CV NEWS FEED // Cardinal Raymond Burke said the dubia he and four other cardinals sent to Pope Francis earlier this year and released to the public this week are meant to be a safeguard for the Church, not a personal attack on the pope or his policies.
The cardinals had asked Francis for clarification on serious doctrinal issues in the run-up to the synod: blessings for same-sex couples, women’s ordination, the authority of the synod itself, and the Sacrament of Confession.
As the Synod on Synodality began in Rome this week, Burke, along with four other cardinals, released the text of the dubia, saying he had not answered their questions satisfactorily.
The move brought criticism from synod participants, with one anonymously accusing Burke and the other cardinals of seeking “only to strike at Pope Francis” and of causing disunity within the Church.
Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the pope has already answered the cardinals and accused them of wanting to make the pope their “slave for errands.” Fernandez went so far as to say that those who find fault with the “doctrine of the Holy Father” are on their way to “heresy and schism.”
Speaking at a conference entitled “The Synodal Babel” in Rome on Tuesday, Burke said the dubia “deal exclusively with the perennial doctrine and discipline of the church, not a pope’s agenda.”
“The Church has never taught that the Roman pontiff has a special power to constitute his own doctrine. The Holy Father is the first master of the deposit of faith, which is in itself always alive and dynamic,” he added.
Burke expressed his reservations about the synod, questioning the idea of “synodality” itself. Leading up to the synod, Francis has repeatedly emphasized the importance of “listening” to one another and to the Holy Spirit, and has even introduced a multi-step methodology called “Conversation in the Spirit” that will guide all the synod’s sessions.
“It is unfortunately very clear that the invocation of the Holy Spirit by some has for its purpose the advancement of an agenda that is more political and human than ecclesial and divine,” Burke said to the conference attendees, which included Cardinal Robert Sarah, one of the five signers of the dubia.
Burke and others also pointed out that laity, including women, will participate and even vote in a synod of bishops for the first time.
Fr. Gerald Murray, a canon lawyer and critic of the synod, said those “who are not shepherds in the Church are being given a role that pertains by nature only to the shepherds… the assembly is not a Synod of Bishops any longer.”