The death of Carlo Caffarra, the beloved dubia Cardinal, has left an additional empty place in the group of the original four who presented their concerns to the pope concerning Amoris Laetitia. So much so, in fact, that one of the pro-papal apologists, Dr. Austen Ivereigh, even put on Twitter this somewhat breezy comment: “Only two of the four dubia cardinals alive.” (I will leave out here Dr. Ivereigh’s more explicitly demeaning comment about Cardinal Caffarra himself on the very day of his death.)
One could well imagine (but I do not claim any intimate knowledge here) that these two deaths might have left Cardinals Raymond L. Burke and Walter Brandmüller so discouraged that they doubt whether they would even be able to proceed with the final step of their promised public procedure – namely, the fraternal, public correction of Pope Francis – perhaps along with asking him to make an explicit Papal Profession of Faith. However, this moment of understandable discouragement could actually turn out to be a moment of Grace.
Let us now remember, for example, St. Joan of Arc. When, during the military battles for the political freedom of France, she thought that she was losing her battle, something happened that almost miraculously turned things around. Therefore, she has been for me, for quite a while now, an inspiration. As I wrote in May of 2016 about St. Joan of Arc:
She is our saint. She will help us continue this combat against the siege and occupation of Rome and against this seeming occupation of the Seat of Peter itself by a man who now even seems to contradict God’s Laws. Saint Joan will give us the spirit to try the impossible, to be forceful and strong when God’s truth is undermined, and, yet, to keep true charity. She will give us the strength to fight when all seems to be against us, when the Powers That Be seem to have all that they need to accomplish their maneuvers. She will teach us that he will finally win who is with God, and not against Him. She will teach us that the saints are with us, and, most of all, the Heavenly Mother.
So, if now the four dubia Cardinals seemingly are losing their own battle, if they are deeply discouraged and disheartened by the loss of two of their comrades-in-arms, what if God were to send them two new comrades? What if that painful event of the loss of two devout and loyal cardinals now unexpectedly inspired others to follow in their footsteps?
Not long ago, after Cardinal Joachim Meisner had died, we published our story about the (now widely-contested) “Müller Conversation in Mainz” concerning word we had received that Müller was dismissed for resisting the ongoing papal agenda of reform. Following this article, I wrote Cardinal Gerhard Müller a personal note. In this personal note, I told him that additional sources who claimed knowledge of the events described in our story had come to our attention, sources who were almost immediately hindered by a lawsuit meant to intimidate and to silence them. (Just this week, another person, Thomas Shirrmacher, a Protestant philosopher and theologian who knows Francis well, said that he believes Müller was dismissed in large part because of his public opposition to female deacons – one of the key points of contention mentioned in our story.) I also said that we trusted that the fuller truth would come out at some point in the near future. (There is more to say about this story, but not now.) And then I said:
We can assure you that we only wish to know the truth. The only reason why we published the now quite contested story was that we considered these “five points” of your dismissal [by Pope Francis] as being so important for the whole Church. Should there be truth in these five points [to include the ordination of female priests] – in whatever concrete context they then appeared – whether during the last audience or at another time – then you yourself would be duty-bound to inform the whole Catholic world about it and to warn us about it. Female priests and married priests mean a protestantization of the Catholic Church.
After asking Cardinal Müller whether he should not also tell Catholics that Amoris Laetitia does indeed contain statements – such as the novel claim that, sometimes for the good of the children, intimate relations (more uxorio) might have to be allowed and maintained, even though the couple is “remarried” and divorced; or that “no one is condemned forever” – that are also heretical and thus detrimental to the salvation of souls, I came to a concluding invitation to Cardinal Müller:
Therefore, I call upon you – in honor of Cardinal Meisner – clearly to assist the three dubia cardinals and to request from Pope Francis to clarify the dubia, and, yes, to sign the dubia yourself.
I never received a reply from Cardinal Müller or his secretary concerning this personal request, although I had received correspondence and even telephone calls from them on more than one occasion in the past.
But perhaps others will be more successful in this matter. For example, I recently felt inspired to see that Professor Ettore Gotti Tedeschi – the former President of the Vatican Bank and an eloquent defender of Catholic truth – just gave a small interview (concerning the sudden death of Cardinal Caffarra) in which he seems to go into that same direction, even though he did not mention, much less propose, any specific names. Here is the important portion – to include some beautiful words about Cardinal Caffarra himself – of that 6 September Italian report, as it was translated by OnePeterFive‘s generous contributor, Mr. Andrew Guernsey:
[Question:] Do you have a personal memory to tell about Cardinal Caffarra?
[Ettore Gotti Tedeschi:] “I have more than one, but many are private and I do not have the right to share them. I will try to remember something about him that honors his memory, without any indiscretions. Caffarra was appointed at the end of 2003 to replace the great Cardinal Biffi. A few months after Biffi’s retirement, in his hermitage above Bologna, I went to see him [Biffi] with my wife and two daughters. We stayed with him for almost three hours, and asked him what he thought of his successor. He told me not only that he himself had named him, but also that no one could be better or more appropriate than Caffarra to lead the Diocese of Bologna. He also told me that he wanted to abstain from any kind of presence in Bologna in order to avoid the risk of misunderstandings of interfering with a person of whom he had absolute esteem and consideration. Since then, I have encountered Cardinal Caffarra several times after the publication of the dubia, [and] the only sentiment that I can make public was his enormous suffering, his love of the Church and the figure of the Pope. Caffarra was a holy man, when he talked about serious things, which made him suffer, he talked about them as someone who has confidence in God, who speaks to God, and above all, listens to him. I do not want to say more.”
[Question:] He [Caffarra] had signed the dubia precisely about Amoris Laetitia. He dies after [Cardinal] Meisner, who was also a signatory to the letter to the Pope. But does the Church, which asks for greater clarity about the Apostolic Exhortation, remain alive?
“In this sense and in this regard, Cardinal Caffarra will remain an example of ‘priestly responsibility,’ an example of virtue worthy of a possible process of future beatification. But I can answer a “trick” question. Now, as I see it, Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller ought to devote more efforts, with superior commitment, to Meisner and Caffarra’s memory. And I hope that two other well-known holy Cardinals (living and working) are available to make up for the work of the two deceased cardinals, replacing them with the commitment to ask for clarity for the good of souls. But now I would like to ask IntelligoNews readers to remember Caffarra with a Requiem. Needless to say, he will protect us from where he is, as he did until yesterday here on earth.” [emphasis added]
Here, Professor Gotti Tedeschi may be suggesting that he has two specific cardinals in mind who, in his opinion, should now fill the empty lots of Cardinals Joachim Meisner and Carlo Caffarra. However, he does not specifically name these names. It is interesting to note, in this context, that Gotti Tedeschi will soon, on 14 September, participate at a Summorum Pontificum conference in Rome with exactly those same two cardinals whom I have had in mind: Cardinals Robert Sarah and Gerhard Müller. Is it hoping for too much that he might now use this occasion to ask them whether they would not actually do that: join ranks with the now possibly discouraged, remaining two dubia cardinals, and to do it especially for the sake of Catholic truth and for the salvation of souls?
What do these cardinals still have to fear if, at this point, nearly everything seems to be lost? When those who try to uphold the traditional moral teaching of the Catholic Church – not only about marriage, but also about contraception, homosexuality, abortion and much more, as Professor Josef Seifert has just pointed out – are being increasingly punished and humiliated? For what are we still truly waiting? Until no one is left to come forth and speak up?
Therefore, I ask our dear readers to send many prayers to heaven that God may inspire two cardinals – whoever they be – to give new courage to the faithful Catholic world and especially to the two remaining dubia cardinals, so that finally a public fraternal correction of Pope Francis may take place, for his own greater good, and the good of the Catholic Church.
Our Catholic Faith is filled with miracles and great surprises. Let us just think of Lepanto in 1571! Let us not forget the 1920 Miracle of the Vistula! Our Lady surely will help us in this moment of distress. And St. Joan of Arc, too.
Dr. Maike Hickson, born and raised in Germany, studied History and French Literature at the University of Hannover and lived for several years in Switzerland where she wrote her doctoral dissertation. She is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.
Her articles have appeared in American and European journals such as Catholicism.org, LifeSiteNews, The Wanderer, Culture Wars, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Apropos, and Zeit-Fragen.