Scholars, clergy sign letter accusing Pope Francis of “upholding heretical positions”

SSPX head Bishop Bernard Fellay is among the letter’s signatories, who call it a “filial correction.”

Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A letter presenting itself as a filial correction of Pope Francis for reputed errors and heresies has been signed by over 60 Catholic clergy and scholars, including most prominently Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the breakaway traditionalist Society of St. Pius X group.

The letter to the Pope, dated July 16, says it concerns “the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.” It claims the publication of the exhortation and other acts of the Pope has given “scandal concerning faith and morals” to the Church and to the world,

“While professing their obedience to his legitimate commands and teachings, they maintain that Francis has upheld and propagated heretical opinions by various direct or indirect means,” a press release accompanying the letter said of the signers. It added that the signers do not believe the Pope has propagated these opinions as dogmatic Church teachings and make no judgment about the Pope’s culpability.

The letter was delivered to Pope Francis on Aug. 11, the press release said.

Bishop Fellay reportedly learned of the document only after its delivery. The district superior of the Society of Pius X, Father Robert Brucciani, is also a signatory. The society’s leader in 1988 ordained four bishops without papal permission in 1988 and all five prelates were excommunicated. Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications in 2009 and there have been continuing talks seeking to reconcile the society with the Church.

The letter to Pope Francis cites differences among the Catholic bishops and cardinals concerning the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried. It objects to the Pope’s silence in the face of the “dubia” submitted to the Pope by four cardinals seeking clarification of “Amoris Laetitia,” in September 2016.

It charges that the Pope’s actions have allowed Holy Communion to be received sacrilegiously by divorced people now living as husband and wife with someone not their spouse.

The letter claims the Pope has voiced “unprecedented sympathy” for Martin Luther and suggested there is an affinity between Luther’s ideas and the ideas of “Amoris Laetitia.” It also blames theological modernism for provoking a crisis within the Church.

Other signers include Dr. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, past president of the Institution of Religious Works and an ethics professor at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, as well Msgr. Antonio Livi, dean emeritus of the Pontifical Lateran University.

Some U.S.-based signers include Dr. Philip Blosser, a philosophy professor at the Detroit archdiocese’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Christopher Ferrara, president of the American Catholic Lawyers’ Association and a columnist in the hardline traditionalist Catholic newspaper The Remnant; and Dr. John Rao, a history professor at St. John’s University in New York City who directs the Roman Forum.

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  1. Finally.

    This will make plain what everyone knew but, except for a few brave souls, were afraid to say.

    It has been a case of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” with Francis and his minions. Now the small voice of Truth has spoken.

    Here’s how it will work out:

    1) The document will initially be ignored, as were the Dubia. But because it is the Truth, it won’t go away.

    2) Next meliorist scribblers of all sorts will try to stonewall and blunt the Truth. Expect all the BIG NAMES in the Catholic Center Right commentariat to start telling us that the document isn’t correct because of this jot or that tittle. They will try to discredit the Truth by a thousand small stabs at the document.

    3) When ignoring and stonewalling doesn’t make the Truth disappear, it will be assailed by all the powers of the clerical caste, both in an out of the Vatican. Signers will be excommunicated, laicized, fired from employment, perhaps even physically assaulted in some parts of the world. Intimidation will be the name of the unjust game these goons will play against the Truth.

    4) They will defeat the Truth in one arena, only have it arise even stronger in many others.It will come to be widely recognized as the Truth.

    5) The Truth will win.

    “Utinam disrumperes caelos et descenderes a facie tua montes defluerent sicut exustio ignis tabescerent aquae arderent igni ut notum fieret nomen tuum inimicis tuis a facie tua gentes turbarentur” (Isaias 64:1-2)

  2. PDamian, if you’ve not already got your own blog, you should start one! I’d read it every day. I’d only disagree that “everyone” already knew. Everyone who knows their faith and loves Truth knew, but I’m amazed at the zombies who are still clueless.

  3. The first shot.
    It had to be said and is now on record. It will be ignored.
    Sixty two cardinals could have signed this document and it would still be ignored.
    Loyalty to Magisterium of two thousand years means nothing in this Vatican. Locality to Francis is everything.
    “The people are with him” is the mantra of the pope’s Marxist lieutenants. Hmmmmm.

    • It’s not just loyalty to Francis… It’s loyalty to the council, to the new religion. Francis is the natural result of Vatican II. If he’s wrong, the world of the new church comes crashing down.

      I don’t think it will be ignored. I think it will be used to punish those who signed it, and perhaps to clamp down on EF etc.

  4. It’s a bit hard to know what to think of this document. In the end, it is merely an expression of discontent that most people feel towards this papacy. “We don’t like the way you are operating” is all it seems to say. While using the word heresy a lot, it does not really accuse the Pope of heresy. If I read it correctly, it merely accuses the Pope of indirectly leaning towards heresy, or for allowing bad things to happen that they want to label heresy.

    It is strongest in that they clearly state that the Popes actions are not helpful, not in accord with the magisterium, and they imply that his attempt at trickiness is beneath the office of the Papacy. Their warning is simply that he cannot get away with this Jesuitical baloney for long. In the end, he cannot fool all the people all the time.

    But no cardinals, no real bishops signed it. Most of the people who did sign it are not theologians, but historians, philosophers, regular priests, and an SSPX guy. ONe guy is a Marian conspiracy theorist. So that certainly minimizes its impact and in the end it is oo real correction of the Pope at all. It is merely a protest statement. The only real correction can come from bishops and cardinals.

    At the time Humanae Vitae was released 87 theologians released a letter stating that the Pope was wrong. Of course, their outburst was just the pampered outrage of academics. The Pope was right.

    It is helpful in that it does express disagreement with the Pope and in the end will add to the weight of evidence against him

    • Samton:

      Don’t hold your breath for any more Cardinals and Bishops. 4 of the Cardinals already took a stands.

      Hundreds of priests from England and the US took a stand in the Synod crisis.

      Only 1 bishop in England answered the call 500 years ago.

      Other people in the Church – including these theologians and professors – count a lot.

    • “it merely accuses the Pope of indirectly leaning towards heresy, or for allowing bad things to happen that they want to label heresy.”

      You don’t have to be a heretic—formally promulgating false beliefs—to be a heresy-spreader. I think that that is what the “correction” is attempting to address. The muddlement of “Amoris Laetitia” aside, the incessant off-the-cuff observations—on everything that pops into his head—of this world-class Commenter are causing widespread confusion and dismay.

      We may have our private suspicions as to whether he says what he says with calculation or inadvertently; but, yes, only the bishops can decide, formally.

      Yet, to the average Catholic sitting in the pew—too preoccupied with making a living and/or raising a family to follow the niceties of theological debate—it won’t matter to him if he finds out that he’s been misled through the promulgation of a false Church document, or through the careless false ideas quoted to him, scattershot, through the media.

  5. While the authors don’t directly accuse Francis of heresy but rather with fostering conditions where heresy thrives, I believe this is the first time a major document prints the pope’s name and the word “heresy” together. Of course, it has been the stuff of many private conversations for months or years now.

  6. There is only one correction that will make a difference. It must come from Pope Emeritus Benedict. He must make it clear that he writes not as Peter but as a humble bishop, imploring Francis. He must state unequivocally that what Pope Francis is trying to do is impossible, and that both St. John Paul II and he intended their prohibition on reception of communion by “remarried” Catholics who refuse to live as “brother and sister” (see, Familiaris Consortio 84, Sacramentum Caritatis 29) to be definitive and irreversible.

  7. Is there a contradiction in the article that appears to state that Bshp. Fellay wasn’t aware of the letter until it was delivered, yet, simultaneously claims that he was a signatory to that letter (cant be both)?

    There should have been far more signatories to this letter, that thee were so few is troubling.

  8. It is far more important now to act rather than protest. The letter is fine though very likely to be ignored. Sunday I implored Laity be aware of the current dangerous dilemma within the Catholic Church stemming from take away of Amoris Laetitia by many including National Bishops Conferences that lead to distancing practice from doctrine. Everything in the Pontiff’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia is splendid. Except for Ch 8 which contains hypothetical premises, biased suppositions, suggestions that are not official magisterial pronouncements, binding propositions and nevertheless invite change in practice. Permitting those living in adultery, cohabitation, practicing homosexuality to receive communion without the sacrament of reconciliation and requirement to relinquish those practices. I urged all remain steadfast in following Apostolic Tradition and the authentic Magisterium of Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Paul VI on now widely questioned, oft repudiated traditional moral doctrines affirmed and reaffirmed by these Pontiffs. The good beleaguered Cardinal Burke is impugned and increasingly isolated. We priests, diocesan ordinaries must for sake of our own salvation and that of those we care for, Christ’s sheep speak out convincingly. We ask how can this be? That a Roman Pontiff is permitting error to spread by suggestion, maneuvering, silence. What I will say that whatever the Pontiff’s motives may be, God is his and our judge that on the grand scale of things we know God is permitting this. Rationale seems retribution for widespread disobedience and laxity in practice by Catholics. That we are all being offered a Choice. A fateful one. Either to follow non binding suggestion and premises of what Pope Francis offers Church and world, or remain faithful adhering to practice of the Apostolic Tradition and the Gospel of Christ.

  9. Despite fifty-five years of no catechesis, inadequate catechesis, inaccurate catechesis and an evisceration of the theological academy, there are survivors who know Roman Catholicism from faux Catholicism. They have raised their voice, accompanied by 8,265 petition signers [after 72 hours] at “Support by the Catholic Laity for the Filial Correction of Pope Francis.”
    There is no need to beat a dead horse by rehashing the list of grievances against the current state of affairs. “Correctio Filialis” and the “Dubia” presented by four conscientious and brave Cardinals have telescoped the major issues flawlessly, despite the usual six gun response of deceive, distract, dismiss, disparage, discourage and disarm in order to defeat the orthodox faithful.
    Insufficient numbers!
    Schismatic! [Sufficiently so as to merit a dialogue going on for some years – but now? – not so much.]
    One sole miserable soul alone would have been sufficient to see the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, adopt our humanity and endure a sadistic death at the hands of the self-important who knew best.
    How exactly is a member of the Mystical Body of Christ determined to be worthy of notice in the Bergoglian epoch?
    Does your sin, your moral crisis have to rank high on the zeitgeist list of heroics – adulterer, LGBTQ, S&M, or just for fun a simple SJ?
    The ever so fraudulent “egalitarian” posers inhabiting the ecclesiastical class have inadvertently dropped their masque and revealed themselves for who they are.
    Those who believe, those who care, those who can stomach it, have noticed.
    Those devoted to infantilism substituting for devotion remain blindfolded. As long as they don’t see the cattle cars going off to the East they are not responsible.
    “Leave it to the priests. They know better.”
    God reward Cardinal Muller for a simple and brilliant solution to a host of problems that have been festering since before “the” Council.
    Let the disputation begin.
    Let it begin in public.
    But it is highly doubtful to merit a “thumbs up.”
    To do so would rob the St. Gallen entourage of its last refuge – papal authority. That can only be tanked when they are done with it.

  10. I’m afraid this Pope is leading many to hell fire. May God help us to glue our faith to Christ teaching.I miss Pope John Paul II.(sob)

  11. The “mob” mentality is alive and well, even among Catholics. Jesus was crucified for being a criminal and a heretic, but the resurrection and history has proven him innocent and justified. He was considered a heretic by the keepers of the law because he did not follow the “letter of the law,” and instead followed the Spirit of the Law. He broke the law because he refused to stone adulterers, and instead forgave them; as well as tax collectors, thieves, lepers, and murderers. He broke the Sabbath Law by healing on the Sabbath. He infuriated the leaders of the law by pointing out that King David broke into the Holy of Holies and took the holy bread to feed his soldiers, because it was necessary. He pointed out that Moses did not change the law regarding divorce, but only made a concession because it was necessary; because of the hard-heartedness of the people.
    St. Paul endured the same kind of treatment as Jesus, from the “super apostles” (who were not apostles at all), who accused him of heresy in every letter he wrote, because he did not follow the “letter of the law,” and instead followed the Spirit of the Law. He accepted Gentiles and did not force them to become Jews before becoming Christians.
    Pope Francis has stated the Marriage and Family Life is the heart and soul of civilization. If it dies, civilization will die. He pointed out the present broken state of Marriage and Family Life, and that “mortal sin” is not the only reason for the breakdown. There are many reasons – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, cultural, etc. But another reason is because the Church leaders have abandoned their role as shepherd and pastor of the people. They stopped feeding and tending the sheep, leaving them vulnerable to wolves, and stopped searching for the lost sheep. Basically, Francis suggested that the Bishops and Pastors use the “internal forum” (pastoral guidance) in some cases, to discern whether a marriage is valid or not. He suggested the Sacrament of Confession for everyone.
    If our present Annulment Process, using a Tribunal to judge whether marriages are Sacramental or null, is justified and acceptable, then, why would the judgment of holy pastors, filled with the Holy Spirit, not be acceptable? If it comes to light that Pope Francis has been living a secret life of corruption, debauchery, and immorality, then we are justified in accusing him. If not, we are merely instruments of Satan, crucifying Jesus all over again. “You can’t pick good fruit from a bad tree.”

    • I suggest that you read Corinthians 6:9-10 and Romans 1:26-32. If those who actively live the lifestyle of fornicators, adulterers, same sex partners are not able to enter into heaven and condemned to death. What then is the alternative? Certainly, not Heaven and the only other place for eternity is hell. Giving Communion therefore to someone who refuses to repent with a contrite heart and change their ways and who are then destined for hell is compounding the judgement by receiving Communion in an improper, unworthy disposition…Mortal Sin and Jesus do not mix.

      How does priestly pastoring the lost sheep, who refuse to repent change the Word of God enabling them to receive Communion? Now, if Jesus were to come a second time and change His Word, that would be different. But, a Pope or a clergyman to change the Word of God? Oh no! Those who believe this heresy are not Catholic. This point makes me wonder about Francis. (I find it difficult to call him pope.)

      • Jacqueleen, you need to read the whole of Amoris Laetitia. You do not seem to know what pastoral counseling is. Francis was very strong in saying that we cannot change the teaching of Jesus or doctrines of the Church. He condemned divorce, homosexual behavior, and same sex marriage as illicit and evil. But, he does not condemn those who do such things. Jesus said: I have come for the sick, not the healthy; those who need saving and healing (paraphrased). The Church teaches that “mortal sin” includes more than just commiting a grave sin; it includes free will, intention, knowledge and a formed conscience, and forethought. Divorce does not happen in the courtroom with a piece of paper. It happens long before. A marriage that is not healthy and strong; having integrity, faith, hope, love, joy, peace, and unity is either broken or never was whole – one flesh. You are taking scriptures out of context. Pastoral counseling is intended to bring people to conversion; to recognize their sin and repent, as well as to determine if their former marriage was truly a Sacramental marriage. The Church is universal, not just in America. The laws in some countries are actually obstacles to Sacramental Marriages.

  12. ‘Therefore, when we love the Pope, there are no discussions regarding what he orders or demands, or up to what point obedience must go, and in what things he is to be obeyed; when we love the Pope, we do not say that he has not spoken clearly enough, almost as if he were forced to repeat to the ear of each one the will clearly expressed so many times not only in person, but with letters and other public documents; we do not place his orders in doubt, adding the facile pretext of those unwilling to obey – that it is not the Pope who commands, but those who surround him; we do not limit the field in which he might and must exercise his authority; one does not oppose to the Pope’s authority that of others, however learned they may be, who differ from him. For however great their learning, they must be lacking in holiness, for there can be no holiness in dissension from the Pope.’ (Pope St. Pius X, allocution of 18 November 1912, AAS vol. 4 (1912), 695).

  13. How many times have we heard that people felt excluded from the Church because they are divorced and remarried or because they are practising homosexuals.?Wasn’t Amoris Laetitia supposed to reach out to those who felt excluded and bring back those people even without a change to their lifestyles.?If so,where are all these people.?I have certainly not seen an avalanche of people returning to the Church in their droves.

    The only thing Amoris Laetitia has succeeded in doing is to let us see with our
    own eyes how deep the rot in the Church is and how weak and cowardly the clergy has become when it comes to preaching the Gospels to the faithful and the not so faithful.

    This letter is welcome and hopefully the beginning of something more substantial.

  14. Confusion is evil. To ignore confusion about what is of ultimate importance is evil. Who will take responsibility for causing this confusion about what is true? Who is the one who is responsible to proclaim the truth with authority of office?

    Who speaks for Jesus Christ? Who does not speak for Jesus Christ?

  15. I am thankful for these brave men who are requesting clarification about one chapter and two footnotes in a papal exhortation that has created confusion for the body of Christ. Sins can be committed by omission as well as commission, and it would be completely un-Christian to let people know about how the love of God through Christ and change in behavior leads to eternal beatitude. If Christianity is just one religion among many or just another philosophy then it is just an empty symbol. It has lost its saltiness and is only good to be stepped on. Christ is the truth and the way and the light. It is true that we must not cause scandal by destroying someone in public to make a point about sin. These “irregular” situations can be handled by a priest or deacon privately to assist to directing them to Christ. Where AL loses its way is the idea that sanctifying grace works in these irregular relationships when they refuse to correct the behavior. This contradicts Christ. One may argue that God is calling someone out of this relationship which is initial grace, but God does not will people to sin (that is to be at enmity in relationship to Him). That is completely terrible to be expressed in any document in this faith. The Church also has many other Encyclicals (which bear more weight than an exhortation) that deny consequentalism with the idea that all that matters is if an action leads to a good or bad ending. The Church teaches and will continue to teach after Francis that doing an evil that good may occur is not correct morally.

    Sorry, a bit of a rambling but my heart breaks for many that could be lead astray by confusion. It is not the call of Christ to hope people are ignorant so that their actions, just might, be mortal sins. The vocation of us all is to love people to a greater calling of holiness. One cannot live in that sanctifying grace (assuming they have been baptized) until they have perfectly or imperfectly confessed their sin and repented (reconciled) back to the Lord. You cannot live in sin and be sanctifying grace. That literally is impossible as sin by its nature is to be not in relationship with God. To lack His likeness. To lack His divine nature perfecting your nature. *sigh* I guess this is just the theology of this pope and his sycophants. 2+2=5 in their world.

  16. It saddens me, greatly, that the “Curial Establishment” has such a hold over so many who believe that the Church has been the genuine Church of Christ since it was usurped by Constantine.
    The Canon of Scripture is nothing other than a Roman postulation of eastern religions, as written by Saul of Tarsus and his fellow Romans and followers. Almost nothing, in the writings of Saul, conforms with the teachings of Christ as can be read in the Gospels. Indeed, Saul was the first heretic and secessionist in the Church.
    Saul’s “theology” is a mixture of, mainly, Mithraism and Pharaohism, and others. His social “philosophy/theology” was that of submission, not to God, but to Man (in the gender sense).
    All of Saul’s “teachings” were in direct contradiction to the teachings of Christ, as we know them. Women were not subservient. The faithful were equal participants in the “Church”, not subservient to the priests – The only authority given by Christ was to Peter, and that was to “forgive sin”. No other authority, period!
    Christ commanded us to: “Love God and love your neighbour”, “Love your neighbour as yourself”, “Love one and other as I have loved you”, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, “Turn the other cheek”, “Those without sin, cast the first stone”. He, also, taught us to care for the poor, the sick, the outcast. He further appealed to us to “turn our swords into ploughshares”, “to forgive as your heavenly Father forgives”, to pay workers a fair wage, not to make the House of God, a House of Mammon and many other things which are, quite clearly, the Word that our Holy Father proclaims.

    The Holy Father, however, has, in my honest opinion, failed in proclaiming Pauline “Christianity” as heretical. Saul of Tarsus was not an Apostle – he was a “self-proclaimed “Apostle”. His theology is that of eastern mysticism, not of the teaching of Jesus Christ. His philosophy is that of subjugation and deference, rather than freedom and empowerment.

    Those who would see Pope Francis as a heretic are, not only, ignorant of the teachings of Christ, but blind to its faithful teacher, Papa Francisco.

    Finally, those who live by the principles of Saul of Tarsus, rather than those of Jesus Christ, are those in most need of the grace of salvation.


      Para 5, line 1, “not” should be inserted between “in” and “Pauline”.

      Should read – The Holy Father, however, has, in my honest opinion, failed in NOT proclaiming Pauline “Christianity” as heretical.

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