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 John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews

ROME, November 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — With many of the world’s cardinals gathered for the Consistory that added 17 to their number and the closed the Year of Mercy, Rome was abuzz with the story of the four Cardinals who presented a set of yes-or-no questions to the Pope seeking clarity on the Pope’s recent Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

See related article, *Updated: Who are these four cardinals who wrote the ‘dubia’ to the Pope?

At the reception for the three new American cardinals at the Pontifical North American College, each was asked about the so-called “dubia” and the Pope’s refusal to answer.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who recently had the media follow his war of words with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput over Amoris Laetitia, might have felt a little gun-shy. When a reporter in the halls at the reception asked him for his reaction, he pushed a recorder away with his hand, saying rather gruffly he didn’t want to answer that.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, however, was ready with answers for The Tablet on the same question. In remarks very similar to those of new Cardinal Blase Cupich, Tobin called the Dubia to the Pope by the four Cardinals “troublesome” and said, “The Holy Father is capturing the work of two synods, so if four cardinals say that two synods were wrong, or that somehow the Holy Father didn’t reflect what was said in those synods, I think that should be questioned.”

Adding that the matters dealt with in Amoris Laetitia were complex, Tobin quipped, “just to simply reduce it to a ‘dubium,’ I think it is at best naive.”

Cardinal Cupich answered the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin on the matter, saying of Amoris Laetitia: “The document that they are having doubts about are the fruits of two synods, and the fruit of propositions that were voted on by two-thirds of the bishops who were there.”

IMPORTANT: To respectfully express your support for the cardinals' letter, sign the petition to Pope Francis. Click here.

Cupich added, “I think that if you begin to question the legitimacy or what is being said in such a document, do you throw into question then all the other documents that have been issued before by the other popes. So I think it’s not for the pope to respond to that, it’s a moment for anyone who has doubts to examine how they got to that position because it is a magisterial document of the Catholic Church.”

The “dubia,” of course, regarded clearing up the opposite interpretations of Amoris Laetitia among bishops and theologians rather than the document itself. Nonetheless, Cardinal Cupich claimed that the four Cardinals needed conversion. “The Holy Father doesn't have to defend a teaching document of the Church,” he said. “It's up to those who have doubts or questions to have conversion in their lives.”

The animosity toward the four Cardinals coming from the Pope and his closest collaborators was expected. That is why the letter to the Pope containing the “dubia” was signed by three retired Cardinals and Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has already been removed from his Vatican post. “For good reason,” Vatican sources told LifeSiteNews, others who supported the letter could not sign on for fear of losing their positions.

Belying the animosity directed at the four Cardinals asking the Pope for clarification on Amoris Laetitia, their letter was the kindest and most humble expression of concern. “Compelled in conscience by our pastoral responsibility and desiring to implement ever more that synodality to which Your Holiness urges us, we, with profound respect, permit ourselves to ask you, Holy Father,” is how the Cardinals began their question. Addressing the Pope as the “Supreme Teacher of the Faith,” they asked him to “resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity, benevolently giving a response to the 'dubia' that we attach to the present letter.”