“But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no…” (Mt 5:37)
New Dubia Drama:
Five Conservative ‘Cardinals’ challenge Francis
[UPDATE: We have corrected an error regarding the original formulation of the Dubia. Post revised accordingly.]
Asking ‘Pope’ Francis (Jorge Bergoglio) to clarify his doctrine is risky business — especially if he responds.
This has happened now to ‘Cardinals’ Walter Brandmuller, Raymond Burke, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, and Robert Sarah, who challenged the man they erroneously believe to be the Pope of the Catholic Church regarding matters of doctrine on faith and morals.
Back on July 10 of this year, the five Novus Ordo cardinals had submitted five specific questions to Francis in the traditional ‘dubia’ (Latin for doubts) format. They were hoping to get clear yes/no answers to each question; but if there is one thing the equivocating apostate in the Vatican guest house does not like, it’s being pinned down and having to answer directly and without evasion.
Not surprisingly, therefore, they got “full answers…, which made it necessary to submit a revised request for clarification” (source). By “full answers” they don’t mean a substantial explanation behind each yes/no response, of course. Rather, they mean that Francis used a lot of words instead of providing clear yes-or-no replies; with the predictable result that the ‘papal’ answers “have not resolved the doubts we had raised, but have, if anything, deepened them” (source).
Before we go any further, here is the raw data:
- ‘Cardinal’ Walter Brandmüller et alii: “Notification to Christ’s Faithful (can. 212 § 3) Regarding Dubia Submitted to Pope Francis” (Oct. 2, 2023)
- Full Text of Dubia submitted on July 10, 2023
- ‘Pope’ Francis’ Response of July 11, 2023 (English translation)
- ‘Pope’ Francis’ Response of July 11, 2023 (Spanish original)
- Full Text of reformulated Dubia submitted on August 21, 2023
- ‘Cardinal’ Victor Manuel Fernandez’s disgraceful Response after submitting reformulated Dubia
The Dubia questions submitted on July 10, 2023, are these (short version):
- …it is asked whether in the Church Divine Revelation should be reinterpreted according to the cultural changes of our time and according to the new anthropological vision that these changes promote; or whether Divine Revelation is binding forever, immutable and therefore not to be contradicted….
- It is asked: Can the Church derogate from this “principle,” considering it, contrary to what Veritatis Splendor 103 taught, as a mere ideal, and accepting as a “possible good” objectively sinful situations, such as same-sex unions, without betraying revealed doctrine?
- …it is asked whether synodality can be the supreme regulative criterion of the permanent government of the Church without distorting her constitutive order willed by her Founder, whereby the supreme and full authority of the Church is exercised both by the Pope by virtue of his office and by the College of Bishops together with its head the Roman Pontiff (Lumen Gentium 22).
- …it is asked whether the dictum of the Second Vatican Council is still valid, that “[the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood] differ essentially and not only in degree” (Lumen Gentium 10) and that presbyters by virtue of the “sacred power of Order, that of offering sacrifice and forgiving sins” (Presbyterorum Ordinis 2), act in the name and in the person of Christ the Mediator, through Whom the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect. It is furthermore asked whether the teaching of St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which teaches as a truth to be definitively held the impossibility of conferring priestly ordination on women, is still valid, so that this teaching is no longer subject to change nor to the free discussion of pastors or theologians.
- It is asked whether the teaching of the Council of Trent, according to which the contrition of the penitent, which consists in detesting the sin committed with the intention of sinning no more (Session XIV, Chapter IV: DH 1676), is necessary for the validity of sacramental confession, is still in force, so that the priest must postpone absolution when it is clear that this condition is not fulfilled.
Having received confusing answers on July 11, 2023, the following reformulated Dubia were submitted on Aug. 21, 2023 (short version):
- Is it possible for the Church today to teach doctrines contrary to those she has previously taught in matters of faith and morals, whether by the Pope ex cathedra, or in the definitions of an Ecumenical Council, or in the ordinary universal magisterium of the Bishops dispersed throughout the world (cf. Lumen Gentium 25)?
- Is it possible that in some circumstances a pastor could bless unions between homosexual persons, thus suggesting that homosexual behavior as such would not be contrary to God’s law and the person’s journey toward God? Linked to this dubium is the need to raise another: does the teaching upheld by the universal ordinary magisterium, that every sexual act outside of marriage, and in particular homosexual acts, constitutes an objectively grave sin against God’s law, regardless of the circumstances in which it takes place and the intention with which it is carried out, continue to be valid?
- Will the Synod of Bishops to be held in Rome, and which includes only a chosen representation of pastors and faithful, exercise, in the doctrinal or pastoral matters on which it will be called to express itself, the Supreme Authority of the Church, which belongs exclusively to the Roman Pontiff and, una cum capite suo, to the College of Bishops (cf. can. 336 C.I.C.)?
- Could the Church in the future have the faculty to confer priestly ordination on women, thus contradicting that the exclusive reservation of this sacrament to baptized males belongs to the very substance of the Sacrament of Orders, which the Church cannot change?
- Can a penitent who, while admitting a sin, refuses to make, in any way, the intention not to commit it again, validly receive sacramental absolution?
It won’t come as a surprise that Francis decided not to answer the follow-up questions. It is for that reason, after having let sufficient time pass, that the ‘Dubia cardinals’ have now made the matter public.
The following links are to various news reports covering the Dubia drama:
- Cardinals Send ‘Dubia’ to Pope Francis Ahead of Synod on Synodality
- Cardinals ask Pope Francis to answer synod ‘dubia’
- Five cardinals write Dubia to Pope Francis on concerns about Synod, Catholic doctrine
- Vatican releases Pope Francis’ responses to pre-synod dubia, criticizes cardinals
- Read Pope Francis’ response to the dubia presented to him by 5 cardinals
- Cardinals send ‘dubia’ to Pope Francis before Synod on Synodality
- Five cardinals question Pope on Synod topics: Here’s their Dubia
- Vatican and Cardinal Fernández fire back at cardinals’ new dubia about the Synod on Synodality
- The Five “Dubia” of Five Cardinals on Key Points of the Synod. To Which the Pope Has Not Replied
- Pope responds to cardinals’ dubia, says ‘yes’ to blessing some same-sex unions, ‘no’ on women priests
- Pope suggests blessings for same-sex unions possible in response to 5 conservative cardinals
- Pope offers cautious ‘yes’ on blessing some same-sex unions, ‘no’ on woman priests
- Pope Francis to clergy: Decide for yourselves whether to ‘bless’ homosexual unions
- Cardinal Müller endorses cardinals’ dubia on the Synod on Synodality
The following links contain helpful background information:
- Answering the doubts: What are dubia?
- The 5 cardinals behind the latest dubia issued to Pope Francis
- The Dubia on Amoris Laetitia (2016)
- Francis answers Rev. James Martin’s Dubia on Sodomite Issues (2023)
This new set of dubia has been called “newbia” by one blogger, and others have proposed “Dubia 2.0” and “Dubia 2.1”, respectively, as monikers for the two editions. It is the latter we will adopt here going forward, simply for practical purposes.
This post has been informational only. Commentary on this drama, and coverage of the fallout, will be published in a separate post and/or podcast.
Image source: Shutterstock (Alexandros Michailidis; cropped)