The “filial correction” addressed to Pope Francis by more than 60 priests and scholars of the Church, has had an extraordinary impact all over the world. There was no lack of those who tried to minimize the initiative, declaring the number of signatories “to be limited and marginal”. Yet if the initiative is irrelevant, why have its repercussions been so widespread in all the media outlets of the five continents, including countries like Russia and China?
Steve Skojec on Onepeterfive reports that research on Google News resulted in more than 5,000 news articles, while there were 100,000 visits on the site www.correctiofilialis.org in a space of 48 hours. The adhesion on this site is still open, even if only some signatures will be made visible. It is essential to acknowledge that the reason for this world-wide echo is one only: the truth can be ignored or repressed, but when it is made manifest with clarity it has its own intrinsic power and is destined to spread by itself. The main enemy of truth is not error, but ambiguity. The cause of the diffusion of errors and heresies in the Church is not due to the strength of these errors, but the culpable silence of those who should openly defend the truth of the Gospel.
The truth asserted by the “filial correction” is that Pope Francis, through a long series of words, acts and omissions “has upheld, by direct or indirect means (whether being aware or not, we do not know, neither do we want to judge him ) at least “seven false and heretical propositions, propagated in the Church through his public office as well as through private action.” The signatories insist respectfully that the Pope “condemn these propositions publically, thus carrying out the mandate of Our Lord Jesus Christ given to Peter and through him to all his successors until the end of time: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren”.
No reply regarding the correction has yet arrived; only clumsy attempts at disqualifying or singling out the signatories, with particular aim at some of the most well-known, like the former President of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. In reality, as Gotti Tedeschi himself said in an interview to Marco Tosatti on September 24th, the authors of the Correctio, have acted out of love for the Church and the Papacy. Gotti Tedeschi and another well-known signatory, the German writer, Martin Mosebach, were both applauded last September 14th at the Angelicum by a public of over 400 priests and laypeople, comprising three cardinals and several bishops, on the occasion of the convention celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum.
Other two signatories, Professors Claudio Pierantoni and Anna Silva, expressed the same ideas in the Correctio at a meeting on the theme “Let’s Clarify”, organized on April 23rd of this year by the Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, supported by other prelates, among whom was the late Cardinal Carlo Caffara. Many other signatories of the document occupy or have occupied, prominent positions in ecclesiastic institutions. Others again are distinguished university professors. If the authors of the Correctio were isolated in the Catholic world, their document would not have had the resonance it attained.
A Filial Appeal to Pope Francis in 2015 was signed by around 900,000 people from all over the world and a Declaration of fidelity to the unchangeable teaching of the Church on matrimony, presented in 2015 by 80 Catholic personalities, gathered 35,000 signatures. A year ago, four Cardinals formulated their Dubia on the Exhortation Amoris laetitia. In the meantime, scandals of an economic and moral nature are undermining Pope Francis’ pontificate. The American vaticanist, John Allen, certainly not of a traditional bent, revealed on Crux of September 25th, how difficult his position has become these days.
Among the most ridiculous accusations that are being made about the signatories of the document, is that of being “Lefebvrians” on account of Bishop Bernard Fellay’s signature, the Superior of the Fraternity of St. Pius X. Monsignor Fellay’s adhesion to a document of this type is a historical act, which clarifies without the shadow of a doubt, the Fraternity’s position in regard to the new pontificate. However, “Lefebvrianism” is a verbal locution which has for the progressives the same role the word “fascism” had for the Communists in the 1970s: discredit the adversary, without discussing the reasons. The presence of Monsignor Fellay is moreover, reassuring for all the signatories of the Correctio. How can the Pope not have the same comprehension and benevolence regarding them, that he has shown over the last two years towards the Fraternity of St. Pius X?
The Archbishop of Chieti, Bruno Forte, previously special secretary to the Bishops’ Synod on the Family, declared that the Correctio represents “a prejudicially closed stance towards the spirit of the Second Vatican Council which Pope Francis is incarnating so profoundly” (Avvenire, September 26th, 2015). The spirit of Vatican II, incarnated by Pope Francis, writes Monsignor Lorizio, in turn, in the same Italian Bishops’ newspaper, consists in the primacy of the pastoral over theology; in other words, in the subordination of the natural law to life experience, since, as he explains, “the pastoral comprises and includes theology” and not vice-versa. Monsignor Lorizio teaches theology at the same Faculty of the Lateran University in which the Dean used to be Monsignor Brunero Gherardini, who died on September 22nd , on the eve of the Correctio he was unable to sign because of his precarious health conditions.
The great exponent of the Roman Theological School demonstrated in his most recent books what a deplorable landing-place we have been brought to by the primacy of the pastoral announced at Vatican II and propagated by its ultra-progressive hermeneuts, among whom the same Forte and the makeshift theologian Massimo Faggioli, along with Alberto Melloni, who are all distinguishing themselves with their flimsy attacks on the Correctio.
Monsignor Forte in Avvenire added that the document is an operation which cannot be shared by “those who are faithful to the successor of Peter in whom they recognize as the Pastor the Lord has given to the Church as the guide of universal communion. Fidelity should always be directed to the living God, Who speaks to the Church today through the Pope.”
Now then, we have come to the point of defining Pope Francis a “living God”, forgetting that the Church is founded on Jesus Christ, for Whom the Pope is representative on earth, not the divine owner. As Antonio Socci correctly wrote, the Pope is not a “second Jesus” (Libero, September 24th 2017) but the 266th successor to Peter. His mandate is not that of changing or “improving” the words of Our Lord, but of guarding and transmitting them in the most faithful manner. If this doesn’t happen, Catholics have the duty to reprove him in a filial way, following the example of St. Paul in regard to the Prince of the Apostles, Peter. (Gal. II, 11).
Lastly, there are those surprised that Cardinals Walter Brandmüller and Raymomd Leo Burke didn’t sign the document, ignoring, as Rorate Caeli underlined, that the Correctio of the Sixty is of a purely theological nature, whereas the one of the Cardinals, when it comes, will have much more authority and importance, also on the canonical level. The correction of a fellowman, foreseen by the Gospel and current Canon Law, in art. 212, par. 3, can have different forms. “This principle of fraternal correction inside the Church – declared Monsignor Athanasius Schneider in a recent interview to Maike Hickson – has been valid for all time, even with regard to the Pope, and so it should be valid also in our times. Unfortunately, these days anyone who dares speak the truth – even if he does so respectfully with regard to the Shepherds of the Church – is classified as an enemy of unity, as happened to St. Paul; when he declared: ‘Am I then become your enemy , because I tell you the truth?’” (Gal. 4, 16).
Roberto de Mattei
Translation: Contributor, Francesca Romana