Maike Hickson

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Two cardinals, one bishop call on pope to clarify his teachings. Now what?

Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike

May 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Two cardinals and one bishop have publicly called upon Pope Francis to clarify several of his statements, actions, and public documents in the past few weeks.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller asked Pope Francis to respond to the April 30 Open Letter to the Church's bishops accusing Pope Francis of heretical teachings, as well as to clarify some of the “re-formulations of the Church’s teachings” as they are to be found in Amoris Laetitia. Cardinal Willem Eijk has repeatedly asked Pope Francis to clarify Amoris Laetitia, as well as his permitting the German bishops to allow Communion for Protestant spouses. And Bishop Athanasius Schneider has called upon Pope Francis publicly and authoritatively to correct the February 4, 2019 Abu Dhabi declaration, which flatly states that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.”

These three high-ranking interventions and pleas to the pope for doctrinal clarity come in the form of a fraternal correction, which should be honorably answered by Pope Francis.

Just as clergy and lay theologians have asked bishops to confront Pope Francis with some of his statements and actions that appear to undermine the Catholic Faith, these three prelates — none of whom openly supports the April 30 Open Letter — have just effected something like a fraternal critique in public.

On May 15, LifeSiteNews’s Jeanne Smits published a lengthy interview with Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands. Eijk had earlier contributed to the Eleven Cardinals Book, which tried, before the 2015 Synod on the Family, to reaffirm the Church’s full teaching on marriage.

Asked about his 2018 call upon Pope Francis to clarify the question of Communion for “remarried” divorcés, as it has now been already implemented by several bishops’ conferences, Cardinal Eijk now reiterates his request. After explaining the doctrinal and pastoral confusion that developed in the Church after the publication of Amoris Laetitia, especially “on the basis of a few elements and a footnote,” he says: “I think that the pope must therefore create clarity, in terms of doctrine, by means of a declaration that can be said with certainty to belong to the Magisterium.”

Cardinal Eijk had also, in 2018, called upon Pope Francis to make a clarifying statement concerning the question of Communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics, after the German bishops had published, with papal permission, a handout setting forth the possibility thereof. Here, Cardinal Eijk says: “Following this German concept document on intercommunion, and because of this explicit plea by cardinals in favor of the blessing of homosexual relationships, I asked the Pope to create clarity, quite simply by recalling [for us] the documents of the Church’s magisterium.”

One day after Cardinal Eijk’s words, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave an interview to the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost in which he commented upon the recent Open Letter to Bishops. He first states that he does not believe that Pope Francis is a heretic, but then he adds that he understands “the concerns of these theologians” who wrote the Open Letter. He even called them “renowned theologians.”

Therefore, he says, “it would be important that the Holy Father make the Congregation for the Faith issue a response, and not the Secretary of State nor any of his friendly journalists or theologians.”

“As much as one can understand the concerns of these theologians [who criticize the pope], one also has to say that one has to choose the right means for the justified aim of a greater clarity of some statements of Pope Francis,” he states.

Later in this May 16 interview, Cardinal Müller also explains that he “defended” Amoris Laetitia, “but I consider some re-formulations of the Church’s teaching to be in need of clarification.”

Thus, Cardinal Müller calls upon Pope Francis to clarify his teachings on marriage and the family as laid down in Amoris Laetitia.

On the same day as Cardinal Müller’s interview, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, spoke with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo.

In this May 16 interview, Schneider distances himself from the Open Letter to Bishops, saying the letter “went too far.” At the same time, he makes it clear that Pope Francis needs to make a correction to his controversial joint Abu Dhabi statement, which claims that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.”

“Regarding the diversity of religions,” Schneider states, “on the contrary, God explicitly said that the diversity of religions is in itself bad and contradicts His divine wisdom and will. Diversity of religious moreover offends God.” Therefore, “a public correction is very much needed, because as the phrase reads in itself it is ambiguous — not only ambiguous; it is wrong.”

Thus, we now have three eminent prelates who call upon Pope Francis to clarify or to correct his teachings on various important matters of faith and morals.

If he wishes to assure the Catholic faithful that his intent is to preserve and defend the Catholic Faith in its entirety, he surely will be quick to respond to such fraternal and charitable calls coming from his fellow bishops who have the mission to assist him to fulfill his mandate.

The longer he (as with the famous dubia) delays giving a response, the more he is going to foster confusion and confirm the impression that he, perhaps by indirection, desires to promote or favor heretical teachings and practices in the very heart of the Catholic Church.

LifeSiteNews has reached out to the Vatican Press Office and asked whether Pope Francis intends to respond to these high-ranking requests for clarification. We shall update the report should we receive a response from Rome.

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Maike Hickson

Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.