The number of attacks on the four cardinals for their presentation of dubia on Amoris Laetitia are mounting rapidly. Two out of three of the new American Cardinals — Joseph Tobin of Newark and Cardinal Cupich of Chicago — spoke out just yesterday against the four cardinals. Tobin, described the dubia as “troublesome” and went on to say,
The Holy Father is capturing the work of two synods, so if four cardinals say that two synods were wrong, or that somehow the Holy Father didn’t reflect what was said in those synods, I think that should be questioned. … just to simply reduce it to a ‘dubium,’ I think it is at best naive.
Cardinal Cupich took a more direct line of attack:
I think that if you begin to question the legitimacy or what is being said in such a document, do you throw into question then all the other documents that have been issued before by the other popes. So I think it’s not for the pope to respond to that, it’s a moment for anyone who has doubts to examine how they got to that position because it is a magisterial document of the Catholic Church.
That these newly minted cardinals so openly question the naivete and prudence of those who are by many years their senior is indicative of the power they feel as personal appointments of Francis. That they pose questions which seek to place the four cardinals at odds with the magisterium means that there is in an implication, at least, of schism – and even heresy.
But one bishop has now made those charges openly.
Fragkiskos Papamanolis, the bishop emeritus of Syros, Santorini, and Crete, and head of the Greek Bishops Conference, has now written an open letter to the four cardinals. Its language is striking and direct, and the accusations made therein are incredibly serious.
It is, to be blunt, the kind of language so many Catholics had hoped to see from the faithful prelates of the Church, sent in the direction of Rome.
Let it not be said that the commissars of the Dictatorship of Mercy are not men of conviction. Our translation of the full text of the letter follows.
Dearest brothers in the episcopate,
My faith in our God tells me that He cannot fail to love you. With the sincerity that comes from my heart I call you ‘dearest brothers.’
The letter you have sent to the Congregation to the Doctrine of the Faith and that was published last Monday on the site of L’Espresso has even made it to Greece.
Before publishing the document and, still more, before you drew it up, you ought to have presented yourself to the Holy Father Francis and requested that he remove you as members of the College of Cardinals.
Further, you should not have made use of the title of “Cardinal” to give prestige to what you have written, and this on account of coherence with your conscience and to alleviate the scandal you have given by writing privately.
You write that you are “deeply concerned about the true good of souls” and, indirectly, you accuse the Holy Father Francis “promoting some form of politics in the Church”. You ask that “that no one will judge us, unjustly.” He who would say the opposite of what you explicitly write would be judging you unjustly. The words you use have their meaning. The fact that you boast of the title of Cardinals does not change the meaning of the gravely offensive words for the Bishop of Rome.
If you are “deeply concerned about the true good of souls” and moved by “an impassioned concern for the good of the faithful”, I, dearest brothers, am “deeply moved by the true good of your souls”, for your double most grave sin:
- the sin of heresy (and of apostasy? This, in fact, is the way schisms begin in the Church). From your document, it appears clearly that, in practice you do not believe in the supreme magisterial authority of the Pope, strengthened by two Synods of Bishops coming from the whole world. It seems that the Holy Spirit inspires only you and not the Vicar of Christ and not even the Bishops gathered in Synod.
- and also the more grave sin of scandal, given publicly to the Christian people throughout the whole world. Concerning this Jesus has said, “Woe to the man by whom scandal comes” (Mt 18:7). “It would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Mt 18:6).
Impelled by the charity of Christ, I pray for you. I ask the Lord to enlighten you to accept with simplicity of heart the magisterial teaching of the Holy Father Francis.
I fear that your mental categories will find sophisticated arguments to justify your work, so as not even to consider it a sin to be subjected to the Sacrament of Penance, and that you continue to celebrate every day the Holy Mass and to receive sacrilegiously the Sacrament of the Eucharist, while you are scandalized if, in specific cases, a divorced and remarried person receives the Eucharist, and you dare to accuse the Holy Father Francis of heresy.
You know that I participated in the two Synods of the Bishops on the family and I heard your interventions. I also heard the comments that one of you made, during the break, about an affirmation contained in my intervention in the synod hall, when I said, “To sin is not easy.” This brother (one of you four), speaking with his interlocutors, modified my affirmations and put in my mouth words that I didn’t say. Further, you gave my declaration an interpretation that could not be gathered in any way from what I had affirmed.
Dearest brothers, may the Lord enlighten you to recognize as soon as possible your sin and to repair the scandal you have given.
With the charity of Christ, I greet you fraternally.
+ Frankiskos Papamanolis, o.f.m. cap
Bishop emeritus of Syros, Santorini, and Crete
President of the Episcopal Conference of Greece
(Translation provided by Roberto Tomasso. Several minor updates to the translation have been made since publication.)
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.