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SYROS, Greece (ChurchMilitant.com) - The head of the Greek Catholic bishops is slamming four cardinals, including Cdl. Raymond Burke, of "heresy" for challenging Pope Francis.
Archbishop Frangiskos Papamanolis, president of the Greek Episcopal Conference, issued a strongly worded public letter Tuesday, November 22, blasting Cdls. Raymond Burke, Joachim Meisner, Carlo Caffarra and Walter Brandmueller.
"From your document it appears clear that, in practice, you do not believe in the supreme teaching authority of the Pope, reinforced by two synods of bishops from around the world," accused Papamanolis.
He was referring to a set of "dubia," or questions, the four cardinals had submitted to the Holy Father seeking clarity regarding "Amoris Laetitia," the Pope's apostolic exhortation, which has been used by liberal bishops to promote opening up the sacraments to the divorced and civilly remarried, among other things.
Titled "Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in 'Amoris Laetitia,'" the cardinals' letter notes "a grave disorientation and great confusion" among the faithful over "contrasting interpretations" of the exhortation. The cardinals had sent the letter privately to the Holy Father in September, but after no response, they went public with their plea.
"Before publishing the document," Papamanolis writes, "you should have presented yourselves to Our Holy Father Francis and asked to be removed from the College of Cardinals."
After charging the cardinals with "apostosy" and "heresy," Papamanolis goes on to accuse them of committing "the more serious sin of scandal."
I fear that your mental categories will find sophisticated arguments to justify your actions, so that you do not even consider it a sin to access the sacrament of penance and that you will continue to celebrate every day Holy Mass and to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist profanely, while you act offended if, in specific cases, a divorced and remarried person receives the Eucharist, and you dare accuse Our Holy Father Francis of heresy.
He closes his letter, "Dear brethren, the Lord enlighten you to recognize as soon as possible your sin and to repair the scandal you have given."
Newly named Cdl. Blase Cupich of Chicago, a well-known liberal, is also adding to the criticism. In an interview with Vatican journalist Ed Pentin in Rome after Cupich received the red hat, he said of the confusion engendered by "Amoris Laetitia," "Life is full of ambiguity."
He went on, "There are enough voices out there in which the Holy Father doesn't have to in any way defend a teaching document of the Church. It's up to those who have doubts and questions to have conversion in their lives."
Cupich directly contradicted Burke, one of the world's top canonists, when Burke reiterated in mid-November that "Amoris Laetitia" is not magisterial.
"It is a post-synodal apostolic exhortation," Cupich claimed, "and so it stands on the same level as all the other post-synodal apostolic exhortations as a magisterial document."
Burke had said November 15, "My position is that 'Amoris Laetitia' is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities that confuse people and can lead them into error and grave sin."
"A document with these defects cannot be part of the Church's perennial teaching," he concluded.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, another American prelate who recently received the red hat, also chided the four cardinals. Speaking to the liberal UK Catholic magazine The Tablet November 18, Tobin remarked, "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."
He went on to criticize Burke and his brother cardinals with being "naive."
Pope Francis himself has indirectly responded to the cardinals' letter by rebuking his critics for their "legalism."
"Some — think about the responses to 'Amoris Laetitia' — continue to not understand. They think it’s 'black and white,' even if in the flux of life you must discern," he told Italian paper Avennire in an interview published November 17.
According to the Holy Father, such concerns arise "from a certain legalism, which can be ideological."