There will be no formal correction

October 3, 2018 (Steven O’Reilly) – Rorate Caeli reports the availability of a lengthy interview of Bishop Athanasius Schnieder and the Rorate Caeli website provides a link to it (see here).  The interview, entitled “Catholic Church: Where are you heading?”, was conducted in July 2018 by a Hungarian theologian Dániel Fülep.

Of particular note, Bishop Schneider responds to a question regarding the status of the “formal correction,” promised at one time by Cardinal Burke. Regarding a potential correction, Bishop Schneider indicates that  “I think we have to see the finality of formal correction of the Pope in our circumstances” (p. 39).  The Bishop goes on and calls to mind the various appeals already made to the Pope not to change the doctrine and praxis on the question of communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, e.g., the appeal by one million people prior to the 2015 Synod of the Family, the appeal of the bishops of Kazahkstan, and – of course – the dubia. We also remember the filial correction made just over a year ago (see here).  However, Bishop Schneider observes “The situation has become worse in spite of all these appeals, the Pope even officially approved last year the norms of the bishops of the Buenos Aires region, which foresee the admittance to Holy Communion of unrepented adulterers in special cases” (“Catholic Church: Where are you heading?”, p. 40).  The Bishop continues (emphasis added):

“I think that – humanly speaking – a formal correction will not change the position of the Pope. What is the meaning of a formal correction? One also has to be realistic and prudent, and ask what is the best manner to serve the Church, to help the faithful? When we can foresee that the correction will not have an effect on the Pope, then, I think, it would be meaningless to make a formal correction. On the other side, we have to do all what we can, the cardinals and bishops, to strengthen the faithful. Therefore, we published several declarations in order to strengthen the faithful. I see no other possibilities for the moment. Of course, the basic requirement is to pray, to pray very intensively for the Pope that God may illuminate him. Then of course, we can hold conferences to stress this theme according to the constant Catholic sense. Maybe we could also make and spread a kind of oath against the most dangerous errors of our time. This could be made maybe by a group of theologians, and then spread. Then individual bishops can with their faithful or parish priests in the parishes publicly profess these Catholic truths. This would be, in my opinion, a concrete and efficacious means of help to address the current doctrinal confusion. The ultimate change comes only when God intervenes, when he illuminates the Pope or when He will give us a future holy and courageous Pope. (“CATHOLIC CHURCH: WHERE ARE YOU HEADING?”
Theologian Dániel Fülep’s interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana Astana, Kazakhstan, July 2018, p. 40-41 [interview link here])

My read on the answer above is that there will be no formal correction. That said, I think many by this point had already discounted the possibility of there being one – so, the Bishop’s comments may not come as an unexpected surprise. I am sure at one time a formal correction was seriously considered, even intended perhaps, but somewhere along the way – it now appears clear – the prudential judgment was made to drop the idea given it was ‘foreseen’ a formal correction would not have “an effect on the Pope.”

The theology of how a “formal correction” might have worked was somewhat murky, and unprecedented. It probably did not help matters that the dubia cardinals never received any substantial public support for their efforts from other cardinals and bishops, and as time marched on, what support they might have hoped for only grew weaker – relatively speaking – either through the deaths of allies or as Pope Francis added more and more of his “own” cardinals to the Sacred College. Who knows?  Perhaps it was feared a “formal correction” might only precipitate an even more formal magisterial act on the part of an obstinate Francis.

Of course, that is pure speculation. Whether it may have led to one or not, or whether or not it played a part in the demise of the “formal correction,” I do think we should expect to see more on the topic from Francis regardless. As with the recent change to the Death Penalty entry in the Catechism (see More Papal Confusion: Footnoting Francis throws his predecessors under the bus) to bring it more in line with Francis’ thought, it is likely – I think probable – a similar change to the Catechism (i.e., CCC 1650) regarding communion for adulterers is afoot.  Perhaps we might also expect the upcoming synod will attempt to include a further confirmation of the teaching of Amoris Laetitia in its final document, thereby giving it additional magisterial weight in the wake of Episicoplis Communio (see here).

It is – humanly speaking – a bleak moment.  It appears the human options have been exhausted. But, God is ultimately in control of history.  We have seen times where he has acted when all things otherwise seemed hopeless (e.g., here).  Therefore, as Bishop Schneider notes: “The ultimate change comes only when God intervenes, when he illuminates the Pope or when He will give us a future holy and courageous Pope.”  Therefore, pray – just as the Bishop suggests.  Let us pray for Pope Francis that he may definitively uphold, and illuminate the Apostolic See with the doctrine of the Apostolic Tradition.

Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is married to Margaret O’Reilly.  He lives near Atlanta with his family. He has written apologetic articles and is working on a historical-adventure trilogy, set during the time of the Arian crisis. He asks for your prayers for his intentions.  He can be contacted at (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA).










13 thoughts on “There will be no formal correction

  1. If you let me put in a skeptical comment: If there is an unexpectedly orthodox pope after Francis, how does that change the fact that Francis existed and supposedly misled the faithful with dubious doctrines for years? Is there a limit to how wrong a pope can be, as long as he does not specifically invoke his infallibility? And then, why not invoke that superpower more often, if it is indeed available to him?

    I try everyday to convince myself that all this somehow makes sense, but it fits exactly with how things would work if what we were witnessing was men proposing their own ideas with no Holy Spirit protecting anything at all.


    1. Thanks for the comment. With regard to where Francis fits in in the history of popes, in the context of a future orthodox pope,,,we need to keep in mind the Church has had “bad” popes in the past, inclusive of popes (e.g., John xxii) who held erroneous opinions, and even preached and wrote on them. Pope Honorius was condemned as a heretic by the 6th Ecumenical Council for what was found written by him to Sergius of Constantinople. Yet, an examination of the case does not upset the doctrine of papal infallibility.

      My personal opinion is, Francis falls somewhere into the category of a Pope John XXII and or a Pope Honorius. So, while it is definitely troubling to live through such times – St. Vincent Lerins tells us God permits such trials to test and prove our faith. So, keep the faith, keeping in in mind specifically that while the solution to all of this might not be immediately evident to us, God is true to his word – the gates of hell will not prevail. Keep the faith.


  2. I completely disagree that the use of a “formal correction” depends upon the utility of whether it will be accepted by the corrected and inspire positive change.

    That is *one* benefit. Not the only one. Perhaps not even the most important one. It strikes me as a cop-out excuse.

    A formal correction is needed by orthodox Catholics in defense of the Deposit of Faith which transcends the present moment in time. It belongs to all Catholics, unaltered and whole, past, present future. It stands as an official marker. A flag, planted in the ground; for Truth, orthodox Truth.

    It is needed by the living Faithful who are confused by the transgressions of the successor of Peter away from orthodox faith, who is significantly clouding and altering our precious and vital Sacred Deposit of Faith. We are confused. We are losing the Faith.

    It is needed by future generations of Catholics who depend upon their parents to faithfully transmit this Sacred Deposit, intact, unaltered and whole, to them in the future.

    Praxis is undergoing daily revolution. How we live our faith is changing before our very eyes, up to and including Sacramental praxis.

    What Bp Schneider is saying is that the Sacred Deposit of Faith will survive this crisis regardless of whatever the attacks against it; whether it is defended or not. That is not guaranteed. It is being altered and damaged, changed, revolutionized, actively, daily, while our Shepherds do nothing.

    He speaks of Divine Intervention; of some future day. God intervenes miraculously, true, at times, but God also demands active participation of the living. He demands it now. He tests us now. The moment is ours. Our children will have problems enough. Why do we pass this grave crisis on to them while doing nothing?

    Failing to formally correct the Pope specifically means to me that every living Priest, Bishop and Cardinal fully agrees with the Pope, yes, practically speaking approves, including Bp Schneider etc. Only Bp Viganó dares this mighty deed. Alone. God bless that man. No one rose, not one Bishop or Priest rose to sieze that moment; his ongoing efforts. His glory; their shame.

    I am frankly scandalized that no one in the Church, save Abp Viganó, will formally correct this obvious heresy and systemic crime within the Church Hierarchy and from Peter’s Seat. So we small, vulnerable faithful stand alone with no one to guide or protect us.

    Bp Schneider: issue the correction. Someone, please, formalize the opposition to what is taking place.


    1. Aqua, thanks for your comments. I did leave out an extended commentary of my opinion on the apparent demise of a formal correction as a course of action. Had I included one, I would say that while I understand what I *think* were their motives to ‘end’ it, I disagree with them, i.e., for the sorts of reasons you outlined – they should have gone ahead with it.

      The sad state of affairs in the Church is such though…that there were only two cardinals publicly supportive of the possibility of a formal correction (Burke and Brandmueller) and one bishop (Schneider – and he an auxiliary!) – and I’m sure that was not through lack of trying to gain support.

      Now, possibly on the bright side…the interview was conducted PRIOR to the Vigano testimony. There is rising anger among the laity, and a number of bishops (still relatively small); and they are wanting answers from the pope re the testimony. This might be a good time to pull the formal correction off the shelf.

      Thanks again for reading the article.



    2. I agree with the letter and the spirit of what Aqua has to say.

      The most disturbing aspect of Archbishop Schneider’s above-quoted remarks is not even the shelving of the formal correction, but the thinking behind such indefensible acquiescence. We have to be “realistic and prudent,” is it, and consider what is “best” rather than what is right? Evidently (and I say this neither lightly nor sarcastically), Archbishop Schneider refrains from calling for any serious censure of the situational ethics undergirding Amoris laetitia not because he believes it would be pointless, but because he disagrees only with the outcome of Bergoglian calculation rather than with the method of calculation itself.


  3. The real issue is not just the “divorced-and-remarried.” It is ALL persons who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.” (Canon 915)

    The pope’s favorite bishops ALL persist in the manifest grave sin of ignoring Canon 915 by coercing their priests to give Communion to pro-abortion public figures.


    1. Thanks for the comments, Arthur. While the dubia specifically dealt with Amoris Laetitia in regard to the divorced and remarried – and thus the formal correction would have been specifically addressing that issue (I suppose) – you are 1000% correct regarding Canon 915. The sacrilege extends far beyond the D&Rs – and has for quite some time. This also needs to be corrected.

      Thanks for reading the article.



  4. It seems to me that a formal correction having an effect on the Pope became largely moot a long time ago, given his consistently demonstrated heterodox intractability. The value in it would be as a powerful sign to the FAITHFUL of formal magisterial resistance against that heterodoxy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Frank, thanks for the comments. I agree. Even if it has no effect on Pope Francis’ thinking, it would be a sign and encouragement to the faithful.

      A formal correction issued some time ago would have started the clock on a potential canonical warning – i.e., 6 months, and then 6 months for a second warning. The longer this the starting of this “clock” is delayed…the longer Francis has to add to the harm he has done, such as. now, intercommunion for protestant spouses of Catholics in Germany.

      A formal correction is something around which bishops, over time, could have rallied around and gotten behind as abuses were added upon abuses. It is unfortunate that the clock has yet to start – and apparently will never start. Whether the Vigano testimony changes this apparent calculation, I don’t know. One can only hope.



      Liked by 1 person

  5. In my reading of the Bible, God *always* works through impossible odds; the small; the “forlorn hope”. Every single Bible story, up to and including especially the entry of God into the world was this way. Moses and Israel with the Red Sea on one side and the mightiest fighting force on earth on the other. Joshua and a few soldiers marching around impenetrable walls. Gideon told to reduce his army from 10s of thousands to hundreds prior to battle. Saul cowering in fear before Goliath, while young David walks right up to him with a few rocks. Daniel, alone, standing while all others knelt before Nebuchadnezzar; then alone with the lions. Elijah against all the prophets of King Ahaziah. And then, there is Christ our Lord. And His mother, our Queen. Nobodies. A stable for a bed. Athanasius. The Desert Monks. The North American Martyrs Of Quebec.

    Another theme of all these heroes? They all chose faithful obedience at the cost of personal suffering or death. They all saw the way to righteous action and chose that path; when all others did not. God intervened *through them*.

    The fact that there is now no Cleric, save Viganó (!), willing to stand up for our God tells me we are about to witness a fearful divine intervention. And it will be no credit to those who sat back and did nothing but speak about “some future day”.

    The odds are stacked mightily against Holy Eternal Mother Church. The Line Of Apostles has been broken in China. Godless communists are choosing our Shepherds in the Apostolic line and the remaining faithful are persecuted with the approval of the Pope. God Himself is profaned in the Sacraments by the Pope, by our Cardinals and our Bishops; offering Him to manifest sinners; encouraging thereby manifest mortal sin throughout the Body Of Christ. “Pope” Francis opens the Youth Synod, not with the Crucifix of our Lord raised high, but with an evil Wiccan Warlock “Stang” staff proudly held high, containing the image of our Lord within the wood below the evil fork with a nail driven through it.

    And no one says a word. All is quiet. Mewling. Serenity.

    To me, that means, absent action and physical evidence of resolve, agreement and complicity with it all by all who so choose.

    Oh yes, the Lord will act, Bishop Schneider. And it will be a fearful thing for any who fail to rally to His Bride’s side in Her hour of need. I am simply dumbfounded that no one will publically denounce the manifest pile of sins emenating from Rome and around the world … with a Formal.Public.Correction.

    Thank you, sir, for your contribution to clarity and faithfulness. I find it quite difficult these days to see my own way forward. So difficult when persecution and martyrdom is sourcing within the Church itself. Do not really know, right now, which way to turn. I simply stand, internally, with our Queen, with Jesus at the foot of His Cross. And thank you for letting me speak here on your blog (excessively long, I know … sorry for that).


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