Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider are among a small group of cardinals and bishops to sign a “declaration of truths” reaffirming key Church teachings at a time they describe as “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation.”
Published on June 10, Pentecost Monday, and entitled “Declaration of the Truths Relating to Some of the Most Common Errors in the Life of the Church of Our Time,” the eight-page document reaffirms the Church’s perennial teaching on a range of key doctrines, from the Eucharist and marriage, to capital punishment and clerical celibacy.
The document is the latest in a series of declarations, filial petitions and corrections from bishops, academics, priests and laity concerned about the ambiguity of teaching and associated confusion that have arisen during the current pontificate.
In an explanatory note, the signatories state the declaration, dated May 31, has been written “in the spirit of fraternal charity” and as a “concrete spiritual help” so that clergy, religious and laity are able to confess “those truths that in our days are mostly denied or disfigured.”
A few months before he died, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra begged Pope Francis in a letter made public in June to end the “confusion and disorientation” within the Church after the publication of the Pope’s April 2016 Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
But Pope Francis never answered the Cardinal’s April 25 plea, just as he never answered the September 19, 2016 plea of Caffarra along with three other cardinals to confirm that his Exhortation conformed to perennial Catholic teaching.
“Confusion, division, and error” within the Catholic Church coming from “shepherds” even at the highest levels indicate that we “may be” in the end times, said U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke in an address in Kentucky.
The Cardinal, who spoke at the July 22 “Church Teaches Forum” in Louisville, said that, in his opinion, the times “realistically seem to be apocalyptic.”
“We are living in most troubled times in the world and also in the Church,” he said. “In such a pervasively disordered cultural condition, there is legitimate fear of a global confrontation which can only mean destruction and death for many,” he added. “Clearly, the present situation of the world cannot continue without leading to total annihilation.”
Burke, one of the Church’s leading canon law experts, outlined how evils now commonly accepted in the West’s “ravaged” culture have now managed to infiltrate the Church, passing from the shepherds to the sheep.
One of four cardinals who recently asked Pope Francis to clarify his position on Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics said Saturday they acted because “only a blind man could deny there’s great confusion, uncertainty and insecurity in the Church.”
“It’s caused by some paragraphs in Amoris Laetitia,” said Italian Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, the retired archbishop of Bologna, referring to a document released by Pope Francis in April 2016 drawing conclusions from two contentious Synods of Bishops on the family.
“In recent months, on some very fundamental questions regarding the sacraments, such as marriage, confession and the Eucharist, and the Christian life in general, some bishops have said A, and others the contrary of A,” Caffarra said.
Because of the heated debate on the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, “we are witnessing today a bizzare form of schism,” Bishop Athanasius Schneider said in a French television interview.
Bishop Schneider—an auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Astana, Kazakhstan, who has been an outspoken supporter of traditional Catholicism—said that the Church today faces a crisis of faith that is “only comparable to the general confusion of the Arian crisis in the 4th century.”
He charged that some influential clerics have broken away from the Catholic tradition to promote a “gospel of sexual liberty.” He added that these clerics have sought to suppress open discussion of their aims, and “make use of calumnies for the sake of silencing the voice of truth.”