DEC 6TH 2016 BY DEACON NICK DONNELLY
Prof. Roberto de Mattei, the acclaimed Church historian, has warned that Pope Francis’ decision not to respond to the four cardinals’ dubia has plunged the Church into a civil war. Catholics now have to choose what side will to take in the “civil war”, which Prof. de Mattei frames in terms of taking a stand for fidelity or siding with infidelity. Prof. de Mattei gave his stark assessment of the crisis in an exclusive interview with Lifesite news. Prof de Mattei is a professor at the European University of Rome and the president of the Lepanto Foundation. He told Lifesite News, “It is important to comprehend that today there is a clear choice between fidelity to the Church, to the perennial Magisterium, or infidelity, which means errors, heresy, and apostasy.”
Prof. de Mattei stood behind the assessment made by the four cardinals about the state of the Church in the wake of the Holy Father’s publication of Amoris Laetitia. Cardinal Burke and the others explained in their dubia, “We have noted a grave disorientation and great confusion of many faithful regarding extremely important matters for the life of the Church. We have noted that even within the episcopal college there are contrasting interpretations of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia. Prof. Roberto de Mattie concurs with the cardinals’ conclusion that Amoris Laetitia is causing “tremendous confusion inside the Church” due to the pope’s ambiguous moral teaching, resulting in “division” and “fragmentation” among bishops, priests, and the faithful.
The professor expressed approval of the cardinals’ action in submitting the five dubium [doubts] placing the blame for the subsequent confusion and conflict at the door of the Holy Father:
The cause of this confusion, the author of this confusion is not the four cardinals, of course. I think that the main author of the confusion is Pope Francis, because it is since his pontificate that things go so rapidly, so fast. It seems sometimes that he likes to create this confusion. The cardinals acted in a perfect way from a canonical point of view. I consider it very grave the fact that the Pope, who is the supreme head of the congregation, didn’t want to answer. This is already an answer, in fact.
Prof. de Mattei also supported Cardinal Burke’s determination to issue a formal declaration of serious error if Pope Francis did not repond to their dubium:
The importance of this initiative is not only to warn the Pope about the errors found in Amoris Laetitia, but also to warn the faithful, to inform the faithful, because among the faithful there is confusion but there is also ignorance. And I think that we have the duty to make the faithful aware of the gravity of this situation.
The professor of Church history concludes that the crisis is so serious that it is no longer possible for Catholics to remain neutral in the civil war provoked by Amoris Laetitia:
This situation is so grave that a neutral position is no longer possible. Today we are in a war, a religious civil war, unfortunately. I don’t like this war, but we are engaged in it against our will. We have not created the situation, but this situation obliges everyone to pursue a clear position. And for this, I think we have to thank the four cardinals for their courage and to push them to continue their action and their witness.
Prof. Robert Spaemann, leading German Catholic philosopher, friend and contemporary of Pope Benedict XVI, has also expressed alarm that Pope Francis has brought the “supreme Magisterium” into disrepute by his refusal to respond to the cardinals’ dubia. Prof. Spaemann, professor emeritus of the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, expressed his concern in an interview with Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.
Prof. Robert Spaemann expressed support for the cardinals’ dubia and their decision to make their initiative public once the Holy Father refused to answer:
With the dubia, the Cardinals take on their proper duty to support with their council – insofar as they are ‘senators’ – the Church in the person of the Holy Father. It’s regrettable that only four cardinals have taken the initiative in this matter. The four Cardinals have chosen the right path. The Pope was the first recipient of dubia, though I think the text was also passed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was not written as an “open letter”, but was sent directly to the Holy Father. It was only made public later, after the Pope refused to answer.
The professor also expressed great concern about the damage done to the “supreme Magisterium” by Pope Francis’s silence:
The Pope’s refusal to answer the appeal of the four Cardinals fills me with great worry since, in a certain way, the supreme Magisterium in this case is being debased. The Pope clearly has a deep aversion to these decisions in which a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is required.
The professor of philosophy countered the pope’s refusal to give ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer with the example of Christ, the Lord of the Church, who often presented his disciples with decisions of this kind. In the specific question regarding adultery, Jesus ‘shocks’ the apostles with the simplicity and clarity of his doctrine.
Sacred Scripture makes it very clear how the faithful should respond if someone attempts to teach a “new gospel” instead of the Gospel handed on to us from the Apostles:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1: 6-9).
This strong response against those seeking to “pervert the Gospel” was solemnly defined by Vatican I in terms of being the right and the duty of the Church to proscribe “opinions that are known to be opposed to the doctrine of the faith”. (Dei Filius, chap. 4).
Clearly, all the faithful have the right and the duty to question those bishops and priests who interpret Amoris Laetitia in ways that are contrary to Our Lord’s doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and the sin of adultery and fornication.