Regarding the ‘filial correction’ of Pope Francis

in order

Protestants in everything but name

A small group of professional Catholics has issued a formal ‘filial correction’ of Pope Francis, namely Correctio Filialis De Haeresibus Propagatis, in relation to seven purported heresies in the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia [The Joy of Love]. A parallel group of laity is trying to do the same under the spearheading of a Bachelor’s-level American Catholic.

It should be noted that the above-referenced correction usurps, in both essence and fact, the role of the official Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Catholic Church. The signatories are lower-level theologians and clerics, together with a bishop who is actually in schism (SSPX, the Lefebvrites) from the Church. Most of them are well-known, staunch supporters of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (pre-Vatican II), rather than the Ordinary Form. The correction has been organized by the Chair of the UK’s Latin Mass (Tridentine) Society.

Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia, ibi Deus [Where there is Peter, there is the Church, there is God] – Saint Ambrose.

The following should be thus taken into consideration:

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 (Lumen Gentium #25, 1964, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church).

Magisterial decisions in matters of discipline, even if they are not guaranteed by the charism of infallibility, are not without divine assistance and call for the adherence of the faithful (Donum Veritatis #17, 1990, On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian).

Even if the doctrine of the faith is not in question, the theologian will not present his own opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions. Respect for the truth as well as for the People of God requires this discretion (cf. Rom 14:1-15; 1 Cor 8; 10: 23-33 ) . For the same reasons, the theologian will refrain from giving untimely public expression to them. The preceding considerations have a particular application to the case of the theologian who might have serious difficulties, for reasons which appear to him wellfounded, in accepting a non-irreformable magisterial teaching (Donum Veritatis #27-28).

If, despite a loyal effort on the theologian’s part, the difficulties persist, the theologian has the duty to make known to the Magisterial authorities the problems raised by the teaching in itself, in the arguments proposed to justify it, or even in the manner in which it is presented. He should do this in an evangelical spirit and with a profound desire to resolve the difficulties. His objections could then contribute to real progress and provide a stimulus to the Magisterium to propose the teaching of the Church in greater depth and with a clearer presentation of the arguments. In cases like these, 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 service to the truth.

It can also happen that at the conclusion of a serious study, undertaken with the desire to heed the Magisterium’s teaching without hesitation, the theologian’s difficulty remains because the arguments to the contrary seem more persuasive to him. Faced with a proposition to which he feels he cannot give his intellectual assent, the theologian nevertheless has the duty to remain open to a deeper examination of the question (Donum Veritatis #30-31).