(March 2, 2017 – Steven O’Reilly) In my last article (The Date of the Coming Formal Correction), I ventured an educated guess as to when the four “dubia” cardinals might issue a public “formal correction” of Pope Francis. My guess remains March 19th, or shortly thereafter. This is simply pure, private speculation. I have no sources.
In addition to my original speculations, I find it curious the letter and dubia first sent to Pope Francis was dated September 19, 2016. Perhaps coincidentally- or was it providential(?), but this date happened to be the 170th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of La Salette. The message of the apparition had apocalyptic overtones, though the exact content of the original message seems to be debated. September 19 also happens to be the feast day of St. Januarius, patron saint of Naples. In December, the miraculous liquefying of the saint’s blood failed to occur. This is taken as a very bad omen. Interestingly, the saint’s blood only partly liquefied in the presence of Pope Francis on his visit to Naples on March 21, 2015. The blood had never liquefied in whole or part for either St. John Paul II or Benedict XVI. Were these popes less saintly or less worthy successors of St. Peter than Francis? Why Francis then? Why a ‘half’ miracle for Francis and why on March 21? Who knows. I do note March 21 is within the range of dates (i.e., March 19 through March 24) when I speculate the public “formal correction” will come.
Now, the purpose of this article is not to rehash this timing per se. However, another news item caught my eye that suggests to me a public “formal correction” is imminent. The London Times (Anti Reform Cardinals ‘want the pope to quit’) reports on a group of cardinals who plan to ask Pope Francis to step down. This news in the London Times is based on the reporting of the Italian reporter and commentator Antonio Socci whose own article (in Libero) is quoted. The London Times writes:
“A group of cardinals who supported the election of Pope Francis are worried that his controversial reforms are leading the Catholic church towards a schism and are planning to appeal to him to step down, a leading Vatican watcher has claimed.
“A large part of the cardinals who voted for him is very worried and the curia . . . that organised his election and has accompanied him thus far, without ever disassociating itself from him, is cultivating the idea of a moral suasion to convince him to retire,” Antonio Socci wrote in the Italian newspaper Libero.”
I find this report remarkable as to its timing, for what it says about fears of schism among members of the Sacred College of Cardinals- and for what it does not seem to explicitly address – the dubia and an impending public “formal correction” of the Pope over Amoris Laetitia. Socci’s reporting on these disaffected liberal cardinals-and the breadth of their dissatisfaction with the Pope-suggests to me that the public “formal correction” is on the back of these cardinals’ minds. Word must be abroad-sottovoce– in the Sacred College the first ‘shoe’ has dropped, and it is only a question of time before the second ‘shoe’ follows. That is, the private correction must have already occurred. A wider group of cardinals is bracing for the public correction- and is casting about for solutions to head off a likely schism. If this analysis is close to the mark, the whispering campaign over a papal resignation is an attempt to get ahead of this public “formal correction” because-if it happens-it would unleash an unprecedented set of dynamics never before seen in the history of the Church. The clear message to the pope is that there are a significant number of cardinals who want him to resign. The second message- implied- is that if the pope does not resign, he will have little support in the Sacred College in the event of a public “formal correction.” In other words, “go quietly-or else; but go you must.” That is not to say any of this will have any effect on Pope Francis. It will be interesting to see whether the whispering campaign continues over the coming days and weeks.