The American Behind the Pope’s Crisis – Daily Beast

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In a move not seen in centuries, Cardinal Burke, Francis’s ultra-conservative critic, is forcing the liberal pontiff to spell out exactly where the church stands on divorce and LGBTs.

ROME—Apparently, Pope Francis has some explaining to do. At least that’s what four cardinals, led by American Raymond Leo Burke, say. Tired of the pontiff’s reliance on symbolism and individual interpretation of doctrine, Burke and his clan of clerics are demanding that Francis spell out what he really means on key issues like same-sex couples and divorced and married Catholics, essentially forcing him into a corner where he will be damned by one side or the other depending on what he says.

In September, the cardinals filed a list of dubia, or doubts, to Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) in which he eased up on the church’s traditional teachings about marriage, which these critics say is leading the church toward “grave disorientation and great confusion.” When it became clear that Francis had no intention of parting the clouds, the cardinals went public with their action.

If he doesn’t respond, they have threatened to initiate a “formal act of correction of a serious error”—which would be something like a congressional hearing in the Curia to see if the pope needs to be admonished in some way. Francis cannot be impeached (thanks to the Canon principle Prima Sedes a nemine indicator, or “the first See is judged by no one”), but such measures, which have not been enacted in centuries, still spell trouble for the popular pope.

Vatican expert Edward Pentin, who writes for National Catholic Reporter and others, broke the story, which has sent shockwaves around Rome. Not only is it the biggest crisis of Francis’s papacy so far, Pentin says it could cause a schism among conservative and liberal cardinals.

“The four cardinals certainly hope for clarification, however that may come. They are genuinely concerned that the ambiguities, leading to multiple interpretations concerning a crucial issue for the church, are divisive, gravely disorienting, and so dangerous for souls,” Pentin told The Daily Beast. “They feel they had no alternative but to fulfill their duty as cardinals to make what they call ‘deep pastoral concerns’ public when Francis decided not to respond. They also argue this is crucial not for conservative Catholics, but Catholics as a whole, as it deals with the most valuable treasure the church has: the Eucharist, which Catholics believe to be the real body and blood of Christ.”

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