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Prominent Catholics 'Correct' Pope Francis, Warning Against 'Heresy' and Martin Luther

A group of clergy and lay scholars from around the world issued a formal filial correction to Pope Francis, accusing him of propagating heresies concerning marriage, the moral life, and the sacraments. They also condemned his positive remarks toward Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant movement. This was the first formal correction since 1333.

"With profound grief, but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself, we are compelled to address a correction to Your Holiness on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness," the signatories declared.

This act may seem strange, considering that Roman Catholics are well-known for believing the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. But according to Catholic doctrine, popes are only infallible when speaking "ex cathedra," from the chair with authority on issues of faith and morals. Furthermore, the signatories declared that Pope Francis' statements had violated previous infallible declarations.

"We, however, believe that Your Holiness possesses the charism of infallibility [i.e. he is the pope and infallible in some circumstances, but not all], and the right of universal jurisdiction over Christ's faithful, in the sense defined by the Church," the signatories wrote. "In our protest against Amoris laetitia and against other deeds, words and omissions related to it, we do not deny the existence of this papal charism or Your Holiness's possession of it."

Furthermore, the signatories insisted, "Our correction is indeed required by fidelity to infallible papal teachings which are incompatible with certain of Your Holiness's statements."

When Pope Francis speaks to reporters, and even in the document Amoris Laetitia, he is not considered infallible. According to the Catholics who signed this correction, Francis' statements actually violated infallible Catholic teaching.

The 25-page letter, entitled Correctio fialis de haeresibus propagatis, with the foreboding name "A Filial Correction Concerning the Propagation of Heresies," was reportedly delivered to Francis on August 11, but he has not yet responded. Sixty-two prominent Catholic intellectuals signed the letter, including the German intellectual Martin Mosebach, former Vatican Bank President Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X.

The condemned statements deal with the knotty issue of divorce and remarriage. In Amoris Laetitia, Francis suggested that the Catholic Church might be loosening the strictures of matrimony, which his church considers a sacrament. A Roman Catholic marriage, once finalized and consummated, cannot be broken in divorce without special circumstances.

This follows from a literal reading of Jesus Christ's exhortation to his disciples in Matthew 19. When asked if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife, Jesus cited Genesis saying, "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." He further added that "whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery."