Cardinal Burke: we will make ‘formal act of correction’ if Pope doesn’t issue Amoris clarification

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The cardinal said there was a tradition of issuing a formal correction if a Pope is in error

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said it may be necessary to make a “formal act of correction” if Pope Francis doesn’t answer a letter from four cardinals asking him to clarify aspects of Amoris Laetitia.

In an interview with Edward Pentin of National Catholic Register, Cardinal Burke said that if the Pope were to teach error or heresy, “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.”

Cardinal Burke is one of four cardinals who have written to the Popeasking for a clarification of Amoris Laetitia. They say that the document could be read as contradicting Church teaching on the moral law and on the question of Communion for the remarried. The Pope has declined to reply to the letter.

Asked what would happen if the Pope remained silent, Cardinal Burke replied: “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.”

Such an act of formal correction would be extremely unusual. One example is the challenge to Pope John XXII in the 1330s. He had publicly taught – though only as his personal opinion – that souls in heaven would not actually see God until the Final Judgment, a teaching contrary to Church doctrine.

In response, several theologians challenged Pope John. A few were punished, but the Pope backed down after a joint letter by theologians from the University of Paris, under the leadership of Paludanus, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The letter professed total obedience to John, but affirmed that the teachings being attributed to him were contrary to the Catholic faith. Before his death John withdrew his heretical opinion.

Cardinal Burke’s suggestion of a “formal correction” comes after a debate over whether the remarried can receive Communion while in a sexually active relationship outside marriage. The Church has taught that this is contrary to the dogma of the indissolubility of marriage.

In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, the Pope made no direct reference to the question, but some bishops have interpreted his words as meaning that some remarried people can receive Communion, even if they are still in a sexual relationship. This is the interpretation of the Buenos Aires bishops, which the Pope has appeared to privately favour.

In a probable allusion to the Buenos Aires bishops, Cardinal Burke said: “Even diocesan directives are confused and in error.” He added that there was ”tremendous division” in the Church over Communion andother related points, concerning the moral law and marriage.

He said the four cardinals had intervened “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.’”



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  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Geez, I love this stuff. What great theatre. On the one hand you’ve got this new Pope who seems to understand that the Church needs to evolve if it wants to remain relevant. He seems to understand that chasing away divorced Catholics results in losing a big chunk of the next generation. How do you take your kid to mass if you’ve divorced and remarried, and then sit there during communion while all the other mommy’s and daddies get up for communion, and then explain to your kid afterwards that you can’t participate because you are actively living a mortal sin and that you will be going to Hell when you die. No – you go to another denomination or join the “Nones.” The Pope surely understands that you have to indoctrinate the kids young, because once they are capable of critical thinking, selling the imaginary, invisible man who lives in the sky becomes much more difficult – so you have to keep indoctrinated kids in the fold or the continuation of the Church will be threatened.
    On the other hand you’ve got the maniacally obsessed over all things sexual, conservatives who understand that you can’t chip away at shame/guilt/fear or you lose your power over the sheeple. You have to make them feel guilty so that they can come back to you and be absolved of the guilt you laid on them in the first place. Suggesting that it’s OK to have sex after divorce – well that removes guilt and the RCC can’t have that! How will it control you if you don’t feel shame, guilt or fear? Most intelligent and educated people have already discarded the Church’s teaching on contraception. Each chip at that sex shame/guilt/fear thing is a loss of control and power and they know it.
    Going on in the background is the real problem though. DNA evidence has made it clear that there was no two-person DNA bottleneck, no Adam and Eve, hence no original sin, hence no need to be maniacally obsessive over sex any longer. The problem with sex is that in addition to being a great tool for control through shame/guilt/fear, it’s how original sin is passed on. That’s why sex is bad. It passes along original sin (well for everyone but Mary – which tells us if Yahweh could do it for one, he could do it for all). If there’s no original sin, much of the power of the shame/guilt/fear pitchfork goes away. These guys are fighting over divorced Catholics taking communion while the very foundation of the Church itself (original sin), has been ripped out from underneath them, but deny it as they will – just like Galileo, in time, the scientific truth will set us free.

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