Apparently, in September, 4 Cardinals–three retired and Crd Raymond Burke–issued a kind of ultimatum to Pope Francis in regard to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhorataion, Amoris laetitia (AL). AL was written as the summation document of the two Synods of Bishops on the family, the Extraordinary Synod of 2014 and the Ordinary of 2014. BTW, yours truly was in Rome for both of these Synods. Crd Burke who is, to say the least, rigidly legalistic, has been on a rant about this Apostolic Exhortation since it was issued. In fact he was on a tear throughout both Synods. He attended the one in 2014 but not the one in 2015 because shortly after the 2014, Burke was moved out of his curial position to the figurehead “Chaplain to the Knights of Malta”. No longer in the Curia, he was no longer an automatic attendee at the Synod. And since his position as the Chaplain in the Knights of Malta doesn’t mean he lives in Malta and he in fact lives in Rome, he has been going all over the world continually speaking out against the Pope, the Synods and especially Amoris laetitia. He says that this document is not magisterial teaching, and therefore Catholics don’t need to pay attention to it, and that the Pope is actually way out of line with Catholic moral doctrine with the promulgation of the document. So, he and his 3 cardinal “amigo’s” sent the letter to Pope Francis in September with a number of questions, or “dubia” in Vaticanese, for which they demanded yes or no answers. They all deal with the issue of whether or not divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can now be allowed access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. Pope Francis has not answered them. So last week the 4 Cardinals went public with the letter. Burke has stated that if the pope does not answer he is going to publicly correct him. Right. Click HERE to read an article about the letter sent to the Pope. There are links in this article that will take you to the letter written by the 4 Cardinals.
Then late last week a Greek Bishop weighed in by sending his opinion to the 4 Cardinals. And he did not pull any punches as to what he thought about what they are doing. This is an unheard of thing for a bishop to publicly call out another bishop. I think we all know how “the largest boy’s club in the world” sticks together….and there are earthy expression as to how that is. Click on the link HERE to read my translation of the Greek bishop’s letter which appeared in the Italian newspaper Settimana News. By the way, the letter was in Italian so I could translate it….I don’t “do” Greek beyond the medical lingo I learned in college.
On Monday, after the closing of the “Holy Door” on Sunday and, thus, the closing of the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter titled “Mercy and Misery”. In it he beautifully reiterated many of the themes he has talked about all year on mercy. He also permanently extended to all priests the ability to forgive the sin of abortion. He had done this for the Jubilee Year as in some countries only the bishop could do so. It is now a permanent thing world wide. But what was to me more important was how he, I think, cleverly wove his responses to the 4 Cardinals. Basically, I see it as a “doubling down” on what he wrote in AL. If the 4 Cardinals don’t see it then they are truly blind. You can read the Apostolic Letter “Mercy and Misery” HERE. It is worth the read and only about 10 pages.
I was looking at the twitter feed of Fr. Antonio Spadaro recently. In it he re-posted a “tweet” from another account that said: “The 4 Cardinals…sounds like the title of a rock and roll band from the early 60’s that sang trite songs..”. Needless to say, I think this is going to become an interesting development if “The 4 Cardinals” really do go through with the public reprimand of Francis. Four of them are retired but the one who is not, the illustriously well-vested Crd Burke, may find himself as the nuncio of Kazahkstan. The hierarchical fur is flying…