After there has now come to us a sort of denial concerning the recent words attributed to Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto about the Four Cardinals – namely, that he did not say that the pope would remove the red hats of these Cardinals – the German Catholic website Katholisch.de has published its own interview with Msgr. Pinto where he now redoubles his critique of the four prelates. In this interview, Pinto again uses very harsh language against these Four Cardinals who have expressed their serious concern that Amoris Laetitia could teach the faithful doctrines that go against the traditional Catholic teaching.
Pinto now says about the Four Cardinals:
They have written to the pope and that is correct and legitimate. But, after there did not come [from the pope] an answer after a few weeks, they published the case. That is a slap in the face. The pope can choose to take counsel with his cardinals; but that is something different from imposing upon him a counsel.
When the journalist then says in response that the Four Cardinals would answer that they had no other choice, the Italian prelate further responds:
They are not a council with any kind of competences. On the contrary, they as cardinals are bound in a higher degree to be loyal to the pope. He stands for the gift of unity, the charisma of Peter. That is where the cardinals have to support him, and not hinder him. By what authority do the authors of the letter act? On the fact that they are cardinals? That is not sufficient. Please. Of course they can write to the pope and send him their questions, but to oblige him to answer and to publish the case is another matter.
As others have done before him (and in spite of the facts), Pinto insists that the pope’s family document is based on the work of two Roman synods of bishops – as well as the world-wide questionnaires circulated and received back. He explains:
The absolute majority of the first synod and a two-thirds majority in the second, in which the members of the bishops’ conferences were present, have exactly approved these theses that now the four cardinals contest.
Pinto insists that the pope “does not force, much less does he condemn.” Thus, “some bishops are putatively having difficulties, others pretend to be deaf.” To the claim that Monsignor Pinto himself said that the pope might remove the red hats of these four cardinals he then responds:
I am not the type who can threaten [people]. To write something like this is quite a journalistic license and is not serious. What I have said is, rather: Francis is a lighthouse of mercy and has infinite patience. For him, it is about agreeing, not about forcing. It was a serious act that these four have published their letter. But to think that he would remove their cardinalate – no. I do not believe that he will do that. […] In itself, as pope, he could do such a thing. The way I know Francis, he will not do it.
When asked about Cardinal Burke’s words that he would present a formal correction of the pope if necessary, Pinto responds once more with vehemence:
This is crazy. Such a council of cardinals does not exist that could hold the pope accountable. The task of the cardinals is to help the pope in the exercise of his office – and not to obstruct him or to give him precepts. And this is a fact: Francis is not only in full accordance with the teaching, but also with all of his predecessors in the 20th century, and that was a Golden Age with excellent popes – starting with Pius X. [my emphasis]
The Dean of the Roman Rota then also proceeds explicitly to criticize Cardinal Joachim Meisner for his own participation in the publication of the Dubia. When asked as to whether he is disappointed about the four authors of the letter, he explains:
I am shocked, especially about the gesture of Meisner. Meisner was a great bishop of an important diocese [Cologne] – how sad that he now with this action puts a shadow upon his history. Meisner, a great spiritual leader! That he would arrive at that, I did not expect. He was very close to John Paul II and Benedict, and he knows that Benedict XVI and Francis are in full agreement about the analysis and the conclusions when it comes to the question of marriage. And Burke – we have worked together. He seemed to me to be an amiable person. Now I would ask him: Your Eminence, why did you do that? [my emphasis]
Pinto closes this interview with some seemingly flippant, if not superficial, words when he answers the question as to what should now be done: “Pray a little more, stay calm, basta. Officially, this action has no value. The Church needs unity, not walls, says the pope. We know how Francis is. He believes that people can convert. I know that he is praying for them.”
To sum up this interview: Pinto claims that the supreme principle of the Church is unity. He does not mention, much less affirm, that the basis of unity is truth. However, he claims that Pope Francis’s own teaching on marriage is in complete accord with the teaching of the previous 20th-century popes, and especially with Pope Benedict XVI.
However, such claims show forth the very issues upon which faithful Catholics disagree! For Pope Francis has indeed now encouraged a change in the Church’s teaching on marriage, and he is not in agreement with the previous teaching. Nor is he in agreement with the teaching of Jesus Christ himself! Thus, there comes a point where our loyalty to the Truth of Christ urges us respectfully to speak up, even at the cost of an ostensible unity that is not anymore itself based on the truth.
As Dr. Markus Büning, a German theologian and book author, said firmly yesterday concerning the “Pinto affair”:
Much less helpful are the repeatedly presented calls to obey the pope unconditionally. I beg your pardon? We are, after all, not in a dictatorship here. That goes too far. For me, kairos [the ripe and fitting moment] has come; and, fully so in the sense of Blessed John Henry Newman, we should now question this papalism that we have all-too-often practiced in our own circles. Additionally, we have at times the duty to oppose ecclesial authorities. Let us hear what St. Thomas Aquinas tells us about this matter: ‘Where, however, the Faith is in danger, one has to correct the superiors publicly, just as St. Paul did it; and as Augustine wrote on this matter: ‘Peter himself has given to the superiors the model that they – if they ever stray from the right path – shall accept not unwillingly when their own inferiors correct them.” (Summa theol., II-II q. 33, 4c)
Correction: the article originally gave Pinto the title of Archbishop, as several other outlets had reported. He is in fact not a bishop, but a priest. We have updated the story accordingly.
Correction 2: Pio Vito Pinto is not a priest simplex, but has the full title of: His Excellency, the Most Reverend Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto. He is not an Archbishop, nor even a bishop, but he is a Monsignor. The Dean of the Roman Rota is styled “His Excellency” and “Most Reverend” by ancient custom and express grant of such treatment by Pope Pius XI. The story has been modified to reflect his proper title.