Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the four cardinals who have asked the Pope to clarify Amoris Laetitia, has said that their initiative has the total support of some other cardinals.
He has also confirmed that any correction of the Pope would initially be private, and denied that the four cardinals have given the Pope an “ultimatum”.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Verita, as translated by Andrew Guernsey, Cardinal Burke said: “We are not only four. I personally know other cardinals who fully endorse the dubia.”
It follows recent reports that 30 cardinals, having read a draft of Amoris Laetitia, warned that it could undermine the sacraments of marriage, Confession and the Eucharist. The National Catholic Register has reported that, as well as the cardinals, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith submitted many pages of corrections. There have also been several bishops’ conferences who have raised concerns since the document was published.
Cardinal Burke has previously said that, unless the Pope clarifies that Amoris Laetitia does not contradict Church teaching, the cardinals may issue a correction. He told La Verita: “I never said that a public confrontation ought to occur. I agree with Cardinal Brandmüller, the first step would be to ask for a private meeting with the Holy Father to point out to him the unacceptable statements in Amoris Laetitia, showing how, in one way or another, they are not adequate to express what the Church has always taught.”
The Vatican’s doctrinal chief, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, said recently that he thought a correction of the Pope was unlikely. He cited St Thomas Aquinas’s opinion that it was only necessary to correct the Pope if there was a “danger to the faith”.
But Cardinal Burke said the “confusion in the Church over the interpretation of some passages of Amoris Laetitia” was “evident”. He added: “That is why I do not see how anyone could be able to say that there is no danger to the faith.”
In an interview last month with The Remnant, Cardinal Burke singled out a recent document issued by the diocese of San Diego. The document said that, after Amoris Laetitia, the judgment of whether a divorced and remarried person should receive the Eucharist should be dependent on someone’s own sense of God’s call: “Many Catholics engaging in this process of discernment will conclude that God is calling them to return to full participation in the life of the Church and the Eucharist.”
Cardinal Burke said he agreed with Ross Douthat of the New York Times that, if this interpretation were universal, “then the Church’s teaching on marriage is finished.” The cardinal said that, given the centrality of Jesus’ teaching on marriage, these interpretations must be ruled out: “So the dubia must be answered.”
Asked by La Verita about the specific question of Communion for the remarried, Cardinal Burke said that it was an “error” to oppose the traditional teaching of the Church, reiterated by St John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The cardinal said: “It is not possible to receive the sacraments for a person who is living more uxorio [as husband and wife] with someone who is not his or her spouse. To claim instead that this is possible constitutes a formal error that goes against what Jesus himself taught and has always been the teaching of the Church.”
The cardinal said that without respect for the moral law, “chaotic situations are produced, and morally there is a sort of imprisonment.” He added that “the divine law liberates”, and should not be seen as simply a negative prohibition. “To teach the moral law is a great act of love of neighbour because it points the way to authentic freedom and happiness.”