Cardinal Burke says if Pope won’t clarify ‘serious error’, Cardinals must make ‘formal act of correction’
ROME, November 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – After joining a group of four cardinals in releasing a call for Pope Francis to clarify grave errors in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Cardinal Raymond Burke has now indicated the cardinals are contemplating a “formal correction” should the pope fail to address their concerns.
The cardinals had written to the pope with their concerns on September 19, but after failing to receive a response for nearly two months, they released the letter publicly on Monday morning.
Now, in an interview with the National Catholic Register’s Ed Pentin, Burke discusses the next steps should the pope fail to address the cardinals’ concerns. Here is Pentin’s question and the cardinal’s response:
What happens if the Holy Father does not respond to your act of justice and charity and fails to give the clarification of the Church’s teaching that you hope to achieve?
Then we would have to address that situation. 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.
Burke goes on to insist that in a case of conflict between the pope and Church Tradition, the Tradition is binding. “Ecclesial authority exists only in service of the Tradition,” Burke explains. “I think of that passage of St. Paul in the [Letter to the] Galatians (1:8), that if ‘even an angel should preach unto you any Gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.’”
Historically, in the rare cases where popes have taught heresy, Burke explains, “It is the duty…, and historically it has happened, of cardinals and bishops to make clear that the Pope is teaching error and to ask him to correct it.”
The September 19 letter, signed by Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner, asked the pope 5 short questions which call for ‘yes or no’ answers that would immediately clarify the meaning of the confusion-plagued document on precisely those points where theologians, priests and even bishops have offered contradicting interpretations.
In the interview, Burke emphasizes that the cardinals have sought to act for “the good of the Church,” which, he says, “is suffering from a tremendous confusion” on the points they have raised especially. He notes, for example, that priests in different dioceses are being given contradictory directions on how to handle the question of access to Communion for those in adulterous unions.
“We, as cardinals, judged it our responsibility to request a clarification with regard to these questions, in order to put an end to this spread of confusion that is actually leading people into error,” he says.
“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,” he adds.
Read Ed Pentin’s full interview with Cardinal Burke here.