Five cardinals with doubts about the synodal direction of Pope Francis have reinforced their misgivings with five further ‘dubia’, the Latin for ‘doubts’. These are expressed as questions to which they have requested answers that are either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Cardinal Raymond Burke (USA), Cardinal Walter Brandmüller (Germany), Cardinal Robert Sarah (Guinea), Cardinal Sandoval Íñiguez (Mexico), and Cardinal Joseph Zen (formerly Hong Kong) are seen as a prominent bloc of critics of Pope Francis, focused primarily on controversial issues of sexuality and the authority of the October 2023 Synod on Synodality.
These latest doubts echo concerns already expressed in 2015 following ‘Amoris Laetitia’, the encyclical of that year, dealing with issues of marriage and family. Those expressed particular concern about a perceived softening of the rules regarding the admission to the Eucharist of divorced Catholics with children from a subsequent marriage.
Dubia – formal doubts expressed by prelates regarding papal teaching – are usually expressed privately. In this case the five cardinals have made their dubia public because of the perceived likelihood of ‘confusion’ arising out of the statements that worry them.
Their five latest questions are:
- “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?”
- “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?”
- “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?
Judging by his reaction to the 2015 Dubia, Pope Francis is unlikely to respond directly with the ‘yes or ‘no’ answers requested by the five cardinals.
For a more detailed report on this action in Crux, click here.