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Reaction round-up: Catholic writers on why they haven’t signed the ‘filial correction’

Pope Francis in Bologna on Sunday (Getty)

Since the “filial correction” was published 11 days ago, the number of signatories has risen from 62 to 216. Two of those signatories, Bishop René Henry Gracida and Fr Andrew Pinsent, have written on the Catholic Herald website giving their reasons for signing. Meanwhile, an accompanying petition in support has been signed by a further 12,500 so far.

In the last 11 days, several writers have explained their reasons for not signing it. In La Stampa, Dawn Eden and Robert Fastiggi argued that there is no need for the correction, because Pope Francis has not contradicted Catholic teaching: the Pope, they said, gave a 2016 speech in which he “ruled out Walter Cardinal Kasper’s proposal to readmit the divorced and civilly remarried to Communion without requiring continence”.

Others believe the correction causes scandal. Jacob Wood suggested in the National Catholic Register that the correction “weakens people’s trust in the pastors of the Church, and it provides the mass media with the opportunity to paint a false picture of the Church, in which those who believe the Church’s teaching about marriage, sin, and grace are seen as somehow opposed to the Pope.”  (The spokesman for the petition, Joseph Shaw, has responded to the charge of giving scandal.)

Others believe the correction is unlikely to achieve anything. Jeff Mirus wrote at Catholic Culture: “What can any particular group hope to gain beyond personal gratification and publicity if the Pope has already chosen to ignore more weighty prior challenges? I refer to the petition signed by nearly a million souls in late 2015; the appeal to the College of Cardinals by a group of prelates, scholars and clergy in mid-2016; and the formal dubia submitted by four cardinals (and their allies in the College) in late 2016.”

The identity of the first signatories – including members of the SSPX – has also raised concerns. The writer Joanna Bogle told the Catholic Herald: “The essential problem is that the correction is not filial. Two of the most prominent signatories are not sons of the Church but leading figures in a breakaway group. They may well be seeking to come into full communion at some stage, but they are not in that position at the moment, so announcing themselves to be in a position to correct the Pope is absurd and – although they presumably do not intend this – rude.”

Bogle added: “Pope Francis needs and deserves our help: he’s not getting it from this group. It is quite likely that among the signatories are some people who might be of real assistance at a time when the Pope needs clarity and wisdom: this could be offered without involvement of an inevitably random collection of names. Collecting more names on the internet via an open invitation raises further problems and, had I been invited to sign initially, would have confirmed my decision to refuse.”