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Cardinal Burke: Formal correction would ‘require’ Pope Francis to teach what Church ‘has always taught’

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September 7, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- The forthcoming formal correction of Pope Francis would require that the Pope teach what the Catholic Church has always taught about marriage, the Eucharist, and the impossibility of ever justifying intrinsically evil acts, said Cardinal Raymond Burke in a new interview. 

“Since a formal correction would treat a fundamental teaching or fundamental teachings of the Catholic faith, it would require the Pope to fulfill his solemn duty to teach what the Catholic Church has always taught and practiced,” said Burke to the Hungarian independent Catholic news service Katolikus Válasz in an interview published online September 6. 

The interview was conducted a little over a week prior to Cardinal Burke’s friend and fellow dubia signer Cardinal Caffarra passing away from a long illness. 

Burke, who is patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, is one of the four cardinals (two of whom have now passed away) who one year ago submitted five yes-or-no questions to Pope Francis. They asked him to affirm that his 2016 Exhortation Amoris Laetitia conformed to perennial Catholic teaching. So far, the Pope has not responded. 

Burke was asked in the interview if the problem is not so much with the Exhortation, which some have interpreted as being in line with previous magisterial teaching, but with the way that various bishops around the world are interpreting it. For instance, some bishops, such as in ArgentinaMaltaGermany, and Belgium, have interpreted the Exhortation as allowing Communion to be given to civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics living in adultery, while other bishops, such as in Canada and Poland, have taken the opposite view. 

Burke responded that the fact that certain passages in Amoris Laetitia have given way to “confused and contradictory interpretations is a difficulty in itself.”

“There are passages which, in fact, call into question certain fundamental teachings of the Church and thus have generated contradictory understandings of the Church’s teaching on the Holy Eucharist and Holy Matrimony, and on acts which are intrinsically evil and, therefore, can never be justified,” he said. 

“Since the Petrine Office has the responsibility to teach the Catholic faith with integrity and thus maintain the unity of the Bishops and all the faithful, the correction of the confusion and error is the responsibility of the Roman Pontiff. That is why the dubia or questions were respectfully directed to Pope Francis as an aid to him in carrying out his weighty responsibility. To provide such assistance to the Holy Father is at the heart of the responsibility of the College of Cardinals,” he added. 

Along with the Cardinals, dozens of Catholic philosophers and theologians have stated their concerns with the Exhortation. Most recently, Catholic philosopher Dr. Josef Seifert published an article in which he called the Exhortation a ticking “theological atomic bomb” that has the capacity to entirely destroy all Catholic moral teaching. Seifert was removed from his Catholic university by his local archbishop last week for raising his concerns. 

When asked about the number of bishops or prelates who might openly sign a declaration correcting the Pope, Burke said that numbers are not important, but truth. 

“I cannot say what other Bishops and Cardinals may do. Regarding the formal correction, it is not a matter of the number of persons who make the correction but of the truth of the correction itself,” he said. 

“The question is what truth did Our Lord Himself teach in the Gospel and what has the Church always taught, in fidelity to the Word of Christ. That truth and living according to that truth alone will make individual Christians free and happy,” he said. 

The Hungarian interview comes a little less than one month after Cardinal Burke outlined in an interview with The Wanderer what the formal correction would look like. 

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