News Headlines > Names of priests and academics who want Pope to clarify “heretical” teaching revealed

23 July 2016 | by Christopher Lamb in Rome

Names of priests and academics who want Pope to clarify “heretical” teaching revealed

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Parish priests, seminary teachers and senior diocesan officials are among the signatories of a letter calling for Pope Francis to clarify that his landmark document on the family does not contradict Church teaching. 

The 45 academics and clergy write that parts of “Amoris Laetitia” - issued by Francis following two synod of bishops gatherings - can be read in a way that is “contrary to Catholic faith and morals.” In the text the Pope opens the possibility for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion while calling for the Church to assess such cases on an individual basis giving space for “pastoral discernment” and personal conscience.   

But the writers of the letter say they want the Pope to clarify what they see as erroneous statements and have submitted an appeal in a letter to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, which in turn is being sent to 218 cardinals and patriarchs worldwide. The letter focusses on 19 statements “whose vagueness or ambiguity” allow interpretations which go against church teaching. 

Up until now the signatories had remained anonymous but the “National Catholic Reporter” has now published a full list of names. 

Among them are:  

  •  Fr Aidan Nichols, a Dominican who is an expert on the theology of Benedict XVI and is currently a lecturer at Oxford University. 


  • Fr Giovanni Scalese, the leader of Catholics in Afghanistan


  •  Ten are based in the UK including Fr David Palmer, the Chairman of the Diocese of Nottingham’s marriage and family life commission, and Stephen Morgan, a permanent deacon and secretary of the Portsmouth diocesan trustees  


  •  Luke Gormally, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, research professor at Ave Maria School of Law in Michigan and former director of the Linacre Centre in Oxford (now the Anscombe Bioethics Centre) 


  • Dr Philip Blosser, of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Sacred Heart seminary, and Dr. Alan Fimister at the Archdiocese of Denver’s St John Vianney seminary. 

The letter is being co-ordinated by Dr Joseph Shaw, a philosophy lecturer at Oxford University and Chairman of the Latin Mass Society. 

“We are not accusing the pope of heresy,” he said, “but we consider that numerous propositions in Amoris Laetitia can be construed as heretical upon a natural reading of the text. Additional statements would fall under other established theological censures, such as scandalous, erroneous in faith, and ambiguous, among others.”

On Saturday he added: "We've not had a response from the cardinals, in general, and we'd not expect one. The appeal is asking them to talk to the Holy Father, if they feel moved to do so."

For see the full list go to:


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