Four Cardinals have demanded an audience with Pope Francis over his vague divorce and remarriage doctrine that has caused major division throughout the church.
Cardinal Carlo Caffarra sent a letter to Francis on behalf of Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, Joachim Meisner, and himself, requesting an audience with the pope to clarify statements Francis made in his work “Joy of Love,” which welcomed civilly remarried Catholics to receive communion.
Francis did not specify whether it was necessary for remarried Catholics to get an annulment of their first marriage or, if an annulment is necessary, whether the remarried couples must abstain from sex until their first marriages are annulled. Bishops across the world have made differing interpretations of Francis’ statements, dividing the Church over what constitutes sin and who is in good standing with the church.
“How painful it is to see this — that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta,” reads the letter. “Faced with this grave situation, in which many Christian communities are being divided, we feel the weight of our responsibility, and our conscience impels us to ask humbly and respectfully for an audience.”
The lack of clarification has thrown the church into a theological free-for-all, beyond starkly contrasting interpretations of the issue of marriage and divorce. Bishops now offer differing doctrines on contraception, whether Protestants can now receive communion with Catholics, and reinterpretations of transubstantiation.
The cardinals requested clarification in September but Francis did not reply, prompting them to send their most recent letter in May. Francis has yet to respond to their request for an audience. In light of Francis’ silence, the Cardinals allowed their letter to be published for the consideration of the whole church.
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