Four cardinals, including the American Raymond Leo Burke, have put Pope Francis on the spot. Back in September, they formally submitted a request to the Pope to clarify certain points of doctrine in light of Amoris Laetitia, his encyclical letter that some are interpreting as opening the door for communion for the divorced. Because the Pope declined to respond, they say, they are making their letter public. Says Sandro Magister:

The letter and the five questions presented in their entirety further below have no need of much explanation. It is enough to read them. What is new is that the four cardinals who had them delivered to Francis last September 19, without receiving a reply, have decided to make them public with the encouragement of this very silence on the part of the pope, in order to “continue the reflection and the discussion” with “the whole people of God.”

They explain this in the foreword to the publication of the complete text. And one thinks right away of Matthew 18:16-17: “If your brother will not listen to you, take with you two or three witnesses. If then he will not listen even to them, tell it to the assembly.”

The “witness” in this case was Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Because he too, in addition to the Pope, had been a recipient of the letter and the questions.

The five questions are in fact formulated as in the classic submissions to the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. Formulated, that is, in such a way that they can be responded to with a simple yes or no.

As a rule, the responses given by the Congregation explicitly mention the approval of the Pope. And in the routine audiences that Francis gave to the cardinal prefect after the delivery of the letter and the questions, it is a sure bet that the two talked about them.

But in point of fact the appeal from the four cardinals received no reply, neither from Cardinal Müller nor from the Pope, evidently at the behest of the latter.

You can read the cardinals’ letter and questions at the Magister link, or at the traditionalist website Rorate Caeli, which adds:

A Pope has never been publicly questioned for clarification on a most sensitive matter (his own teaching office) of a more sensitive content (his own major document) by his own Cardinals at any moment since the Counter-Reformation. It is astounding: certainly unheard-of in modern times.

Read the document. The questions of interpretation that the cardinals put to the Pope are deep and substantive, and cannot be glossed over with Bergoglian happy-clappy.

This is not mere inside Catholic baseball. This is an astonishing moment, even a crisis moment. Watch.