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Read Pope Francis’ response to the dubia presented to him by 5 cardinals

Daniel Payne By Daniel Payne for CNA

(Image: Shutterstock)

CNA Staff, Oct 2, 2023 / 14:46 pm (CNA).

Five cardinals have sent a set of questions known as “dubia” to Pope Francis to express their concerns and seek clarification on points of doctrine and discipline ahead of this week’s opening of the Synod on Synodality at the Vatican.

Dubia are questions brought before the pope and the appropriate Vatican office that seek a simple “yes” or “no” response in order to clarify disputed matters of Catholic teaching and practice.

The prelates — German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, American Cardinal Raymond Burke, Chinese Cardinal Zen Ze-Kiun, Mexican Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, and Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah — had submitted an earlier version of their dubia on July 10 and received a reply the following day.

Because the pope answered at length — and not with the customary “yes” or “no” — the group resubmitted their dubia in August in order to get clarification. The pope has not responded to the August set of dubai.

Below are the July dubia with Pope Francis’ response to each one:

1. Dubium about the claim that we should reinterpret divine revelation according to the cultural and anthropological changes in vogue. 

After the statements of some bishops, which have been neither corrected nor retracted, it is asked whether in the Church divine revelation should be reinterpreted according to the cultural changes of our time and according to the new anthropological vision that these changes promote; or whether divine revelation is binding forever, immutable and therefore not to be contradicted, according to the dictum of the Second Vatican Council, that to God who reveals is due “the obedience of faith” (Dei Verbum, 5); that what is revealed for the salvation of all must remain “in their entirety, throughout the ages” and alive, and be “transmitted to all generations” (7); and that the progress of understanding does not imply any change in the truth of things and words, because faith has been “handed on … once and for all” (8), and the magisterium is not superior to the word of God, but teaches only what has been handed on (10).

Pope Francis’ response: a) The answer depends on the meaning you give to the word “reinterpret.” If it is understood as “to interpret better,” the expression is valid. In this sense the Second Vatican Council affirmed that it is necessary that with the work of the exegetes — I would add of the theologians — “the judgment of the Church may mature” (Cone. Ecum. Vat. II, Const. Dogm. Dei Verbum, 12).

b) Therefore, while it is true that divine revelation is immutable and always binding, the Church must be humble and recognize that she never exhausts its unfathomable richness and needs to grow in her understanding.

c) Therefore, she also matures in the understanding of what she herself has affirmed in her magisterium.

d) Cultural changes and the new challenges of history do not modify the revelation, but they can stimulate us to make more explicit some aspects of its overflowing richness, which always offers more.

e) It is inevitable that this may lead to a better expression of some past statements of the magisterium, and indeed it has happened throughout history.

f) On the other hand, it is true that the magisterium is not superior to the word of God, but it is also true that both the texts of Scripture and the testimonies of tradition need an interpretation that allows us to distinguish their perennial substance from cultural conditioning. It is evident, for example, in biblical texts (such as Ex 21:20-21) and in some magisterial interventions that tolerated slavery (cf. Nicholas V, Bull Oum Diversas, 1452). This is not a minor issue given its intimate connection with the perennial truth of the inalienable dignity of the human person. These texts are in need of interpretation. The same is true for some New Testament considerations on women (1 Cor 11:3-10; 1 Tim 2:11-14) and for other texts of Scripture and testimonies of tradition that cannot be repeated literally today.

g) It is important to emphasize that what cannot change is what has been revealed “for the salvation of all” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 7). For this reason the Church must constantly discern between what is essential for salvation and what is secondary or less directly connected with this goal. In this regard, I would like to recall what St. Thomas Aquinas affirmed: “the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects” (Summa Theologiae 1-11, q. 94, art. 4).

h) Finally, a single formulation of a truth can never be adequately understood if it is presented in isolation, isolated from the rich and harmonious context of the whole of revelation. The “hierarchy of truths” also implies situating each of them in adequate connection with the more central truths and with the totality of the Church’s teaching. This can ultimately give rise to different ways of expounding the same doctrine, although “for those who long for a monolithic body of doctrine guarded by all and leaving no room for nuance, this might appear as undesirable and leading to confusion. But in fact such variety serves to bring out and develop different facets of the inexhaustible riches of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium, 49). Each theological line has its risks but also its opportunities.

2. Dubium about the claim that the widespread practice of the blessing of same-sex unions would be in accord with revelation and the magisterium (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2357). 

According to divine revelation, confirmed in sacred Scripture, which the Church “with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, …  listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully” (Dei Verbum, 10): “In the beginning” God created man in his own image, male and female he created them and blessed them, that they might be fruitful (cf. Gen. 1:27-28), whereby the apostle Paul teaches that to deny sexual difference is the consequence of the denial of the Creator (Rom 1:24-32). It is asked: Can the Church derogate from this “principle,” objectively sinful such as same-sex unions, without betraying revealed doctrine?

Pope Francis’ response: a) The Church has a very clear conception of marriage: an exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the begetting of children. It calls this union “marriage.” Other forms of union only realize it “in a partial and analogous way” (Amoris Laetitia, 292), and so they cannot be strictly called “marriage.”

b) It is not a mere question of names, but the reality that we call marriage has a unique essential constitution that demands an exclusive name, not applicable to other realities. It is undoubtedly much more than a mere “ideal.“

c) For this reason the Church avoids any kind of rite or sacramental that could contradict this conviction and give the impression that something that is not marriage is recognized as marriage.

d) In dealing with people, however, we must not lose the pastoral charity that must permeate all our decisions and attitudes. The defense of objective truth is not the only expression of this charity, which is also made up of kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness, and encouragement. Therefore, we cannot become judges who only deny, reject, exclude.

e) For this reason, pastoral prudence must adequately discern whether there are forms of blessing, requested by one or more persons, that do not transmit a mistaken conception of marriage. For when a blessing is requested, one is expressing a request for help from God, a plea for a better life, a trust in a Father who can help us to live better.

f) On the other hand, although there are situations that from an objective point of view are not morally acceptable, pastoral charity itself demands that we do not simply treat as “sinners“ other people whose guilt or responsibility may be due to their own fault or responsibility attenuated by various factors that influence subjective imputability (cf. St. John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 17).

g) Decisions which, in certain circumstances, can form part of pastoral prudence, should not necessarily become a norm. That is to say, it is not appropriate for a diocese, an episcopal conference or any other ecclesial structure to constantly and officially authorize procedures or rites for all kinds of matters, since everything “what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule,“ because this “would lead to an intolerable casuistry“ (Amoris Laetitia, 304). Canon law should not and cannot cover everything, nor should the episcopal conferences claim to do so with their various documents and protocols, because the life of the Church runs through many channels in addition to the normative ones.

3. Dubium about the assertion that synodality is a “constitutive element of the Church“ (Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis Communio, 6), so that the Church would, by its very nature, be synodal

Given that the Synod of Bishops does not represent the college of bishops but is merely a consultative organ of the pope, since the bishops, as witnesses of the faith, cannot delegate their confession of the truth, it is asked whether synodality can be the supreme regulative criterion of the permanent government of the Church without distorting her constitutive order willed by her Founder, whereby the supreme and full authority of the Church is exercised both by the pope by virtue of his office and by the college of bishops together with its head the Roman pontiff (Lumen Gentium, 22).

Pope Francis’ response: a) Although you recognize that the supreme and full authority of the Church is exercised either by the pope because of his office or by the college of bishops together with its head, the Roman pontiff (cf. Cone. Ecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. Lumen Gentium, 22), nevertheless with these dubia you yourselves manifest your need to participate, to give your opinion freely and to collaborate, and you are claiming some form of “synodality” in the exercise of my ministry.

b) The Church is a “mystery of missionary communion,” but this communion is not only affective or eternal, but necessarily implies real participation: that not only the hierarchy but all the people of God in different ways and at different levels can make their voice heard and feel part of the Church’s journey. In this sense we can say that synodality, as a style and dynamism, is an essential dimension of the life of the Church. On this point St. John Paul II has said very beautiful things in Novo Millennio Ineunte.

c) It is quite another thing to sacralize or impose a particular synodal methodology that pleases one group, to make it the norm and obligatory channel for all, because this would only lead to “freezing” the synodal journey, ignoring the diverse characteristics of the different particular Churches and the varied richness of the universal Church.

4. Dubium about pastors’ and theologians’ support for the theory that “the theology of the Church has changed” and therefore that priestly ordination can be conferred on women. 

After the statements of some prelates, which have been neither corrected nor retracted, according to which, with Vatican II, the theology of the Church and the meaning of the Mass has changed, it is asked whether the dictum of the Second Vatican Council is still valid, that “[the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood] differ from one another in essence and not only in degree” (Lumen Gentium, 10) and that presbyters by virtue of the “sacred power of orders, to offer sacrifice and forgive sins” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2), act in the name and in the person of Christ the Mediator, through whom the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect. It is furthermore asked whether the teaching of St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which teaches as a truth to be definitively held the impossibility of conferring priestly ordination on women, is still valid, so that this teaching is no longer subject to change nor to the free discussion of pastors or theologians.

Pope Francis’ response: a) “The common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood differ essentially” (Cone. Ecum. Vat. 11, Const. Dogm. Lumen Gentium, 10). It is not convenient to maintain a difference of degree that implies considering the common priesthood of the faithful as something of “second category” or of lesser value (“a lower degree”). Both forms of priesthood mutually enlighten and sustain each other.

b) When St. John Paul II taught that it is necessary to affirm “definitively“ the impossibility of conferring priestly ordination on women, he was in no way belittling women and granting supreme power to men. St. John Paul II also affirmed other things. For example, that when we speak of priestly power “we are in the area of function, not of dignity or holiness“ (St. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 51).

These are words that we have not sufficiently accepted. He also clearly maintained that while the priest alone presides at the Eucharist, the tasks “do not give rise to superiority of one over the other“ (St. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, note 190; cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Inter Insigniores, VI). I likewise affirm that if the priestly function is “hierarchical,“ it should not be understood as a form of domination, but “this structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members.“ (St. John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 27). If this is not understood and the practical consequences of these distinctions are not drawn, it will be difficult to accept that the priesthood is reserved only to men and we will not be able to recognize the rights of women or the need for them to participate, in various ways, in the leadership of the Church.

c) On the other hand, to be rigorous, let us recognize that a clear and authoritative doctrine has not yet been exhaustively developed about the exact nature of a “definitive statement.“ It is not a dogmatic definition, and yet it must be observed by all. No one can publicly contradict it and yet it can be the object of study, as is the case with the validity of ordinations in the Anglican Communion.

5. Dubium about the statement “forgiveness is a human right“ and the Holy Father’s insistence on the duty to absolve everyone and always, so that repentance would not be a necessary condition for sacramental absolution. 

It is asked whether the teaching of the Council of Trent, according to which the contrition of the penitent, which consists in detesting the sin committed with the intention of sinning no more (Session XIV, Chapter IV: DH 1676), is necessary for the validity of sacramental confession, is still in force, so that the priest must postpone absolution when it is clear that this condition is not fulfilled.

Pope Francis’ response: a) Repentance is necessary for the validity of sacramental absolution, and implies the intention not to sin. But there is no mathematics here, and once again I must remind you that the confessional is not a customs house. We are not owners but humble stewards of the sacraments that nourish the faithful, because these gifts of the Lord, more than relics to be guarded, are aids of the Holy Spirit for the life of the people.

b) There are many ways to express regret. Often, in people who have a very wounded self-esteem, pleading guilty is a cruel torture, but the very act of approaching confession is a symbolic expression of repentance and seeking divine help.

c) I would also like to recall that “at times we find it hard to make room for God’s unconditional love in our pastoral activity” (Amoris Laetitia, 311), but we must learn to do so. Following St. John Paul II, I maintain that we should not demand from the faithful overly precise and certain proposals for amendment, which in the end end up being abstract or even egotistic, but that even the predictability of a new fall “does not compromise the authenticity of the intention” (St. John Paul II, Letter to Cardinal William W. Baum and the participants in the meeting of the cardinal’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. William W. Baum and the participants of the annual course of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 22 March 1996, 5).

d) Finally, it should be clear that all the conditions that are usually placed on the confession are generally not applicable when the person is in a situation of agony, or with very limited mental and psychological capacities.

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  1. Small wonder that the dubia were resubmitted with greater precision…

    In the interests of theological mud wrestling, it is amusing that the response above was almost certainly penned by ghost-writer Cardinal Fernandez, and that the document circularly cites language found in Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia wherein the likely ghost-writer also reportedly cited earlier works by himself.

    Ventriloquism under the bright lights now…

    For one example, regarding the Fernandez’s breezy analogy with slavery, yes, the Church did doctrinally affirm the dignity of the human person while also in practice apparently going with the flow in many ways in day-to-day praxis. Butt, the teaching did NOT change; THIS IS PRECISELY THE KIND OF DUPLICITY WHICH NOW IS QUESTIONED BY THE DUBIA. Specifically, can the cited nuances recognized by John Paul II in particular cases be extended categorically to the LGBTQ commune as a (w)hole, or not?

    And, are we so NAÏVE as to think that any discrete blessings of sodomy would be anything less than a half-way house to full endorsement of the aggressive gay lifestyle by the Church, just as “civil unions” were the opening wedge for flipping the secular world with the oxymoron of gay “marriage”? Is the Synod leadership so stupid as to allow the Church itself to be annexed (!) in this way?

    And here an historical NOTE about slavery:

    In 1435 Pope Eugene IV condemned slavery in the Canary Islands. In the 16th century Bartolome de las Casas protested the economienda system in Spanish held regions (a system of Spanish protection in exchange for tribute which later degenerated into near slavery). St. Peter Claver began caring for slaves in the Columbia slave markets, beginning in 1610. In 1839 Pope Gregory XVI opposed slavery, and during the Civil War Pope Pius IX was apparently willing to recognize the Confederacy, but only if slavery were abolished.

    Cardinal Newman (The Development of Christian Doctrine) was COHERENT about the difference between non-Darwinian and organic doctrinal development versus mutating modernday novelties.

  2. Matthew Bunson, also writing for CNA, says: “By custom, when a Vatican dicastery does answer a dubium, it is through a “Responsum ad dubium” (literally, a response to the doubt), and customarily, the response can be answered in the affirmative or the negative, “yes” or “no.” Almost always, the terse reaction is accompanied by a fuller explanation or commentary.”
    So if “Almost always, the terse reaction is accompanied by a fuller explanation or commentary,” why are the Cardinals objecting to the fuller commentary?

      • When one is dealing with moral theology, one can give a yes or no answer because one is working on the level of abstractions. When one is dealing with matters of confession and spiritual direction, one is dealing with actual people and the answers need to be tailored to the needs of the person one is working with. The Cardinals approached the questions as moral theologians, the Pope replied as a confessor and spiritual director.

        • Such a confessor or spiritual director would only serve to confuse and discourage by such obfuscation. As a priest I am always aware of the need and importance of being clear and precise so as not to cause distress and disquiet. As Ou Lord said in Matthew 5:37

          Sit autem sermo vester, est, est: non, non: quod autem his abundantius est, a malo est.

        • Thus, goodbye to the Ten Commandments. Your continued deflections and defenses of this pontificate give scandal, because some take you to be a serious, believing Catholic. You cause me no such scandal.

        • Sr. Gabriella of the Incarnation:

          It is a disservice to people seeking to know the truth of moral theology to imply that moral clarity is to be deemed (and apparently from your dichotomy, diminished) as a mere abstraction, as if answering “Yes” or “No” about the moral law of Jesus is of no moral consequence.

          Your summation indicates that the Pontiff chose to evade answering the serious questions posed, and confected a meaningless response by misappropriating pastoral guidance that is only legitimate after a person makes a prior and sincere confession of his or her sinfulness.

          The Pontiff is wrong to evade his duty to give a truthful answer, and doubly wrong by attempting evading under cover of abusing what is intended to be reserved only for the sacrament of confession.

    • FAILING to provide a yes or no to any question, allows anyone to shade the verbal explanation in any direction they wish. But not always the accurate direction. Why is it so hard for the Pope to give a one word answer?

      • Even Bing Chat knows what the pope may not have heard or understood. Jesus says, Matthew’s Gospel (5:3-7): “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”

        Even BingChat understands the meaning: “…being truthful, reliable, and consistent in our words and actions. It is about embodying integrity, honoring our commitments, and being accountable for what we say and do…. When we adhere to this principle, we establish trust, cultivate strong relationships, create a foundation for a harmonious and respectful society.” (

        Matthew 5:3-7 continues: “…for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

        And God, as we know, does not bless that. We pray Him to deliver us from that.

        Just as scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert in order to undergo temptation, Francis apparently and similarly misunderstood that scripture when he sought to change the Lord’s prayer.

  3. Well, at least we know what we’ll get in the pre-written post-synodal exhortation: blessings for same-sex couples, a commission to examine women’s ordination, and a whole lot of palaver about the need to go beyond the limits of “monolithic” understandings of doctrine.

    • Spot on: Synodal vacations and Kabuki Theater. Now all can see why Pope Francis and his Tucho shamelessly single out “poor man” Cardinal Burke.

  4. “The defense of objective truth is not the only expression of this charity, which is also made up of kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness, and encouragement. Therefore, we cannot become judges who only deny, reject, exclude”; His Holiness, in response to 2, same sex union CCC 2357 isolates the rare exception that is thought by some orthodox theologians, to admit to relaxation of the rule. We find the same exquisite [subtle] nuance throughout the responses, “even the predictability of a ‘new fall does not compromise the authenticity of the intention'” (Pope Francis citing a St. John Paul II Letter to Cardinal William W. Baum).
    Clergy may find instances during their lifetime that fit such an exception to the rule. We generally don’t discuss it, with the understanding that a personal decision was made to be kept with discretion. Francis I, I’m afraid, uses these arguments that are frequently made in conscience with God as the entree to universal policy. If so, it’s a betrayal of his initial defensive response in denial to criticism of similar imputation elicited from Amoris Laetitia.

  5. The “responses” are disingenuous, the very opposite of dialogue. Such synodaling is shameless manipulation of sacred theology and episcopal authority to lead people away from union with God. The authority of God is used to disregard His Perfection.

  6. This discussion could be helped by a referral to First Corinthians where the intellectual sophisticates tried to defend the eating of meat offered to idols. This was forbidden by the Council of Jerusalem. St. Paul went into a detailed presentation of how knowledge puffs up but love builds up.
    7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through being hitherto accustomed to idols, eat food as really offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall. (1 Corinthians 8, 7-13 RSVCE)

  7. Let me get this straight. Being “stewards of the sacraments” means abusing them to create a system of mutual ego-gratification, of “pastoral compassion” for both the non-repentant and confessor under the pretext that because it is a “mathematical uncertainty” to know when repentance is real, therefore the manifestly insincere, going through the motions, must never be subject to examination of intent or redress when they show indications of insincerity. Not even for the good of their souls? Oh, I forgot. In the universe of those who presume superior, loving compassion, the human drama is always one-sided. Compassion means trivializing willful evil. Never to be applied to the damage done to victims.

  8. The written words in the Holy Bible are considered the words of God. Jesus, the Son of God, while being tempted three times by Satan, Himself used the Bible’s written words from the Old Testament (and He used it three times!) to ward off Satan’s temptations (“It is written…!”). What does that mean? It means that the written word of God is the final absolute truth in serious moral issues.
    We find that God calls homosexuality an “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13). That is the final absolute truth. Pope Francis, not as the leader of Christ’s church but as a sinful human being, wants to bless homosexuals living together because of some misguided and superficial understanding of God’s love. Unfortunately, that is profane ideology coming from the leader of Christ’s church — because God’s charity extends to those who repent, not to those living a continuing immoral life.

  9. “On the other hand, although there are situations that from an objective point of view are not morally acceptable, pastoral charity itself demands that we do not simply treat others as “sinners” whose guilt or responsibility may be due to their own fault.”

    Apparently, the Pope of perpetual strawman arguments contrives an argument against situations of insensitivity that do not exist to make his admonishments of charity seem all the more benevolent. What he never understands is how he always belittles not only faithful Catholics but God in the process. It is never uncharitable to be at odds with immorality. God knows us better than we know ourselves, especially when we lie to ourselves, which we do often, and good pastoralism is aware that we lie to ourselves often. So the real charity never takes joy in identifying sin but in invitations to repentance, a proper understanding and application of Christian values that Francis refuses to accept as exclusive.

  10. This is not the way of the Church.

    In keeping with the same spiritual corruptions, we don’t know who penned the responses.

    It is the way of the Pharisees and Herod that was exposed by Jesus Christ.

    People who persist in it, WILL BE CONDEMNED.

  11. Consider a situation where a man and a woman are living together; they don’t yet want to make the commitments to each other required for a valid marriage, but they want the Church to bless their union as it currently exists. The Church can’t bless their fornication.

    Suppose further that they both have spouses they have left and neither has obtained an annulment. They get married civilly and now want the Church to bless their union. The Church can’t do so because even if they now have a valid civil marriage they can’t have a valid marriage in the eyes of the Church until both have obtained an annulment.

    In the same way the Church can’t bless homosexual fornication, and can’t bless the union of civilly married homosexuals because they can never have a valid marriage in the eyes of the Church.

    If the Church embraces and blesses worldly values instead of fully expecting to often be required to boldly contradict them, it is not fulfilling it’s purpose.

    Luke 14:34-35
    [34]Salt is good. But if the salt shall lose its savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
    [35]It is neither profitable for the land nor for the dunghill: but shall be cast out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

  12. We read Greek and Roman era works today and remark about the clarity of meaning and speech. They were people who said what they meant. 1500+ years from now I can’t help but wonder if people will see our era of writing (political, theological) as an era where not only was it long winded (as in the ‘Enlightenment’ era writers), but demonstrated a tremendous and purposeful lack of clarity. As if the writers are to emote their opinions to each other by the sentiment one feels when reading the endless dangling participles and interjections.

    This is not something to be proud of. For a large percentage of the Western population concerned about ‘being on the right side of history’, they sure do not care how they will be perceived by their writing – which is obvious that the obfuscation is deliberate to effect their change passive aggressively.

  13. The Pontiff Francis response to Dubium No. 1 asserts this: “[I]t is true that the magisterium is not superior to the word of God, but it is also true that both the texts of scripture and the testimonies of tradition need an interpretation that allows us to distinguish their PERENNIAL SUBSTANCE from CULTURAL CONDITIONING. It is evident, for example, in biblical texts (such as Ex. 21: 20-21) and in some magisterial interventions that tolerated slavery (cf. Nicholas V, Bull Oum Diversas, 1452). This is not a minor issue given its intimate connection with the PERENNIAL TRUTH of the inalienable dignity of the human person. These texts are in need of interpretation. The same is true for some New Testament considerations on women…and for other texts of Scripture and testimonies of tradition that CANNOT BE REPEATED LITERALLY TODAY.”

    Some points seem reasonable in assessing the text above:

    A. The Pontiff Francis is of the belief that some statements from some very high authorities like Moses and Pope Nicholas V are “culturally conditioned.”

    B. Jesus himself declared that Moses’ tolerance of divorce was “culturally conditioned,” and over-ruled Moses.

    C. Thus, from the point of view of Jesus, men like of the stature of Moses, and thus it follows, Popes, may be personally prone to teaching errors because of “cultural conditioning.”

    D. Thus, the Pontiff Francis can fail the truth because of cultural conditioning, which, in his own experience, includes “conditioning” from the culture of the contemporary establishmentarians in the Society of Jesus, the World Health Organization, and the European Union.

    E. And I think we are certain that we can assert that Jesus (being Divine), was NOT culturally conditioned.

    F. And Jesus said, in the Sermon on the Mount, this: “I say, even if a man looks at a woman with lust in his heart, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    G. Thus Jesus, who is not “culturally conditioned,” and cannot be “re-interpreted” by Popes, etc., has already ruled against divorce and remarriage (which follows from B above), and all manner and degrees of sexual unchastity (which follows from F above).

    My Conclusions:

    1. Bishops and Cardinals (and even Popes) would violate their office to make it their “pastoral practice” to “bless” co-habiting relationships (fornication) of heterosexuals, sodomy relationships of same-sex couples, polygamous “marriages,”etc (the 3rd being my favorite addition by the Synod-bureaucrats to their Synod-menu).

    2. No one can get away with disobeying Jesus by insisting they can “re-interpret” Jesus, because that implies that they think that Jesus was “culturally conditioned,” and hence…not God. And that would be an act of deposing Christ from the throne of his own Church.

  14. Dubia questions and papal responses reveal an intricate, legitimate appeal to conscience in favor of mercy. Persons who are compromised, unable to comply with Church teaching, instances in which there exist legitimate cause for exception. However, exception to the rule in context of Amoris Laetitia and subsequent response here and elsewhere become the rule, not limited to legitimate exception rather to an overall, universal policy wherein the exception becomes the rule. This, engendered by mitigating circumstances that affect all negative commandments that condemn intrinsically evil acts.
    Although the papal response to the Argentine request [the exchange of letters entered into the AAS] for clarity was an indirect affirmation of a limited, morally contained policy of exception to the rule, the exception to the rule in effect has become the rule with compelling argument by His Holiness to refrain from judgment, based on possible conscientious and circumstantial mitigation. Do not judge, the only garment required is faith. That is the basis for the papal claim that doctrine is unchanged.
    While absence of culpability is a possible, we, as priests, are required to make that judgment regardless of possibilities – whenever there is manifest evidence of sinful behavior. If that judgment is held nefarious by this pontificate, and in consequence withheld by clergy the commandments of Christ are neutralized, the Catholic priesthood loses its salt. We effectively become purveyors of sin.

  15. The Anglican and many other Protestant Churches have adopted blessing same sex “marriage/unions”. Soon thereafter, their attendance and donations went off a cliff. Apparently Pope Francis was not aware of this last gasp of Protestantism.

    • Revolutionary narcissists never give a moment’s thought to the negative repercussions of their “better ideas” on how to save humanity.

  16. To anyone familiar with confession and spiritual guidance (including those of us who go to confession as penitents), Pope Francis’s replies are quite clearly meant for priests ministering to the spiritual needs of actual people. It is a danger for priests who have no pastoral responsibilities to lose sight of the fact that the aim of religion is to bring people, individuals, to union with God. I don’t know if any of the Cardinals have an active pastoral ministry, or if they still hear confessions, especially in poor neighborhoods, slums and prisons. If not, they may have lost sight of the goal of the sacrament of reconciliation. In that case, they might find Pope Francis’s replies confusing while others find them quite clear.

    • No, it is incumbent on PF or his ghost-writer to make such necessary distinctions re: moral reasoning and pastoral care in their responses, in order to being clear, and to address the question at the level of general principle when that is what is being asked before adding anything else.

    • Are you serious??? Being poor does not excuse you from doing what is right and following church law. I dare say almost all of Jesus’s followers were poor, and he seemed to have high moral expectations of them, as did the Apostles. I grew up poor, and think it is a pandering and offensive statement to suggest the poor either cannot meet moral standards , or should be exempt from them. As if poor people are not to be held as responsible for their actions. Curiously, rich people always seem to be rotely condemned out of hand, and it appears not to matter if they are model Christians. I think you have been eating out of the woke secular trough too often, and have been infected by it. If there are no standards to meet before partaking in the sacraments, they become as meaningless as party favors.

    • Sister, I am just a regular priest in the trenches and you are wrong. Period. Perhaps in the rarified air of the cloister you might have an argument, but even that is highly doubtful. Bergoglio is a modernist, a Protestant, and a prevaricator. Little he says should be consumed by anyone, and definitely not by anyone without a solid grounding in the traditional and perennial teaching of the Church.

  17. The objection to the Pope’s answer would be that the yes or no was not really provided. Therefore the fuller explanation was a convolution of the answer which leads to no clear answer at all. (Par for the course when it comes to Pope Francis.)

  18. The Pope’s response to the Dubium follows the now classic logic of the “dissenters”, that group of moral theologians who claimed to be Catholic while disagreeing with the Church on Humanae Vitae, e.g. Charles Curran, Richard McBrien, Richard McCormick. Here is their pattern; 1) State the Church’s teaching 2) Contradict that teaching a few paragraphs later citing “pastoral needs” and “conscience” and “appropriateness.” This is exactly the strategy the pope’s ghost writer implemented when saying that homosexuality is moral. disgusting.

  19. I would point to the pontiff’s theology as a recrudescence of situation ethics. I ask that we consider the instances where the pontiff’s theology has been visible in the Church in the past, particularly when Pope Pius VIII ordered the Penitentiary to lift the stain of mortal sin from the renting of money at interest (usury). Please don’t defend this by claiming the Word of God is only opposed to “excessive” interest. There’s no such extenuating clause in Scripture. It’s like saying visiting a harlot is permissible if the fee charged is discounted. Jesus in Luke 6:30-35 makes the prohibition clear, but his command was nullified by explaining it away as a “counsel of perfection.”

    Alphonsus Liguori, a “Doctor of the Church,” nonetheless is perhaps among the most egregious of the situation ethicists with his “probabilism” which is evident in unredacted editions of his volumes of “Moral Theology.”

    The pontiff and the Vatican are aware of these revisionist facts, even if they choose not to cite them for reasons of expedience. If Catholics evade them, or think about them mechanically, the Church will continue to sink under the weight of situation ethics.

    The “Francis doctrine” is not new. This should be understood. Its antecedents ought to be confronted and not avoided. Perhaps this is why God has permitted the current pontificate–to cause us to look deeply at the precedents for the Francis Doctrine as manifested in the Church in the past.

    The “traditionalists” miss — whether intentionally or out of ignorance –the extent to which certain of the “traditions” they venerate are modernist innovations absent from the Church of the first millennium. This modernism was particularly visible during the Renaissance. I surmise that part of the contempt Francis exhibits for traditionalists emanates from his knowledge of this historical ignorance of theirs.

    Finally: a salutary point was made by a reader in the preceding comments that the pope himself is susceptible to cultural conditioning and that Jesus being divine, cannot be. Touché.

    Consequently, Jesus cannot be overruled when he reiterated His Father’s Word in Genesis: marriage is between a man and a woman. Consequently, “same sex unions” (a euphemism for carnal knowledge between men, in particular) cannot be blessed. The attempt to undertake such a “blessing” on the part of a pope or any other cleric or lay person, is prima facie evidence of a radical rebellion against the Word of God.

5 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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