Monday, January 2, 2017

Questioning the Holy Spirit?

Archbishop Pio Vito Pinto, Dean of the Roman Rota, told a conference in Spain that Cardinal Burke and the three cardinals who submitted the dubia (questions to be answered simply with a yes or no) to Pope Francis "could lose their Cardinalate" for causing "grave scandal" by making the dubia public. The Dean of the Roman Rota went on to accuse Cardinals Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner of questioning the Holy Spirit. 

Perhaps this is a wake up call for Lutherans who feel the warm embrace of a Pope who says he likes Lutherans, that maybe Luther was not such a bad guy after all, and that perhaps if Lutherans and Roman Catholics ignore enough doctrine and play together nicely, they will find the unity so prized above all.

Archbishop Pinto is not the first to react with outrage that some cardinals might question the Pope.  He probably will not be the last.  But how this all plays out is not without its own lesson for those outside the sphere of Rome.  The Pope has had his critics over questions of what his Synod and its documents mean with respect to the communion of the divorced and remarried.  In Amoris Laetitia  Francis seemingly opened doors, on a case-by-case basis, for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.  For many within the Roman Catholic Church this represents a break with tradition and a breach from the doctrine of the Church.  The problem is that the language of Amoris Laetitia is sufficiently vague to allow different interpretations.  The questions, according to the Cardinals, were designed to bring confusion into clarity. The Pope claims those who question see things in “black and white, even if in the flux of life you must discern.”  He has labeled them legalists as well.  On their part, the four have suggested that, if necessary, the Cardinals and bishops must correct the error of the Pope.

Funny how the Pope, who claims not to be a legalist but one who wishes to paint these thorny questions in many colors, not just black and white, is taking a rather legalist stance against those who would dare to question him.  Whether the Archbishop is speaking only for himself in suggesting the Cardinals be stripped of their office and were guilty of questioning the Spirit or as an arm of the papal office, it is clearly the kind of language Lutherans have reserved not for people but for the Scriptures alone.  Interesting to an outsider.  Probably fairly troubling to those inside the Vatican!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The defining characteristic of the Roman Church is legalism. In Rome, there is a law for every possible situation, a law for every circumstance. Of course, when there is disagreement, then the question comes up as to who defines the law. The pope usually wins these, even when he is speaking nonsense.

Fr. D+
Anglican Priest