Four cardinals have made public a message to Pope Francis in which they plead for clarification of Amoris Laetitia, pointing to tensions between the papal document and traditional Catholic teachings on marriage.
The four cardinals sent their request for clarification to Pope Francis on September 19. They have received no reply. The prelates explain that they have interpreted the Pontiff’s silence as “an invitation to continue the reflection, and the discussion, calmly and with respect.”
In a note explaining their decision to make their questions public, the cardinals observed that they had found “grave disorientation and great confusion of many faithful” regarding the Church’s teaching on marriage. That confusion, they added, was evident in in the fact that even among bishops there have been contradictory interpretations of the papal document, particularly the controversial Chapter 8.
They explained that Church tradition suggests that such questions should be referred to the Pope “to resolve those doubts which are the cause of disorientation and confusion.”
The four—Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffara, and Joachim Meissner—had submitted four dubia, or questions needing clarification—to the Pope. They asked to state clearly whether, in the light of Amoris Laetitia, a Catholic who is married, divorced, and living with another partner can be granted sacramental absolution and admitted to Communion.
They also asked him to clarify whether the Church the Church still upholds the teaching of St. John Paul II, in Veritatis Splendor, that some acts are always and intrinsically evil, that no circumstances can justice an intrinsically evil act, and that an appeal to conscience cannot be sufficient to justify an intrinsically evil act.
The four prelates write that in raising these questions, they have fulfilled their duty as cardinals—set forth in #349 of the Code of Canon Law—to help the Pope care for the universal Church.
Because the Pontiff has chosen not to reply, the four cardinals say, they are presenting the questions to the universal Church for discussion—“informing the entire people of God about our initiative, offering all of the documentation.”