Sunday, September 24, 2017

Brotherly Correction

The recent publication of the Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis of 40 scholars and clergy to P. Francis, originally presented to the pontiff early last month, is causing some minor waves in Catholic society. While this correction produces indisputable evidence of material error issuing forth from the current pontificate, the response from the pope and his entourage is likely to be similar to that given to the steady stream of corrections, appeals, and dubia thus far: dismissive mockery followed by silence.

Still, responses of this sort—explicit, thorough, and precise—are necessary and helpful in other ways. They are helpful for the multitude of lay Catholics who remain confused and hurt by the pope's apparent madness, and feel timid or impious at the thought of making their concerns heard. They are helpful also for those who have steadfastly ignored all but the most benign words coming from Rome, since the most essential Franciscan errors are now very helpfully collected, summarized, and explained. Willfully ignorant Catholics are prodded to pull their heads out of the dirt and pay attention to reality. The signatories do not allow the Holy Father to get away with his careless words spoken in interviews, nor with his silence in response to the "implementations" of episcopal conferences.

That this correctio is being published during the quincentenary of Fr. Luther's revolution is not lost on its authors. There is a rather extensive section on "The Influence of Martin Luther" in the document (p. 12f), and it is worth nearly as much consideration as the marriage-related material.

Pray for the signatories. Pray for the pope. Only truth and repentance will heal these wounds. "For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted."


  1. Well at least our consciences can rest in peace when we say that the pope uttered heresy. It's something :/

  2. At least Nixon had to compile his enemies list. This coterie have delivered it to Bergoglio through certified mail.

    1. Looking at the names, I expect that more than a few were already on it.

  3. Is it proper for laity and SSPXers (who blatantly use very Protestant reasoning in their schismatic "irregular state!" argumentation) to attempt to publicly correct the Holy Father like this? In the spirit of Christ-like obedience. I keep hearing, "well, Paul corrected Peter", but are these folks truly a Paul in this scenario? Asking oneself honestly. And, short of a Paul (if this is even a valid framework) is there any power on Earth capable of correcting the Bishop of Rome as he sits in his chair? Is it make any sense in the light of canon law? What I mean is, who has authority over the Pope? Someone on another forum commented that much of this activity this like Protestantism dressed in clerical robes.

    1. Medieval theologians, and those who came after them, say that the first see cannot be judged except in the case of heresy.

      There was also the case of pope John XXII.

      There are precedents for correcting the pope. I don't think there are precedents for acting all the way the SSPX acts though.

    2. Jem, Maybe a distinction or two would help answer some of the questions you pose.

      Correction: literally, bring back to true (or straight). Anyone in error ordinarily ought to be corrected. (Correcting the erring is one of the classic spiritual works of mercy, after all.) This duty arises from charity and our assent to divine Faith. As such, it cannot be attenuated or set aside for considerations of obedience; after all, it is divine and Catholic Faith that establishes obligations of obedience ("Whoever hears you, hears Me," as Our Lord says).

      This ought to be done as privately as possible, at first, especially in relation to the dignity of the person being corrected. Only when a proportionately grave and general danger would ensue from the error should private corrections be abandoned in favor of public correction--provided the private corrections were to no avail.

      Such corrections have been made throughout Church history to all sorts of prelates, including the Holy Father. St. Norbert publicly corrected Pope Pascal II when he started to wobble about lay investiture. More famously, St. Catherine and St. Brigid remonstrated with the Popes of their times. And of course (something alluded to by the press release) the Masters of Paris issued a correction to John XXII.

      To judge, however, (as in "judge the Holy Father") means to issue a binding, definitive, and authoritative sentence regarding conduct or status. (Distinguish this from the general usage of "judge" to mean something like "arrive at a conclusion.") And judgment in the former sense no one on earth may presume to exercise in the case of the Supreme Pontiff (duly elected). (Of course, some have presumed to do precisely this throughout history, Otto I, to name one.)