The initiative, the first time such a mechanism has been used since the Middle Ages, accuses the Pope of “propagating heresies” and respectfully asks that he teach the truth of the Catholic faith in its integrity.
A group of clergy and lay scholars from around the world have taken the very rare step of presenting Pope Francis with a formal filial correction, accusing him of propagating heresies concerning marriage, the moral life, and reception of the sacraments.
Entitled Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis, meaning ‘A Filial Correction Concerning the Propagation of Heresies,’ the 25 page letter was delivered to the Holy Father at his Santa Marta residence on Aug. 11.
The Pope has so far not responded to the initiative, whose 62 signatories include the German intellectual Martin Mosebach, former president of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay (he learned of the document only after it had been delivered to the Pope and signed it on behalf of the Society).
The letter begins by saying that with “profound grief but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself” the signatories feel “compelled” to take this action “on account of the propagation of heresies.”
They cite in particular Francis’ apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, Amoris Laetitia, and “other words, deeds and omissions.”
They accuse the Pope of upholding seven heretical positions about “marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments” which, they say, has “caused these heretical opinions to spread in the Catholic Church.”
The clergy and scholars “respectfully insist” that Pope Francis condemn the heresies that he has directly or indirectly upheld, and that he teach the truth of the Catholic faith in its integrity.
The filial correction, the first to be made of a reigning Pontiff since Pope John XXII was admonished in 1333, is divided into three main parts.
In the first, the signatories say they have the “right and duty” to issue such a correction. They make clear the doctrine of papal infallibility has not been contradicted as the Pope has not promulgated heretical opinions as dogmatic teachings of the Church, but they maintain that Francis has “upheld and propagated heretical opinions by various direct and indirect means.”
The second part deals with the correction itself. Written in Latin, it lists the passages of Amoris Laetitia in which, they argue, the Pope insinuates or encourages heretical positions.
They mention those who claim these texts can be interpreted in an orthodox way, but the correction lists examples of when it is clear “beyond reasonable doubt” that the Pope “wishes Catholics to interpret these passages in a way that is, in fact, heretical.” In particular, they say the Pope has advocated the belief that obedience to God’s moral law can be impossible or undesirable, and that Catholics should sometimes accept adultery as compatible with being a follower of Christ.
This is the sixth major initiative in which both clergy and laity have expressed concerns about the Pope's teaching, particularly emanating from Amoris Laetitia. Despite the repeated pleas and warnings of chaos and confusion, Francis has refused to respond or acknowledge the initiatives which are as follows, in chronological order: