The Tablet (UK)

30 November 2016 | by Christopher Lamb

Senior Vatican lawyer says four cardinals who questioned Amoris Laetitia have caused a ‘grave scandal’ in Catholic church

The four cardinals who have publicly challenged Pope Francis’ family life document could lose their red hats, according to a senior Church lawyer. Mgr Pio Vito Pinto, who leads the Vatican’s appeal court, says the prelates have caused “grave scandal” by calling into question the Pope’s faithfulness to Catholic doctrine.

Four cardinals, including prominent Francis critic Raymond Burke, want the Pope to clarify his text, “Amoris Laetitia”, which opens the way for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion. They vociferously oppose such a move believing it sanctions sexual relations outside of marriage and have submitted a series of questions – known as Dubia – which require a yes or no answer from Francis.

But speaking to Spanish website “Religión Confidencial” Pinto said: “What Church do these cardinals defend? The Pope is faithful to the doctrine of Christ.”

“What they [the cardinals] have done is a very grave scandal, which could even lead the Holy Father to take away their red hats, as it’s happened already in some other times in the Church.” …

Stripping a cardinal of their position is not, as Pinto points out, without precedent. Last year the Pope ordered that Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the former Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, should lose his privileges after he was accused of sexual misconduct against some of his priests.

And in 1927 French Jesuit Louis Billot handed back his red hat after a row with Pius X over the cardinal’s support for the conservative French movement Action Française.

So far Francis has refused to respond to the four cardinals’ questions but has given interviews arguing those who preach a rigid, black and white version of Catholicism are motivated by psychological rather than theological motives. He also suggested they watch the film “Babette’s Feast” where followers of a strict, joyless version of Christianity are transformed by a good meal.

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