Why are vital documents not reaching the Holy Father?

Pope Francis’s recent interview with Philip Pullella, Rome bureau chief of the Reuters news agency, has caused quite a stir. Other news outlets have picked up the story and engaged in everything from straight reporting to analysis to tea reading. One question that one quoted remark of Pope Francis has raised is: what happened to the letter?

“The letter” refers to the one four cardinals submitted to Pope Francis in September 2016, along with formal requests for clarification of certain doctrinal issues. Known as dubia in technical parlance, the requests for clarification regarded points of Catholic teaching in connection with Pope Francis’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, while the letter explained their reasons for posing the questions.

Reuters quoted Pope Francis as saying that he learned of the 2016 letter written by Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra and Joachim Meisner, “from the newspapers”.

The surviving “dubia cardinals” – Burke and Brandmüller – were quick to state for the record that they delivered the letter and the dubia to Pope Francis nearly two months before they published their correspondence. “The late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra personally delivered the letter containing the dubia to the papal residence,” Cardinal Burke told LifeSiteNews, “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.”

Cardinal Brandmuller told the website OnePeterFive: “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.”

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