A group of lay theologians and clergy opposed to Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” have released a letter “correcting” him, part of an ongoing effort directed against the pope’s attempts to focus on pastoral outreach in ministry to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and others in irregular marital situations. The signatories, a small collection of theologians, priests and academics, have no obvious link beyond their opposition to “Amoris Laetitia,” the apostolic exhortation issued by Pope Francis following the two synods on the family.
In a 25-page letter delivered to Francis last month and provided Saturday to The Associated Press, the 62 signatories issued a public “filial correction” to the pope—a measure they said had not been employed since the 14th century.
The 62 signatories issued a public “filial correction” to the pope—a measure they said had not been employed since the 14th century.
A blog that promotes traditionalist Catholicism began tweeting about the existence of the letter about a month ago, leading to speculation that some high-level church officials, perhaps even cardinals who have already publicly questioned the pope about his efforts, including American Cardinal Raymond Burke, may be involved. In the end, the document was signed mostly by lower level theologians, another salvo in a campaign by those opposed to the pope’s efforts to broaden the church’s pastoral outreach to Catholics in irregular family situations.
The letter accused Francis of propagating seven heretical positions concerning marriage, moral life and the sacraments with “Amoris Laetitia” and subsequent “acts, words and omissions.”
The initiative follows another formal act by four cardinals who wrote to Francis last year asking him to clarify a series of questions, or dubia, they had about his 2016 text.
Francis has not responded to either initiative. The Vatican spokesman did not immediately respond to an email from the Associated Press seeking comment late Saturday.
None of the signatories of the new letter is a cardinal, and the only bishop to sign the letter is actually someone whose organization does not accept many of the teachings of Vatican II: Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the Society of St. Pius X, which has ordained bishops, including Fellay himself, without papal approval.
As previously reported, Pope Francis has not publicly replied to the dissenters, despite the pressure. As Louis J. Cameli noted in January in America, the questions and objections to “Amoris Laetitia” may not be answerable because they reject what they see as changes in teaching, while “the pope has affirmed that there is no new teaching and no change in the teaching.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.