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Bishop says four cardinals’ letter could provoke schism

Four cardinals made public a letter they sent to the Pope asking him to clarify aspects of Amoris Laetitia (CNS)

The president of the Greek bishops’ conference has written an open letter to cardinals who asked for clarification from the Pope on his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, accusing them of heresy and scandal.

In his letter, Bishop Fragkiskos Papamanolis, the retired Bishop of Syros, told Cardinals Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner that their decision to make public a letter they had sent to the Pope two months ago risked “scandal” and “schism”.

Bishop Papamanolis wrote that he was deeply concerned for the good of the cardinals souls for the “two very serious reasons” of “heresy” and “scandal.”

He said: “You write that you are ‘deeply concerned about the true good of souls” and, indirectly, accuse our Holy Father Francis of promoting a ‘form of politics in the Church’. You ask that ‘nobody should judge you unjustly’. Whoever said anything contrary to what you write explicitly would be judging you unjustly. The words you use make that clear.

“The fact that you are the proud holders of the title of cardinal does not change the meaning of your words, which are gravely offensive for the Bishop of Rome. If you are ‘deeply concerned for the true good of souls’ and moved by ‘an impassioned concern for the good of the faithful’, I, dearest brothers, am ‘deeply concerned for the good of your souls’, for your two very serious sins: the sin of heresy (and apostasy? This, indeed, is the way schisms begin in the Church).

“It is clear from your document, that in practice, you do not believe in the Pope’s supreme magisterial authority, backed up by two Synods of Bishops from the whole world. Obviously the Holy Spirit inspires only you and not the Vicar of Christ, nor even the Bishops gathered in Synod.”

The cardinals’ letter was released last week in which the cardinals referred to “grave disorientation and great confusion” among Catholics, including bishops, about “extremely important matters” following the publication of Amoris Laetitia.

But in his letter Bishop Papamanolis said that the four signatories should have approached Pope Francis and should have asked to be removed from the list of the College of Cardinals before writing and publishing the letter.

He added: “I fear your mental categories will find sophisticated arguments to justify what you are doing, so that you will not even consider it a sin to be dealt with in the sacrament of penance, and you will continue to celebrate Mass each day and receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist sacrilegiously, while you claim you are scandalised if, in specific cases, a divorced person receives the Eucharist and you accuse the Holy Father of heresy.”

Bishop Papamanolis said he took part in the two Synods of Bishops on the family and listened to speeches made by the cardinals.

“I also heard the comments one of you made, during the break, about a statement in the speech I gave in the Synod Hall, when I said: ‘It is not easy to sin’. This brother (one of you four), speaking with others, modified my statements and put into my mouth words I never said. He also gave my declarations an interpretation that could not be linked in any way with what I had said. the bishop added.

He concluded: “Dearest brothers, may the Lord enlighten you to recognise your sin as soon as possible, and to make good the scandal you have given.”