American Cardinal Raymond Burke is one of the four dubia cardinals to ask Pope Francis for an audience to address unclear exhortation in Amoris Laetitia. CNS/Paul Haring

Bishop McCaig urges Catholics not to fall prey to conspiracy theories

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  • October 4, 2017
OTTAWA – In the wake of controversy surrounding the papal document Amoris Laetitia, Bishop Scott McCaig said people should not be baited by conspiracy theories.


Do not fall to extreme positions from either the far left or the far right, the Bishop of Canada’s Military Ordinariate told about 300 people Sept. 30 at the Spiritual Motherhood of Priests annual con-ference.

“Whether you love his pastoral style, are critical of it, or a bit of both, Pope Francis is validly elected, and he has not committed heresy,” stressed McCaig.

He acknowledged that various bishops’ conferences have issued contradictory interpretations of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation and that there have been “accusations hurled at the Holy Father.” But McCaig said “a little bit of historical perspective” is needed.

“There has never been a golden age where the Church is free from conflict and dissensions,” McCaig said. “Church history is messy in every age.”

Pope Francis has faced five “dubia” or “doubts” submitted by four cardinals who questioned ambiguous areas of the document. Also, he recently received a “filial correction” from a group of lay scholars and priests who, while not accusing the Pope of heresy, argued he has allowed heretical interpretations to go unchecked. 

McCaig stressed that Pope Francis was validly elected as a Successor of Peter. 

“As the Vicar of Christ, he is owed our respect and obedience” when it comes to faith and morals. “That doesn’t mean that his every opinion is infallible or that he is above criticism, as he himself has said, but he is the Vicar of Christ.” 

He is certainly not a heretic, said McCaig.

Amoris Laetitia may be “vague in some important areas,” but read in its entirety it is “an orthodox document,” McCaig said.

“Let’s be clear: Amoris Laetitia does not change any doctrine in the Catholic Church nor does Amoris Laetitia change any discipline in the Catholic Church.”

The document does leave some opening to exceptions, “extraordinary cases,” but there are “very strict criteria,” he said. “And these criteria were recognized by the Church long before Amoris Laetitia.”

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