The Pope Accused…

The Pope Accused…

Robert Moynihan

In a new act of opposition to the teaching of Pope Francis which risks opening the door to a dramatic split in the Catholic Church, the Argentine Pope has just been publicly accused of heresy by dozens of Catholic writers and scholars in a text they signed on July 16, delivered to Pope Francis on August 11, but only made public at midnight this morning, September 24, about three hours ago.

These Catholic critics of Francis are saying he has been influenced by the erroneous views of Modernism and are asking him to retract and correct his teaching on seven specific points, for the good of the Church.

It is not clear what Francis will do (though it is clear that he knew of this text since August 11 and did not recognize or acknowledge it in any way).

But if he were to reject these criticisms as wrong and out-of-bounds, and even, as the head of the Church, condemn the position of his critics, there would be a considerable risk of a split in the Church — something with many profoundly negative consequences for the worldwide Church…

In this sense, the present situation, which has emerged today, of public accusations of heresy made against the Pope, opens up dangerous scenarios.

The Catholic scholars charge Francis particularly with doctrinal error in his teaching on marriage, divorce, remarriage, and communion for divorced Catholics whose first marriages have not been annulled — points touched on in his admittedly controversial Apostolic Exhortation in early 2016 called Amoris Laetitia (“On the Joy of Love”).

This is the first time since 1333 — that is, the first time in nearly 700 years(!) — that a reigning Pope has been the object of such a formal denunciation for heresy, suggesting how deep the opposition to Francis has become. (In the 1300s, Pope John XXII, Pope from 1316 to 1334, was formally accused of heresy on a delicate point of doctrine, on the Beatific Vision — he said souls do not see God until after the Last Judgment, while his critics said souls have the vision of God immediately after death (link); he amended his teaching to take account of the criticism while on his deathbed.)

This shows how uncommon is this type of attack on a sitting Pope by prominent Catholic thinkers.

A group of 62 Catholic scholars and writers from around the world, just at midnight, issued a statement which accuses Pope Francis of teaching seven heresies (doctrines not in harmony with the traditional teaching of the Catholic faith), asking him to retract or correct these teachings.

The document is 25 pages long. It originally was signed by 40 Catholics, and now counts 62 signatures from 20 countries around the world.

The list of signatories includes Catholics such as Fr. Linus Clovis, Deacon Nick Donnelly, Christopher Ferrara, Dr. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi (the head of the Vatican bank under Pope Benedict XVI), Martin Mosebach (a prominent, prize-winning German author on the beauty of the old liturgy), Prof. Roberto de Mattei, and Bishop Bernard Fellay (notably, the single bishop to sign the document). The authors say additional signatures are being sought through a form on their website.

The title of the text is Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis (Latin for “Filial Correction of Heresies that Have Been Propagated”).

This list of signatories strikingly does not include even one cardinal, and, as just noted, only a single bishop, and that one the somewhat controversial Bishop Fellay, head of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), the traditionalist Catholic group founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre after the Second Vatican Council, which Lefebvre criticized on a number of points.

This lack of signatures from prominent members of the Church’s hierarchy led one tradition-minded Catholic internet commenter to write a few minutes ago: “A handful of priests, an SSPX bishop plus the usual group of lay activists… It’s really no more than nuisance value to Francis.”

So, perhaps, in the end, the initiative, though it uses the powerful word “heresy,” may not have a profound or lasting impact.

Still, another American commenter, Steve Skojec, director of the onePeterfive website, had a different view, addressing the question of the statement’s possible impact this way (link):

“It is difficult to predict what, if any, impact this correctio will have on a papacy that has steadfastly ignored a [September 29, 2015] filial appeal with nearly 800,000 signatures [including 201 cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, link], the circulation of a theological censures document authored by 45 theologians and scholars amongst the entire college of cardinals [in July 2016, link], and the five dubia presented [to Pope Francis in September 2016] by four cardinals who have, as yet, not been able to even obtain a papal audience over a year after their initial intervention and in the wake of the deaths of two of their number.

“Nevertheless, the language used in this latest document advances the case further than anything that came before it, and some speculate that it may help establish that the Pope is guilty of public and notorious material heresy. If so, his failure to respond could be an important step in determining that the Pope is ‘incorrigible and pertinacious’ in the promotion of heresy, and possibly trigger additional remedial actions further down the road.” (link)

In other words, this text is being seen as one more step in a continuing vigorous opposition to the teaching of Pope Francis — one more step in a campaign that makes no bones about the fact that it aims to reverse the Pope’s teaching on several contested points, either during this present pontificate (via a retraction and amendment of the teaching), or after this pontificate is over…

In this sense, this document seems to clearly mark a dramatic new stage in the long-simmering battle between Pope Francis, along with his close advisors, and his critics.

Strong words have now been quite publicly spoken. Battle lines have been drawn…

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5 comments on “The Pope Accused…

  1. This is the first time since 1333 — that is, the first time in nearly 700 years(!) — that a reigning Pope has been the object of such a formal denunciation for heresy

    Too dramatic. It’s more like 61 unknown souls of little significance, plus one bishop yet widely regarded (falsely) as in schism. It rises above the level of a gaggle of bloggers, but not by much.

  2. Notice the lack of any bishops/cardinals as signatories with the exception of H.E. Bishop Fellay. If this doesn’t say something about the state of the Church in our time nothing does. As to a split coming, IMO it has already occurred. The 1100 infiltrators spoken of by Bella Dodd are now in charge of the hierarchy.

  3. As I mentioned in one of the other threads about this, Rorate has stated that this is only step one. No cardinals were involved or asked to sign this letter. There is now a page where everyone can add their signature plus also has a petition for this. Retired Bishop Gracida has reportedly now signed the letter. It’s also available in other languages. See Rorate’s web page for more info.

  4. Although the historical citation on the 14th-century censure makes for an exciting narrative in the tradition of The Name of the Rose and tabloid Da Vinci Code neo-gnosticism. “Tom Hanks, Opie, call your office…”

  5. “The title of the text is Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis (Latin for “Filial Correction of Heresies that Have Been Propagated”).”

    Thank you, Robert Moynihan! Finally, someone who apparently knows the rudiments of Latin has correctly translated this. The *past* passive participle, ‘propagatis’, means “having (already!) been propagated”. It does not mean “being propagated”, or anything else.

    This may be a flash in the pan or not. All I can say is, when someone tells the truth, that’s always good.
    Bring on the schism! If the status quo doesn’t change, the Modernist heretics, hyperinfallibilist heretics, or Novus Ordo heretics are all going to hell. If the conflict comes into the open, and the heresies are made clear, at least those of good will have a *chance* to convert. If things are not made clear, those of good will will have their chance stolen from them.

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