Cardinals Join Battle With Pope Francis

Cardinals Join Battle With Pope Francis

Cardinal Burke on Amoris Laetitia Dubia: ‘Tremendous Division’ Warrants Action

Posted by Edward Pentin on Tuesday Nov 15th, 2016 at 11:25 AM
In an exclusive Register interview, [Cardinal Burke] elaborates about why four cardinals were impelled to seek clarity about the papal exhortation’s controversial elements.

Four cardinals asked Pope Francis five dubia questions, or “doubts,” about the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) in a bid to clear up ambiguities and confusion surrounding the text. On Nov. 14, they went public with their request, after they learned that the Holy Father had decided not to respond to their questions.

Cardinal Burke
Cardinal Burke

In this exclusive interview with the Register, Cardinal Raymond Burke, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, explains in more detail the cardinals’ aims; why the publication of their letter should be seen as an act of charity, unity and pastoral concern, rather than as a political action; and what the next steps will be, if the Holy Father continues to refuse to respond.

Your Eminence, what do you aim to achieve by this initiative?

The initiative is aimed at one thing only, namely the good of the Church, which, right now, is suffering from a tremendous confusion on at least these five points. There are a number of other questions as well, but these five critical points have to do with irreformable moral principles. So we, as cardinals, judged it our responsibility to request a clarification with regard to these questions, in order to put an end to this spread of confusion that is actually leading people into error.

Are you hearing this concern about confusion a lot?

Everywhere I go I hear it. Priests are divided from one another, priests from bishops, bishops among themselves. There’s a tremendous division that has set in in the Church, and that is not the way of the Church. That is why we settle on these fundamental moral questions which unify us.

Why is Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia of such particular concern?

Because it has been the font of all of these confused discussions. Even diocesan directives are confused and in error. We have one set of directives in one diocese; for instance, saying that priests are free in the confessional, if they judge it necessary, to permit a person who is living in an adulterous union and continues to do so to have access to the sacraments — whereas, in another diocese, in accord with what the Church’s practice has always been, a priest is able to grant such permission to those who make the firm purpose of amendment to live chastely within a marriage, namely as brother and sister, and to only receive the sacraments in a place where there would be no question of scandal. This really has to be addressed. But then there are the further questions in the dubia apart from that particular question of the divorced and remarried, which deal with the term “instrinsic evil,” with the state of sin and with the correct notion of conscience.

Without the clarification you are seeking, are you saying, therefore, that this and other teaching in Amoris Laetitia go against the law of non-contradiction (which states that something cannot be both true and untrue at the same time when dealing with the same context)?

Of course, because, for instance, if you take the marriage issue, the Church teaches that marriage is indissoluble, in accord with the word of Christ, “He who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.” Therefore, if you are divorced, you may not enter a marital relationship with another person unless the indissoluble bond to which you are bound is declared to be null, to be nonexistent. But if we say, well, in certain cases, a person living in an irregular marriage union can receive holy Communion, then one of two things has to be the case: Either marriage really is not indissoluble — as for instance, in the kind of “enlightenment theory” of Cardinal [Walter] Kasper, who holds that marriage is an ideal to which we cannot realistically hold people. In such a case, we have lost the sense of the grace of the sacrament, which enables the married to live the truth of their marriage covenant — or holy Communion is not communion with the Body and Blood of Christ. Of course, neither of those two is possible. They contradict the constant teachings of the Church from the beginning and, therefore, cannot be true.

Some will see this initiative through a political lens and criticize it as a “conservative vs. liberal” move, something you and the other signatories reject. What is your response to such an accusation?

Our response is simply this: We are not taking some kind of position within the Church, like a political decision, for instance. The Pharisees accused Jesus of coming down on one side of a debate between the experts in Jewish Law, but Jesus did not do that at all. He appealed to the order that God placed in nature from the moment of creation. He said Moses let you divorce because of your hardness of heart, but it was not this way from the beginning. So we are simply setting forth what the Church has always taught and practiced in asking these five questions that address the Church’s constant teaching and practice. The answers to these questions provide an essential interpretative tool for Amoris Laetitia. They have to be set forth publicly because so many people are saying: “We’re confused, and we don’t understand why the cardinals or someone in authority doesn’t speak up and help us.”

It’s a pastoral duty?

That’s right, and I can assure you that I know all of the cardinals involved, and this has been something we’ve undertaken with the greatest sense of our responsibility as bishops and cardinals. But it has also been undertaken with the greatest respect for the Petrine Office, because if the Petrine Office does not uphold these fundamental principles of doctrine and discipline, then, practically speaking, division has entered into the Church, which is contrary to our very nature.

And the Petrine ministry, too, whose primary purpose is unity?

Yes, as the Second Vatican Council says, the Pope is the foundation of the unity of the bishops and of all the faithful. This idea, for instance, that the Pope should be some kind of innovator, who is leading a revolution in the Church or something similar, is completely foreign to the Office of Peter. The Pope is a great servant of the truths of the faith, as they’ve been handed down in an unbroken line from the time of the apostles.

Is this why you emphasize that what you are doing is an act of charity and justice?

Absolutely. We have this responsibility before the people for whom we are bishops, and an even greater responsibility as cardinals, who are the chief advisers to the Pope. For us to remain silent about these fundamental doubts, which have arisen as a result of the text of Amoris Laetitia, would, on our part, be a grave lack of charity toward the Pope and a grave lack in fulfilling the duties of our own office in the Church.

Some might argue that you are only four cardinals, among whom you’re the only one who is not retired, and this is not very representative of the entire Church. In that case, they might ask: Why should the Pope listen and respond to you?

Well, numbers aren’t the issue. The issue is the truth. In the trial of St. Thomas More, someone told him that most of the English bishops had accepted the king’s order, but he said that may be true, but the saints in heaven did not accept it. That’s the point here. I would think that even though other cardinals did not sign this, they would share the same concern. But that doesn’t bother me. Even if we were one, two or three, if it’s a question of something that’s true and is essential to the salvation of souls, then it needs to be said.

What happens if the Holy Father does not respond to your act of justice and charity and fails to give the clarification of the Church’s teaching that you hope to achieve?

Then we would have to address that situation. There is, in the Tradition of the Church, the practice of correction of the Roman Pontiff. It is something that is clearly quite rare. But if there is no response to these questions, then I would say that it would be a question of taking a formal act of correction of a serious error.

In a conflict between ecclesial authority and the Sacred Tradition of the Church, which one is binding on the believer and who has the authority to determine this?

What’s binding is the Tradition. Ecclesial authority exists only in service of the Tradition. I think of that passage of St. Paul in the [Letter to the] Galatians (1:8), that if “even an angel should preach unto you any Gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.”

If the Pope were to teach grave error or heresy, which lawful authority can declare this and what would be the consequences?

It is the duty in such cases, and historically it has happened, of cardinals and bishops to make clear that the Pope is teaching error and to ask him to correct it.


Some commentators may argue that the Cardinals’ action will have little to no effect, that things will continue apace.  But IS this an historic moment in the life of the Church? Might this conscientious challenge by the four Cardinals, mark a turning point in the current, worsening crisis?  What about the papolatrists? How do they reconcile their false belief that the pope – any pope – is beyond criticism, with the impending public correction of Pope Francis by a number of  Princes of the Church?  How do they square that circle? Maybe we should ask Michael Voris! 

Comments (78)

  • Theresa Rose

    As the Year of Mercy ends, Pope Francis shows how he does not practice mercy in regards to critics of his teaching. He blatantly refuses to answer the 4 Cardinals. We know he means no.

    November 19, 2016 at 8:14 pm
    • Laura

      Theresa Rose,

      Hear hear. I couldn’t agree more.

      November 19, 2016 at 8:19 pm
  • Gerontius

    Silent Apostasy of Francis
    29/10/15 19:06

    The absolute failure of Francis to teach, articulate and defend the “indissolubility” of Catholic matrimony at the Fall Synod of bishops in Rome makes vividly clear again the “Silent Apostasy” of Francis, his adamant heresy and significant schism for the first time in 2000 years, all in one pope.

    And truly all cardinals, bishops, and priests who participate in this spiritual fraud and satanical deceit of allowing divorced and remarried Catholic’s to receive Holy Communion while still living with their adulterous mates without an annulment are equally guilty of the sacrilege of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ, as well as Schism, just like Pope Francis.

    Let us be clear here, Catholic Sacramental Marriage is forever unless annulled–in its supposedly few instances– in spite of what any pope may say, bishop, or priest in Confession or out of Confession regarding any mortal sin of adultery. Sacramental marriage is therefore “indissoluble.”

    For the faithful to go along with this, they also are in schism for denying this perennial truth of the Catholic faith, namely, that all sacramental marriages are forever and to be living in adultery and frequenting any other sacraments of the Church without an annulment or until death of the partner is sacrilegious.

    November 19, 2016 at 10:49 pm
  • Gerontius

    Looks like the 4 known cardinals are now up to 5. This from Rorate:

    When presented with the argument of the progressive Catholic Cardinal Reinhard Marx that such a solution – to live as brother and sister – is impossible, Müller responded:

    That is also what the Apostles were thinking when Jesus explained to them the indissolubility of marriage (see Matthew 19:10). But what seems to us humans to be impossible, is possible with the Grace of God.

    With this statement, Cardinal Müller corrects any speculation that he would support the idea that “remarried” divorcees could live in a sinful relationship and at the same time could receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. With this statement, the crack in the door has been closed again by the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    November 20, 2016 at 1:32 pm
    • Nicky


      “up from 4 to 5” is good but why only 5? Are the majority of the cardinals OK with this pope justifying adultery?

      November 20, 2016 at 1:57 pm
      • Gerontius


        Thanks for your reply.

        “up from 4 to 5” is good but why only 5? Are the majority of the cardinals OK with this pope justifying adultery?

        I must admit, their silence is disturbing. Certainly there must be many more who hold the same opinions as the Priest who wrote the article, quoted in my above post. Maybe they are not being silent, it could be that the media is ignoring them.

        St. Michael (The Angel of Peace and Guardian Angel of the Blessed Sacrament) when teaching the Fatima children the Eucharistic Prayer of Reparation, VERY SPECIFICALLY PLACED INDIFFERENCE TOWARDS THE BLESSED SACRAMENT ON THE SAME LEVEL OF GRAVITY AS SACRILEGE AND OUTRAGE. (upper case used here Nicky in the hope that if any the Clergy read this, they give their support to Cardinal Burke, if they have not already done so)

        Let’s hope Nicky, that Our Beloved Mother and St. Michael strengthen, guide and enlighten them.

        Anyway, we shall soon know. Cardinal Burke’s action will separate the men from the boys, the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the chaff.
        This ever growing, extremely dangerous modernist heresy must be destroyed in it’s entirety, root and branch!

        Sancta Mater Dei, ora pro nobis

        November 20, 2016 at 4:03 pm
      • Josephine


        I agree that Cardinal Burke’s letter will separate the men from the boys among the hierarchy.

        The pope was furious about the Cardinal’s letter so maybe that is why he sacked the whole of the Pontifical Academy for Life

        It’s getting more serious by the day. God will have to intervene soon, otherwise who knows how many people will lose their faith.

        November 21, 2016 at 11:38 am
      • Benedict Carter

        “I must admit, their silence is disturbing.”

        Disturbing? Disturbing?!?

        “Disturbing” is eating too much cheese before sleeping.

        Their silence isn’t “disturbing”: it cries out to Heaven for vengeance!!!

        November 21, 2016 at 12:08 pm
      • RCA Victor


        I believe the “silence” started with the refusal to condemn Communism/Socialism/Marxism at VII, and the thwarted attempt of 400+ Council Fathers (including Abps. Lefebvre and Castro de Mayer) to insert that condemnation into Gaudium et spes. The motive behind this was the Vatican-Moscow Agreement which took place behind the scenes (apparently unknown to most of the Fathers, but well-known to the “progressive” ringleaders, whose allies the Communists were).

        So the Church was rendered mute on the “errors of Russia,” precisely those evils which were cited by Our Lady of Fatima, and the subject of her warnings!

        The scandalous Papacy of Francis is actually the logical culmination of that silence, which has resulted in not only silence on Church teaching, but an overt embrace of the ideology of her mortal enemies. That Francis is nothing but a Marxist, serving the agenda of international Marxism, has been obvious for quite some time.

        But, I suppose “Marx” is just a new way of spelling “Judas.” Talk about “updating”!!!

        November 21, 2016 at 4:35 pm
  • Josephine

    This is more about the cancelled meeting and the Pope’s anger at the “conservatives”

    November 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm
  • Theresa Rose

    Saint Thomas More has something to say about those Bishops keeping silence, but I am sure they will definitely not like it.

    November 21, 2016 at 3:31 pm
  • Gerontius

    Here’s the latest on the Dubia from Hillary White, via the excellent Remnant site.

    Il Boom: Cardinal Dubia and Vatican Schism


    I don’t know anyone who isn’t either privately or publicly suggesting that this is the “beginning of the end” of the Bergoglian pontificate, that we have all known has been heading straight for exactly this precipice. And now, after fifty years of struggle in our quiet civil war, the cliff is finally in sight. However politely the questions – and interviews – are worded, the truth is that the choices before the pope are now simple: recant or be deposed. The questions, despite what he seems to believe, cannot be dodged. Does the pope adhere to the Catholic religion? Is he trying to overturn it and put something of his own – and his handlers’ – devising in its place? Remaining silent isn’t an option.

    (2) The necessity of this outcome – always barring miraculous interventions, conversions or the Parousia – was clear to those who knew the Faith from the day following Walter Kasper’s February 2014 consistory address. That already notorious heretic laid out the course that this “Sankt Gallen Mafia” cabal, of which Bergoglio is merely the chosen instrument, from that day, and none of them have deviated from it a single iota since then. Fr. Brian Harrison was perhaps the first one to put it clearly. In a letter to Robert Moynihan, Fr. Harrison warned of “the immensity of a massive, looming threat that bids fair to pierce, penetrate and rend in twain Peter’s barque – already tossing perilously amid stormy and icy seas.”


    November 22, 2016 at 12:37 am
  • crofterlady

    I love Dante’s various apt punishments for us sinners who die in mortal sin. The punishment for negligent , putting it mildlly, bishops, is succint. These men are called to be PILLARS (NOT PILLOWS!) of the Church, supports for their flocks, and instead have become stumbling blocks. Therefore, Dante consigned them to Hell, to spend eternity, ETERNITY, upside down in pillars.

    Let us pray for them.

    November 24, 2016 at 8:29 am
  • gabriel syme


    Leo Cushley isn’t a Cardinal.

    (I don’t mean to nitpick – just second guessing myself, if I have somehow managed to miss that news about the Scottish Church?!?)

    November 24, 2016 at 10:39 am
    • editor

      Gabriel Syme,

      Of course Archbishop Cushley is not a cardinal (silly me). I probably got my wires crossed here because, in pondering his silence, I have wondered if he is keen not to scupper his chances of a red hat.

      Thank you for that correction. I move so quickly from one thing to the next (one might say from one mistake to the next!) that I probably wouldn’t have noticed that for months! So, sincere thanks.

      He should, of course, be speaking out anyway in support of the 5 cardinals – with or without a red hat!

      November 24, 2016 at 11:02 am
      • Athanasius


        Whatever his office, he certainly appears to have landed a Cushley number! That’s the ecclesiatical diplomat for you – never rock the boat, or the barque in this case!

        November 24, 2016 at 11:24 am
      • editor


        “… a Cushley number”

        Exactly! Priceless!

        November 24, 2016 at 12:13 pm
      • gabriel syme

        No problem Editor! As I say, I was thinking “how did I miss that news?” and so went and double-checked haha!

        I agree ++Cushley and ++Tartaglia should be speaking out in favour of the faithful Cardinals. Fat chance, sadly!

        November 24, 2016 at 12:27 pm
  • Helen

    Ha ha Crofterlady, that’s hoot! I’ve never read Dante myself but I will try now that you have whetted my appetite. Upside down for all eternity?! My, that’s one heck of a long time!

    Seriously though, what IS wrong with these bishops that they can’t see the writing on the wall? They seem congenial enough when one meets them so it bothers me to see their blindness. Do they not KNOW about the 4 Cardinals’ Dubias, or whatever it’s called, or do they just choose to ignore it? I always thought Archbishop Tartaglia had bottle so what’s happened to him? I never thought he was a wimp like most of the others.

    November 24, 2016 at 4:41 pm
  • Theresa Rose

    Is Pope Francis a “Foreign Body” in the Catholic Church?

    November 25, 2016 at 3:15 pm

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: