By Christine Niles
Church Militant
November 29, 2016

Accuses Burke of causing "grave scandal"

The Dean of the Roman Rota, the Vatican's top canonical court overseeing marriage, is issuing an ominous warning to Cdl. Raymond Burke that he may be stripped of his cardinalate for allegedly causing "grave scandal."

Speaking Tuesday at a lecture at the Ecclesiastical University of San Damaso in Madrid, Abp. Pio Vito Pinto asked, "What Church are these cardinals defending? The Pope is faithful to the doctrines of Christ."

"What they have done is a very serious scandal that could even lead the Holy Father to remove their cardinalate, as has already happened in previous times in the Church," he added.

Cardinal Burke along with Cdls. Joachim Meisner, Carlo Caffarra and Walter Brandmüller sent a letter to Pope Francis in September asking for clarity on "Amoris Laetitia," his apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family. Titled "Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in 'Amoris Laetitia,'" the cardinals' letter notes "a grave disorientation and great confusion" among the faithful over "contrasting interpretations" of the exhortation.

The letter had been sent privately to the Holy Father in September, asking him to answer five questions of doctrine, but after two months with no response, the cardinals went public with their plea. Cardinal Burke explained that the Pope's longstanding silence on multiple occasions forced their hand.

In a follow-up interview, Burke said that if the Pope chooses not to respond, the cardinals may seek the extraordinary measure of a formal act of correction.

Days later, Pope Francis denounced critics of his papal exhortation for their "legalism." 

"Some — think about the responses to 'Amoris Laetitia' — continue to not understand. They think it's 'black and white,' even if in the flux of life you must discern," he told Italian paper Avennire.

Such concerns arise "from a certain legalism, which can be ideological," the Pope insisted.

Soon after, the head of the Catholic Greek Episcopal Conference blasted Burke and his confreres for fostering "apostasy" and "schism," while newly minted Cdls. Blase Cupich of Chicago, Illinois and Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey have contradicted Burke's claim that "Amoris Laetitia" is not magisterial. 

Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, on the other hand, has publicly defended Burke.

In publishing a plea for clarity in a matter that touches the truth and the sanctity simultaneously of the three sacraments of Marriage, Penance, and the Eucharist, the four Cardinals only did their basic duty as bishops and cardinals, which consists in actively contributing so that the revelation transmitted through the Apostles might be guarded sacredly and might be faithfully interpreted.

Pinto clarified that the Pope will not necessarily proceed with stripping the cardinals of their red hat, but it is a possibility. Pinto also made clear that he himself does not need permission from the Holy Father to undertake the course of action.

Pinto also remarked that although Pope Francis has yet to formally respond to the four cardinals, he has already "indirectly told them that they only see white or black, when there are shades of color in the Church."

On November 16, Burke, former head of the Apostolic Signatura and a top canonist, clarified that "Amoris Laetitia" does not belong to the infallible Magisterium.

My position is that "Amoris Laetitia" is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities that confuse people and can lead them into error and grave sin. A document with these defects cannot be part of the Church’s perennial teaching. Because that is the case, the Church needs absolute clarity regarding what Pope Francis is teaching and encouraging.



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