“Tensions may arise between the theologian and the Magisterium. The meaning attributed to such tensions and the spirit with which they are faced are not matters of indifference.”

The Church does not force people to believe something against their conscience. It makes a distinction between being unable to assent to something and dissent. The former cannot be helped sometimes, the latter is harmful to the unity of the Church.

Many critics of Pope Francis today excuse their harsh judgements of the pope with the claim that we don’t have to adhere to every word the pope says, that the pope can be mistaken, the pope can be in error in his non-infallible magisterium.

There is some truth to this. The CDF document, Donum Veritatis, published by Cardinal Ratzinger, clarifies that the pronouncements of the magisterium, at least when they are not directly related to revealed doctrine, can be a mixed bag of essential and contingent elements. He speaks of the filter of time that is sometimes required to purify and develop the teachings.

This is not necessarily where the critics are wrong. Where they are wrong is in the spirit of their opposition to the pope.

One can see the spirit of what they do in the fact that they are not simply struggling in good faith with this or that teaching. They are rather doing what Ratzinger described as dissent in Donum Veritatis.

 If, despite a loyal effort on the theologian’s part, the difficulties persist, the theologian has the duty to make known to the Magisterial authorities the problems raised by the teaching in itself, in the arguments proposed to justify it, or even in the manner in which it is presented. He should do this in an evangelical spirit and with a profound desire to resolve the difficulties. His objections could then contribute to real progress and provide a stimulus to the Magisterium to propose the teaching of the Church in greater depth and with a clearer presentation of the arguments.

So far, so good. This is what Cardinal Burke initially did in privately sharing his problems with the Vatican. But then Donum Veritatis continues:

the theologian should avoid turning to the “mass media”, but have recourse to the responsible authority, for it is not by seeking to exert the pressure of public opinion that one contributes to the clarification of doctrinal issues and renders servite to the truth. (Donum Veritatis 30)

This is where everything went off the rails. In a 2017 interview with the Remnant, the interviewer asked Cardinal Burke this question:

So, is it even possible for you to envision a scenario whereby you suddenly discover that you’ve missed something, that the Four Cardinals are misinterpreting it, and that you’d have to concede you were wrong? I mean if that’s not possible, then what is the point of the dubia? Don’t you already know the answers to your five questions?

And this was Cardinal Burke’s reply:

Certainly we do. But the important thing is that the pastor of the universal Church, in his office as guardian of the truths of the Faith and promoter of the truths of the faith—that he make clear that, yes, he answers these questions in the same way that the Church answers them.

In other words, his “dubia” was not sincere. He just wanted to make the pope publicly say what Burke thought the Church teaches or ought to teach. What is the spirit behind that? What is the spirit behind writing open letters to the pope accusing him of being a heretic or pretending to correct him? What is the spirit behind the writing of books called “Lost Shepherd” or “The Dictator Pope”? What is the spirit that synchronizes and coordinates the release of slander and gossip and anonymous accusations that seem designed to undermine the papacy? What is the spirit that accuses a pope of being guilty of ‘internal schism’ (whatever that means)?

It’s the spirit of pride and arrogance. It’s a spirit that denies the role and the authority of Peter. It’s not the spirit of humility and love for the Church that characterizes one who cannot accept a teaching or struggles with a teaching but seeks to understand it in communion with the Church. What we are seeing is an attempt to exert the pressure of public opinion against Pope Francis.

There is a way to dialogue with the pastors of the Church about her teachings, and it’s not even impossible for the theologically minded to assist the magisterium in correcting and clarifying its own teachings. But what we are seeing with the opposition to Pope Francis and his magisterium is not it.

Liked this post? Take a second to support Where Peter Is on Patreon!

Husband, father of six, idea-tinkerer, graduate school drop-out. Having previously lived amongst the cacti and coyotes of Arizona, Brian now resides in the Canadian prairies.  Brian is a co-conspirator of Where Peter Is.

A Spirit of Dialogue or Dissent?

25 Responses

  1. jong says:

    You nailed it!
    Thanks Brian a brief article but you’ve clearly presented and exposed the “evil intention” of the Dubia Cardinals esp.Cardinal Burke. But let us set aside Cardinal Caffara as he was seen embracing and had reconciled with Pope Francis before his death. He is indeed a True Papist.

    Cardinal Burke et,al intentionally ignoring Donum Veritatis despite the facts that the petitioners who signed “Filial Correctio” was already rejected or had failed already by not following the simple evangelical guidelines of Donum Veritatis. Despite this clear error and judgement rendered by the CDF in 2018, and even during Cardinal Muller’s time in 2017 had even warned the Dubia Cardinals not to go public with their dissent. Both the “Filial Correctio” petitioner and Dubia Cardinals openly ignored the warning. The unfortunate thing is, the one who gave the warning in 2017 also violated his own words by publishing his own Manifesto of dissent publicly. And worst, it did not stop there, his expression and issuance of public dissent continues up to this day.
    I was enlightened by WPI article titled “What is their end game?”, because clearly the Dubia Cardinals has a conceived evil agenda.
    I stated this numerous times in my comment, Cardinal Burke et, al continued open resistance is inviting Pope Francis to impose an “excommunication” on them to justify a “revolt” and validate their painted image that Pope Francis is a Dictator Pope. Schism, apostasy, and revolt is the recipe in Thessalonian prophecy for the “Antichrist or the son of perdition” to appear. It is my discernment that all the sowing of confusions and hatred are aimed to increase their followers and supporters to launch the conceived grand revolt. They are already outside the Church even if they deny and project themselves not in schism the facts wont lies, Cardinals Burke et, al already had committed schism and apostasy on the gospel of Mercy and the only thing needed is “revolt”. The Pan Amazon Synod is an opportunity for them to sow more confusions & hatred to increase the tensions and further the divisions by throwing new accusations of heresiies,apostasies like paganism, women and married men priestly ordination,etc. They continue to cook and put more poisons for them to give to their confused followers to effect the “diabolical disorientation”.
    The schismatic rigid Rad Trads can no longer distinguished right from wrong and truth over lies. Doestevsky words are really telling “people who spread lies and believed the lies will come to a point that they can no longer know the difference between truth and lies”. These people had been poisoned and are now suffering from “diabolical disorientation”.
    What are we going to do esp. the faithful Catholic loyal to Pope Francis Magisterium?
    While Pope Francis is busy sowing seed of Merciful Love thru Ecumenism of Fraternity and Solidarity the Rad Trads are sowing seed of pride and disobedience and building their own Ecumenism uniting the Clan of Trads to Ecumenism of Hatred, joined together for one mission, To force the ouster of Pope Francis .
    This will be the fight in the end times according Elizabeth Kindelmann revelation, the war will be between “Fire of Love” vs. “Fire of Hatred”.
    This is the meaning of the Holy Family’ s new image Jesus, Mary and St.Joseph showing their “Fiery Heart”, because Jesus said in the gospel when he comes again He wants to see all our hearts burning already.
    The True Soldier of Christ or the True Marian Warrior must have a “fiery heart” in the end times to defeat the “darkened heart” of the church critics and enemies.
    Forces of Light vs. forces of darkness.
    This is the meaning why Pope Francis is called the “Luminous Pope” and the reason why St.JP2 gave us a new weapon the “Luminous Mystery”.
    We will all be victorious if we are united to Pope Francis who is empowered & shielded by the powerful intercession of Pope Emeritus BXVI.
    The expanded Petrine Ministry is our key to victory. Matthew18:19-20
    “The light shines in darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.”(John1:5) My Jesus mercy. S&IHMMP4us.Amen.

    • Patty says:

      The expanded Petrine Ministry is a novelty and therefore suspect as it is not support by scripture. As to a ‘new’ weapon, Our Lady didn’t give us a defective one. This improvement on what God supplies seems rather prideful.

  2. Terry says:

    This is the meaning why Pope Francis is called the “Luminous Pope” and the reason why St.JP2 gave us a new weapon the “Luminous Mystery”.

    In my estimation, it is very questionable to “add’ something given us by the Holy Mother of God. I cannot bring myself to recite these mysteries, but that is me.

    • jong says:

      Terry & Patty
      Even the Hail Mary prayers are not the original wordings of Mama Mary, the Holy Spirit inspired men to add the word “Jesus” in the wording of St.Elizabeth., and how about the word “Holy Mary, Mother of God pray fo us sinners now and at the hour of our death” is this not an addition too?
      And even Mama Mary added the Fatima Decade Prayer.

      The Luminous Mystery was inspired by Our Lady to not just a Pope but a Great Pope who became a saint,and he is not only a saint but a Great Saint. Totus Tuus!

      We need a new weapon?
      1. St.Padre Pio said “the rosary is the weapon for these times”
      2. St.Agnes said “the only weapon left for us in the end times is the rosary”
      3. Sis. Lucia said ““The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”

      Why do we need a new weapon a new Luminous Mystery, because we are living in the Age of Darkness or Confusion.
      Satan the Great Accuser is now unchain as stated by Pope Francis in his homily, and Ab.Vigano felt guilty because he had published numerous accusations on his brethren even without proof. Ab.Vigano has accused, accused, and accused but cannot provide a single proof. (Revelation12:10)
      And so, when he heard the homiliy of Pope Francis on the Great Accuser unchain he felt it was him and he cried out foul in the media and “accuses” again Pope Francis of “subtle slander”.

      The expanded Petrine Ministry” is needed because the Pope is fighting Satan the Great Accuser “unchain”. And why we need Two Pope to defeat Satan the Great Accuser who is now unchain is written in Matthew18:1920
      “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

      Jesus is now in the midst of Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus BXVI who are united in prayer. Exodus14:14 & John1:5

  3. Lazarus says:

    There is the sin of schism and there is the canonical status of schism. While not every disobedience is schism, it is possible to be guilty of the sin of schism before achieving the canonical status of schism.

  4. Bridget Taumoepeau says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Arrogance is so unattractive and disrespectful. And none of their attitude or comment seems to bear any likeness to Jesus and his teaching. I was reminded too of the phrase ‘The opposite of faith is not doubt, it is certainty’.

  5. carn says:

    1. You failed to discuss, whether the about 2 months the dubia cardinals waited for a non-public response was enough.

    It is a given, that if private communication is not reacted to in an adequate amount of time, that then per Canon 212 § 3 they have the


    and maybe even the


    to make the issue public.

    As you have failed to discuss this matter, you are guilty of rash judgement of the dubia cardinals.

    2. Even if you had shown that the 2 months waiting were insufficient (and i am not sure how one could show it one way or another, as i am not aware about what the average time between message cardinals – response Pope is; with some German dubia about communion last year it was perfectly acceptable to at least note the media about die dubia 2 weeks after the date of the letter; so 2 months could be a perfectly acceptable time),

    this cannot change anything about that some people would like to have an answer to some of the questions from someone with authority to answer them.

    My parish priest shrugged his shoulders when i asked him about dubium 2. He will not and cannot answer it.

    Would it then be appropiate for me to ask the bishop’s office?

    And if i do not receive answer, then sent a letter to CDF?

    And then after some time to the Pope?

    That would be the correct way to go about, if i try to ensure that i stood Church teaching correctly regarding this point?

    What if i receive both from bishop and from Rome no answer? What am i then to believe about the extent intrinsic evil actions are forbidden?

    (Note: nothing you offer as answer can replace an official answer in any way; your private interpretation does not replace the magisterium; linking AL also does not do it, cause i read it and could not identify anything in it that settles dubium 2; the only Church teaching with authority i am aware about regarding this question is the shrugging of the shoulders of my parish priest)

    (and its fine that he shrugged his shoulders, cause we both know that it is above his paygrade to answer that one)

    • carn says:

      the only Church teaching with authority i am aware about regarding this question is the shrugging of the shoulders of my parish priest


      everything taught by the Church for example JPII before Francis became Pope.

      But as Pope Francis is supposedly reforming the Church and as supposedly i am not to use my intellect to identify non-reformable Church teaching and then use my intellect to discard all “reforms” insofar they try to reform non-reformable Church teaching, the Church teaching prior Pope Francis is only an educated guess.

    • jong says:

      They’ve have waited two months? And in two months of no answer they published their 5 Dubia arguments who is only seeking a Yes or No answer.
      Are they really seeking clarifications? or they have an “EVIL AGENDA” of telling the whole world, see the Pope cannot answer our simple Yes or No question…Is this an ARROGANCE behavior against the Supreme Pontiff?
      Can a simple Yes or No answer bring the needed clarity they are seeking? NO!
      The Dubia Cardinals acted like the Pharisees who asked Jesus on “adultery issues” too, the very verse they had referred too in their published arugments and Jesus saw they are setting a “trap” to test Him.
      Read their reference verse: (Matthew9:3-9)
      “3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

      4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

      7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

      8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

      See the Dubia Cardinals like the Pharisees are just setting a “trap”. If they really want a clarifications or comprehensive discussion they need to do it in “camera caritatis” with the Prefect of CDF presiding under the direction of Pope Francis. I already give you the link that in 2017 Cardinal Muller who is then the Prefect of CDF warned the Dubia Cardinals that they cannot made their dissent publicly. Is this not plain DISOBEDIENCE & ARROGANCE! after the Dubia Cardinals got a straight warning and seeing the Filial Correctio had failed, they still proceed in making their dissent public? Read again this link; https://www.uccronline.it/2017/01/09/il-card-muller-fedele-alleato-di-bergoglio-e-di-ratzinger/

      Have you understand the Wisdom written in Donum Veritatis, a good hearted Cardinals, Bishops or Theologians who really want to seek clarifications will do it in an evangelical manner, meaning they have to speak their positions humbly and will have a heart open to listen and would not allow themselves to be that cause of disunity..
      The first petitioner on Amoris Laetetia the “Filia Correctio who had accused Pope Francis of teaching heresy already FAILED to follow the simple evangelical guidelines in Donum Veritatis.
      Do they know it FAILED because of not following Donum Veritatis? YES!
      So, why are they following the footstep of the “Filial Correctio” who uses the Media to force a public opinion again rather than wait for the Prefect of CDF to set a discussion with them first?
      Why?, because seeking “clarifications” is really not their intentions. as Cardinal Burke admitted they “certainly do know the answer”, but they wanted to “test” Pope Francis just like the Pharisees who asked Jesus not to seek clarifications but only to “test “.
      And Pope Francis answering the Dubia Cardinals with a loud SILENCE, exposes the “evil intentions” of the Dubia Cardinals.
      The DEVILS doesn’t have the virtue of PATIENCE like all the saints do, the DEVILS are IMPATIENT!
      The DUBIA belong to Satan and FAITH belong to Christ. (Ted Flynn)
      What is the evil intention of the Dubia Cardinals? to attack the dignity and undermine the Papacy of Pope Francis.

      • carn says:


        How can you not see that Jesus did answer the question?

        “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

        That is a yes/no question, like you correctly noted.

        “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

        That is an answer to exactly that yes/no question you consider impossible to answer and the answer is: NO.

        The rest are interesting details, that deal with related question and/or provide background explanation, but the yes/no question asked was answered directly and at once with “No”.

        How can you not see this?

        It is always intersting that so many people claim that Pope Francis is following the example of Jesus; yet, Jesus not answering questions is an outlier; usually, when something was asked of Jesus he did answer something; often maybe hard to understand; sometimes with also a question; often based on infallible knowledge of the motives and thoughts behind the question (which only Jesus has, not Pope Francis, however much some people act as if he has); often indirectly; sometimes postponed or providing differently worded answers in public and to his disciples.

        But the standard Jesus set is that if someone asks you something about the faith and even if he asks you to set a literal trap to get you executed, you usually should answer in such a way, that your answer is identifiable as being intended as an answer to the question and that your answer should be truthful.

  6. PaulusFranciscus says:

    He has a duty to answer the Dubia. Period.

    It’s his failure to do so that is creating confusion; not the Cardinals’ insistence that he reconcile his work with the Magisterium.

    • Patty says:

      The blog name “Where Peter is,” should come with a question mark as Francis seems unwilling to be Peter and clarify his confusing statements. Would that those blaming victims would get a clue here.

    • Christopher Lake says:


      The Pope does not have any duty to answer a series of questions, from a very small number of Cardinals, which basically ask him to affirm and demonstrate what he has already affirmed and demonstrated, numerous times, as Pope– i.e. that he is a “loyal son of the Church,” and that his Magisterial teaching is, well, Catholic!

      For all of their vocal, repeated concerns about Pope Francis, and for all of their *professed* love for, and *professed* loyalty to, him, Cardinals Burke and Schneider still do not understand genuine, Catholic continuity of teaching better than the Pope. If they *did* understand Catholic teaching as well as they claim to, with their words and actions, then they wouldn’t see it as a rupture in Catholic doctrine that some married men in the Amazon *might* be allowed to be ordained, so that more lay Catholics in the Amazon can simply have *regular access to a priest*. (Priestly celibacy is a discipline, not a doctrine.)

  7. Stephen Golay says:

    Francis’ character written large; his vision of the Church blazed across the sky:

    The man, as Vicar if Christ, refuses to speak with the Dubia Cardinals yet sits down – in a bright shining public moment – with the homosexualist Fr. James Martin.

    Says it all. Now we know the man.

  8. Patty says:

    Too far is where Francis has gone–hence the silence in the wake of legitimate questions.

  9. petrus says:

    When are you going to see the heresies and even apotasy of pope Francis? A pagan ceremony in St. Peter is not sufficient? All the heresies and apostasy of the ‘Instrumentum Laboris’ is not sufficient? Your defense of pope Francis “ad absurdum” is incomprehensible.

  10. Francis Gallagher says:

    Isn’t it a bit like saying St. John the Baptist was not sincere when he sent his disciples to Christ to ask, “Are you the One?!” For he already knew the answer. The reply is for everyone else. As JB is woefully unclear and promoting heresy in AL, it’s up to the pastors to clarify – FOR THE AUDIENCE.

    • Christopher Lake says:


      You claim that Pope Francis– not “JB,”:as you derisively refer to him, but Pope Francis, the current Vicar of Christ– is “woefully unclear.” Yet you also claim that he is “promoting heresy in AL.” Well, which is it? Is he woefully unclear, or is he a clear promoter of heresy?

      “Amoris Laetitia” does not contain heresy or promote heresy in any way. There are numerous articles on AL here which answer your inaccurate charge. Here are some of them: http://wherepeteris.com/category/amoris-laetitia/

  11. Marie says:

    Excellent article Brian. You have clearly hit a raw nerve. I guess that says it all. To the dissenters, please read the Catechism again concerning papal authority , and also Canon law 752. Then, bring kindness back.

  12. Christopher Lake says:

    Arthur McGowan,

    You replied to me, above, on Pope Francis and the dubia Cardinals, by stating that:

    “Answering questions is his JOB.”

    Yet, in one of your very recent, ranting, bile-filled comments on an article related to Francis over at “First Things,” you clearly state that you don’t even believe that he is the validly elected, reigning Pope. If he’s an anti-Pope, then how is answering questions from Cardinals part of his JOB (your caps, not mine)? Is he’s an anti-Pope, shouldn’t he just step down right now, period?

    It’s confusing, Arthur– much more confusing than anything that Pope Francis has said or written or done. You write, here at WPI, as if Francis is the Pope, and you call him out for not doing something that *you have decided* is part of his job as Pope. Elsewhere, you claim that he’s not even the true Pope at all. You seem to be getting tripped up in your own self-righteousness judgment of, and hatred for, the current Vicar of Christ. Do you remember writing these words about Benedict XVI and Pope Francis at “First Things” only days ago?:

    “The actual words of Benedict’s “resignation” are fishy. He clearly intended not to renounce the office, but only certain functions. Subsequent utterances make this even more clear.

    He wears white. He wears the ring. He gives out “Apostolic Blessings.” He is called “Holiness” and “Pope.” He’s trying to tell us something.

    Bergoglio was a heretic in Buenos Aires. Since Benedict is alive and sort of a pope, was a conclave even possible? The conclave itself is fishy–and the vote that “elected” Bergoglio was illegal–i.e., too many votes taken in one day. And the politicking and caucusing. And Bergoglio is a heretic now, and clearly also an idolater.

    If Bergoglio is pope of anything, it isn’t the Catholic Church. The pope of the Catholic Church is either Benedict or nobody at the moment.”

  13. Steve Sepka says:

    “publicly say what Burke thought the Church teaches or ought to teach”

    If anyone reads the Dubia and thinks these questions are not de Fide doctrine, such as Brian Killian, then the Church is meaningless.

  14. Joshua Hernandez says:


    I’ve expressed my relevant thoughts on this issue a little more in depth in the combox of the Our Lady of the Amazon post on this website but, nevertheless, here are a few of my thoughts. I don’t think you’re painting a honest portrayal of the drastic nature of our current situation or of those of us who are justifiably scandalized and confused by our Holy Father’s apparent doctrinal departure from his predecessors and the perennial magisterium of the Church. The situation is more inescapably apparent and much graver than you would let on. I admire everyone on this website’s stalwart loyalty to the chair of Peter. As we know, loyal submission to the Holy Father is necessary for salvation. I understand this and I applaud your efforts in fulfilling this duty as loyal Catholics. However, I believe our love for the Pope should lead us to admit of his desperate need for our prayers and for the guidance of the Holy Ghost in this dark hour of doctrinal confusion within the Church. There are, right now, as I write, prelates personally chosen by Francis to lead the amazon synod who are pushing for outright heresy in their call for women’s ordination. The Holy Father has also apparently, to any honest observer, departed from and even contradicted infallible Church doctrine with regards to the death penalty, with regards to God actively willing false and blasphemous religions, as well as a multitude of other things within the document Amoris Laetetia that I don’t have the time to get into. I don’t think that any of this can simply be shrugged off as unimportant or irrelevant or as some delusional ill willed exaggeration. To make matters infinitely worse, the Pope has seemingly determined to refuse us any clarification on such matters even though he has been formally approached on multiple occasions by various groups of cardinals, bishops, priest, theologians and lay faithful. Sincere Catholics who are troubled and greatly concerned for the life of the Church. Where is the Holy Father’s promise of dialogue in all of this? Why do some view all such concerned Catholics as vicious dissenters? We love the pope and swear our allegiance to him. We will never abandon the Roman Pontiff. But likewise, we will also never abandon his predecessors or the Church’s perennial doctrine. It is not us who question or appose the teachings of Francis, it is the Church’s perennial magisterium and all of his predecessors who do. If we are mistaken in all of this then all we ask is that the Holy Father address our confusion and thereby dispel our fears and doubts. In the spirit of dialogue, is this too much to ask of from our father?

Share via
Copy link