The “Dubia” Turn One Year Old, and Are More Lively Than Ever. A New Appeal From Burke To the Pope

The “Dubia” Turn One Year Old, and Are More Lively Than Ever. A New Appeal From Burke To the Pope

Sandro Magister
11/14/17

(An interview with Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke conducted by Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register)

Q: – Your Eminence, at what stage are we since you, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, and the two recently deceased cardinals, Carlo Caffarra and Joachim Meisner, made the “dubia” public a year ago this week?

A: – One year after the publication of the “dubia” on “Amoris Laetitia”, which have not received any response from the Holy Father, we observe an increasing confusion about the ways of interpreting the Apostolic Exhortation. Hence our concern for the Church’s situation and for her mission in the world becomes ever more urgent. I, of course, remain in regular communication with Cardinal Walter Brandmüller regarding these gravest of matters. Both of us remain in profound union with the two late Cardinals Joachim Meisner and Carlo Caffarra, who have passed away in the course of the last months. Thus, I once again present the gravity of the situation which is continually worsening.

Q: – Much has been said about the dangers of the ambiguous nature of Chapter 8 of “Amoris Laetitia”, stressing that it is open to much interpretation. Why is clarity so important?

A: – Clarity in teaching does not imply any rigidity, which would impede people from walking on the Gospel path, but, on the contrary, clarity provides the light necessary for accompanying families on the way of Christian discipleship. It is obscurity that keeps us from seeing the path and that hinders the evangelizing action of the Church, as Jesus says, “Night comes, when no one can work” (Jn 9:4).

Q: – Could you explain more about the current situation in light of the “dubia”?

A: – The current situation, far from diminishing the importance of the “dubia” or questions, makes them still more pressing. It is not at all – as some have suggested – a matter of an “affected ignorance”, which poses doubts only because it is unwilling to accept a given teaching. Rather, the concern was and is to determine precisely what the Pope wanted to teach as Successor of Peter. Thus, the questions arise from the recognition of the Petrine office that Pope Francis has received from the Lord for the purpose of confirming his brothers in the faith. The Magisterium is God’s gift to the Church to provide clarity on issues that regard the deposit of the faith. By their very nature, affirmations that lack this clarity cannot be qualified expressions of the magisterium.

Q: – Why is it so dangerous in your view for there to be differing interpretations of “Amoris Laetitia”, particularly over the pastoral approach of those living in irregular unions, and specifically over civilly remarried divorcees not living in continence and receiving Holy Communion?

A: – It is evident that some of “Amoris Laetitia”‘s indications regarding essential aspects of the faith and of the practice of the Christian life have received various interpretations that are divergent and at times incompatible with each other. This incontestable fact confirms that these indications are ambivalent, permitting a variety of readings, many of which are in contrast to Catholic doctrine. The questions we Cardinals have raised thus regard what exactly the Holy Father has taught and how his teaching harmonizes with the deposit of the faith, given that the magisterium “is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed” (Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution “Dei Verbum”, n. 10).

Q: – Hasn’t the Pope made clear where he stands, through his letter to Argentine bishops in which he said there is “no other interpretation” than the guidelines those bishops issued – guidelines which left open the possibility of some sexually-active unmarried couples receiving the Holy Eucharist?

A: – Contrary to what some have claimed, we cannot consider the Pope’s letter to the bishops of the region of Buenos Aires, written shortly before receiving the “dubia” and containing comments on the bishops’ pastoral guidelines, an adequate response to the questions posed. On the one hand, these guidelines can be interpreted in different ways; on the other, it is not clear that this letter is a magisterial text, in which the Pope intended to speak to the universal Church as the Successor of Peter. The fact that the letter first became known because it had been leaked to the press – and was only later made public by the Holy See – raises a reasonable doubt about the Holy Father’s intention to direct it to the universal Church. In addition, it would turn out to be quite astonishing – and contrary to Pope Francis’ explicitly formulated desire to leave the concrete application of “Amoris Laetitia” to the bishops of each country (cf. AL 3) – that now he should impose on the universal Church what are only the concrete directives of a particular region. And shouldn’t the different dispositions promulgated by various bishops in their dioceses from Philadelphia to Malta then all be considered invalid? A teaching that is not sufficiently determined with respect to its authority and its effective content cannot cast into doubt the clarity of the Church’s constant teaching which, in any case, remains always normative.

Q: – Are you also concerned that, by some bishops’ conferences allowing certain remarried divorcees living “more uxorio” (having sexual relations) to receive Holy Communion without a firm purpose of amendment, they are contradicting previous papal teaching, in particular Pope St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, “Familiaris Consortio”?

A: – Yes, the “dubia” or questions remain open. Those who assert that the discipline taught by “Familiaris Consortio” 84 has changed contradict each other when it comes to explaining the reasons and the consequences. Some go as far as to say that the divorced in a new union, who continue to live “more uxorio”, do not find themselves in an objective state of mortal sin (citing in support AL 303); others deny this interpretation (citing in support AL 305), yet completely leave it up to the judgment of conscience to determine the criteria of access to the sacraments. It seems that the goal of the interpreters is to arrive, in whatever way, at a change in discipline, while the reasons they adduce to this end are of no importance. Nor do they show any concern about how much they put into danger essential matters of the deposit of faith.

Q: – What tangible effect has this mix of interpretations had?

A: – This hermeneutical confusion has already produced a sad result. In fact, the ambiguity regarding a concrete point of the pastoral care of the family has led some to propose a paradigm shift regarding the Church’s entire moral practice, the foundations of which have been authoritatively taught by Saint John Paul II in his encyclical “Veritatis Splendor”.

Indeed a process has been put into motion that is subversive of essential parts of the Tradition. Concerning Christian morality, some claim that absolute moral norms need to be relativized and that a subjective, self-referential conscience needs to be given an – ultimately equivocal – primacy in matters touching morals. What is at stake, therefore, is in no way secondary to the “kerygma” or basic Gospel message. We are speaking about whether or not a person’s encounter with Christ can, by the grace of God, give form to the path of the Christian life so that it may be in harmony with the Creator’s wise design. To understand how far-reaching these proposed changes are, it is enough to think of what would happen if this reasoning were to be applied to other cases, such as that of a medical doctor performing abortions, of a politician belonging to a ring of corruption, of a suffering person deciding to make a request for assisted suicide…

Q: – Some have said the most pernicious effect of all of this is that it represents an attack on the Sacraments as well as the Church’s moral teaching. How is this so?

A: – Over and above the moral debate, the sense of the ecclesial sacramental practice is increasingly eroding in the Church, especially when it comes to the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. The decisive criterion for admission to the sacraments has always been the coherence of a person’s way of life with the teachings of Jesus. If instead the decisive criterion were now to become the absence of a person’s subjective culpability – as some interpreters of “Amoris Laetitia” have suggested – would this not change the very nature of the sacraments? In fact, the sacraments are not private encounters with God, nor are they means of social integration into a community. Rather, they are visible and effective signs of our incorporation into Christ and His Church, in and by which the Church publicly professes and actuates her faith. Thus by turning a person’s subjective diminished culpability or lack of culpability into the decisive criterion for the admission to the sacraments, one would endanger the very “regula fidei”, the rule of faith, which the sacraments proclaim and actuate not only by words but also by visible gestures. How could the Church continue to be the universal sacrament of salvation if the meaning of the sacraments were to be emptied of its content?

Q: – Despite you and many others, including over 250 academics and priests who issued a “filial correction”, clearly having very serious misgivings about the effects of these passages in “Amoris Laetitia”, and because you have so far received no response from the Holy Father, are you here making a final plea to him?

A: – Yes, for these grave reasons, one year after rendering public the “dubia”, I again turn to the Holy Father and to the whole Church, emphasizing how urgent it is that, in exercising the ministry he has received from the Lord, the Pope should confirm his brothers in the faith with a clear expression of the teaching regarding both Christian morality and the meaning of the Church’s sacramental practice.

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3 comments on “The “Dubia” Turn One Year Old, and Are More Lively Than Ever. A New Appeal From Burke To the Pope

  1. The reality is the German Cardinals are running the Church and urging faster reforms ! Since money 💰 talks and Dubai walks, nothing is going to change ! Francis will just ignore Burke !

  2. Cardinal Burke’s “Final Plea” to Pope Francis: Our Take

    Steve Skojec November 14, 2017

    Yesterday afternoon, I received word through one of my sources that something would be coming today, at long last, in the ongoing and seemingly never-ending process that would move things in the direction of the highly-anticipated “formal correction” of the pope. I was told that it would not be the formal correction itself, but something preliminary to it. There was no clear indicator of just what, exactly, was to be expected, or when the formal correction itself would follow. Only that a statement of some kind would be issued today, November 14, 2017, exactly one year since the publication of the original five dubia on Amoris Laetitia.

    When Edward Pentin’s new interview with Cardinal Burke was published today at 3PM Rome time, we had our answer. Not only was it not the formal correction, it did not even mention those words. Our summary of the document this morning included a list of important post-exhortation milestones over the past year along the path to this moment, but it is clear that this path, such as it is, continues to wind forward — for how long, nobody seems to know — into the future.

    In the interview, Cardinal Burke conveys, though somewhat mildly, that things have grown untenable. He uses terms like “increasing confusion” and “gravest of matters” and “the gravity of the situation, which is continually worsening.” As he did when AL was first published, Burke insists — standing in contradiction to a number of papal defenders — that the exhortation is non-magisterial. “The magisterium,” he says, “is God’s gift to the Church to provide clarity on issues that regard the deposit of the faith. By their very nature, affirmations that lack this clarity cannot be qualified expressions of the magisterium.” He speaks of the damage being done to teaching and sacraments, of a proposed “paradigm shift regarding the Church’s entire moral practice”, and of subversion of “essential parts of the Tradition”. He speaks of the moral implications of the reasoning deployed in the so-called pastoral care recommended in AL, asking “what would happen if this reasoning were to be applied to other cases, such as that of a medical doctor performing abortions, of a politician belonging to a ring of corruption, of a suffering person deciding to make a request for assisted suicide”?

    In the end, he makes a “final plea” that the pope “confirm his brothers in the faith with a clear expression of the teaching regarding both Christian morality and the meaning of the Church’s sacramental practice”.

    But if the plea is actually final, then what might we expect next? What would be the consequence of the pope ignoring yet another plea, as he has done so many times before?

    It seems certain that Cardinal Burke — along with those who are supporting his efforts — wants to make certain that he has given the pope every possible chance to fix what he is breaking. But with no clear indication of the repercussions of failing to do so, it remains impossible to determine what incentive the pope has to even pay this “final plea” any attention at all.

    This interview, if it is indeed a final warning, should perhaps have been labeled as such. Saying “Please stop” hasn’t worked as a strategy before now, and the urgency — is there a sense of urgency behind the calm restatement of the problem? — demands more. The time for deference and patience, I fear, has passed. The faithful are seeing the man on the Throne of St. Peter flouting divinely-revealed teaching and the safeguards of his divinely-assisted office — and getting away with it. And it is making many Catholics feel tempted to wonder: If Christ’s promises to the Church can be so easily broken, can any of what we believe can really be trusted?

    In that sense, the pope isn’t the only one responsible for “the gravity of the situation, which is continually worsening.” The cardinals and bishops who have delayed taking action until now are, in their own unintentional way, intensifying the scandalization of the faithful. What the pope is doing is wrong, the laity think, but when even the faithful and orthodox shepherds of the Church fail to properly address it, does that mean we have been abandoned?

    And while these doubts about the Church’s indefectibility are being daily introduced into the minds of the faithful, bishops around the world continue to move forward with their own subjective interpretations of what Amoris Laetitia means for their flocks — all of which will have to be unwound once the Church regains her senses. Today, at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 2017 General Assembly meeting, the agenda item of a “renewed pastoral plan on marriage and family life in light of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on ‘the Joy of Love’, Amoris Laetitia” was brought to the table by Bishop Richard Malone, who serves on the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

    Bishop Barron speaks about “seizing” the narrative on Amoris Laetitia away from the Catholic “blogosphere”

    In the ensuing discussion, popular Catholic speaker Bishop Robert Barron lamented, “I just think it’s really been a tragedy that the reception of this document [Amoris Laetitia] has been so poor in our country. If you do a web search of Amoris Laetitia, you get a mountain of literature, but it’s all about a particular chapter and even a particular footnote within that chapter. As important as that question is, I think it’s led to a overlooking of this really extraordinarily rich document, so I think it’s good for us to seize control of that process, because I think we’ve been positioned by an awful lot of people in the blogosphere who are forcing people to read this document in a particular way.”

    “An awful lot of people in the blogosphere”? I wonder who he might be referring to. “Forcing people”? With what, our incredible mind powers? “Seize control”? He actually went on to mention the word “seize” — which, if we want to talk about force, means to “take hold of suddenly and forcibly” — two more times in his brief comments.

    I didn’t have the patience to listen to more of the discussion.

    The firing of Professor Seifert. The shaming of Professor Stark. The firing of Fr. Thomas Weinandy. The campaign of sustained ad hominems against the dubia cardinals as well as every theologian, priest, and layman who supports the work of authentic criticism of the exhortation. The Vatican-promoted heterodox interpretations of the exhortation itself, along with Vatican-promoted articles to give cover to these interpretations through an intentional obfuscation of Church teaching and the parameters of Magisterial authority. The “climate of fear” at the Vatican, where any criticism is reported and people suspected of opposing the official agenda are monitored in ways reminiscent of the techniques of the KGB. The entire apparatus of the Dictatorship of Mercy. It is in these things where the true force in the matter lies. The only reason that the orthodox counter-narrative has been able to bubble up to the top at all is because those of us who care about the truth are relentless in our pursuit of it — and because God has blessed those efforts. But there is only so much we can do, and we’re all exhausted by being constantly outnumbered and isolated.

    This is why, Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller, if you should happen to read this, you should know that time is of the essence. Perhaps you do. I continue to hear whispers that the formal correction itself is not far behind. But the question after that will be the same as now: then what? What happens when every effort is ignored? How will we move forward from here?

    Will an imperfect council be called? Will the pope be declared to have deposed himself through pertinacious and obdurate heresy? Will a new conclave be assembled among the tiny remnant of the faithful bishops? Will we once again have two rival claimants to the Petrine See?

    Or will it be something completely different?

    Everyone wants to know what to expect. Everyone is wondering, and frustrated. Everyone is speculating on how difficult things might become, but nobody I’m hearing from seems to think that they will be worse than they are now. An uncomfortable certainty is far preferable to the interminable continuation of uncertainty and doubt.

    Something has to give. Please, Lord, let it give soon. Grant the successors of your apostles the courage and wisdom to see this through and begin the work of restoring the Church.

  3. A worthy effort although one which will probably not change things. Catholics need to stop playing games and come to terms with the fact that progressive modernism is a heresy, that the current pontiff is a progressive modernist, and that the current progressive modernist agenda coming from the papacy and the Vatican will do for Catholicism what liberal Protestant Honest to God death of God theology did for mainline liberal Protestantism. For modernists who LOVE Bergoglio there is nothing stopping you from signing up with the Episcopalians and following them to irrelevancy and extinction in the oblivion of post-Christian religion. Discuss Rudy Bultmann, liberation theology, air conditioning and global warming on the golf course with the other zero population Malthusians.

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