ANALYSIS OF THE ANSWERS GIVEN TO THE 5 DUBIA AS ORIGINALLY FORMULATED
The five Cardinals of the 5 Dubia presented to the Pope on July 10, 2023 did not publish the Pope’s responses on July 11, because these were not precise responses and did not resolve the doubts. Now, since the Holy See has published them, it seems appropriate to me that we respond to those answers, so that the faithful understand why the five of us did not find them adequate as answers. Given the time pressure, I did not consult the other four Cardinals and therefore I alone am personally responsible for this initiative.
Isn’t it presumptuous to question the Pope’s answers? No, for the following reasons:
1. No mature Catholic will believe that “anyone who contradicts the Holy Father is a heretic and schismatic”, as His Eminence Víctor Manuel Fernández stated. In fact, our Holy Father is wonderfully humble in recognizing errors, his own and the errors of those who preceded him in the Church (for example, he travelled to Canada and spent six days saying “mea culpa” for the so-called cruelties committed many years ago against Aboriginal youth in residential schools).
2. In the present case, I have a well-founded doubt that those answers do not come from the pen of the Supreme Pontiff, since this time I can quote in my favour what the Most Eminent Fernandez said about a document signed with the authority of the Pope : “I can’t smell the Pope in it.” In fact, the incredible promptness of the responses (July 11), especially in contrast to the case of the other famous 5 Dubia of 2016 that were simply ignored, makes one suspect that these responses are part of the arsenal of answers that the organizers of the Synod, probably with the help of the ‘Most Eminent’, had already prepared to respond to the disturbers of their agenda.
3. Moreover, in what I will say, I agree with the Pope on much of what he says, only taking exception to the fact that his responses are not precise answers to our Dubia, indeed sometimes his responses confirm our Dubia. Let’s get to the analysis.
Analysis of the Response to the First Dubium
I can agree with paragraphs (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) where there is talk about progress, better understanding, better expression, better interpretation, some aspects being more explicit, more mature judgment…
All this is fine, but not to the point of denying what was stated before by the Magisterium. Saint John Henry Newman rightly said that the development of the doctrine of the Church is always homogeneous. He wrote an entire book about this.
Paragraphs (f)(g)(h) are more complicated.
The case of the slaves. Slavery was an essential part of the order of society. Even the most respected philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, recognized human beings as divided into three categories: philosophers, soldiers and slaves. The incipient Christian community could not even think of being able to change all this. But Saint Paul’s Letter to Philemon shows how the concept of human beings as children of God was already beginning to radically change the relationship between master and slave and will end up calling into question the very institution of slavery.
The case of the woman. When you understand how precious the Petrine and Marian charisms are, you see that they are two different tasks, but there is no question of different dignity (in this regard, think how great the power of the mother is due to her preponderant weight in the education of young lives. Even when these new lives become kings and queens, they believe it is their duty to honour the queen mother).
The phrase “for the salvation of all” does not refer to a part of the revelation, but to the whole revelation, the contents of which form, yes, a hierarchy of values, but in a harmonious whole and it is not permitted to pit one against the other.
Where, however, in paragraph (h) theology and its “risks” are spoken of as calmly acceptable, I have to ask: does not the authority of the Church have duty to defend the simple faithful from risks that can threaten the purity of faith?
Analysis of the Response to the Second Dubium
Paragraphs (a) (b) (c) reaffirmed the only true conception of marriage which, moreover, no Catholic has ever dared to deny. But we are astonished by the sentence in paragraph (a), which quotes from Amoris laetitia: «Other forms of union do so only in a partial and analogous way»!?
Equally difficult is the sentence in paragraph (a) where it allows certain forms of blessing of homosexual unions. Doesn’t such a union imply sexual activity between people of the same sex, which is clearly sinful, just as any sexual activity outside of legitimate marriage is sinful?
Concerning our general attitude towards homosexuals, paragraphs (e) (f) are biased in opposing understanding and tenderness to the “mere” defence of objective truth, to “only” denying, rejecting and excluding, to treating homosexuals “only” as sinners. In fact, we are convinced that with understanding and tenderness we must also present to them the objective truth that homosexual activity is a sin, that it is contrary to God’s plan of love. We must also encourage them to a metanoia in the Church and trust in the help of God to carry their heavy cross on the path to eternal happiness.
Paragraph (g) is pastorally untenable. How can the Church, in such an important matter, leave the people without a clear rule and trust individual discernment? Isn’t this how a chaos of casuistry very dangerous for souls will break out?
Analysis of the Response to the Third Dubium.
The original Dubium starts from the fact that the present Synod, which is not made up of the entire college of bishops, seems to want to resolve issues that only an ecumenical Council with the Pope has the right to decide. This would be wrong.
Paragraph (a) of the response, instead, seems to start from synodality understood simply as speaking and walking together in the Church. In this sense, the fact that Cardinals have presented Dubia to the Pope confirms that they agree on this principle of synodality. Paragraph (b) continues to develop the above concept and says that “all the people of God participate in the mission in different ways and at different levels”. Here, it is important not to forget “in different ways and at different levels”. In fact, the documents of the Synod at a certain point even recognize the difference between “making decisions” and “taking decisions” (that is, the difference between participating in the process in view of a decision and the act of making the decision itself). But the same documents also suggest that the hierarchy must not only “hear”, but “listen”, i.e. obey the voice of the people, that is, the lay people, overturning the pyramid of the hierarchical constitution of the Church founded by Jesus on the Apostles.
Analysis of the Response to the Fourth Dubium
Regarding the ministerial priesthood, the Second Vatican Council says that it is different from the common priesthood “not only in degree, but essentially”, therefore, also in degree. With sacramental ordination, the minister acts “in persona Christi”, participating in the priesthood of Christ in a higher degree. However, here we are talking about the function and not about the dignity or sanctity or any other superiority of people, as the Pope also affirms, quoting from Christifideles laici.
In paragraph (c) he recognizes that the exclusive conferral of the ministerial priesthood on males is not a dogma, but a definitive, clear and authoritative statement, which must be respected by all. But the answer leaves a tail: «yet it can be a subject of study, as in the case of the validity of ordinations in the Anglican Community». So, despite the definitive declaration, it will still be possible to discuss “ad infinitum”?! Among other things, the comparison used here is not adequate, because the validity of ordinations in the Anglican Community is a historical problem, while our case is of a theological nature.
Analysis of the Response to the Fifth Dubium
Precisely because we are administrators and not masters of the Sacraments, we must follow the rules, ensure repentance and resolution. Why, by doing this, should we be turning confession into “a customs office”?!
The confessor must not humiliate the penitent, but the penitent must be humble, he must know that it is necessary to express the intention not to sin again (and also to avoid occasions of sin). Yes, a sincere promise does not exclude the foreseeing of possible relapses. But it is important to make people understand that sin distances us from God and from our happiness, not only eternal happiness, but also happiness here and now.
We, too, are convinced that we must learn to truly become messengers of God’s infinite mercy, which is capable of making saints even of us sinners.