Speaking with Reuters in an interview which appeared yesterday, Pope Francis criticized Cardinal Raymond Burke and three other cardinals who joined him in begging the Pope for clarification on key issues of faith. The cardinals used the long-standing ecclesial practice of issuing dubia, or questions to the Pope. There were five such questions altogether. But, according to Reuters the Pope said that “he had heard about the cardinals’ letter criticizing him ‘from the newspapers.’” The Pope knocked the cardinals, saying that it was “a way of doing things that is, let’s say, not ecclesial, but we all make mistakes.”
Cardinal Burke, however, told LifeSiteNews that “The late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra personally delivered the letter containing the dubia to the Papal Residence, and at the same time to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on September 19, 2016, as he also delivered subsequent correspondence of the four Cardinals regarding the dubia.”
Burke added that, “During the entire time since the presentation of the dubia, there has never been a question about the fact that they were presented to the Holy Father, according to the practice of the Church and with full respect for his office.”
Cardinal Burke suggested that perhaps the Pope misunderstood the reporter’s question. “If the question of the journalist is referring to the formal presentation of the dubia or questions regarding Amoris Laetitia by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, the late Cardinals Carlo Caffarra and Joachim Meisner, and myself, then Pope Francis must not have understood him,” he said.
The only other living dubia cardinal also responded to the Pope’s accusation in comments to OnePeterFive. Cardinal Walter Brandmuller told Dr. Maike Hickson “The dubia were first published after – I think it was two months – after the Pope did not even confirm their reception. It is very clear that we wrote directly to the Pope and at the same time to the Congregation for the Faith. What should be left that is unclear here?”
Cardinal Burke insisted that, “The presentation of the dubia to the Holy Father was done according to the long-standing practice of the Church, that is, they were presented to the Holy Father without any publication, in order that he could answer them for the good of the whole Church.”
The Cardinal explained, “Only, when, after several weeks, there was no acknowledgement of the dubia or response to them, and we Cardinals were given to understand that there would be no response to these questions regarding the Sacraments of Holy Matrimony and the Holy Communion and regarding the foundations of the Church’s moral teaching, the four Cardinals, including myself, were obliged, in conscience as Cardinals, to publish the dubia, on November 14, 2016, so that the faithful would be aware of these serious questions touching upon the salvation of souls.”
In 2016 Cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, and Joachim Meisner went public with their questions (dubia) after the Pope failed to give them a response. They had hoped that the Pope answering their five yes-or-no questions would dispel what they called the “uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation among many of the faithful” stemming from the Pope’s controversial exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
As a result of the confusion caused by the exhortation, the Cardinals specificallyasked the Pope: 1) whether adulterers can receive Holy Communion; 2) whether there are absolute moral norms that must be followed “without exceptions;” 3) if habitual adultery is an “objective situation of grave habitual sin;” 4) whether an intrinsically evil act can be turned into a “‘subjectively’ good” act based on “circumstances or intentions;” and 5) if, based on “conscience,” one can act contrary to known “absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts.”
Pope Francis has yet to directly respond to the questions.