How did the "dubia cardinals" accuse and respond to Pope Francis's Amoris Lætitia?

  • 1
    I'm not sure what the point of the question is. Won't anyone who's even heard of the "dubia cardinals" already have heard of their response, because it's the only defining thing about them? It's really a question written purely to support your self-answer, but you already gave that answer to answer question.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 14, 2019 at 11:08
  • 3
    This question is not hard to answer. A little research on the net gets an answer
    – Ken Graham
    Jul 15, 2019 at 0:13

3 Answers 3


In September 2016, four cardinals, with the support of many other clerics, questioned the orthodoxy of Francis's document on marriage and the family, Amoris Lætitia, in the form of five dubia ("doubts"):

  1. It is asked whether, following the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the sacrament of penance and thus to admit to holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person more uxorio without fulfilling the conditions provided for by Familiaris Consortio, 84, and subsequently reaffirmed by Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 34, and Sacramentum Caritatis, 29. Can the expression “in certain cases” found in Note 351 (305) of the exhortation Amoris Laetitia be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live more uxorio ["in a marital way"]?
  2. After the publication of the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia (304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 79, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?
  3. After Amoris Laetitia (301) is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (Matthew 19:3-9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, “Declaration,” June 24, 2000)?
  4. After the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (302) on “circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,” does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 81, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?
  5. After Amoris Laetitia (303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 56, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?

(my emphases)

Briefly, they question if Francis supports

  1. Communion for adulterous couples?
  2. moral relativism?
  3. living in sin?
  4. there not being intrinsically evil acts?
    (e.g., homosexual acts, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, suicide, etc.)
  5. private interpretation of moral norms?

After years of Francis refusing to address these dubia, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and four bishops issued the Declaration of the Truths relating to some of the most common Errors in the Life of the Church of our Time on May 31, 2019, which reiterates Catholic teaching on the

  • Fundamentals of Faith (#1-2)
  • Creed (#3-11)
  • Law of God (#12-29)
  • Sacraments (#30-40)

in 40 brief points (cf. their accompanying explanatory note).

For example, the Declaration of the Truths says, in response to dubia number

  1. 37. By virtue of the will of Christ and the unchangeable Tradition of the Church, the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist may not be given to those who are in a public state of objectively grave sin, and sacramental absolution may not be given to those who express their unwillingness to conform to Divine law, even if their unwillingness pertains only to a single grave matter (see Council of Trent, sess. 14, c. 4; Pope John Paul II, Message to the Major Penitentiary Cardinal William W. Baum, on March 22, 1996).
  2. 12. A justified person has the sufficient strength with God’s grace to carry out the objective demands of the Divine law, since all of the commandments of God are possible for the justified. God’s grace, when it justifies the sinner, does of its nature produce conversion from all serious sin (see Council of Trent, sess. 6, Decree on Justification, c. 11; c. 13).
  3. 22. Anyone, husband or wife, who has obtained a civil divorce from the spouse to whom he or she is validly married, and has contracted a civil marriage with some other person during the lifetime of his legitimate spouse, and who lives in a marital way with the civil partner, and who chooses to remain in this state with full knowledge of the nature of the act and with full consent of the will to that act, is in a state of mortal sin and therefore can not receive sanctifying grace and grow in charity. Therefore, these Christians, unless they are living as “brother and sister,” cannot receive Holy Communion (see John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, 84).
  4. 15. “No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God, which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church” (John Paul II, Encyclical Evangelium vitae, 62). There are moral principles and moral truths contained in Divine revelation and in the natural law which include negative prohibitions that absolutely forbid certain kinds of action, inasmuch as these kinds of action are always gravely unlawful on account of their object. Hence, the opinion is wrong that says that a good intention or a good consequence is or can ever be sufficient to justify the commission of such kinds of action (see Council of Trent, sess. 6 de iustificatione, c. 15; John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 17; Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 80).
  5. 20. By natural and Divine law no human being may voluntarily and without sin exercise his sexual powers outside of a valid marriage. It is, therefore, contrary to Holy Scripture and Tradition to affirm that conscience can truly and rightly judge that sexual acts between persons who have contracted a civil marriage with each other, can sometimes be morally right or requested or even commanded by God, although one or both persons is sacramentally married to another person (see 1 Cor 7: 11; John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, 84).

(my emphases)

Since all these truths are interconnected, read the full document for a complete explanation.

  • The Dubia Cardinals followed the fatal mistake committed by the Filia Correctio petitioner by ignoring the simple evangelical guidelines in Donum Veritatis. In short they openly committed a grave error which they cannot excuse themselves knowing they know the Church rules and Canon Law profoundly. Oct 27, 2019 at 5:21

How did the “dubia cardinals” accuse and respond to Pope Francis's «Amoris Lætitia»?


How did the Dubia Cardinals accused Pope Francis?

The question is, are the Dubia Cardinals allowed canonically to accuse a Supreme Pontiff? NO!

ac·cuse /əˈkyo͞oz/

charge (someone) with an offense or crime. "he was accused of murdering his wife's lover" Similar: charge with indict for arraign for take to court for put on trial for bring to trial for prosecute for summons

cite make accusations about lay charges against file charges against prefer charges against impeach for inculpate Opposite: absolve clear exonerate claim that (someone) has done something wrong. "he was accused of favoritism"

Similar: blame for hold responsible for lay the blame on someone for

Let's compare the meaning of dissent to accuse;

dis·sent /dəˈsent/

noun the expression or holding of opinions at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially held. "there was no dissent from this view" Similar: disagreement lack of agreement difference of opinion argument dispute demur disapproval objection protest opposition defiance insubordination conflict friction strife arguing quarreling wrangling bickering Opposite: agreement acceptance verb hold or express opinions that are at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially expressed. "two members dissented from the majority"

What does Canon Law states?

“The First See is judged by no one” (Canon 1404)

Therefore, the Dubia Cardinals err gravely if they accuse the Supreme Pontiff and will violate the Canon Law which they had professed to upheld by their solemn oath.


How did the Dubia Cardinals respond to Pope Francis in Amoris Laetetia?

The Dubia Cardinals responded by seeking clarifications, and the letter was sent privately to the Pope.

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, one of the four cardinals who have asked the Pope to clarify Amoris Laetitia, has said that it matters because people’s eternal salvation is at stake. The cardinal said the four had been careful not to show any disrespect to the Pope, and had therefore sent the letter privately. He says they only decided to make it public when they were sure the Pope would not respond. https://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/01/16/cardinal-caffarra-the-dubia-matter-because-peoples-salvation-is-at-stake/

We can see from the very words of Cardinal Caffara that they decided on their own to published the private letter seeking clarifications. Is this allowed by Church rules to published a letter seeking clarifications? The answer is NO!

The Dubia Cardinals clearly violated the simple evangelical guidelines of Donum Veritatis and the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church written in Lumen Gentium.

Among the principal duties of bishops the preaching of the Gospel occupies an eminent place.(39) For bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith. They bring forth from the treasury of Revelation new things and old,(164) making it bear fruit and vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock.(165) Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.* (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, #25)

This article expounded on Donum Veritatis guidelines which the Dubia Cardinals clearly violated;

the theologian should avoid turning to the “mass media”, but have recourse to the responsible authority, for it is not by seeking to exert the pressure of public opinion that one contributes to the clarification of doctrinal issues and renders servite to the truth. (Donum Veritatis 30) https://wherepeteris.com/dialogue-or-dissent/

This article is a good reference too;

When are Catholics permitted to dissent from teachings of the Pope? BY MARK HAUSAM · MARCH 1, 2019 https://wherepeteris.com/when-are-catholics-permitted-to-dissent-from-teachings-of-the-pope/

  • The question deals how the cardinals accused......and not if they committed dissent.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 27, 2019 at 4:16
  • @KenGraham did the Dubia Cardinal "accused" or had only expressed their "dissent"? I don't hear Cardinal Burke et,al admitting they are "accusing" the Pope. Did they? Oct 27, 2019 at 5:03

The How did the “dubia cardinals” accuse and respond to Pope Francis's «Amoris Lætitia»?

The Dubia Cardinals accused Pope Francis of heterodoxy and by this accusation they committed an error in ignoring the 2000 years Apostolic Tradition of the Church which stated the Church united to the Pope is guided by the Holy Spirit and cannot err.

85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."47 This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

Pope Francis seems to ignore the Dubia Cardinals letter hand-delivered by Cardinal Caffara seeking clarifications and his silence prompted the Dubia to published their letter in June 2017 publicly, only one month only after.

This kind of respond acted by the Dubia publishing their letter publicly was a violation of the simple evangelical guidelines in Donum Veritatis. A similar nature of clarification letter was filed at CDF by the group of priest and theologians headed by a well-known former leader of SSPX Bishop Fellay to petition him to answer accusation of spreading heresy. This petition was exposed to have an evil intent of destroying the dignity of Pope Francis as the petitioner failed to follow the evangelical guidelines of Donum Veritatis.

Pope Francis silence and seems ignoring the letter of the Dubia Cardinals prompted a response from Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and four bishops to issued the Declaration of the Truths relating to some of the most common Errors in the Life of the Church of our Time on May 31, 2019 that has no merit in the Church. No Cardinals or Bishops separated from the Vicar of Christ can interpret,declare and proclaim the truth as Truth upheld by the Church unless the Supreme Pontiff bind & loose it. CCC85-CCC95 is good reference on Church Magisterium Authority.

All Cardinals, Bishops, priest and theologians has no canonical power and teaching authority apart from the Vicar of Christ.

Also, all the Dubia Cardinals, Dissenting Bishops and priest can be deceive by satan to commit or fall into heresy but not the Pope. The Pope is the Supreme Legislator, Interpreter and Guarantor of Faith. And the most important thing is the Pope is protected by Jesus Christ powerful promised of protection in Luk22:32 which none of the Dubia Cardinals have.

Luke 22:32 New International Version (NIV)

32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Pope Francis did respond but indirectly to the Dubia Cardinals by uphelding the Buenos Aires Bishops interpretation on Amoris Laetetia and clearly stated that there are no other interpretations.

Supplement answer to address the Five Dubia Arguments.

Stephen Walford answers all the five dubia arguments in detail and had proven that Amoris Laetetia orthodoxy and it boils down to a change in "sacramental discipline" in receiving the Holy Communion.

Open Letter to the Four Dubia Cardinals “I humbly ask you to reconsider your positions. We shall not fuel the fire of dissent”. An Appeal to Brandmüller, Burke, Caffarra, and Meisner after their new letter to Pope Francis. - Open Letter to the Four Dubia Cardinals

The Dubia Cardinals repond or action publishing their letter seeking clarifications without the approval of the CDF and Holy See has violated the evangelical guidelines of Donum Veritatis that all dissent must be discuss in "camera caritatis". No less than the former Prefect of CDF Cardinal Muller in 2017 reminded the Dubia Cardinals not to make public their dissent.

The Cardinal Müller: "Amoris Laetitia is clear in the doctrine, the dubia are of no use":

He reminded his colleague that any "correction" must "take place in camera caritatis". So not publicly. An appropriate warning, Müller himself explained: "The cardinals have the right to write a letter to the Pope. I was amazed because this became public, forcing the Pope to say yes or no. I don't like this. It is damaging for the Church to discuss these things publicly ".

Il card. Müller: «Amoris Laetitia è chiara nella dottrina, i dubia non servono» (Italian version only)

  • Seeing that the OP has invoked Stephen Walford’s article (Open Letter to the Four Dubia Cardinals) about the Dubia Cardinals, I wish to say that Stephen Walford is a music teacher and not a theologian. The Controversy seems to be a large part due to this author and I simply wish to point out alternatives in Catholic thought. If writers criticize the Dubia Cardinals on theological basis or on a Canon Law basis, it would be only proper that Catholic writers would be competent in these fields as theologians or canon law lawyers.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 26, 2019 at 2:03
  • @KenGraham The word "dissent" comes from Cardinal Muller himself when he warned the Dubia Cardinals not to go public with their dissent. So, from the Prefect of CDF point of view the letter seeking clarifications was a clear dissent! Oct 27, 2019 at 1:50
  • @jongricafort The question deals with how did the cardinals accuse .... and not a detailed account of what transpired. –
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 27, 2019 at 4:45
  • @KenGraham look at this answer coming from a Theologian on the word "did they accused". ronconte.com/2017/01/03/… Oct 27, 2019 at 6:57

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