Cardinal Martino Defends the ‘Dubia’

The retired Holy See diplomat is the latest cardinal to support the four cardinals and follows Cardinal Burke's latest interview with EWTN in which he decries internal Church division caused by the “politicization of the Church”.

Cardinal Renato Martino.
Cardinal Renato Martino. (photo: YouTube )

Cardinal Renato Martino has become the latest cardinal to publicly support the four cardinals who have written to the Pope asking him to clarify teaching in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Asked in a Dec. 17 interview with the Italian website La Fede Quotidiana for his thoughts on the dubia of the four cardinals, the Italian cardinal replied: “I don’t see there’s anything wrong. It’s legitimate in terms of doctrine to turn to the Pope and express an opinion, and it is also fair to respond.”

Cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke and Joachim Meisner published the dubia on Nov. 14 asking the Holy Father to give 5 “yes” or “no” answers to ascertain if controversial passages of Amoris Laetitia that have been susceptible to differing interpretations are consistent with past papal teaching. The most controversial of these is whether some remarried divorcees are allowed to receive Holy Communion.

So far, the Pope has not responded to the questions.

Cardinal Martino's intervention follows those of Cardinal Paul Cordes, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, who have expressed similar support for the four cardinals. Almost all other cardinals have so far chosen to remain silent on the issue, neither backing the dubia nor supporting Pope Francis’ decision not to respond.

A retired Holy See diplomat who served as Pope St. John Paul II’s permanent observer to the United Nations in New York from 1986 to 2002, Cardinal Martino is considered something of a “moderate” when it comes to prudential matters of public policy, yet a firm defender of the Church’s inviolable teaching on marriage, the family and life. He is currently honorary president of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute which aims to help Christians politicians stand up for the faith in the public square, and was one of six cardinals to make a public act of obedience on behalf of the College of Cardinals to Pope Francis at his papal inauguration in 2013. Among the other five was Cardinal Meisner.

Since 2014, Cardinal Martino has been Cardinal Protodeacon of the Holy Roman Church, meaning he will announce the new Pope’s name after the next conclave after declaring “Habemus Papam!” (we have a pope).

Also in the interview, Cardinal Martino lamented the increasing rate of divorce, saying “probably better and deeper catechesis is needed” so couples are properly educated about the “importance of the step they’re making through the sacrament of marriage.” He also reiterated his firm opposition to abortion and birth control, saying “it [abortion] cannot be accepted because it is murder.”


Cardinal Burke's EWTN Interview 

The cardinal’s comments came soon after Cardinal Burke reiterated in a new interview that it is the Pope’s role “as the pastor of the universal Church, as the guardian of the unity of the bishops and of the whole Body of Christ” to “respond” to such questions as those of the dubia.

Speaking to EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo Dec. 15, he also stressed that he and the other three cardinals are not creating division but rather addressing the “existing division within the Church” by trying to obtain clarity on the document’s moral teaching.

"I can assure you that for myself, and I know the other cardinals involved, we wouldn’t raise the questions unless we had the deepest and most sincere concern for the Church herself and for the individual members of the faithful," he said.

He also said that although the Pope has “given his own opinion” on allowing some of the divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion, such a matter cannot be “some speculative idea” about “how to approach these questions” but rather how “Christ in His Church” addresses such questions. “Until that answer is provided, we remain in a confused state,” he said. 

Cardinal Burke, patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta, also addressed Cardinal Christoph Schönborn’s assertion that Amoris Laetitia is an “evolution” of the Church’s doctrine, despite some interpretations which, the four cardinals and other critics say, show an incompatibility with previous papal teaching — Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried being the main one.

"You can’t have a maturation of a teaching which is a rupture from that teaching, which is a breaking away from that teaching," the American cardinal said. "Cardinal Schönborn’s remarks in that regard do not reflect what is called development of doctrine — in other words, through the Church’s reflection she deepens her appreciation of a teaching and, and helps the faithful to practice that teaching.”

He said that instead, “it’s a question of complete rupture in the teaching” whereas a maturation “is something organic, where you see that what the Church has been teaching about marriage now is expressed with a greater fullness."

Cardinal Burke assured viewers he would “never be part of a schism” but rather “continue to defend the faith out of love for Our Lord and for the, his mystical body, my brothers and sisters in the Church.” He said he believed the other cardinals are “of the same mind.”

On the calumnious accusation from critics of the dubia that the four cardinals might have a mental illness, the cardinal said the dubia “are not the reactions of people who are suffering from emotional disorders" but were done with "great serenity and with great respect.” He added: “We’re very deeply concerned about the truth of the doctrine of the faith and its integrity is not a sign of illness."

Asked if a formal correction of the Pope still stands, should the Holy Father continue not to respond, he replied: “Of course it does. It’s a standard instrument in the Church for addressing such a situation in the Church.”

Meanwhile, in a Dec. 18 interview with La Stampa, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, responsible for the day-to-day running of the Roman Curia, said “every form of division causes him [the Pope] distress and pain.”

The Italian archbishop said he would not “go into the controversies” but said he has duty to “loyally” tell the Pope what he thinks when a decision is being taken. “Once it is taken, I obey the Holy Father fully,” he said. “The unity of the Church, for which Jesus sweated blood and gave his life, comes before my own ideas, however good they may be. Ideas that have involved disobedience have ruined the Church."

In his interview with EWTN, Cardinal Burke pointed to the “politicization of the Church” which, he said, is "doing a great deal of damage to the common good of all in the Church." He observed that a “mundane spirit, a worldly spirit” has entered, dividing the Church “into various camps” and that the term 'fundamentalists' is now a label applied to “those of us who are striving to defend the constant teaching of the Church.”

Cardinal Burke stressed that only when the five dubia questions are adequately answered "will the division be dissipated." 

"As long as this continues, the division will only grow and of course the fruit of division is error," he said. "We’re talking about the salvation of souls, people being led into error in matters which have to do with their eternal salvation."

LifeSiteNews have a full transcript of Raymond Arroyo's interview with Cardinal Burke here

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