New Year Resolution for orthodox Cardinals: A formal correction in 2019

December 27, 2018 (Steven O’Reilly) – Things have been busy in our household over the Christmas holiday. I am just catching up on some of my reading. I see that Cardinal Burke was interviewed earlier in December by Raymond Arroyo of EWTN on the December 13, 2018 edition of The World Over (see here).  The interview focused on a variety of issues, such as synodality, Vigano, McCarrick and the abuse crisis, etc. During the interview Raymond Arroyo also asked Cardinal Burke about the Dubia and the (near-forgotten) formal correction (see video starting at 16:18).

The formal correction–once suggested as a possibility by Cardinal Burke back in late-2016 (as Catholics following the Amoris Laetitia crisis well know)–seemed to fade away from the discussion, and doubts grew as to whether there would ever be one. I don’t think I’ve seen others comment on Burke’s dubia comments above…but the relative quiet only seems to underline the extent to which concerned Catholics now discount the possibility there ever will be a formal correction. Readers may even recall in an interview this past summer (which I discussed in There will be no formal correction) that Bishop Schneider seemed to strongly indicate there would be no formal correction:

“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])

But, now–returning to Arroyo’s December 2018 interview of Cardinal Burke–the Cardinal stated that while no response has been received from Pope Francis to the dubia, a response “must be made” and that he (Burke) is determined to have one. While Cardinal Burke admits there is no clear procedure for a such a formal correction of a pope, he does say that in addition to the two living ‘Dubia cardinals’ there are other cardinals who are “deeply concerned.”  The other key takeaway is that Cardinal Burke affirmed that a ‘formal correction remains on the table.’  Interestingly, reluctant to say anything further, the Cardinal added that is about as much as he could say.

What to make of it? I really don’t know.  Certainly, a formal correction is definitely needed with regard to Amoris Laetitia as erroneous and heretical interpretations of it (i.e., the correct ones?) continue to spread with the aid of key Cardinals and are even endorsed by publication in the Vatican newspaper (see here, here, here and here). Yet, so many other real or potential errors have arisen since the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the scope of a formal correction should actually now expand and extend to other areas of error and confusion (e.g., Francis and the death penalty [see More Papal Confusion: Footnoting Francis throws his predecessors under the bus]).

I had formerly been optimistic there would be a formal correction (e.g., see Don’t Panic! The Formal Correction is on the way!). However, now, I will no longer offer a prognostication; being now more pessimistic with regard to the possibility. In part, it is hard for me to imagine that the other ‘concerned’ cardinals (to whom Cardinal Burke made reference) have grown any braver or more willing to confront Pope Francis than they were two years ago, especially now that Francis has had more time to consolidate his power and support in the College of Cardinals. That said, St. Athanasius was nearly alone–and he fought on for the truth, regardless of whether others stood with him. Therefore, should any orthodox Cardinals be looking for some ideas for a New Year’s resolution….how about a formal correction of Pope Francis?

Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He lives near Atlanta with his wife Margaret. 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).



2 thoughts on “New Year Resolution for orthodox Cardinals: A formal correction in 2019

  1. “Then individual bishops can with their faithful or parish priests in the parishes publicly profess these Catholic truths”.
    If these professed truths blatantly contradict the Pope’s heretical or heterodox declarations, I guess that the faithfuls and parish priests will be deeply troubled. What if complaints are filed in the Vatican? Shouldn’t the orthodox bishops and theologians fear retaliatory measures from the Pope like Fr Weinandy underwent ?


    1. Hi, Jacque…Happy New Year….I think we’re required to hold and profess Catholic truths no matter what opposition there might be or from whom it might come….even from a mistaken pope.


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