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Theologians accuse pope of heresy

The letter lists seven specific areas of Church teaching where the signatories believe the pope has “through his words and actions, publicly and pertinaciously” demonstrated his belief in “propositions that contradict divine law.”

Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 1, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A group of nineteen Catholics, including some prominent academics, have published an open letter to the bishops of the world accusing Pope Francis of heresy.

The letter, made public on April 30, was dated “Easter week” and signed by 19 individuals, including Fr. Aiden Nichols OP, an internationally recognized theologian and author. The 15-page letter begins by asking the bishops of the world to take some action against the pope.

“We are addressing this letter to you for two reasons: first to accuse Pope Francis of the canonical delict of heresy, and second, to request that you take the steps necessary to deal with the grave situation of a [sic] heretical pope.”

The letter lists seven specific areas of Church teaching where the signatories believe the pope has “through his words and actions, publicly and pertinaciously” demonstrated his belief in “propositions that contradict divine law.”

The complaints focus on supposed teachings of the pope concerning sexuality and morality which they claim run contrary to the Church’s magisterium. The letter highlights what the signatories believe to be problematic passages from the pope’s 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, especially concerning Catholics in irregular marital situations.

Among specific heretical beliefs the letter accuses the pope of holding is the position that a Catholic can, with full knowledge of divine law, violate that law and not be in a state of grave sin.

The letter also references a number of bishops, cardinals, and priests whom the authors claim are themselves heretical and the pope either appointed or allowed to remain in office, as further proof of the Holy Father’s “heresy.”

The letter also suggests that a cross and staff used by the pope during the 2018 Synod on Young People liturgical were respectively “satanic” and proof of a pro-homosexual agenda.

Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., Petri, vice president and academic dean at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, told CNA that the letter is“frankly disappointing.”

“I cannot understand how one could accuse the pope of heresy based on low-level appointments forwarded to him for pro-forma approval or on vestiture given to him to use for a liturgy.”

“It’s quite stunning to include such ‘facts’ as evidence of heresy,” Petri said.

Canon law defines heresy as the “obstinate denial or doubt, after baptism, of some truth to be believed with divine and Catholic faith.”

Attached to the letter is a four-page canonical rationale, in which the writers cite previous declaration by Pope Leo II that his predecessor, Pope Honorius, had supported the monothelite heresy in the seventh century.

The letter acknowledges that “it is agreed that the Church does not have jurisdiction over the pope, and hence that the Church cannot remove a pope from office by an exercise of superior authority, even for the crime of heresy.”

Nevertheless, the letter asserts, a pope with “heretical views cannot continue as pope.” The letter then suggests that the pope could lose office de facto as a result of obstinately holding public heretical views and that the bishops of the Church have an “absolute duty to act in concert to remedy this evil.”

The Code of Canon Law explicitly provides for the punishment of Catholics who “make recourse against an act of the Roman Pontiff to an ecumenical council or the college of bishops.”

Canon law also defines that both an ecumenical council and the college of bishops can only ever act with and under the authority of the pope.

While the letter makes numerous references to the “canonical delict of heresy,” only one of the signatories is listed as having a licentiate in canon law. The letter does not call for a canonical action to be taken against the pope, despite insisting that he has committed the delict of heresy, instead, the authors ask the bishops of the world to “admonish” the pope and cause him to formally “abjure” his alleged heresies.

Among the signatories of the letter are some prominent Catholics, including Professor John Rist,a research professor in philosophy at the Catholic University of America, where he previously held the Father Kurt Pritzl, O.P., Chair in Philosophy.

In a statement to CNA, Catholic University said that Rist does not speak for the university, and underscored his limited role there.

“He is not a teaching professor. His personal views about papal reform do not reflect those of the University,” a university spokesperson said.

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, a professor of philosophy, also signed the letter. Kwasniewski is a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology in Steubenville, Ohio.

Robert Corzine, vice president of programs at the St. Paul Center, told CNA that Kwasniewski “definitely does not speak for the St. Paul Center in this regard.”

Corzine noted that the center had previously published an English language version of a handbook for the pastoral care of the family according to Amoris Laetitia.

“While the signatories of that letter clearly have their own particular was of interpreting Amoris Laetitia, if anything can be read in continuity with orthodox teaching and tradition it should be – and Amoris Laetitia definitely can be,” Corzine said.

Petri told CNA that the letter is unconvincing in both its arguments and its rationale.

“Apart from the canonical implications this may have for the signers, the letter itself is a hodgepodge of concerns that prevent it being taken very seriously as a whole,” Petri said.

“While I agree there remain questions and concerns about some applications of Amoris Laetitia, I cannot see how any of those concerns are necessarily material heresy.”

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  1. LOL more comedy from the ‘catholics’ who spend more time fantasizing about their future EWTN careers than going to church. It’s also a good way to butter up to all those rich US businessmen who hate Pope Francis. Hm, maybe these guys are slicker than I thought!

    Will CWR still have plenty of people ready to defend this garbage publicity stunt as ‘thoughtful’ and ‘a brave witness?’ Only time will tell!

    • Who is Catholic? Joe Biden? Pelosi? Colbert? Do you think you know more about theology and canon aw then the men who signed the document? Do you have a doctorate? Published books?

      • The Real Catholics are those who attend daily mass,if possible! They obey: “If you love me, keep my Commandments!” John 14:15. They do Charity SILENTLY“` they pray unceasingly! They are always happy and they simply LVE the MOST HOLY TRINITY and THE BLESSED OTHER MY MOST HOLY…… There are not too many of them, but thy are there at the dILY MASS and PRAYERS AFTER MASS……… They go to the Confessionals..

        • The ceaseless attacks, based on a silly tiny minority view of some quite minor theologians inter al is so recurrent on CWR as to now call into question if it is seeking, under the guise of being orthodox, to undermine the one true church founded by Our Lord and lead today by the successor of St Peter.

      • A Catholic is one who is in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolc Church, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, and thus affirms The Deposit Of Faith Christ Has Entrusted To His Church, Through Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, And The Teaching Of The Magisterium, Grounded In Sacred Tradition And Sacred Scripture :

        Canon 750

        “Those things are to be believed by divine and catholic faith which are contained in the word of God as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn Magisterium of the Church, or by its ordinary and universal Magisterium, which in fact is manifested by the common adherence of Christ’s faithful under the guidance of the sacred Magisterium. All are therefore bound to avoid any contrary doctrines.
2. Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.[new]”

        -Changes to Oriental and Latin Codes of Canon Law | EWTN

      • It’s rigidity for those to do it to check something off their list. It’s not rigidity when one does it from the heart! The Catholics you describe are those just going through the motions.

    • What are you trying to say? Spell it out! Do you want to have a thoughtful, productive discussion or do you just want to complain?

      • Complaining is what the comments at CWR are for. If we can’t come here to complain about Pope Francis, muslims, gays, the ‘left,’ Marxism, feminism, etc., where else are we going to vent our frustrations?

        Maybe the signers forgot they were posting a letter instead of hitting the “post” button on the CWR site!

    • Francis is a process theologian who insists that God is not perfect and insists that God is still learning, still in the process of learning how to be a good God. Francis embraces the world’s most notorious abortionists, saying to the world, go ahead, have your abortion, we’re no longer “obsessed” about it, resulting in the slaughter of more millions. Amoris Laetitia insists that one can discern that God is telling a soul to violate what God tells humanity in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. Amoris Laetitia is clearly a war on first wives. His perverse ideas about mercy are merciless towards the victims of sin. And Francis insists that the Mother of Christ was not without sin, implicitly denying the Immaculate Conception.
      The honor of God, the honor of the Mother of God, the lives of the unborn are more important than the ego of Francis. It is profound foolishness to trivialize the damage done to humanity by heresy in the Church.

  2. The article goes to great lengths to discredit the letter without addressing the most important substantive charge in the letter, which are clearly articulated in a detailed and well supported by documentation, from Ecumenical Councils and other sources of definitive Church teaching regarding matters such as access to the sacraments for those who willingly persist in an objective state of mortal sin. The letter makes a strong case that papal actions and statements, while not purporting to change Church doctrine directly, provide aid and comfort for those who publicly defy that same doctrinal teaching. Had there been a link to the actual letter CWR readers could have seen this for themselves.

    Attacking the qualifications of the signers is weak. Catholic teaching on the points of contention are clear and well understood by most Catholics with a fundamental catechetical foundation. Further, there are a number of very well qualified individuals who signed the letter.

    The concerns addressed in this letter are real and won’t go away despite efforts to intimidate into silence those who ask respectful questions. Had the Dubia been promptly addressed, this letter may not have been necessary.

    • Exactly. This so clearly reads like an editorial rather than a news story. They clearly ran out to get people to poo-poo it but then don’t bother to question the claims of the folks they cite, which are readily debatable, e.g., the “interpretation” of A. Laetitia by the signatories is Francis’ interpretation, per his approval of the Argentine guidelines, which clearly permits communion for adulterers, among other things. Have we forgotten about that? Further the piece makes a point of saying that only one of the signatories is a canonist yet none of the people they cite to refute it are canonists!? Nice double standard.

      Also, in suggesting there may be canonical implications for the signers, they don’t seem to realize that could unwittingly prove the charges- if what the signatories are claiming is not true and Francis has not said/done such things, then there are no papal acts which the signatories are acting against nor are there any teachings or what have you they are being disobedient towards or dissenting from. So, what papal acts are these folks going against if Francis allegedly hasn’t acted/taught in the way that is claimed?

    • Thank you, Chris C. You, Sir, are correct and I think hold the position of MANY Catholics. The dubia inaction was and still is a very disconcerting thing to me. The pope is Bishop of Rome. A Bishop is a teacher. In an encyclical the Bishop is attempting to “teach”. If the “students” the Bishop is attempting to “teach” respectively ask questions they should be answered. Do the “students” not have the right to ask questions to parts of the “teaching” that is unclear? When Francis ignored the dubia I began to lose confidence in him and began to pray for clarification or settlement of the problem. Perhaps it is starting to come. NO TEACHER SHOULD IGNORE THE QUESTIONS OF THEIR STUDENTS! If they do, how can they be called teachers? But the dubia is another matter and is not what this article is about. I intend to write Fr Thomas Petri and respectively ask that he help me understand. I look forward to reading the referenced to attachments and finding out the courageous signers of this document. Francis…….we, all Catholics, are your students! Please answer OUR questions. Please do not ignore us! I love the Catholic church. I love the priesthood, the college of Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals but I love God more. To all that read this, may God Bless You and help me understand what is happening to our Church! Please, I beg you, please!

  3. The letter was a respectful call to the bishops to act in the best interest of the Church and of the faithful by calling on them to call our Holy Father to account for certain statements and actions that, on their face, contradict well settled Catholic doctrine, specifically relating to access to the sacraments for those who willfully choose to live in a state of what the Church clearly holds to be mortal sin. Attempting to intimidate into silence those respectfully raising concerns is wrong. Had the Dubia been answered, this letter may not have been necessary.

  4. Yes, a “hodgepodge” response to a “hodgepodge” papacy…except for the “facts” of appointments…not systematic? without any pattern?

    When lay people associate with people that have done and do bad things and approve of these people and favor them and encourage them…that’s a sin. Even supporting someone who favors tougher immigration laws…that’s right tougher LAWS. That’s maybe sinful. But it’s OK for priests and the hierarchy to favor those which have committed criminal acts or who have “looked the other way” regarding criminal acts…or who have encouraged non-persecution of offenders…or those who have undeniably taught against the Magisterium, Scripture and Tradition. Apparently that’s not a “fact” of anything…which is true in the most rigorous sense…

    We have been saying the “acts” of Popes, Cardinals and Bishops are not “facts” for years now, decades! That’s why we are in this crisis!!! But hey, lay people…your acts are facts!

    Until now! Despite all this outcry against clericalism…for a limited time offer or for from now on till the Apocalypse? lay people are being offered the free pass the hierarchy gets? Nothing to see here, move along? Yes…”accompanying” or “appointing” somebody (same status?) or the ability to apply the now passe (since last year?) “whatever.”

    Is Canon Law ultimately just stacking the deck?

    The Dominicans are quite fastidious especially in DC these days (and rightfully so) about their Traditions, rubrics and their studies…but suddenly less so (at least one Dominican) with regards to Bergoglio and Team Bergoglio? But what about the Dubbia? Was that a “hodgepodge” as well? Yes, the Open Letter requires a rigorous philosophical/canon-law fueled assessment…but not Bergoglio?

    Ah yes, Timothy Radcliffe, OP was among those named as an appointee (“low level?”)…and the Dominican House in DC during the early 1980s? Let’s just say “less traditional” back then…

    Perhaps after so many deformations and versions of Thomism and most of all the effects of this age we have to aim at first being Augustinians after all (not unlike Benedict).

    • If you were privy to the inner circles of the various religious orders you would likely discover that Bergoglio has fewer fans within the Dominican Order than any other established religious order. However, blind loyalty to the pope (which is still untypical for Dominicans) can be found everywhere and, sadly, everybody has at least a few loose cannons (at least T. Radcliffe had the decency not to fly his rainbow flag while he was still in office; Pope Francis cares far less about causing division in the Church). You won’t find a lot of Dominicans willing to voice what they really think in public as a matter of caution, discretion, and prudence; the few that will at this juncture will be mostly be ones uncritically supportive of Bergoglio because they are either climbers or members of the shrinking “spirit of Vatican II” minority. Nevertheless, the prophetic spirit is not dead within the Order of Preachers; those called to be bold voices are being prepared and await Heaven’s marching orders.

  5. The Pontiff has been consistent in avoiding definitive heresy at least not consistently in accord with canon law standards for heresy. All indication is he’s well aware of this and is extremely careful and adept at maneuvering a public policy by suggestion. The Letter of the signatories to the bishops doesn’t as Fr Fessio SJ Mark Brumley CWR as well as Fr Petri OP believe prove the case for heresy. At least not legally. The signatories case is weak. Although morally many of us know he is in error. The argument of the signatories however appears that intent is indicated in the Pope’s direction of the Church in its acceptance of homosexuality, abortion, adultery, communion minus repentance. And the Pontiff’s unwillingness to make correction. The dilemma then is bishops will likely not respond because there is no canonical evidence of heresy defined as persistent adamant denial of a doctrine. Although Fr Fessio seems to concur that the Pontiff’s unwillingness to respond to the Dubia, Fr Weinandy, and if similar in regards to this current accusation indicates intent. I agree if I understand Fessio correctly. Perhaps at best we need to assess this dilemma in respect to Christ’s words that we know a tree by its fruit. As such Prof Kwasniewski says his signature is a matter of conscience. Such a petition as all other admonitions are a needed voice for a subdued Church constantly fed falsehood. Many of the misled may also reconsider and return to the true faith. Silence is not an option when truth is compromised. The virtue of hope however unrealistic it may seem regarding the bishops’ response shouldn’t be overlooked. Saint Catherine of Siena spent a lifetime admonishing Pontiffs with few results except for the value of her witness in the eyes of God and the faithful.

    • I believe that your assessment is correct, Fr. Morello. Pope Francis is slippery and it is highly probable that he talks out of both sides of his mouth as a matter of strategy. The most charitable view is that he is holy but merely sloppy and foolish. Sadly, there are more indicators that he is a Machiavellian rather than a naive simpleton.

      • By their fruits you shall know them. Holiness begets a certain wisdom even in the most unlettered. There is not an iota of wisdom between the Bergoglian ears. None. Craft, yes.

      • Faithful Son, Agreed. Fr Matthew Fox OP preached a New Age paradigm shift similar to Gnosticism similar to a psychology in which the mind has within it all the capabilities of God. Censured 1989 Cardinal Ratzinger CDF. Aidan Nichols OP noted “New Age rejects materialism, advocates meditation, and displays enthusiasm for world peace” (Nichols The New Age Movement 1992). The idea of a cosmological Christ present everywhere subject to accommodation persists. Last night Raymond Arroyo World Over played devil’s advocate citing prohibiting canons to any challenge to a Roman Pontiff. Fr Fessio SJ posed a simple question, What if a pope were to convert to Islam? Assuming he remains in office. Fr Fessio’s question begs an answer, What do we believe as inviolable? Can anyone on the face of this earth change our faith in the revelation of Christ? That is the question impacting each one of us and the existential context of this Open Letter.

    • Anyone competent to render jury service could read the counts on the Indictment and the pleaded facts and come to their own conclusions as to whether the Pope has a case to answer. Do the pleaded facts – if uncontradicted – bring the case up to proof beyond reasonable doubt. My answer is YES, on five of the seven counts.

    • Thank Father Morello.

      Holy Martyrs, who witnessed with your own blood, pray for us, that we may have the courage and grace and wits to overcome this evil stalking in Rome, and Washington, and Chicago, and LA, and NY, and Newark, and Germany, and Italy, and Argentina, etc etc etc etc.

  6. The lack of media coverage the muted coverage provided in the Catholic sphere of this astounding event bespeaks a reality which I am at a loss to characterize. Fear? Indifference? Despair?
    My disappointment at the deafening silence from the legion of “theologians” we support wherever they feather their nest could only be exceeded by the deaf, dumb and blind act of the lemmings in the episcopate. They appear unable to live up to even the lowest expectations.
    There are those who will say this longed for appeal to the episcopate is an exercise in futility, and given the composition of the episcopate and the disposition of Pope Francis in the short run that estimation cannot be dismissed. However it is vitally important that this indictment be recorded publicly and remain in the historical record. In that context it is invaluable and a step toward the restoration of authentic Catholicism.
    God reward the brave and heroic who have put their necks on the block and those who will augment the primary listing of signatories by contributing their endorsement of this important document. Nothing is impossible for the Lord and this will go somewhere, of that there is no doubt. In God’s eyes a thousand years are but a single day.

  7. Every day of our lives, we have new reasons to be thankful to our Creator. Today, I am thankful that Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., did not discern a vocation to medicine, nuclear engineering, or aviation.

    To dismiss a critique of a person’s views on any subject on the grounds that the critique is a “hodgepodge” is ridiculous, as though thematic unity were more important than truth.

  8. Any serious reader knows that I am no fan of the present Pontiff. However, I have also — on numerous occasions — noted that I do not believe that he has crossed the line into heresy. Furthermore, the headline (“theologians”) is inaccurate as only a handful of the signatories are indeed theologians; indeed, the only truly “known” person is Fr Aidan Nichols (whose signature surprises me). Beyond that, if — as the statement acknowledges — no one has the authority to put a pope on trial, what is the point of all this? Simply to upset the apple cart even more than this Pope has done? Simply put: very foolish and counter-productive.

    • So if I leave the Church for Buddhism, no big deal right: God willed—not permitted but willed-a diversity of religions. Correct?

      • The Apostle Paul said “follow me as I follow Christ” as a Christian Catholic, we discern thru prayer if the person we follow is following Christ, if not, we should pray and intercede for them in prayer. We as lay people MUST pray for our priests and bishops daily that they may lead us in righteousness! They are always under attack from satan and need our prayers. Our response to this Pope needs to be done in love and admonition by the bishops with the goal of restoring truth wherever there is error.

    • The implication being, Father, that your own expertise, your own notoriety, your own credentials, and therefore your own opinion, should be seen as outweighing those of the signers?

      One purpose of the effort (beyond the gratuitous disturbance of apple carts) is precisely to challenge the apparently all-too-widespread misconception that such factors militate either for or against the force of truth itself, in the first place.

      • I did not say that only theologians were qualified to question situations in the Church. I said that the headline of the story was inaccurate in that it said that the statement was the work of theologians — when, in point of fact, most of the signers were not theologians. Period.

        • And I invited you to engage with the content of the Open Letter, instead of expecting us to believe–so far, on the sorely insufficient basis of your personal prestige alone–that the 7 points specified, along with others that could have been included, do not rise to the level of heresy. Is what the Letter says correct, or incorrect? How could efforts to resolve this critical question either way be considered “counterproductive,” unless one is willing to disparage truth itself as such?

    • Yes, unwittingly “counterproductive.” Now constructive critique will be even more easily branded, dismissed, and met with silence.

      The regnant anti-Tradition is actually very traditional in that it draws historically from Pope Honorius I…

      Honorius in 423 A.D. failed to respond clearly to Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople on the explicit HERESY of Monothelitism. Honorius rolled over, but pronounced nothing, and was not even a willing enabler. (Although decades after his death a Church council still did pronounced an anathema against Honorius—NOT for having actually taught heresy, BUT for failing to repress it.)

      Silence is golden, or maybe cardinal red. Hence the non-response to the dubia? Hence, the non-response to the Archbishop Vigano letters? Hence a summit on the sexual abuse crisis that fails to even name the nature of the gangrene—-an embedded homosexual subculture, not the narrower cover-story “pedophilia” or now “abuse of the young”. Some field hospital!

      • Mr. Beaulieu,
        In a comment of yours a few days ago, I recall you saying that it was St. Thomas Aquinas who adapted the philosophy of Aristotle to Catholicism. I’ve always assumed that Thomas Aquinas was only one of many scholastic philosopher/theologians who argued the great issues of their day. I’m relatively ignorant of the period, but is it true that Aquinas, specifically, adopted Aristotelian philosophy to Catholic thought?

        If this is true, he is not only the greatest of Catholic philosophers but is the Father of Catholic philosophy. Therefore, I’m curious whether this is true.

        • Steve:

          (Long delay–I’ve been away from my computer for a week…)

          Yes, other scholastic theologians, in Toledo and Sicily as well as the University of Paris, pored over the newly available translations of Aristotle. But Aquinas was the giant in synthesizing the divinely-revealed Faith with the unaided reasoning of Aristotle.

          As part of this dialogue Aquinas did his Summa of Christian Teaching (intended for Muslims, but also Jews, pagans and Greek schismatics), and then began his Summa of Theology in 1266. (Other influences on Aquinas included Plato, Augustine, etc.)

          Then, armed with his work on this last Summa, Aquinas discoursed/ confronted a University of Paris colleague, Siger of Brabant, who in 1269 happened to be teaching the Averroisitic (Islamic)version of Aristotle–one feature of which was the “double truth theory” (when a proposition arrived at philosophically contradicts Christian truth, that both can be true. So much for the self-evident principle of non-contradiction!)

          The discourses can be subtle, but are critically important. (I am no authority, not at all.) While Siger might have modified some of his views, he was eventually condemned by the Archbishop of Paris. Yet, things can remain muddled before being clarified, and Aquinas also later found a dozen or more of his own propositions sprinkled within over two hundred Averroist theses condemned by the Archbishop of Paris in 1277. My non-specialist understanding is that Aquinas, unlike Siger, was never disciplined personally and, when summoned to Rome, Siger himself was absolved of personal heresy.

          Pope Leo XIII elevated Aquinas to continuing preeminence in Catholic thought in his Neo-Thomist revival of the early 20th century.

    • Father S:

      Robert Corzine is quoted as saying of Amoris Laetitia that “if anything CAN BE READ in continuity with orthodox teaching and tradition – it should be – and Amoris Laetitia definitely can be.”

      I believe this can be fairly described as the position taken by Cardinal Mueller. Do you agree?

      In any case, is it impossible to conclude that Mr. Corzine’s approach might be ill-advised, or imprudent, or foolish?

      Your friend in Christ,


      • Readers of CWR may recall that I wrote a commentary on Amoris Laetitia when it emerged, in which I suggested that it was indeed possible to interpret the document in an orthodox fashion. This is also what the Archdiocese of Philadelphia did in its commentary. I still maintain that if more of us on the side of orthodoxy had done this, the heterodox would have been on the defensive in attempting to spin AL in their favor. Sadly, those on the side of the angels have been on the defensive because of “conservatives” who tried to find anything at all heterodox in the document, instead of letting it die a natural death (the way the dissenters essentially handled Humanae Vitae in 1968).

        • Fr. S:

          I certainly understand that good Catholic Bishops and clergy and laity made and published orthodox interpretations of AL.

          The question is about what is and will produce good fruit. That question deserves to be discussed.

          I do not see how your analogy to Humanae Vitae strengthens your argument.

          I – HV was written to be unambiguously opposed to mainstream non-Catholic sexual mores, and the dissenters represented the vast majority of Catholics inside the Church. Further, HV didn’t “die a natural death” because dissenters gave it some type of interpretation. HV was largely ignored, yet still stands, and speaks the truth, in the face of dissent. Dissenters ignored HV because they were intent from the outset to ignore anything that they disagreed with.

          II – AL, unlike HV, was written ambiguously to admit and encourage the propagation of counter-Christian sexual mores, which National Conferences like Argentina’s happily and swiftly instituted, with explicit encouragement of the Pope Francis, thus disclosing the authors’ intentions. So everyone, whether (a) supporting AL’s intent or (b) supporting the Church’s unambiguous teaching before AL (e.g. Familiaris Consortio), knows that AL is intended to weaken and dismantle the Church’s witness about sexual morality, rather than strengthen it.

          We can be certain that just as HV was ignored, and despite its witness to truth, persuaded only a small portion slowly over time, AL is being adopted and exploited swiftly, because it witnesses to the Zeitgeist, and will be used to suffocate orthodoxy in the Church.

          • What I meant about HV and its reception was that after the initial dissent, the “Left” decided simply to ignore it. In my horrific and heterodox seminary, in (im)moral theology class, we told explicitly: “Don’t attack it (HV), and don’t teach it. It will be forgotten.” Of course, they didn’t count on JP2’s resurrection of the document.

        • Fr. S:

          I have made an earlier reply, but having read your comment again, an additional thought emerges.

          While I certainly agree that Catholic Bishops and priests and laity who work to give AL an orthodox interpretation are doing good (“on the side of the angels” as you say), I also believe that the people you have called “foolish” etc are nothing of the sort. They are certainly speaking to defend the truth, and they are giving evidence to support their conclusions.

          Rather than making general assertions of who and what is foolish, it would be more illuminating to respond to one or two findings and conclusions they make, and state specifically why these are not heresy. How, for example, would you argue that AL 301 is consistent with Catholic moral theology? AL 301 states: “The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it is (sic) can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet … be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.”

          How are those living in “irregular (sexual) situations” not living in a state of mortal sin and not deprived of sanctifying grace?

        • “.. instead of letting it die a natural death (the way the dissenters essentially handled Humanae Vitae in 1968).”

          Fr. Stravinskas, if you believe that there is some sort of “level playing field” between the sons of God and the sons of Cain, then I am afraid that you are mistaken. The different “sides” work under completely different sets of laws.

          While duplicity, deceipt, misdirection and even ignoring a problem may be very effective strategies for those who would oppose Christ and His Law, they never work for those who would stand by Him. Falsehood and evil have never been defeated just by ignoring them – that only allows them to grow stronger and corrupt more men’s hearts.

          Falsehood and injustice must always be resisted and opposed by truth, justice and, if necessary, rebuke and condemnation. That is the only way we can be like Christ. Quite frankly it would be unChristian to just ignore evil in the hope that it will go away. That is not the dynamic by which evil works. Ignore good and it will go away every time, but ignore evil and it only flourishes.

    • The supporters of the status quo probably said similar things about Saint Athanasius (“against the world”). Happy feast of St. Athanasius. St. Athanasius, pray for us and for our heresy-promulgating pope and prelates.

    • The theological academy leaves much to be desired, Father. Appealing to “theological” credentials these days — indeed for the past five decades — is increasingly futile. The mass of them appear only to be individuals of some sort of scholarly aspiration with a bent toward transcendental notions of universal appeal. That could characterize a broad swath of the clergy class as well. Such notions are no substitute for supernatural faith.
      Those who produced this letter to the episcopate are witnessing a holocaust and attempting to bring it to an end. They remind us that there remains some integrity in the Church and the academy, theological and otherwise. I thank God for each of them.

    • Not foolish, Fr Stravinskas, not at all and not counterproductive.
      These are serious men with serious questions. Just as the dubia signers were serious and just as Archbishop Viganò was serious. But instead of offering a serious answer to these seriously Catholic men, il Capo di tutti capi will continue to remain silent. We get it. Francis is not interested in questions…any questions.
      And his bishops better not be either, if they want to enjoy good health.

    • If this is foolish and counterproductive fr., then more so in disregarding and not answering the Dubia in the first place…btw in what way is it foolish and counterproductive?

  9. We have too many priests (and yes, lay Catholics) using words and phrases like “hodgepodge,” “upset the apple cart” and one Bishop who favors “Might I say.” Suddenly it’s the 1920s…though we have gay marriage, abortion on demand and euthanasia in several states…not to mention I guess we should say “shenanigans” in our seminaries and chanceries.

    “no one has the authority to put a pope on trial, what is the point of all this? Simply to upset the apple cart even more than this Pope has done? Simply put: very foolish and counter-productive.”

    Polite correction: I believe Bergoglio’s preference is for “making a mess.” In the final analysis then…what’s the point of ANYTHING we do or say really beyond prayer. Oh, wait! There are more “productive” ways…like the Dubbia (which under Canon Law…is OK…and then no response by Bergoglio is also OK to the Dubbia and Vigano). The Stacked Deck…maybe.

    Any Bishop, Cardinal , priest, secular or religious, who does not speak out more forcefully during this crisis is not “foolish” at all. I get it. There are also of course those who LOVE the new “mess.” For those who don’t? Just like the corporate world or even working in retail or a restaurant…it’s about job security, where they live, the next paycheck, retirement. What would be the next gig? Yes, unkind words regarding a “vocation.” Considering how Bergoglio has treated those who have spoken out or those who are simply “traditional,” I get it. We pick our battles also considering “all the good we can do.” There IS such a thing as payback in the priesthood and religious life.

    There’s also payback in the next life, the one that matters most.

    We are witnessing nothing less than a complete revamping of the Catholic Faith…and it’s being accomplished not simply with revisions in theology and praxis but with thug-like tactics right out of Machiavelli…and like many of the “best” most unapologetic thefts, it’s happening in broad daylight.

    Along with Reality by Garrigou-Lagrange, get a copy of The Prince by Machiavelli. I have one. It’s a lot easier than sifting through the speeches of Peron…and fewer pages than Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals…

    It been a few years…in 1986 Rev. Richard McBrien of Notre Dame University referred to “Charlie Curran” as a “centrist” despite Curran’s views on not just birth control but abortion, homosexuality and yes, eventually adultery.

    Consider the deep “humility” yet learning and “credentials” of this “great thinker” and “theologian” Curran (who preferred being called “Charlie” like the drugstore fragrance by Revlon) who said to The Washington Post in 1986 in a he’s-still-alive, hagiographic/victim article: “If you read the Scriptures literally, you know that Jesus had everyone call him by his first name and He never wore a collar.”

    The above quote is a line that would serve well in a “mockumentary” written and directed by the Cohen brothers…but it’s not and it wasn’t intended as a joke. Sadly, similarly, in 2019…you might hear something like that as a quote taken from yet one more interview with Bergoglio aboard a plane…the same Bergoglio who will not respond to the Dubbia but sort of responded yet did not respond to Vigano. It’s now way beyond being “earthy” or “funny” or, and I say this with no intention of being blasphemous or sacrilegious, this sense of being being forced/challenged, so to speak, to regard such utterances and yes also gestures (ex. kissing the feet of the Sudanese) as “more Christlike”. For me, it’s that same stench. That same play book. That same “there’s no going back” tossed all over and served up as inevitable reality, the imagined “progress” and “evolution” and yes the need for “revolution,” a real preference for the “errors of Russia” and the promotion of “mimicking Christ” but not really imitating or following or OBEYING Our Lord.

  10. Not a comment but a question: In this story it is noted that only one of the 19 signers of the letter to bishops asking them to act canonically against the alleged heretical pope was qualified as a canon lawyer. Was that Cardinal Raymond Burke.I can’t find a list of the 19 signers?

    • Fr Cor Mennen, JCL, diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands), canon of the cathedral Chapter. lecturer at de diocesan Seminary of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

  11. One signatory Prof Claudio Pierantoni presents the more cogent argument in opposition to Pope Francis. Interviewed Diane Montagna LifeSite 2017: “In this interview, Pierantoni explains how Amoris Laetitia Chapter 8 skillfully interweaves the authentic Catholic doctrine about extenuating circumstances with the heterodox concepts of situational ethics, according to which there are ‘no intrinsically evil actions’ and, in some situations, ‘what is normally evil may be the right choice, so it can objectively be a good act.’ The doctrine of extenuating circumstances, Pierantoni argues, is being used here as ‘a mask to conceal situational ethics.’ In Amoris Laetitia (no. 302), Section 2352 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is cited in support of the mitigating circumstance doctrine developed by Pope Francis in order to justify reception of the Holy Eucharist for Catholics who have been divorced and civilly remarried. Section 2352 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which pertains to the sin of masturbation which may ‘reduce to a minimum moral culpability’” (Pierantoni in Montagna interview). The CCC entry on mitigation may presume a theological category. However it is not. The reason is mitigation is a hypothetical that is not subject to measure. For example “in his Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliation and Penance (a document highly relevant to the proper reception of Holy Communion), Pope John Paul II warned the Church against trying to create a theological category out of psychological considerations and mitigating circumstances, stating: But from a consideration of the psychological sphere one cannot proceed to the construction of a theological category, which is what the ‘fundamental option’ precisely is, understanding it in such a way that it objectively changes or casts doubt upon the traditional concept of mortal sin. While every sincere and prudent attempt to clarify the psychological and theological mystery of sin is to be valued, the Church nevertheless has a duty to remind all scholars in this field of the need to be faithful to the word of God that teaches us also about sin. She likewise has to remind them of the risk of contributing to a further weakening of the sense of sin in the modern world” no.17 (John Paul II in Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A., J.D.). The doctrine is often wrongly applied to remove, and only hypothetically responsibility for committing an intrinsically evil act. From this priest’s perspective it is irrational to presume one may justify murder, rape, false witness by what is simply hypothetical presumption.

  12. His Holiness is at the very least guilty of negligence both in his episcopal appointments, choice of advisers, and statements on doctrine (both public and private). To his credit Father Petri is among those faithful priests have made genuine efforts to interpret the Pope’s actions and pronouncements in a way consistent with the living tradition of the Church (as has Fr. Matthew Schneider LC). Sadly, Pope Francis has repeatedly undermined these efforts with his continued “off the cuff” remarks, plane interviews and other public utterances, which gives a strong impression that he does not want an orthodox interpretation thereof and specifically intended his words and deeds to be a break with tradition (his letter to the Argentine Bishops congratulating them on their radical interpretation of Amoris Laetitia throwing open the doors to communion for the civilly divorced and remarried, stating that there is “no other interpretation”, being an egregious example). Certainly, his refusal to muzzle heterodox clerics who openly reject perennial Catholic doctrine James Martin, Thomas Rosica and Walter Kasper is seen by many (including these clerics themselves) as a form of tacit approval of their conduct.

    His Holiness owes the faithful and explanation, and a clarification of his statements. Not ambiguity, not off the cuff remarks, not personal attacks and calumny against those who are “rigid” and legalistic”; just the truth and clarity. His duty is to speak the truth of the Faith. If he cannot or will not do that then he only making a mockery of the sacred office he took an oath to uphold.

  13. I don’t pretend to know most of what all of you are saying but I want to list 4 things I think we should look at. They just simply came to my attention and I decided I would not pay much attention to what the good Pope had to say. #1, When presented a spiritual bouquet of Rosaries he said “we don’t do that, number prayers, Just say We’ll pray for you” The Rosary IS a numbered prayer. #2, Early in his time he said he “might be remembered as the pope who divided the church.”
    Really? #3, The new order coming would have man at the center. #4. And I cannot believe this one myself, “The blessed Virgin was Immaculately conceived but that doesn’t say she had intellect or virtue.” Don’t you know that Immaculately conceived means she was in our original stae!! Since that last one I have not listened to anything he says. Leave my Mother alone.
    I don’t need the canon with all those red flags. Thanks and Peace, God Bless Holy Mother church.

  14. Kudos to Brumley and Fr. Fessio for their response and video. (I previously posted these comments mistakenly in the thread on “the waning of reason” no hidden meanings there though “the waning of reason” does apply to this topic in many ways).

    Could someone on that side get them a couple of beers…some decent Pilsners? They both seem parched like they were talking for three hours before recording that excellent summary.

    • Most of the disagreements seem to be about “rules”. I thought that rules are means to an end. The big message of Christianity is surely about LOVE. God IS Love. Did Christ not suffer and die to teach us that? These arguments all seem to be about MEANS. For the Christian , love is meant to dominate over everything. Is this not the primary message of Pope Francis our much loved compassionate Pope.. Jesus Himself had much to say about the religious leaders of his time. Could we not reflect much more on that?

      • Kathleen-

        The argument is not about rules.

        The argument is about obeying the Commandments of Jesus.

        Jesus joins love and obedience as one: “If you love me, then keep my commandments.” – St. John 14:15

        So we are indeed talking about LOVE…as The Lord talks about LOVE.

        It is all one holy thing…

  15. Father Stravinskas wrote ” Readers of CWR may recall that I wrote a commentary on Amoris Laetitia when it emerged in which I suggested that it was indeed possible to interpret the document in an orthodox fashion.” True enough, but is that the standard of authorship and scholarship we are to accept and expect from a document as weighty as Amoris Laetitia? That it is possible to interpret the document one way or the other? What of unabiguous clarity of writing? The faithful hang on the words of these documents and ambiguity has absolutely no place in them. But ambiguity thy name is Bergoglio. If AL can be interpreted any number of ways to support one agenda or another then it is because Bergoglio wants it that way and strong courageous priests like Father Weinandy are justified to call him out on it.
    Father Stravinskas, you think the letter of the nineteen Catholics very foolish and counterproductive. No sir. The courageous people who signed that letter accusing the Pope of heresy represent much needed pushback against what many sincere, conscientous, faithful, orthodox, “rigid” Catholics deeply feel is heretical behavior on the part of this pope. Thank God for those nineteen!

  16. To entertain such a thought is really stretching. Pope Francis did the right thing to be gracious to accept the gift from young people that in no way those kids could have the mental capacity to know the ramifications of such a symbol (if that is the intent of that particular staff) used in worship of the dead souls. And if…IF someone put them up to it, do people that made these accusations against the Pope really believe that God didn’t see what is going on. Nothing passes the eye of our God, nothing, not even people creating nothing out of nothing to mare someone’s character. Remember the people that try that on Christ?
    As a student of Theology myself their argument is full of holes and self boasting. I wonder do these people that make such accusations even listen to themselves, there will be true clear signs- not ones that have to be manipulated into signs. Just because you hold a vegetable does not make you a vegetarian, nor does holding a glass of wine make you a drunk.

    • I would say that a papal ferula that depicts a fork (or however one chooses to describe it) vice the expected and traditional cross is a very true and clear sign. A sign that certainly does represent Catholic Christianity. Hardly any manipulation there. In fact I would have to manipulate it tremendously to see a Christian meaning in it at all. Yes, accept the gift graciously but that does not mean that you have to employ it. Signs make statements Ms. McPherson and that gift was a truly confusion inspiring one and who is the author of confusion? Holding a glass of wine does not make one a drunk but it does make a statement endorsing the drinking of wine. Signs and symbols have meaning. Just know that your interpretation of a sign or symbol may not be the same as someone else and you must learn to respect their sincere interpretation. They just might know more than do you.

  17. “Just because you hold a vegetable does not make you a vegetarian, nor does holding a glass of wine make you a drunk.”

    Just because you hold a vegetable does not make you NOT a vegetarian…NOT a drunk.

    But was he just “holding” or actually using that staff in his capacity as pope? Was it not part of what might be considered his office and vestiture in his use of it and the meaning of it? Were the “kids” below the age of reason and illiterate and without access to the Internet? Did Bergoglio himself or no one around him have the “mental capacity” to judge it or was that somehow supplanted by a need to be polite? Did not the staff itself seem to intrinsically express some kind of deformity or absence? Did this staff resonate with Rahner’s “anonymous Christianity” in Bergoglio’s mind?

    The “Open Letter” as having “holes” in an argument? Are the documented words and actions of Bergoglio and his appointments and their views…contrasted with the actual teachings of the Catholic Church…sheer confabulations? if factual…”misunderstandings.”

  18. How convenient for the atheist materialist, overpopulation alarmist globalists, that Covid hit when it did, shutting down all the churches, which they deemed to be “not necessary”, ( and not, as we were originally told, just for a two week period so that those who were most susceptible to being harmed by the coronavirus , the elderly, and those with certain health conditions, could be isolated and protected from harm as they were moved to a safe location) just as the truth about the attempt by the atheist materialists over population alarmist globalists, WHO, WEF, and all their ilk, who deny the Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, and the Sanctity of the marital act within the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, were seeking to destroy the Catholic Church, by proclaiming erroneously and with malice, that a Right to Privacy serves to protect and defend a right to sin in privacy, and, furthermore, in The United States, that The Constitution serves to protect, defend and accommodate this non existent right to sin in privacy, and those who deny that there is an inherent Right to sin in private, are guilty of the sin of hate, for hating sinful acts, and desiring not to accommodate acts of sin which are harmful to “human flourishing “.

    On what basis can anyone make the claim that only Catholic Theologians have the ability to recognize that it is sinful to accommodate an occasion of sin for to do so is to cooperate with that which is evil, and thus we have a responsibility to call sin, sin, if we desire to protect others from harm.

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