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Cardinal Burke said he is not accusing Pope Francis of "heresy" by submitting the five dubia for him to answer. He also explained that if a pope were to "formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope" and that there is a process within the Church for dealing with such a situation.
"The faithful and priests and bishops have the right to have these questions answered," he said of thedubia. "It was our duty as cardinals, when the Pope made it clear that he would not respond to them, to make them public so that the priests and the lay faithful who had these same doubts might know that their doubts are legitimate and that they deserve a response."
It "could happen" that a pope would formally profess heresy, but "I hope we won’t be witnessing that at any time soon," Burke told Catholic World Report (CWR).
According to Peters, who holds the Edmund Cdl. Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, canonical tradition has dealt with the possibility of a pope falling into personal heresy and promoting such heresy publicly and what should be done if this happens.
Peters notes that while it is true that, as Canon 1404 states, “The First See is judged by no one,” thus making it impossible for anyone to remove an erring pope from his office, this does not mean that a pope in error retains his office.
The Pope, who was elected with a mandate for reforming the Vatican, talked about a “hidden resistance” to change which comes from “hardened hearts content with empty rhetoric of a complacent spiritual reform” and a malicious resistance inspired by the devil and dressed up as tradition, accusation and self-justification.
Francis has lambasted the “diseases” of the Curia in previous speeches at this time of year and after delivering this one gave his collaborators a Christmas present: a book written by a Jesuit, Claudio Acquaviva, titled “Curing the Illnesses of the Soul”.
Among those listening to Francis’ address inside the Vatican today was Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has threatened to make a formal “act of correction” to the Pope’s modernising plans on giving Communion to the divorced and remarried. After the Pope finished speaking the cardinal was seen briefly greeting Francis and taking his copy of Aquaviva’s book.
In his speech today the Pope called for more lay people, particularly women, to be given roles in the Church’s central administration, an organisation where all the top jobs are currently held by ordained men. He also wants people representing the global Church to have roles in Rome to better reflect the universal nature of Catholicism.