Cardinal Raymond Burke has spoken out on the reactions raised by the dubia he and four other cardinals submitted to Pope Francis on the eve of the opening of the plenary assembly of the Synod on Synodality, asserting that the move was aimed neither at the Pope’s person nor his agenda, but merely at safeguarding the Church’s perennial doctrine.
The cardinal was speaking at a conference organized in Rome on Oct. 3 by the Italian Catholic newspaper Nuova Bussola Quotidiana on the theme “The Synodal Babel,” designed to discuss the main points of contention raised by the synod, which opened at the Vatican on Oct. 4.
The work of this first session convened by the Pope, titled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” will run until Oct. 29. A second session of the Synod on Synodality is expected in October 2024 to “continue discernment.”
In his address at the Ghione Theater, located less than a mile from St. Peter’s Square, the prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura reaffirmed his concern over the “philosophical, canonical and theological errors that are widespread today regarding the Synod of Bishops and its [first] session.”
The main stumbling blocks cited by the cardinal and his fellow cardinals in the questions addressed to the Holy Father in August and made public on Oct. 2 concern doctrinal development, the blessing of same-sex unions, the authority of the Synod on Synodality, women’s ordination, and sacramental absolution.
“It is unfortunately very clear that the invocation of the Holy Spirit by some has for its purpose the advancement of an agenda that is more political and human than ecclesial and divine,” he stated before an audience of about 200 people, largely made up of journalists and ecclesiastics, including Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, co-signatory of the dubia, along with Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Zen Ze-Kiun and Juan Sandoval Íñiguez.
Highlighting that “many brothers in the episcopate and even the College of Cardinals support this initiative, although they are not on the official list of signatories,” the American cardinal specified that it did not concern the Holy Father as a person.
He was reacting to a comment made by a synod father, quoted anonymously by Il Giornale after the contents of the dubia were published in the press, accusing the five cardinals of wanting “only to strike at Pope Francis” and of seeking to dictate their agenda at the risk of threatening the unity of the Church.
“These comments reveal the state of confusion, error and division that permeates the session of the Synod of Bishops,” he continued. “The five dubia deal exclusively with the perennial doctrine and discipline of the Church, not a pope’s agenda.”