This past summer on July 16, a large group of over 60 clergy and lay scholars issued a “Filial Correction” to Pope Francis asking for clarification on matters of faith and morals. After nearly three months without a response from the Vatican, the group released the document to the public.
This is not the first time church clergy have requested clarity from Pope Francis, as the pontiff has spoken off the cuff several times regarding the sacraments and his personal reflections of challenges facing many Catholics in the world today.
The group states in its correction: “We adhere wholeheartedly to the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, neither Amoris Laetitia nor any of the statements which have served to propagate the heresies which this exhortation insinuates are protected by that divine guarantee of truth.”
This is a statement that is backed by leading church statesman Cardinal Raymond Burke, though the document is not signed by the Cardinal, or any of them for that matter.
The main points that are emphasized in the document are first, how Pope Francis did not issue a response to the Five Dubia asking for his clarification on Amoris Laetitia, and most importantly:
“His Holiness intervened in the composition of the Relatio post disceptationem for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family,” the correction states. “The Relatio proposed allowing Communion for divorced-and-remarried Catholics on a ‘case-by-case basis,’ and said pastors should emphasize the ‘positive aspects’ of lifestyles the Church considers gravely sinful, including civil remarriage after divorce and premarital cohabitation. These proposals were included in the Relatio at your personal insistence, despite the fact that they did not receive the two-thirds majority required by the Synod rules for a proposal to be included in the Relati.”
This has been a point of contention for a while among Catholics. It all hearkens to the age-old argument that the Catholic church should adjust to the more modern times. But those who are calling for Catholic teaching to change shouldn’t expect desired results.
Part of the beauty of Catholic teaching on faith and morals is that it does not change. The Catholic teaching on marriage has remained the same. It is between one man and one woman, and unless the marriage was invalid in the first place, it is in-dissolvable in the eyes of God.
In the modern age, society has taken a turn, now holding more complicated views on marriage. Although the base doctrine does not change, the Catholic church accommodates irregular situations to the best of its ability, all with an eye toward charity and mercy. But these accommodations do not leave to the destruction of the base doctrine, ever.
Pope Francis made admirable efforts and strides to help those in irregular situations achieve full communion with the Church. In his well-meaning efforts based in charity, he was misleading to many. It remains to be seen if it is prudent for him to respond to this Filial Correction.
Another option has been laid on the table by Cardinal Muller, who is trying to set dissident theologians’ minds at ease. He believes that an open dialogue is the best solution to any questions about the faith.
In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Muller said:
“This discussion is not against him, it is not against his intentions, but there is need of more clarification. Also, in the past, we had discussions about the faith and the pastoral application of it. It’s not the first time this has happened in the Church, and so why not learn from our long experiences as Church, to have a good, profound discussion in promoting the faith, the life of the Church and not to personalize and polarize? It’s not a personal criticism of him, and everybody must learn it and respect his high responsibility.”