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Cardinal Burke at the Rome March for Life 2017LifeSite

August 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Since Pope Francis has chosen not to respond to the five questions on whether his Exhortation Amoris Laetitia conforms to Catholic teaching, a “correction” of the ways his teaching departs from the Catholic faith is “necessary,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke in a new interview. 

The Cardinal, who is one of the four who signed the dubia almost one year ago asking the Pope to clarify his teaching, explained in an interview with The Wanderer how the process for issuing a “formal correction” would proceed.

“It seems to me that the essence of the correction is quite simple,” Burke explained. 

“On the one hand, one sets forth the clear teaching of the Church; on the other hand, what is actually being taught by the Roman Pontiff is stated. If there is a contradiction, the Roman Pontiff is called to conform his own teaching in obedience to Christ and the Magisterium of the Church,” he said. 

“The question is asked, ‘How would this be done?’ It is done very simply by a formal declaration to which the Holy Father would be obliged to respond. Cardinals Brandmüller, Caffarra, Meisner, and I used an ancient institution in the Church of proposing dubia to the Pope,” the Cardinal continued. 

“This was done in a very respectful way and not in any way to be aggressive, in order to give him the occasion to set forth the Church’s unchanging teaching. Pope Francis has chosen not to respond to the five dubia, so it is now necessary simply to state what the Church teaches about marriage, the family, acts that are intrinsically evil, and so forth. These are the points that are not clear in the current teachings of the Roman Pontiff; therefore, this situation must be corrected. The correction would then direct itself principally to those doctrinal points,” he added. 


Last year the four Cardinals went public with their questions (dubia) after the Pope failed to give them a response. They had hoped that the Pope answering their five yes-or-no questions would dispel what they called the “uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation among many of the faithful” stemming from the controversial exhortation.

In June, the four released a letter to the Pope in which they unsuccessfully asked him for a private audience to discuss “confusion and disorientation” within the Church as a result of the exhortation. 

The exhortation has been used by various bishops and bishops’ groups, including those in ArgentinaMaltaGermany, and Belgium, to issue pastoral guidelines that allow Communion to be given to civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics living in adultery. But bishops in Canada and Poland have issued statements based on their reading of the same document that forbids such couples to receive Communion.

Pope Francis has yet to enter into dialogue with the three remaining cardinals.

Burke said in the interview with The Wanderer that the Pope is the “principle of unity of the bishops and all the faithful.”

“However, the Church is being torn asunder right now by confusion and division,” he said. 

“The Holy Father must be called on to exercise his office to put an end to this,” he added. 

If the Pope continues in his refusal to answer the dubia, the “next step would be a formal declaration stating the clear teachings of the Church as set forth in the dubia,” said Burke. 

“Furthermore, it would be stated that these truths of the Faith are not being clearly set forth by the Roman Pontiff. In other words, instead of asking the questions as was done in the dubia, the formal correction would be stating the answers as clearly taught by the Church,” he added. 

It is widely held that the Cardinals, following the doctrines of the Church on marriage, confession, and the Eucharist, would answer the five yes-or-no questions in this way: 

  1. Following the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (nn. 300-305), can a habitual adulterous couple be granted absolution and receive Holy Communion? NO 
  2. With the publication of Amoris Laetitia (cf. n. 304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor that there are “absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?” YES
  3. After Amoris Laetitia (n. 301), is it still possible to affirm that habitual adultery can be an “objective situation of grave habitual sin?” YES
  4. After the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (n. 302) are the teachings of John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor still valid that “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”? YES
  5. After Amoris Laetitia (n. 303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor “that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?” YES

Cardinal Burke said that faithful Catholics who are frustrated with Pope Francis’ leadership of the Church must not entertain any notion of “schism.” 

“People talk about a de facto schism. I am absolutely in opposition to any kind of formal schism — a schism can never be correct,” he said. 

“People can, however, be living in a schismatic situation if the teaching of Christ has been abandoned. The more appropriate word would be the one Our Lady used in her Message of Fatima: apostasy. There can be apostasy within the Church and this, in fact, is what is going on. In connection with the apostasy, Our Lady also referred to the failure of pastors to bring the Church to unity,” he added. 


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