Sixteen-months ago, pope Jorge “Francis” Bergoglio (photo right) issued his “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love) apostolic exhortation, which has been the source of increasing controversy and consternation within the Roman Catholic church. A couple of footnotes (#s 329 & 351) buried deep within the document appeared to allow priests to decide whether communion could be given to Catholics who were divorced and remarried on an individual, case-by-case basis. The view held by the church for centuries was that divorced remarrieds were living in an ongoing state of adultery and were barred from receiving communion. It was obvious that pragmatic Francis was surreptitiously altering centuries-old doctrine in an attempt to make the church more inviting to a membership whose sky-rocketing divorce rate mirrors that of secular society.
Conservative members of the church were appalled by the change to what was always considered to be infallible doctrine, leading four cardinals to petition Francis asking for clarification, but they received no reply. The same cardinals sent a second “dubia” (questions/doubts) letter and still there was no answer forthcoming from Francis.
Conservative cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity are in a quandary. They are convinced the current pope is promoting heresy but decline (at this point) in considering schism because Catholic doctrine claims a pope cannot lead the church into error and that all Catholics must remain loyal to him. So by breaking away from the church in defense of one “infallible” doctrine, they would be disobeying another.
Yesterday, news reports (see below) quoted a July 22nd address from U.S. cardinal, Raymond Burke (photo left), one of the four “dubia” cardinals, in which he stated that through “diabolical” means, “confusion and error…has…entered into the Church” via “shepherds who are no longer truly shepherding the faithful entrusted to them.” Carefully choosing his words, he warned against the “idolatry of the papacy,” implying that allowing communion to divorced remarrieds was merely Francis’ worldly opinion and not infallible dogma binding upon Catholics. He also suggested that the deviant teachings from this pope could be a sign of the end times. While Burke isn’t advocating schism (yet), he’s certainly raising the stakes with this address.
Most Catholics probably aren’t even aware of this ongoing controversy (most don’t even bother to attend church these days), but it’s a vital issue for evangelicals who often hear from Catholic apologists that the Roman Catholic church alone has apostolic authority and that its magisterium is infallible in all matters of faith and morals. But which magisterium? Cardinal Burke’s or pope Francis’? And if Francis is able to successfully implement this change to “infallible” doctrine (liberal bishops claim it’s already a done deal), then what is to become of the infallible doctrine of papal infallibility?
‘Confusion and error’ from Catholic leaders may be sign of end times: Cardinal Burke