Pope Francis critics continue to seek answers on ‘Amoris Laetitia’ in ‘filial correction’

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

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.

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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.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Martin Blackshaw
1 year 10 months ago

Michael
"It was the problems of pre-conciliar times that caused St. John XXIII to call for Vatican II."

Not according to Pope John XXIII. His Holiness said he felt a sudden inspiration from the Holy Spirit to call a Council, he never mentioned problems in the Church, which was then thriving. What he did say very clearly was that Vatican II was not a doctrinal council but a pastoral one. In other words, it was never intended to change the Church's litrugy and ecclesiology, much less obscure by ambiguity those doctrines so clearly taught and believed by the Church since her foundation. Little wonder that Pope Paul VI lamented in relation to post-conciliar "reform" "The smoke of Satan has entered the Church and set her on a path of auto destruction" Compare today's numbers of seminaries, religious houses, vocations, parish churches, congregation sizes and Catholics believing and practicing the moral teaching of the Church with those prior to Vatican II and you will see how prophetic Paul VI' words were. Modernism, especially in the form of de Lubac, took control of the council and its implementation, and now we see the bitter fruits of their rebellion.

"For your information, slavery, usury and the lack of a right to freedom of religion were teachings that were taught as truth for centuries but were reformed."

I challenge you on this to point to one single pre-Council Magisterial teaching that upholds slavery or usury. You won't find any such teaching because the contrary is actually true. And as for religious freedom, it is several times a condemned and proscribed error by the Church's pre-council Magisterium as "most destructive of the true Catholic religion", so you're right about that one, as was the Magisterium that condemned the heresy.

"As for Divine revelation, usury was clearly prohibited in Scripture and proclaimed as divine law by popes and councils for centuries."

Once again, I challenge you to prove this wild statement. The opposite is, in fact, true. The Church most vehemently condemned usury as a mortal sin. Still, if you think you know Church history then provide official evidence to back up your claim that the Church approved usury.

"As for the guidelines for Holy Communion of divorced and remarried Catholics by the Bishops of Argentina (and other Conferences of Bishops), it is the parish priest who will accompany the divorced and remarried in the process of discernment and the internal forum, et al. Pope Francis approved of these guidelines issued by the Bishops of Argentina, so I am perplexed why you think that a priest has no authority and responsibility in such matters."

Never mind the priests and bishops, the Pope has no authority to tinker about with the Church's infallible moral teaching and to open it up to abuse by liberal subordinates. The teaching is, and always has been, perfectly clear. Jesus Christ Himself makes it perfectly clear. Divorce and remarriage constutes the sin of adultery, and the sin of adultery, being mortal, excludes those guilty from receiving Holy Communion, lest they add sacrilege to their mortal sin. The divine teaching is not up for discussion, discernment, reflection, dissection or dissimulation. The doctrine is divine, infallible and clear, end of subject!

"Lastly, every man or woman who properly forms and informs their consciences under the guidance of their priest are not "being his/her own Pope in conscience'"."

You quote me out of context to make my statement look like I'm undermining the value of forming and informing the conscience. The proper context for my statement was a rebuttal of those who insinuate that conscience is superior to infallible doctrine and that Catholics may therefore put aside Church teaching in favour of what their individual conscience tells them, or what some liberal dissenting priest tells them. This is heresy and apostasy, not progress.

"As for your claim about infallibility, not every doctrine is an infallible teaching. In fact, only two teachings of the Church have been proclaimed ex-Cathedra infallible by a Pope: the Immaculate Conception of Mary and her Assumption. The concept of infallibility is a topic I am familiar with and further discussion will take us far from this article under consideration here."

If you think that only the dogmas of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception and Assumption are infallible, then it is clear to me that you are not as familiar with the doctrine of infallibility as you believe yourself to be. The doctrine of infallibility was defined at Vatican I, not invented! Every matter that touches faith and morals is infallible because it is divinely revealed doctrine. Hence, the dogma "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" is infallible, as is the dogma of the Blessed Trinity, the doctrine on the hypostatic union (two natures in Christ, divine and human), the doctrine on the Sacraments, etc., etc. Anywhere in the teaching of the Magisterium, either the Pope by himself or in union with the Fathers of a Council, where the words "We command that this be believed and held by the faithful of the universal Church as sure and true", or words to that effect binding all to belief, usually accompanied by anathemas for dissenters, is infallible and must be believed if one is to remain a Catholic.

Barring the evidence I have asked you to produce, I think you're right that we should end this exchange.

Joseph Jaglowicz
1 year 11 months ago

This so-called "filial correction" is a bunch o' you-know-what. Really stinks. These "theologians" can't see (or refuse to embrace) the current pope's efforts to restore balance in church practice between law and mercy to arrive at justice. In a way, Francis is doing what State judges do when necessary, i.e., applying law and equity to render justice.

"I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Jesus.

If I were a theologian, I'd be embarrassed and ashamed to attach my name to such a "correction". These types need to be shamed.

Michael Sheil
1 year 11 months ago

"These types need to be shamed."
After reading your comments, I have to say, Mr, Jaglowicz, that if you are an example of mercy, I think I just might prefer clear positive law.

Joseph Jaglowicz
1 year 11 months ago

OK, their comments need to be shamed. Thanks for your corrective.

Jaime Antonio
1 year 11 months ago

How can Luthers teachings be "reconciled" to Roman Catholic church?
They have no concept of Priestly Ordination, Real Presence or Confession?
I know Protestants have to be reconciled but PF has NO RIGHT to water down the 7 sacraments which Luther opposed.
Pray tell me how?

Joseph Jaglowicz
1 year 11 months ago

Lutherans have no priestly ordination because, being true to the N.T. and primitive church practice, they believe only in the baptismal priesthood. Jesus himself never claimed to be a priest, and, if scripture is any indication, his followers saw him only as a prophet. The ministerial priesthood was itself a historical development arising ultimately from early Christian apologists' use of typology to attract Jews to, and keep them within, the Christian fold. The Lutheran tradition does embrace the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the eucharist. The Lutheran tradition also has confession of sins. Pope Francis has NOT "watered down the 7 sacraments." He is merely restoring the Gospel's balance between law and mercy (in fact, Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 document Jesus' preference for mercy!!!).

Henry George
1 year 10 months ago

Joseph,
On some posts you want to see change in the Doctrine and say this has been normal in Church History.
Or other posts you seem to want to go back to a Primitive Church and force that style of Worship and Theological
Understanding of what/who Jesus was on the present day Church.

You want your spiritual cake and eat it too !

I don't think the Letter to the Hebrews agrees with you or Luther.

Joseph Jaglowicz
1 year 10 months ago

I want the Church to embrace renewal, the main theme of Vatican II. I contend, based on canonical sources, that Jesus did not regard himself as a "priest" and that his disciples considered him to be a "prophet". Forget HEBREWS' reference to Jesus as the High Priest: This language involved the application of typology, which proves nothing in terms of basic Christian doctrine found in the canonical gospels, which the church describes as "the heart of all the Scriptures 'because they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate Word, our Savior'" (CCC-125). Even the future Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged in 1966 that "facts, as history teaches, carry more weight than pure doctrine" (THEOLOGICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF VATICAN II).

The fact is that post-primitive Christian apologists, in an effort to show the purported superiority of Christianity over Judaism, employed foreshadowing and O.T. language to appeal to Jews to join --- or to remain within --- the new dispensation. Prefiguring, in other words, was a recruitment and retention tool, a "sales approach", if you will. Rome continues to teach the rest of us that a "priest" mediates between God and Man and that his ordination confers an "ontological" change (never mind the Church of Rome has never defined the actual meaning of this ontology language). Even more than fifty years ago, it was not unusual to hear the phrase "Priests on pedestals": the higher the rank (pastor, monsignor, bishop, archbishop, cardinal, pope), the greater the power, pomp, perks, and privileges for the ordained man. Juxtapose this description against the image of Jesus and his example. Talk about hypocrisy!!! Recent years have revealed in all their ugly reality the clerical abuse --- sexual, financial, etc. --- perpetrated by "priests" and hierarchs against the rest of us. The church has a caste system not at all supported by the Gospel. The only priesthood authorized by the Gospel and earliest church history is the baptismal priesthood. It's time to jettison doctrinal reliance on typology, which promotes clerical superiority and cultic beliefs and practices harmful to the church.

As a Catholic, I think Luther was correct, and it would be wise for fellow Catholics (if Rome fails to act) to reject cultic artifacts that distort Jesus' self-identity and teaching. Vatican II retrieved the term 'presbyter'. Let's use it.

Bennett Kalafut
1 year 11 months ago

Mercy should not in our thinking be opposed to clarity of teaching. Mercy, yes, but mercy in light of truth, not a false mercy that requires the Church to pretend that right is wrong and true is false.

The filial correction requests a return to clear presentation of the Church's constant teaching and correction of statements which may lead people to error or to present themselves for Communion when not properly disposed.

And being clear about when people ought not, for the good of their souls, present themselves for Communion, is itself merciful. And to hide away the Church's constant teachings about marriage, which are Christ's, because they are "hard sayings", would be the opposite of mercy. Mercy is not a distortion of the truth but a response to it. To hide the truth in the name of "mercy" is not a restoration of balance but a distortion and a short-circuiting of the moral law (there is no need for mercy when what one has done is not truly wrong!) The diocesan tribunal and the confessional are where mercy tempers but does not change the truth, resulting in justice.

Henry George
1 year 10 months ago

Bennett,

Thank You.

Joseph Jaglowicz
1 year 10 months ago

"The filial correction requests a return to clear presentation of the Church's constant teaching..."

How about a "return" to the Gospel's stress on mercy, not rigid application of law???

Martin Blackshaw
1 year 10 months ago

Take away the Church's correct interpretation and application of the law and mercy becomes an excuse for license. Or, to quote St. Paul, liberty becomes a cloak for malice. Perhaps you think that God was not merciful when He issued the Ten Commandments?

Joseph Jaglowicz
1 year 10 months ago

So Jesus was unaware that some people granted mercy would abuse it? And what does Jesus tell his listeners to do? Forgive. Without limit. Without an expression of repentance in 4 of 5 scriptural passages!!! (The exception is Luke 17:3-4.) Jesus tells us to forgive, but Jesus will punish? Jesus is a hypocrite? No way! What Jesus asks of us, Jesus will also do.

Jaime Antonio
1 year 11 months ago

We are not critics of the Pope - the title is misleading. We simply need a clarification duer to the confusion!

We cannot have the same ONE HOLY CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC CHURCH "interpret" the same (doctrinal) teachings differently (pastorally) in Germany than in Poland or China.

The eternal rules of Jesus are not meant to pander to the whimsical fantasies of Man.

You do not need to a Ph.D in Theology or a Cardinal to co-sign the "Correctio" - any faithful Catholic that can read English can see the confusion being propagated.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago

I am open & interested to listening to the Holy Father respond to the dubia and (less so) these theologians, to help clarify what he is asking the faithful to do. Silence is not helpful. One cannot rely on twitter, off-the-cuff interviews, and hearsay, and the opponents of the faith will take advantage of every opening to distort the faith. Some commentators say the pope has departed from orthodox teaching (which they praise or condemn), and the pope and his defenders say he has not. Really best to clear it up. The One Holy Catholic Church cannot be teaching something one way in one place and another somewhere else.

I fully understand and like his focus on mercy, but I just don't know how exactly he is advising the Church. What is mercy without forgiveness? What is forgiveness without repentance? And what is repentance without acknowledgment of one's sin? I believe the Holy Father when he strongly affirms he does not intend to change doctrine. But, it is possible for a pope to have a good intention and be taken advantage of. Pope Liberius (†366) was taken advantage of during the Arian attack on the nature of Christ, and it delayed the Church's victory over that heresy. History did not judge him well. Our battles today are on the nature of humanity and are no less important.

Martin Blackshaw
1 year 10 months ago

Tim O'Leary
Honorius I was judged even more harshly by his successors. He was declared a heretic and posthumously excommunicated for having permitted the pure doctrine of the Church to become polluted. It's not certain that he actually subscribed to heresy but it is certain that he permitted it to spread by silencing opposition to it. Ring any bells? I'm thinking here of the dubia which Pope Francis is obliged to respond to with clarity. His silence in the matter does not speak well of his intent.

Bruce Snowden
1 year 10 months ago

Jesus told Saint Faustina Kowalska as recorded in her Divine Mercy Diary to tell aching Humanity to "snuggle close to My Merciful Heart." I find it consoling that Jesus admits that humanity is "aching" and offers a "snuggle" answer. Two kinds of people "snuggle," children to parents seeking warmth and comfort and lovers, one to the other lovingly, quite legitimately. So Jesus wants us to be like children and lovers towards Him as we ache.

This is what Pope Francis is doing in his every move, including in "Amoris Laetitia" and I venture to suggest that, people opposing him have something wrong with their humanity. They have "heart trouble," "heart failure," "cardiac arrest" so to speak, productive of spiritual blood clots hampering the flow of spiritual blood. As a result, they are unable to admit that they too are "aching" and the rest of humanity with them and they refuse to lift a hand disintegrating unnecessary obstacles.

For them a certain coldness of heart prevails. As a result they are unable to "snuggle" close to the Merciful Heart of Jesus, to understand, to applaud, what Holy Father Francis has done and continues doing. They just don't get it! True conversion of heart means a willingness to turn oneself inside out, but they are afraid to "let-go and let God" That's real sad!

Martin Blackshaw
1 year 10 months ago

Bruce Snowden

Then you are arguing that until Pope Francis was elected Pope the Church right back to St. Peter was uncharitable and merciless? Perhaps there's a hint in your use of the word "humanity". Isn't it true that Pope Francis appeals to the human while pushing to one side the divine (teaching). This makes him a humanitarian, a naturalist, not the Vicar of Christ, a supernaturalist. The difference between the two is that the naturalist pretends to heal human hearts while breaking the divine heart. If it's not rooted in Christ and His teaching then it is merely superficial healing that allows people to use their Christian liberty as a cloak for malice.

Bruce Snowden
1 year 10 months ago

Hi Martin, Yes, I believe for a large part of its human history, our Catholic Church was very unmerciful towards its members, flagellating its own Body, the Body of Christ. using hell fire as the whip to keep the frightened flock in line. Its teaching was all hell-oriented and to priests fell the task of being task masters. I don't know how old you are but at 86 I can tell it there was a time when being Catholic was fear-laden. It's very much different now. I now see God not as a "Zapper" but as a "Clapper" saying happily to the Faithful and the Faithless. "Come to me all your who are burdened and I will give you rest!" Oh yes, sin remains but forgiveness by a Gentle Jesus is much more apparent. As He told Faustina in Divine Mercy Revelations, "Tell aching humanity to SNUGGLE close to my Merciful Heart. Pope Francis understands this. Unfortunately some do not! Holy Father Francis is purifying the Body of Christ of its cover-ups trying to follow Revelation which commissions each of the Baptized to "make all things new" with the Divine and Human "newness of God" Who although "ever ancient, is ever new " and makes all thing new as Lovers do! This is how I understand the gentle cooing of the Spirit in our Church, always there but now less encumbered. And I am happy to be Catholic and proud of it too!

Martin Blackshaw
1 year 10 months ago

Bruce,

You surprise me at 86, accusing the Church before Francis of terrifying everyone with Hell. My take on that would be people who lived lives that troubled their conscience and just wanted the Church to stop telling the truth about the reality of Hell and its eternal duration. Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks of Hell many times in the Gospels, at least ten of which spring to mind as I write. It is also a doctrine well established in the Old Testament, no less than forty times it is mentioned, probably more. And Our Lord made it perfectly clear that Hell is a real place, a place of burning and suffering for all eternity, where there is gnashing of teeth. It is frequently referred to as "eternal death". Our Lord Himself said "do not fear those who can kill the body and then do no more. Rather, fear Him who has power to kill the body and cast the soul into Hell". And again, Jesus said "Easy the way and wide the gate that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter. Narrow is the gate and hard is the way that leads to eternal life, and few there are who enter." What does this tell you if not that a greater number live lives that will carry them to Hell rather than heaven." I fear you have managed to draw a great big shutter down over your soul if you believe, as many misguided souls today believe, that they can live as they please and then merrily enter into heaven. That's not the reality, that's the devil! The old adage is that Hell is full of people who didn't believe in it. The devil loves to get people to stop believing in Hell because then he has their soul. No, the Church only repeats what the Divine Saviour Himself said time and again, which is that we keep the Commandments or perish in Hell for eternity. The greatest saints even understood the logic of the doctrine. But then, they weren't split in their fidelity between God and sin.

I am 55 years old, so old enough to remember the great days of the pre-Vatican II Church that Catholics everywhere were so proud of. I don't recognise this weak religion today with all its liberal dissenters from what was once so true and holy. I am very blessed to have been able to remain faithful to the ancient Mass of the saints and martyrs (so-called Tridentine rite) these past thirty years. No banjos, guitars, standing Communicants receiving in their hands, no altar girls or wee women with blue rinses doing the readings, etc., etc., just the pure and unadulterated Sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary. And of course with fidelity to the old Mass I have been likewise granted the grace of fidelity to the eternal and unchangeable teaching. I wish this conversion for you, too, as for all Catholics, that eyes may finally be opened to the horrors of liberalism in the Church today that has weakened or killed the faith of so many Catholics. There but for the grace of God go I! And yes, on this occasion I am happy also to include the mercy of God in my regard, this time in its correct context not the AL context.

Bruce Snowden
1 year 10 months ago

Martin, Yes, by all means pray for me and my wife of 50 years, our three living children and one who went to the Lord in the third month of the First Trimester and for our 7 Grandkids, indeed for our families that we may be made worthy of the of the Promises of Christ, and I will do the same for you and yours, that they too may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ. Thanks for the back and forth, but I think I've said as much as I can. Amen!

Joseph Jaglowicz
1 year 10 months ago

"And Our Lord made it perfectly clear that Hell is a real place, a place of burning and suffering for all eternity, where there is gnashing of teeth."

FWIMBW, the late JPII opined that hell is not a place but a state of being, a state of total isolation. The church, which has used its infallible authority to proclaim souls in heaven, has never used this same authority to proclaim souls in hell.

"I am 55 years old, so old enough to remember the great days of the pre-Vatican II Church that Catholics everywhere were so proud of."

Really??? If you're 55 years of age, and I'm 14 years your senior, and Vatican II coincided with my 4 years in Catholic high school, these numbers would suggest, Mr. Blackshaw, that you were perhaps one year old (?) when the council began and maybe 4 years old (?) when it ended???

Were you at the Council of Trent? (I ask only because.....well.....you know.....)

Martin Blackshaw
1 year 10 months ago

Joseph

"the late JPII opined that hell is not a place but a state of being, a state of total isolation."

Yes, he did make this personal observation and it contradicts what Christ and the Church taught from the beginning. Such is the poison of Modernism, entering even into the minds of Popes.

The revolutionary spirit of Vatican II did not begin to enter the parishes with its destructive force until around 1970, by which time I was 8 years old and well capable of remembering what things were like before the heretical hippies took control!

Joseph Jaglowicz
1 year 10 months ago

Mr. Blackshaw, "the revolutionary spirit of Vatican II", in fact, began to enter parishes and Catholic high schools well before you were 8 years of age. What is your educational level???

Martin Blackshaw
1 year 10 months ago

"What is your educational level???"

Happily well above that of the average house plant.

Joseph Jaglowicz
1 year 10 months ago

Not much then.

Martin Blackshaw
1 year 10 months ago

Thankfully just enough to avoid the poisonous doctrines of Modernism running rampant in the conciliar Church of today. I'm perfectly content with that. It's those who believe themselves to be blessed with great intellect and insight who have brought the Church to her knees in our time. I wouldn't want to be that enlightened!

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