Is there trouble in Dubialand?

brandmullerIn an interview published by Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli of Vatican Insider on 27 December, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller offered comments that show signs of weakness, and perhaps even a degree of disunity, among the authors of the dubia.

With respect to Cardinal Burke’s recent statement concerning a possible timeline for issuing the “formal act of correction” that one can expect should Francis persist in “positive silence” (see his Christmas Address to Roman Curia), Tornielli reported:

“I believe,” Brandmüller adds, “that Cardinal Burke is convinced that a fraternal correction must in the first instance be made in camera caritatis”. In other words not publicly. “I must say,” he explained, “that the cardinal has expressed his own opinion in complete independence and may of course be shared by the other cardinals too”. Brandmüller thus leads us to believe that in the interviews following the publication of the “dubia”, Burke was not speaking as a spokesman for the four cardinals who signed the document.

This raises some questions:

Does Cardinal Brandmüller really “believe” that Cardinal Burke “is convinced that a fraternal correction must in the first instance be made in camera caritatis,” or is he using the media (see previous post) to subtly suggest that his brother cardinal should be so convinced?

Whatever the case may be, why doesn’t Cardinal Brandmüller know for certain what Cardinal Burke envisions with respect to the formal act of correction that the entire world now eagerly awaits? Did they not discuss this at length even prior to embarking on this journey?

After all, there are only four cardinals whose names are affixed to the dubia. Are they not sufficiently on the same page that any one of them may act as a “spokesman” for the others?

Look, as far as I’m concerned, the dubia has already served to expose Francis as a formal heretic who embodies precisely the scenario described by Cardinal Burke in his latest interview:

“If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope. It’s automatic.”   

Even so, what we’re witnessing in these interviews taken as a whole doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the authors of said dubia moving forward.

Specifically, we have to wonder if they even have a “game plan” for ridding the Church of Francis should he fail to convert to the Catholic faith.

At this point, the last thing we need is for the process set in motion by the dubia to devolve into an episode of Keystone Cops. If we’re honest, however, we must admit that it very well may. In which case, individual well-formed Catholics are going to be left to…

Oh, well, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

At this, let’s talk about Cardinal Brandmüller’s claim that the formal act of correction “must in the first instance be made in camera caritatis.”

This statement appears to be causing a stir given the fact that the scandal invited by Amoris Laetitia is of a public nature.

In describing the “formal act of correction,” Cardinal Burke said:

“It would be direct, even as the dubia are, only in this case there would no longer be raising questions, but confronting the confusing statements in Amoris Laetitia with what has been the Church’s constant teaching and practice, and thereby correcting Amoris Laetitia.”

As I read this statement, I think it is reasonable to conclude that Burke does indeed envision that the correction will be made, in the first instance, privately, just as the dubia was initially submitted to Francis privately.

Remember, it was only in light of Francis’ refusal to respond to the dubia that the four cardinals took the step of “informing the entire people of God about our initiative, offering all of the documentation.”

If this is to be the model moving forward, it would seem that we can well expect that the formal act of correction will likewise be made public only after it is initially made privately; that is, if indeed Francis refuses to defend the true doctrine with which he is confronted.

If this be the case, clearly the cardinals should then issue a formal declaration informing the entire Church of Francis’ loss of office, “so that all might be able to be equally on guard in relation to him” (cf Fr. Pietro Ballerini), and then go about making formal arrangements for a conclave to replace him.

[Note: Once again, we will leave discussion of l’elefante nella camera – the elephant in the room who otherwise self-identifies as “Pope Emeritus” (whatever in the Hell that is) – for another day. At some point soon, however, this ridiculous situation singlehandedly spun out of Modernist cloth by Benedict XVI must be addressed.]

The million dollar question is whether or not any of the cardinal-authors of the dubia have the wherewithal to so press forward.

If Cardinal Brandmüller’s recent comments are any indication, it’s anyone’s guess.

In a December 23rd interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel, Cardinal Brandmüller, while making a transparent reference to Francis spoke rather boldly, saying:

“Whoever thinks that persistent adultery and the reception of Holy Communion are compatible is a heretic and promotes schism.”

Obviously, if in light of the formal act of correction Francis still refuses to embrace the dogmatic teachings reiterated in the dubia “as based on Sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church,” he would thus be declaring himself all the more loudly and clearly to be a heretic, a promoter of schism, and therefore an anti-pope.

And yet, four days later, this same Cardinal Brandmüller told Andrea Tornielli, “The dubia seek to encourage debate in the Church, as is indeed happening.”


The matters under discussion in the dubia allow for absolutely, positively, no “debate” whatsoever. That’s the point!

Brandmüller went on to say:

We cardinals expect a response to the ’dubia’, as the lack of a response would be seen by many within the Church as a rejection of the clear and articulate adherence to the clearly defined doctrine.”

It goes from bad to worse…

First, there is no reason to expect Francis to offer anything more in the way of a response than he already has. Rather, all we can reasonably expect from him is more “positive silence” (i.e., snide comments offered in homilies, audiences, and media interviews).

More disturbing, however, is the idea that the status quo, even after a formal act of correction, “would be seen by many within the Church as a rejection of the clear and articulate adherence to the clearly defined doctrine.”

No, it wouldn’t just be seen as such; it most certainly would be a rejection of defined doctrine!

Forgive me for repeating myself here, but Brandmüller is making the case better than I did in the previous post:

Jousting in the media over such grave matters as those addressed in the dubia is unbecoming a churchman; it necessarily invites contradictions and mixed messages that ultimately serve as the enemy of clarity. These cardinals would do well to exercise some “positive silence” of their own until such time as they are prepared to speak formally in the name of the Church.

If nothing else is clear, it would seem that the four cardinal-authors of the dubia, at the very least, lack coherence.

As such, one shouldn’t put too much stock in what any one of them happens to say in any a given interview.

That said, based on their public commentary thus far, one would be hard pressed to feel confident that the cardinals do indeed have the wherewithal to press forward as they ought.

Needless to say, I have no idea what to expect moving forward. As much I hate to say so, however, I can well imagine the following:

– The “formal act of correction” once made in camera caritatis will be met with yet more concrete displays of pertinacity and contumacy on the part of Francis

– The cardinal-authors of the dubia will then make the “formal act of correction” publicly known

– They will not do so in the context of declaring that Francis has judged himself a formal heretic and has thus sentenced himself to the loss of office, much less will they proceed with the calling of a conclave

– They will not do so even in the context of condemning Amoris Laetitia

They will, however, make public the formal act of correction as if only to provide an “authentic interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia by addressing what Burke called “the confusing statements” therein (not the blasphemies and heresies); thus leaving its author, Anti-Pope Francis, free to continue his assault on the Holy Catholic Church

– When pressed to explain, they will claim to be exercising care for the unity of the Church; avoiding a formal schism

Forgive the gloomy forecast, folks, but seriously, does anyone really think it more likely that they will move forward with a declaration of formal heresy and the calling of a new conclave?

I don’t, not at this point, anyway.

May it please God for me to be proven dead wrong, and soon. 

aka focus

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