The names of forty-five priests and theologians who are asking for a clarification of Amoris Laetitia have been revealed.
The National Catholic Reporter has published the list of signatories to the letter, which has been sent to all 218 cardinals and patriarchs.
They include Fr Aidan Nichols, one of Britain’s most distinguished theologians; the bioethicist Professor Luke Gormally, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Fr Giovanni Scalese, the leader of Catholics in Afghanistan; and many other well-known names, including seminary professors and university teachers.
The letter, which has been seen by the Catholic Herald, asks the cardinals to request a clarification from the Pope that some interpretations of Amoris Laetitia are heretical.
The letter does not accuse Pope Francis of false teaching; but it says some passages can easily give rise to interpretations at odds with Catholic doctrine.
It says that a clarification would allow the “many valuable teachings” of Amoris Laetitia to “have their true effect, by distinguishing them from the problematic elements in the document and neutralising the threat to the faith posed by them.”
For instance, the letter asks for a clarification on a passage saying that someone in an “‘irregular’ situation” might “be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin”.
The signatories say a heretical reading would be “that a person with full knowledge of a divine law can sin by choosing to obey that law”.
They cite the Council of Trent and other authoritative Church documents.
The spokesman for the group, Dr Joseph Shaw, told the National Catholic Reporter: “What we’re asking the cardinals to do is to request of the Holy Father that he make it clear that some interpretations are wrong.
“That what was contrary to the faith remains so, what the Council of Trent taught remains the teaching of the church.”
Dr Shaw, a member of the philosophy faculty at the University of Oxford, is one of several British signatories to the document.
Others include Fr Ray Blake, Fr Thomas Crean OP, Fr Neil Ferguson OP, Dr Alan Fimister, Fr Simon Henry, Dr Anthony McCarthy, Dr Stephen Morgan and Fr John Osman. There are also two Ordinariate priests, Fr John Hunwicke and Fr David Palmer.
Other noteworthy names include the theologian Fr Brian Harrison OS and the Australian scholar Dr Anna Silvas, who has written a thorough critique of Amoris Laetitia.
One of the signatories, Dr Alan Fimister, who teaches at St John Vianney Seminary in Colorado, told the Catholic Herald: “I am constantly approached by people citing this or that passage of Amoris Laetitia and asking how it could be reconciled with the faith as they have received it.” He said that a clarification was necessary to show what was and wasn’t a legitimate interpretation.
Fimister said that when asked to add his name to the signatories, “I couldn’t see how in conscience I could refuse to sign. The faith isn’t a hermeneutical game whereby we find new and interesting ways to give meaning to the same words every few decades, it is the way of eternal life.”
Fimister said he had been “deeply affected” by Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s article pointing out that the martyrs of the English reformation had died for the indissolubility of marriage.
Like many other observers, Archbishop Aquila argued that this teaching was threatened by proposals to admit the divorced and remarried to Communion.
Archbishop Aquila’s article was entitled, “Did Thomas More and John Fisher die for nothing?” Fimister said: “As an English Catholic I feel a sacred duty to do what little I can to see that they did not.”
The full list of signatories, according to the National Catholic Reporter, is below:
Dr Jose Tomas Alvarado
Institute of Philosophy, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
Rev Fr Scott Anthony Armstrong PhD
Brisbane Oratory in formation
Rev Claude Barthe
Rev Ray Blake
Parish priest of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton
Fr Louis-Marie de Blignieres FSVF
Doctor of Philosophy
Dr Philip Blosser
Professor of Philosophy
Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Archdiocese of Detroit
Mgr Ignacio Barreiro Carambula, STD, JD
Chaplain and Faculty Member of the Roman Forum
Rev Fr Thomas Crean OP, STD
Holy Cross parish, Leicester
Fr Albert-Marie Crignion FSVF
Doctor designatus of Theology
Robert de Mattei
Professor of History of Christianity, European University of Rome
Cyrille Dounot JCL
Professor of Law, the University of Auvergne
Ecclesiastical advocate, archdiocese of Lyon
Fr Neil Ferguson OP, MA, BD
Lecturer in sacred Scripture, Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford
Dr Alan Fimister STL, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology, St. John Vianney Seminary, archdiocese of Denver
Director Emeritus, The Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics
Sometime Research Professor, Ave Maria School of Law, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ordinary Member, The Pontifical Academy for Life
Carlos A Casanova Guerra
Doctor of Philosophy, Full Professor of Universidad Santo Tomas de Chile
Rev Brian W Harrison OS, MA, STD
Associate Professor of Theology (retired), Pontifical University of Puerto Rico; Scholar-in-Residence, Oblates of Wisdom Study Center, St. Louis, Missouri; Chaplain, St. Mary of Victories Chapel, St. Louis, Missouri
Rev Simon Henry BA (Hons), MA
Parish priest of the archdiocese of Liverpool
Rev John Hunwicke
Former Senior Research Fellow, Pusey House, Oxford; Priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
Peter A Kwasniewski PhD, Philosophy
Professor, Wyoming Catholic College
Dr. John RT Lamont STL, D.Phil
Fr Serafino M Lanzetta, PhD
Lecturer in Dogmatic Theology, Theological Faculty of Lugano, Switzerland
Priest in charge of St Mary’s, Gosport, in the diocese of Portsmouth
Dr Anthony McCarthy
Visiting Lecturer in Moral Philosophy at the International Theological Institute, Austria
Rev Stephen Morgan D.Phil (Oxon)
Lecturer & Tutor in Theology, Maryvale Higher Institute of Religious Sciences
Don Alfredo Morselli STL
Parish priest of the archdiocese of Bologna
Rev Richard A Munkelt PhD
Chaplain and Faculty Member, Roman Forum
Fr Aidan Nichols OP, PhD
Formerly John Paul II Lecturer in Roman Catholic Theology, University of Oxford
Prior of the Convent of St. Michael, Cambridge
Fr Robert Nortz MMA, STL
Director of Studies, Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity, Massachusetts (Maronite)
Rev John Osman MA, STL
Parish priest in the archdiocese of Birmingham, former Catholic chaplain to the University of Cambridge
Christopher D Owens STL (Cand.)
Adjunct Instructor, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, St. John’s University (NYC)
Director, St Albert the Great Center for Scholastic Studies
Rev David Palmer MA
Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
Chair of Marriage and Family Life Commission, Diocese of Nottingham
Dr Paolo Pasqualucci
Professor of Philosophy (retired), University of Perugia
Dr Claudio Pierantoni
Professor of Medieval Philosophy in the Philosophy Faculty of the University of Chile
Former Professor of Church History and Patrology at the Faculty of Theology of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
Member of the International Association of Patristic Studies
Fr Anthony Pillari JCL (Cand.)
Priest of the archdiocese of San Antonio, chaplain to Carmelite nuns
Prof Enrico Maria Radaelli
International Science and Commonsense Association (ISCA)
Department of Metaphysics of Beauty and Philosophy of Arts, Research Director
Dr John C. Rao D.Phil (Oxford)
Associate Professor of History, St. John’s University (NYC)
Chairman, Roman Forum
Fr Reginald-Marie Rivoire FSVF
Doctor designatus of canon law
Rt Rev Giovanni Scalese CRSP, SThL, DPhil
Ordinary of Afghanistan
Dr Joseph Shaw
Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford University
Dr Anna M. Silvas FAHA
Adjunct research fellow, University of New England, NSW, Australia
Michael G. Sirilla, PhD
Professor of Systematic and Dogmatic Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Professor Dr Thomas Stark
Phil.-Theol. Hochschule Benedikt XVI, Heiligenkreuz
Rev Glen Tattersall
Parish priest, Parish of Bl. John Henry Newman, archdiocese of Melbourne
Rector, St. Aloysius’ Church
Professor of the Philosophy of Public Law, University of Udine
Fr Edmund Waldstein OCist.
Vice-Rector of the Leopoldinum seminary and lecturer in moral theology at the Phil.-Theol. HochschuleBenedikt XVI, Heiligenkreuz
Professeur agrege des facultes de droit
Ecole de Droit de la Sorbonne – Universite Paris 1