Cardinal Burke and the Doctors of the Law

Cardinal Burke and the Doctors of the Law

by Brother André Marie
Ad Rem: A Weekly Email Message from the Prior of the Saint Benedict Center, N.H.
November 21, 2016

No doubt, a large segment of readers is already aware of the recent excitement caused by Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner thanks to their laudable attempt to clarify the pastoral and doctrinal confusion surrounding the Holy Father’s post-synodal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.

In the economic words of the respected Catholic journalist Edward Pentin,

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.

While he has chosen not to respond to the dubia, it does appear that the Holy Father is displeased by them, if certain statements he has made are any indication. Besides this, Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, and something of an unofficial papal spokesman, has taken to his Twitter feed to berate the four Cardinals — in which forum also Father James Martin, S.J., said something.

In their own words, Their Eminences interpreted the Holy Father’s “sovereign decision [not to answer the dubia] as an invitation to continue the reflection and the discussion, calmly and with respect,” and took the measure of informing “the entire people of God about our initiative and offering all of the documentation.”

The five dubia all concern matters of the moral magisterium of the Church — doctrinal matters raised by Amoris Laetitia and the discussion surrounding the document. They include only one question about the specific application of Amoris; the other four pertain to fundamental questions of principle in Catholic moral doctrine.

What most interests me here are the doctrinal issues raised by Amoris, and by the dubia, but I would like first to consider what may be at stake.

The “excitement” I referred to in the first paragraph is such that some are openly speaking of a schism emerging from these events. Whether or not an actual schism takes place remains to be seen, but fault lines are certainly forming, as may be illustrated by this example: The newly created Cardinal, His Eminence Kevin Farrell, has publicly criticized Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia for implementing diocesan norms in Philly which interpret Amoris Laetitia in line with tradition — which is to say that Philadelphia’s norms forbid the divorced and civilly “remarried” to receive Holy Communion unless they agree to live as brother and sister, forgoing the conjugal relations proper to married persons. Archbishop Chaput has publicly responded to this criticism by defending his actions, and very firmly. This is not the only example of “battle lines” being drawn on the interpretation of Amoris, but it amply illustrates Cardinal Burke’s claim that the ambiguity that presently exists is harmful to Church unity. Hence the dubia, which all four cardinals see as their pastoral response to a pastoral problem in the Church.

These events are very grave, and have far-reaching implications in the realm of Catholic faith and morals — as well as in the pastoral practice of the clergy and the daily lives of families.

I invite readers to read the five dubia, which I have posted on our site (snipped from Mr. Thomas McKenna’s lengthy posting at What is at stake doctrinally is the proper understanding of conscience, and — of equal importance — the clear Catholic idea of what constitutes a moral act and its integral parts. Let me explain. Traditional Catholic moral theology teaches us that the goodness of a moral act is determined by three elements: object, intention, and circumstances. At least one of these must be good; others may be indifferent; and none may be evil. A defect in any of these renders the act morally evil. Now, many modern moral systems, like “situation ethics,” “fundamental option theory,” or what is often called “gradualism,” emphasize circumstances or intention to the detriment of the object. What the proponents of these new theories deny is the existence of intrinsically sinful acts. In other words, they deny that certain moral objects are always wrong. These errors were condemned by Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor, which is why the Cardinals cited that document in three of the five dubia.

Besides the Church’s teaching concerning the nature of the moral act and conscience, I see other doctrinal issues being raised here — not directly, but indirectly due to the circumstances of the Four Cardinals’ intervention:

First, there is the question of the gradations of magisterial authority. The Holy Father makes a very public, formally promulgated statement that treats of Catholic doctrine (Amoris Laetetia). Don’t we have to believe it? Do we have to accept every such document — or every utterance of the Holy Father — as a definitive statement of Catholic orthodoxy? No. The Church has a clearly articulated set of magisterial gradations to guide theologians in these considerations.

Second, there is the related question of what happens when a statement of the Holy Father, or some other authority in the Church, is in conflict with Tradition. Here, Cardinal Burke has given a good answer in his interview with Edward Pentin:

[Edward Pentin:] 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?

[Cardinal Burke:] 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.”

Third, we have the closely connected question of what happens when the real or apparent meaning of some lower-level magisterial text is — or seems to be — in conflict with Tradition. This is a very complex question that touches on the debates about Vatican II and the post-Conciliar magisterium. My own humble contribution to that effort can be found here.

And now, shifting gears a bit, I must justify the whole title of this piece. It often happens that progressivists like to call traditionalists, “Pharisees” (or “scribes,” or “doctors of the law”) because they maintain a hard moral line on the Church’s irreformable moral teaching. Roberto de Mattei has admirably answered the question “who are the Pharisees and Sadducees of our time?” as a response to these charges, but I would like to offer my own four paragraphs for your consideration.

The doctors of the law were identical to the scribes. They were highly educated Pharisees, and were dedicated to the study of the Mosaic Law within that particular doctrinal milieu. Their studies included not only the Mosaic Law proper, but the seemingly endless rabbinical commentaries on it, and their work was ultimately collated in the Talmud. Their “strictness” was not a fidelity to God’s revelations through Moses and the Prophets of the Old Testament. No, their “strictness” was, rather, a rigid adherence to the rabbinical traditions that were of human origin, and which, in some cases, actually contradicted the Mosaic Law itself. They imposed this hair-splitting and often bizarre casuistry on their fellow Jews, and this merited for them serious words of condemnation from Our Lord.

A good example of this would be Our Lord’s condemnation of the perverted practice — related in Matthew 15 and Mark 7 — of uttering “Corban” over one’s property in order to avoid the demands of the fourth commandment. Our Lord accuses these “scribes and Pharisees” of “Making void the word of God by your own tradition, which you have given forth” (Mark 7:13), accusing them quite directly: “you have made void the commandment of God for your tradition” (Matt. 15:6).

In addition to establishing traditions of men that void God’s word, He accuses them of upholding the minutiae of the Law, while ignoring its most important parts: “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you tithe mint, and anise, and cumin, and have left the weightier things of the law; judgment, and mercy, and faith. These things you ought to have done, and not to leave those undone” (Matt. 23:23). Note that He does not accuse them for fidelity to the minutiae, but for neglecting “judgment, and mercy, and faith.”

Jesus shows himself to be a stickler for God’s revelations when He accuses the scribes and Pharisees of undermining Faith. But beyond that, He actually elevates and surpasses the moral code of the Old Law when He notes, for instance, that hatred is a form of murder (Matt. 5:21-22), that internal sins of lust equal adultery (Matt. 5:27-28), that divorce and remarriage is also adultery (Matt. 5:31-32), that the condemnation of swearing is now stricter than it was in the Old Law (Matt. 5:33-37), and that we must do the very difficult thing of loving our enemies (Matt. 5:43-45). The condemnation of divorce and remarriage, first uttered in the Sermon on the Mount, is reiterated in Matt. 19:9.

Jesus was not a Pharisee. And neither are these Four Cardinals for insisting on Jesus Christ’s higher, New-Testament standard regarding what constitutes adultery. This is the standard that the Church has constantly maintained — in sacred spousal fidelity to her Bridegroom.

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5 comments on “Cardinal Burke and the Doctors of the Law

  1. [Michael Sean Winters has an article in the National un-Catholic Reporter comparing Cardinal Burke and the Doctors of the Law (or as he calls them: The Four Cardinals and Their Five Dubia) to Fr. Leonard Feeney as “the most extreme Catholics who cause the worst scandal”]

    The case of the four cardinals and their five dubia has been well reported and garnered plenty of commentary. Cardinals Brandmüller, Burke, Caffarra and Meisner decided to publish their letter containing the dubia, openly challenging the pope to clarify parts of Amoris Laetitia that they find to be a source of confusion. The whole episode is painful and put me in mind of an earlier and similarly painful episode in the history of the Catholic church in the United States.
    In the post-war years, Jesuit Fr. Leonard Feeney ran the Saint Benedict Center in Cambridge, Mass., adjacent to the campuses of Harvard University and Radcliffe College. A charismatic man, Feeney attracted young minds to his brand of extreme Catholicism and, specifically, his interpretation of the doctrine “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” — “no salvation outside the Church.” Feeney managed to get his center accredited to teach courses by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts even though he had no such authority from either his Jesuit superiors or from the Archdiocese of Boston. He began convincing his young devotees to drop out of Harvard and Radcliffe and enroll at his center.

    Needless to say, this made for some angry parents, and Fr. Feeney was summoned to a meeting with the archdiocese. Historical footnote: The auxiliary bishop with whom he met was then-Bishop, later-Cardinal John Wright. When Wright became Bishop of Pittsburgh and then Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, his secretary was then-Father, now-Cardinal Donald Wuerl, one of Pope Francis’ staunchest defenders and one of the most effective participants in the two synods that led to Amoris Laetitia. Feeney agreed to notify parents before their children withdrew from the more prestigious schools and also to submit his newsletter to Jesuit censors.

    The great historian of the church in the U.S., Jesuit Fr. Gerald Fogarty, picks up the story. He writes:

    But Feeney’s attacks became broader. In dealing with Protestants he was virulent in asserting that only in the Catholic Church could one be saved. His followers at Boston College even charged the president of the institution with heresy. He also alienated many of the students who used to frequent St. Benedict’s Center, which now became a closed group of “family,” totally convinced that it alone represented the truth of Catholicism. The American Church had its own Port Royal.

    Bingo! How many times in these pages have I observed that a key hermeneutic in understanding both Pope Francis and his critics is to grasp that he is an old Jesuit and that old Jesuits contend with Jansenists. That is precisely the dynamic at work with these four cardinals.

    Feeney continued to cause scandal. A 1949 decree from the Holy Office about Feeney stated: “Therefore, let them who in grave peril are ranked against the Church seriously bear in mind that after ‘Rome has spoken,’ they cannot be excused even by reason of good faith. Certainly, their bond of duty of obedience toward the Church is much graver than that of those who as yet are related to the Church ‘only by an unconscious desire.'” That is to say, the Protestants Feeney thought damned had a better shot at heaven than he did because of his disobedience! He was eventually suspended from the Society of Jesus and excommunicated in 1953. For insisting on an unduly narrow interpretation of the doctrine that there is no salvation outside the church, Feeney found himself outside the church. Thanks be to God, he finally was reconciled in 1972, although he never formally recanted his interpretation of the doctrine.

    Doctrines are made to be wide enough to find application in a variety of complex and different human circumstances. This is the thing that the four cardinals, like Feeney, cannot accept. They believe that their way of reading the prior teachings of the church is the only way, even though the esteemed scholar of the theology of St. John Paul II, Rocco Buttiglione has again explained that Amoris Laetitia is in full continuity with the whole of the teachings of Familiaris Consortio, St. John Paul II’s prior apostolic exhortation of the same subject. The four cardinals focus on parts of that latter text, and neglect others. The synod fathers, and Pope Francis, offer a different interpretation, one that I believe is more cognizant of the entire prior teachings, and one that is not the least bit confused about doctrine.

    The problem, I think, is that the four cardinals believe Pope Francis is muddying the waters by reclaiming the church’s long standing teachings on conscience, on the difference between objective and subjective guilt, on the application of the church’s twin teachings on marital indissolubility and God’s superabundant mercy to the human details of a situation, that is discernment, and perhaps most especially, that the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, the most Jansenistic of the positions put forward by the critics of Amoris Laetitia. They want to look upon the world through the lens of church teaching and see only black and white, but human lives are grey and when seen through the lens of church teaching, that human greyness should invite compassion not judgment from a Christian pastor. Their approach works for an accountant but not for a pastor.

    In his Apologia pro vita sua, Blessed John Henry Newman writes of his conversion to Catholicism and, specifically, his ability to acquiesce to Catholic understandings of certain doctrines. And, as ever, Newman writes beautifully:

    Nor had I any trouble about receiving those additional articles, which are not found in the Anglican Creed. Some of them I believed already, but not any one of them was a trial to me. I made a profession of them upon my reception with the greatest ease, and I have the same ease in believing them now. I am far of course from denying that every article of the Christian Creed, whether as held by Catholics or by Protestants, is beset with intellectual difficulties; and it is simple fact, that, for myself, I cannot answer those difficulties. Many persons are very sensitive of the difficulties of Religion; I am as sensitive of them as any one; but I have never been able to see a connexion between apprehending those difficulties, however keenly, and multiplying them to any extent, and on the other hand doubting the doctrines to which they are attached. Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, as I understand the subject; difficulty and doubt are incommensurate. There of course may be difficulties in the evidence; but I am speaking of difficulties intrinsic to the doctrines themselves, or to their relations with each other. A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, of which the answer is or is not given to him, without doubting that it admits of an answer, or that a certain particular answer is the true one. Of all points of faith, the being of a God is, to my own apprehension, encompassed with most difficulty, and yet borne in upon our minds with most power.

    “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.” It seems to me the four cardinals have five difficulties, but not five doubts. Perhaps they have more difficulties than that. I fear that in their zeal to defend the doctrine on marital incommensurability, they neglect other equally vital doctrines on conscience, mercy, and the sacraments. I certainly had difficulties with some of the interpretations placed upon the teachings of St. John Paul II. We all have difficulties. But to publicly voice doubts about the magisterial teaching of the church is not something a cardinal should be doing or, if he does, he should have the decency to include his red hat with the submission of his dubia. Cardinal Burke likes to fret about lax Catholics causing scandal, but in his case, as in that of Fr. Feeney, it is sometimes the most extreme Catholics who cause the worst scandal.

    • That is to say, the Protestants Feeney thought damned had a better shot at heaven than he did because of his disobedience! He was eventually suspended from the Society of Jesus and excommunicated in 1953. For insisting on an unduly narrow interpretation of the doctrine that there is no salvation outside the church, Feeney found himself outside the church. Thanks be to God, he finally was reconciled in 1972, although he never formally recanted his interpretation of the doctrine.

      Maybe The Donald could help me out here. LIAR. That felt good.

      Fr. Feeney was excommunicated in the press, but not by the Church. Any reporter who wishes to get the full history can contact any of the orders in MA or NH who, by the way, are in good standing with the Church. Brothers I know personally went to Rome to obtain record of the excommunication. No such record exists. Likewise Fr.’s reconciliation required no recantation because there was no excommunication. Father didn’t even realize he was being reconciled when Bishop Riley supposedly did it.

      Protestants do not go to Heaven unless they shed their Protestantism before death. This was undeniably defined and widely understood long before Fr. Feeney was born. If Protestants, who defy the pope, can be saved, then what would damn Fr. Feeney who never defied a pope? That’s one of the silliest lies that many N.O. pundits love to bandy about.

      This reporter wishes to have it both ways: Rome has spoken, but then, Rome speaks again. Ex Cathedra definitions fade over time. Francis undoes John Paul II. Winters mentions the 1949 Marchetti-Selvaggiani letter. Its authority was never established; it wasn’t signed by the pope; it wasn’t universally promulgated; it isn’t part of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. But it’s good enough for any Fr. Feeney basher to claim the high road of “Rome has spoken!”

      I’m sure Cdl. Burke would be surprised to learn that “Rome has spoken” means that he’s on the verge of getting kicked out of the Church. But that’s the way it will be when we have banana republic socialist clergy occupying the highest offices in the Church, positing every new doctrine that tickles their fancy. Likewise with the lying anti-Traditional press using any occasion to aid and abet the undermining of doctrine and morality.

    • Cardinal Burke likes to fret about lax Catholics causing scandal, but in his case, as in that of Fr. Feeney, it is sometimes the most extreme Catholics who cause the worst scandal.

      “Shut up and obey!” Winters is a hoot! But he’s right. When’s the last time four professors called out a college for teaching heresy? When’s the last time four cardinals called out a pope for teaching heresy? If we had more such “scandals” over the past 70 years, what would have become of Vatican II? How many Communists would have received honorary doctorates at Catholic Schools? Golly, we would have missed out on so much!

  2. “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.”
    Didn’t Pope Francis just admit that he has many doubts?
    Pope admits to having doubts but says they help to grow in faith
    The senior cardinals are clarifying and defending timeless Catholic teaching, which allows for no doubts.

  3. Who are these four cardinals who wrote the ‘dubia’ to the Pope? Updated*

    Left to right, top then bottom: Cardinals Raymond Burke, Joachim Meisner, Walter Brandmüller and Carlo Caffarra

    [Original title: Who Are These Witless Worms, Troublesome, Heretics and Apostates Who Wrote the Dubia to the Pope?]

    *Editor’s Note: This story has been updated Nov. 23, 2016 to include Vatican posts as well as academic qualifications of the four cardinals.

    Pete Baklinski

    November 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – While the four Cardinals who sent five yes-or-no questions to the pope asking him to clarify ambiguity in Amoris Laetitia have been called “witless worm[s],” “troublesome,” heretics and apostates, not many people know who these men are and what makes them uniquely qualified to ask the pope questions regarding his understanding of marriage, the sacraments, and morality.

    Following what is essentially a standard, but little used, procedure within the Church, Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner wrote to the Pope in September asking him to answer five questions that would dispel what they called the “uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation among many of the faithful” stemming from the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which was released in April.

    The exhortation has caused confusion among Church leaders for what critics say boils down to ambiguous teaching on the crucial issues of the indissolubility of marriage, the existence of absolute moral norms, and the role of conscience in making decisions.

    These four Cardinals are internationally renowned for having fought long and hard on the fronts of life, marriage, and the family in their service to the Church. One is the world’s foremost authority on Roman Catholic canon law. Another was specifically tasked by St. John Paul II to found academic institutions globally to form students in Catholic teaching on love, marriage, sexuality, and the family. Another is a world-renowned scholar of church history. Some of them have held top Vatican posts.

    They are known for their faithfulness, uncompromising fidelity to the Gospel, and zeal for truth. All have worked hard in their various capacities to restore the world to what St. John Paul II called a “culture of life.”

    Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, 87 years old, continues to be one of the leading voices critical of proposals stemming from the Vatican’s Synod on the Family that critics say risk subverting Catholic teaching on the sacraments and morality.

    He is a world renowned-scholar of church history, having published numerous books on the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Reformation. He holds a doctorate in theology and is the former President of the Pontifical Commission for Historical Sciences.

    Brandmüller was one of five cardinals who contributed to the 2014 book Remaining in the Truth of Christ, which criticized Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to open up Communion to civilly divorced and remarried Catholics.

    He gave an interview in 2014 where he stated that pastoral work can in “no circumstances … be in contradiction with doctrine.” He also stated during this time that a valid marriage between a baptized man and a woman that has been consummated “is indissoluble: Only death can part them.”

    In a 2015 interview, Brandmüller criticized what he called a “perverse lust for self-destruction” that he saw in the liberal agenda among Germany’s bishops, stating that the self-destruction comes about “by undermining the procreation of life in different ways and in putting into question the natural sexual identity of man and woman.” The Cardinal openly stated that same year that those who advocate for changing Catholic teaching on marriage are ‘heretics,’ even if they are bishops.

    Earlier this year, just days before Pope Francis’ release of his exhortation, Brandmüller criticized as “impossible” the Synod’s suggestion that civilly divorced and remarried Catholic become “more integrated” into the Church. Married Catholics who enters into a new civil union are “committing adultery,” and that as long as such persons are unwilling to put an end to the sinful situation, they “cannot receive either absolution in Confession nor the Eucharist.” Any path other than repentance and change of life is “bound to fail,” the cardinal said, due to “its inherent untruthfulness.”

    Cardinal Raymond Burke, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, has been an outspoken champion of the Church’s pro-life and pro-family teachings, especially as articulated by Popes Benedict and John Paul II.

    He is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on Roman Catholic canon law and became the first American in 2008 to hold the position of Defender of the Bond of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the church’s highest court. He holds a Doctorate in Canon Law (JCD) with a specialization in jurisprudence, a Diploma in Latin Letters, a Licentiate in Canon Law (JCL), and various other theology and philosophy degrees.

    Cardinal Burke has served at the Vatican in various posts, including: Congregation for Bishops, Member of the Secretariat of State (second section), member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, member of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

    In 2013, the Cardinal was removed by Pope Francis from the Congregation for Bishops, the influential department that oversees the selection of new bishops, while more liberally-minded prelates, such as Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Archbishop Vincent Nichols were added. Earlier this year then-Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, a leader of the so-called ‘progressive’ camp in the Church, was also added as a member of the all-important Congregation.

    Burke was also demoted by Pope Francis in 2014 from being the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura due to what critics said was his uncompromising defense of Church’s teaching on life and family issues. He was also removed from the Congregation for Divine Worship this month, after submitting the “Dubia” to the Pope.

    In his commitment to defending the sacraments while holding fast to the Church’s teaching against abortion, the Cardinal has frequently insisted that persistently pro-abortion Catholic politicians be denied Holy Communion, as stated by Canon law.

    He has called fighting the all-pervasive ‘contraceptive mentality’ “essential” for restoring the culture of life, has defended parents as the primary educators of their children, and has strongly defended marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman.

    Burke has urged Catholics on numerous occasions in the past two years to brace for martyrdom in the face of growing opposition to the Church’s clear teachings on marriage and the family.

    His motto “Secundum Cor Tuum” (After Your own Heart) comes from the prayer “O good Jesus, make me a priest after Your own Heart.”

    The Cardinal was vocal about problems arising during the Synod on the Family, stating that a door to offering Holy Communion for civilly divorced and remarried Catholics “does not exist and cannot exist.” He called the final synod report “deceptive in a serious way,” especially for its treatment of the sacraments and of parental responsibility for education.

    In a 2015 interview, Burke said he was happy to be labeled a “fundamentalist” if that meant upholding the basics of the faith.

    He caused a firestorm earlier this year when he stated that the Pope’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia was “not an act of the magisterium,” but a “personal reflection of the Pope” and therefore not “binding in conscience.”

    The 68-year-old Cardinal will likely vote in the next conclave.

    Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, 78 years old, who was tasked by Saint Pope John Paul II more than three decades ago with founding an institute to study marriage and the family, has been a respected leader in reinvigorating the life and family movement within the Church.

    Along with having a doctorate in Canon law he also holds a diploma of specialization in moral theology. In his early priesthood he was a professor of moral theology to seminarians, giving special attention to the Church’s doctrine on marriage and the ethics of procreation. He later taught medical ethics in Rome.

    He was nominated an expert at the Synod of Bishops on Matrimony and the Family in 1980, and the following year, was appointed by John Paul II to as founder and president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. From 1983-88 he held the position of Consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    The Cardinal serves as a member of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Pontifical Council for the Family, and the Pontifical Academy for Life.

    In 2008, Caffarra gave an interview in which he spoke about a letter he had received from the last Fatima seer, Sister Lucia dos Santos, concerning the final battle between God and Satan. When the Cardinal wrote to Sister Lucia 36 years ago asking for her prayers as he began the process of founding the institute, he never expected a reply. Instead, the seer responded with a message of profound significance.

    States Caffarra: “In [her letter] we find written: ‘The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid,’ she added, ‘because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue.’ And then she concluded: ‘However, Our Lady has already crushed its head.’”

    In a 2010 doctrinal note issued in his diocese he wrote that any Catholic who approves of same-sex “marriage” can no longer be considered Catholic.

    The Archbishop Emeritus of Bologna has called the Pope’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia ‘objectively unclear,’ noting how fellow bishops have conflicting interpretations of what it means.

    Caffarra has been clear that where confusion arises in interpreting papal texts, one has to refer to the continuity of the Magisterium of the past as the principle guiding light. “In matters of Doctrine and Morals, the Magisterium cannot contradict itself,” he has stated.

    Last year, the Cardinal contributed to a book released by Ignatius Press titled Eleven Cardinals Speak that defended Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality.

    Cardinal Joachim Meisner, who holds a doctorate in theology, has never minced words when it comes to preaching the Gospel truth about life and family issues.

    In 2005, before Cologne hosted World Youth Day that same year, Meisner compared abortion to the Nazi holocaust in his sermon for the January 6 commemoration of the Epiphany. He stated that “first there was Herod, who ordered the children of Bethlehem to be killed, then there was Hitler and Stalin among others, and today unborn children are being killed in their millions.”

    In 2007, the Cardinal established a $9.1 million fund dedicated to supporting marriage and the family, stating that “Fathers, mothers and children need more support and guidance.”

    In 2013, he stated that stay-at-home moms having more children is the solution to Germany’s demographic crisis. “Where are women really publicly encouraged to stay at home and bring three or four children into the world? This is what we should do, and not – as Mrs. (Angela) Merkel does now – simply present immigration as the solution to our demographic problem,” he stated at that time.

    When a topless pro-abort jumped on the altar during Christmas Eve Mass at Cologne’s Cathedral in 2014 while the Cardinal was celebrating Mass, Meisner stated about the event afterward: “I’m 80 years old. I’ve lived through so much. First the Nazi period, then the entire Communist period. Something like this can’t shock me after that.”

    He was a Member of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

    The 82-year-old Cardinal, who is the former Archbishop of Cologne, is not eligible to vote in the next conclave because of his age.

    While the animosity toward the four Cardinals coming from the Pope and his closest collaborators was expected, observers of the Vatican continue to be surprised at to what extent the character assassinations have gone. Despite the animosity, the Cardinals, who are not strangers to standing firm in the face of opposition, appear to be calmly proceeding with their course of action, indicating last week that should Francis refuse to answer their concerns, they would consider issuing a “formal correction” of the pope.

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