to answer. The answer is being created right before our eyes. The cardinals will never get their audience and the dubia will not be answered. Modernism is reigning supreme in the sancutary.

  • Posted by: robertbovenzijr5369 - Jun. 20, 2017 10:24 AM ET USA

    As Guy Murphy, lay Dominican has written, "those who want to attack the Church always attack the Pope." I am not saying the 4 cardinals "attacked" the Holy Father, but it seems examination of conscience is needed by all!