Dear Pope Francis, Here’s Some White Out; Signed, Your Sons

We interrupt this regular broadcast…

On the 16th of July instant, a group of sixty-two priests and lay people offered Pope Francis a small reminder that certain truths are eternal, and that it would be wise to stick to them. This is a filial correction and not the much-anticipated—and desired and desirable—formal correction held out by Cardinal Burke and others.

There was an embargo, it appears, on releasing this information, but somebody blabbed and the news leaked. The correction will, when official (as it should be Sunday), will appear at this website, but it can also be found in samizdat form here (I’m writing this on Saturday early evening).

Here is the opening of the letter which was sent to the Holy Father. Whether he read it is anybody’s guess.

Most Holy Father,

With profound grief, but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself, we are compelled to address a correction to Your Holiness on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.

This is, as you will imagine, no small thing. Whether it is, as the writers hope and pray, a large thing remains to be seen. Given that the Pope has heretofore ignored every criticism and critic, except to silently fire or demote those he sees as enemies, smart money says this shot over the papal bows will not slow the Pope from steaming ahead. For instance, if the date of the letter is correct, the Pope has had it for more than two months and kept mum about it.

The correction is, however, needed, and God bless those who made it.

…Heresies and other errors have in consequence [of Amoris laetitia] spread through the Church; for while some bishops and cardinals have continued to defend the divinely revealed truths about marriage, the moral law, and the reception of the sacraments, others have denied these truths, and have received from Your Holiness not rebuke but favour…

Most Holy Father, the Petrine ministry has not been entrusted to you that you might impose strange doctrines on the faithful, but so that you may, as a faithful steward, guard the deposit against the day of the Lord’s return (Lk. 12; 1 Tim. 6:20).

The doctrines are strange. One elderly theologian, a by-all-accounts gentle and genial man, was fired from his post for writing a scholarly article which argued that if the logic used by some in interpreting Amoris were applied everywhere, then all morality could be considered relative. All must read the summary article “Josef Seifert, Pure Logic, and the Beginning of the Official Persecution of Orthodoxy within the Church” by Claudio Pierantoni, who argues with force that the Church is now in practical schism. (We will revisit this article another day.)

If the loose interpretations of Amoris were adopted formally, then all priests would have to sound like Fr James Martin and tell people that whatever teachings they don’t “receive” aren’t valid for “them.” That is protestantism (sorry, friends), where every man, after all, is his own priest.

Those Catholics, however, who do not clearly grasp the limits of papal infallibility are liable to be led by the words and actions of Your Holiness into one of two disastrous errors: either they will come to embrace the heresies which are now being propagated, or, aware that these doctrines are contrary to the word of God, they will doubt or deny the prerogatives of the popes.

All we need understand about papal infallibility here is that the Pope is not dictator and all he says is not true, nor are Catholics sworn to defend every word of the Pope. This is why the signers can say the “practices now encouraged by Your Holiness’s words and actions are contrary not only to the perennial faith and discipline of the Church but also to the magisterial statements of Your predecessors”.

What follows are a list of quotations from Amoris which appear not to make sense in light of Catholic teaching, such as “No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” That smacks of universalism, the heresy that nobody goes to Hell.

Most of the other passages revolve around marriage. We recall the words of Fatima’s Sister Lucia writing to one of the “dubia” Cardinals, the recently late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, who said “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family“. Whether you believe in prophecy or not, this is the battle now being fought.

Catholics take as gospel (forgive me) our Lord Jesus’s rule that one cannot remarry after divorce (that divorce is really only a civil matter, and that the true marriage bond is indissoluble, and that forgiveness after confession is freely available to all). Yet as the correction says, “In an interview in April 2016, a journalist asked Your Holiness if there are any concrete possibilities for the divorced and remarried that did not exist before the publication of Amoris laetitia. You replied ‘Io posso dire, si. Punto’; that is, ‘I can say yes. Period.'” Various bishops have taken these and many other of the Pope’s words to mean divorce or divorce plus remarriage is no big thing, and so they demand we change doctrine to keep up with the spirit of the age. As William Ralph Inge (also attributed to Chesterton) said, “Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.”

The signers are not shy. They list seven of the Pope’s positions and say flat out they are heresies and so it “is necessary for the good of souls that they be once more condemned by the authority of the Church.” Noting that some of the signers are lawyers (notably Ferrara) it is not surprising to read, “In listing these seven propositions we do not intend to give an exhaustive list of all the heresies and errors which an unbiased reader, attempting to read Amoris laetitia in its natural and obvious sense, would plausibly take to be affirmed, suggested or favoured by this document”. The list of charges may be added to…

That isn’t the end of the letter. What follows is a short passage detailing “two general sources of error which appear to us to be fostering the heresies”, which are Modernism and the errors introduced by Martin Luther. We will look at these later, too.

This post will remain on top through Sunday; it replaces our regular Summa Contra Gentiles series this week.

Update It’s being reported elsewhere the correction was delivered to the Pope on 11 August.

Update See the bullet points here for a list of other opportunities the Pope missed to reply.


  1. Somewhere in the post I recall a statement that the Church is in “practical schism”. What would be involved for it to be in actual schism?

  2. John Watkins

    We’ve been waiting, since the Dubia, for the other shoe to drop. We know the show fits. Let’s see if he (Francis) wears it.

  3. John Watkins

    Shoe, not show. Sorry.

  4. brian (bulaoren)

    There once was a humorous quip about being “more Catholic than the Pope”. That doesn’t seem so funny anymore.

  5. brian (bulaoren)

    Looking back at my previous post, I realize it began like a limerick. Let’s give that a try;
    There once was a pontif named Francis…

  6. Sylvain


    If you are Catholic you are forced to follow the Pope since he is selected by God through the Conclave. He is God representative on earth and, what he says, is God’s Word. If you don’t agree with him, you are not a Catholic anymore.

    Briggs stopped being a Catholic long ago. Though he never had any problem with pedophile in the Church.

  7. Sylvain, I take your comments about the Catholic Church with the same respect that I do your comments about politics or about ethnicity of Jews. And that will be all I have to say to you.

  8. Shecky R

    For someone who writes a book about uncertainty you have very little real understanding or appreciation of it.
    (but then perhaps slavery and women as property are among your eternal truths as well).

  9. Briggs


    When the theocracy is established, I’ll make sure they assign you to me, killing two birds with one stone.

  10. L Ron Hubbard alias John B()


    (You should have phrased these in the form of a question)
    If you are Catholic are YOU NOT forced to follow the Pope?
    (This is what the filial correction is partly about; some Catholics don’t understand papal infallibility – never mind people like you)
    Is NOT THE POPE God’s representative on earth and, what he says, is God’s Word?
    (Again the reason for the filial correction)
    If you don’t agree with him, are YOU not a Catholic anymore?
    (See infallibility above)

    In light of his earlier posts, what does Fr. Rickert have to say?

  11. Gary in Erko

    This same business is also generating rifts within Judaism. It might seem like a small matter compared to this appeal to the Pope, but please consider the vast difference in the organisational structures and inherent decision making procedures within Judaism compared to Catholicism. Last week in Sydney Australia the Jewish Board of Deputies, comprising delegates of organisations, voted to support legislation for same sex marriages as a civic matter, not religious. The Beth Din, the religious court, disputes that civic and religious marriage are separate matters.

  12. B loughlin

    As a Catholic I am required to obey the pope and the magisterial in matters of faith and morals when speaking with the full authority of the chair of Peter, and to give what they say very serious consideration at all other times. However in matters outside their competence (a wide scope indeed) I am free to disagree. The grave danger here is the encouragement to ignore the unambiguous message of the Gospel

  13. Joy

    John chapter 1 verse 17
    “For the law was given by Moses, but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ.”
    Acts is instructive in precisely where there was divergence in terms of emphasis from what Jesus said compared with what is claimed by some Catholic doctrine.
    Acts 7
    “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
    Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
    Hath not my hand made all these things?”

    Chapter 17
    “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
    Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
    And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

    Regarding false sectarian assertions about Protestants.
    The Church Of England has vicars, reverends, bishops, archbishops and many other lower forms of ministry and of authority of theology.
    What is wrongly referred to as being ‘your own priest’ or whatever silliness it was, he makes a deliberate error of terminology and a political statement which has no basis in truth. An individual who persist in lying about the Anglican Church and about The Church of England is no friend of mine.

  14. Oldavid

    The word “Catholic” doesn’t just mean “universal” as in a “common belief”…. there are many errors that are practically “universal”. Catholic, more particularly, means always the same in all places and all times. It’s substantial beliefs were finalised at the death of the last Apostle and nothing can be added or taken away from that deposit and remain Catholic. i.e. “Catholic and Apostolic Church”.

    Papal infallibility is enormously restricted to being ONLY a final, precise, binding on all, definition of some matter of Faith and Morals that may have become confused or unclear by some debates or misunderstanding. He has no authority whatsoever to add, delete, or change any article of Faith or Morals.

    He has, however, some discretion as to how the Faith should be practiced and applied in the World for the propagation of the Faith and the Salvation and good of the citizens of the World. That is the Ordinary Magisterium which, necessarily, demands deference and respect and obedience according to right reason and the nature and purpose of authority.

    But, as described by the sharp minded Scholar, temporal authority is not arbitrary and absolute. Indeed, a subordinate has a moral duty to question, or even reprove, a superior of their errors if he has the capacity to do so.

    The Faith is superior to temporal authority, and Catholics have an impressive history of that precept.

    That there are a few popes, and a great many bishops and priests, notorious for their ambition, avarice, and concupiscence that have run amok to great scandals is, in part, due to the timidity of those that should have reproved them.

    St Paul gave us the example when he “withstood (Peter) to his face because he was to be blamed”. (Note that Paul did not try to usurp Peter’s position.)

  15. The author used “instant” incorrectly in the first sentence.

  16. c matt

    will not slow the Pope from steaming ahead

    Most likely, it won’t. But there is certainly a reason this statement was kept under wraps, and its pubic disclosure surely does not sit well with Bergoglio. Depending upon how much of a stir it causes, it might make him pause a bit.

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