OXFORD, September 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – After the release of the historic 'filial correction' to the Pope on the weekend, many concerned Catholics have wondered why no Cardinals attached their name.
Cardinal Raymond Burke in particular has been very public about a coming “formal correction” from cardinals after Pope Francis failed to respond to their call to clarify Amoris Laetitia.
So why didn’t he or others sign this “filial correction”?
The basic answer is that the scholars and pastors behind the initiative chose not to ask any cardinals to join them.
“We wanted this to be an independent initiative,” spokesman Dr. Joseph Shaw told LifeSiteNews. “We made the decision not to include the Cardinals.”
Shaw wishes to squelch any rumours – he has seen some on social media – that there were prelates working behind the scenes. “We want to make it absolutely clear that Cardinal Burke is not behind this initiative,” he said.
The primary reason for not asking the cardinals to sign the document was prudence. “It’s not practical to expect any Cardinal to sign any document of this nature,” said Shaw, “because it comes too close to the person of the Pope.”
Shaw, a Fellow of St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford University, contrasted the 25-page Correction to the short dubia sent to Pope Francis by Cardinals Brandmüller, Burke, Caffara and Meisner in 2016. Shaw praised the dubia letter for its “simplicity” and expressions of fidelity to the Pope. He explained that a Cardinal would not readily sign off on a theological document as complex and serious as the Filial Correction written by anyone but himself.
“The more senior [churchmen] are, the more careful they will want to be with the wording,” said Shaw. “They will want brevity.”
In Shaw’s view, theologians and pastors have more freedom than prelates to lay out the arguments against Amoris Laetitia and its problems. Meanwhile, the way the Filial Correction is set out “should be helpful to a wide variety of Catholics.”
Of course, the document was originally meant for an audience of one. The Filial Correction was sent to Rome six weeks ago and, Shaw told LifeSiteNews, was handed to Pope Francis personally in Casa Santa Marta. The signers received no answer.
“If Pope Francis had responded, we would have entered into another kind of conversation,” said Shaw. “So now we are including the Catholic faithful.”
Shaw knows the media is interested in who signed and how many signed, but he says that the number of signers of the Filial Correction is not the point. The important issue is the arguments presented. That is why the signers are all scholars or pastors.
“The way the Church develops things is in accordance with [theological] arguments,” Shaw explained. “There is development because the leading arguments have prevailed.” He pointed out that people argued over the dogma of the Immaculate Conception for centuries. “It’s very important that the arguments be made,” Shaw stressed.
The Filial Correction was written by a core group from among the signatories who showed it to other scholars and pastors for their comments and contributions. It was revised many times before it was signed and sent.
Shaw acknowledged that some Catholics have raised eyebrows over the signature of Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of Saint Pius X, an order of priests whose canonical status is as yet unresolved. However, he unreservedly praised the bishop.
“It’s a big statement for Bishop Fellay to make,” said Shaw. “His commitment to the truth is greater than his political concerns, [than facilitating] regularization.”
In Shaw’s opinion, the Filial Correction is a way for Fellay to communicate that to his community and “to Catholics at large.”
As many Catholics clamour to sign the Filial Correction themselves, Shaw notes that an independent auxiliary petition has been posted on Change.org.
LifeSiteNews also launched a petition today supporting the initiative.
“I’m happy that people are supporting us in these ways,” Shaw said.