A group of clergy and lay scholars have made public a letter delivered to Pope Francis last month accusing the pontiff of upholding a series of heretical positions concerning “marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments.”
The 25-page letter carries the signatures of 62 clergy and lay scholars from 20 countries and was released on the internet on Sunday since “no answer was received from the Holy Father” after he received the original letter on August 11.
The letter bears the Latin title Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis, which means ‘A filial correction concerning the propagation of heresies,’ and it states that the pope has, by his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, and by “other words, deeds and omissions” effectively upheld seven heretical positions about marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments, and has caused these heretical opinions to spread in the Catholic Church.
The letter’s signatories underscore the Pope’s “unprecedented sympathy for Martin Luther” along with the affinity between their ideas, which, they say, is “necessary in order that our protest against the seven heretical propositions listed in this document may be complete.”
We wish to show “that these are not unrelated errors, but rather form part of a heretical system,” the signers contend. “Catholics need to be warned not only against these seven errors, but also against this heretical system as such, not least by reason of Your Holiness’s praise of the man who originated it.”
This letter begins by explain why believing and practicing Catholics have the right and duty to issue such a correction to the supreme pontiff. “Church law itself requires that competent persons not remain silent when the pastors of the Church are misleading the flock,” reads a summary accompanying the letter.
The lengthy text lists the offending passages of Amoris laetitia in which “heretical positions are insinuated or encouraged,” as well as the “words, deeds, and omissions” of Pope Francis that make it clear that he “wishes Catholics to interpret these passages in a way that is, in fact, heretical.”
At the same time, the signers also note that Pope Francis has not declared these seven heretical positions to be definitive teachings of the Church, or stated that Catholics must believe them with the assent of faith.
In the conclusion to the letter, the signatories profess their loyalty to the holy Roman Church, assure the pope of their prayers, and ask for his blessing.
“We respectfully ask for Your Holiness’s apostolic blessing, with the assurance of our filial devotion in our Lord and of our prayer for the welfare of the Church,” they wrote.
So far, the Pope has not responded to the communication, whose 62 signatories include the German intellectual Martin Mosebach, the former president of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay.
This is not the first time the Pope has opted not to respond to requests for greater clarity regarding his teaching.
In September 2016, four cardinals — Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, and Joachim Meisner — presented the Pope with five dubia, or questions, regarding passages of Amoris Laetitia with the stated aim of resolving confusion over diverse interpretations of the controversial passages.
The Pope never acknowledged the dubia, and did not respond to the cardinals’ request for an audience in May. Since the presentation of the dubia, two of the four cardinals — Meisner and Caffarra — have died.