By Steve Reilly
A group of Catholic scholars and clergy has accused Pope Francis of heresy in connection with a 2016 papal document that discusses divorce and remarriage, according to a 25-page letter made public by the group.
The letter, made public Saturday, asserts that portions of Francis’ document “The Joy of Love,” contains propositions which “contradict truths that are divinely revealed, and that Catholics must believe with the assent of divine faith.”
More than 60 priests, professors and others signed the letter, which accuses Francis of seven specific heresies because of the pope’s “words, deeds, and omissions” as well as specific passages in document.
The criticism centers on receipt of Communion by Catholics who have been civilly remarried. A spokesman for the Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Experts on the Catholic Church said the letter represents only a small minority of the church, and that it is unlikely to be met with any response from Francis.
Massimo Faggioli, a professor at Villanova University’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies, said the signatories represent a “tiny, extreme fringe of the opposition to Francis” and do not include any cardinals or bishops with formal standing in the Catholic Church.
“The Catholic Church that has more than 200 cardinals now and more than 5,000 bishops,” he said. “And they couldn’t find one.”
The only bishop who signed the letter is Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X, who experts said does not have formal standing in the church because he is from a breakaway group.
David Gibson, director of Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture, said the letter is “akin to an online petition,” and is unlikely to have any effect.
“It’s a great headline anytime the pope is accused of heresy,” he said. “But these are really, kind of, the usual suspects of really far right types who have been upset with not only this pope, but other popes in recent years.”
Joseph Shaw, a religious scholar at Oxford University who signed the letter, said in a statement that it was first hand-delivered to Francis more than a month ago. The group only made it public after it did not receive a response.
“It is designed to make clear the importance of what is (at) stake,” Shaw said, “and the urgency of keeping a correct view of these matters.”