Staunch Dubia Opponent Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto on Famous List of Freemasons and who redoubles his rebuke of the four Cardinals

Staunch Dubia Opponent Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto on Famous List of Freemasons and who redoubles his rebuke of the four Cardinals

I don’t know about you, but I just love a good Freemasonic conspiracy.

Let’s face it: Freemasons have been trying to infiltrate the Church for over a century. They even announced their intentions in the mid 1800s, and were condemned by several popes who had no qualms about expressing the danger they represented to the Faith.

The ubiquity of the threat, however, began to numb most Catholics to its reality. The subtlety of their work makes them appear innocuous, and this is by design. Their method of infiltration was laid out in a document known as The Permanent Instruction on the Alta Vendita, written in 19th Century. In it, they proclaimed their grand designs in a way that, in hindsight, can be seen to have been marvelously effective:

The Pope, whoever he may be, will never come to the secret societies. It is for the secret societies to come to the Church… The work we have undertaken is not the work of a day, nor of a month, nor of a year. It may last many years, a century perhaps, but in our ranks the soldier dies and the fight continues… Now then, in order to secure to us a Pope in the manner required, it is necessary to fashion for that Pope a generation worthy of the reign of which we dream. Leave on one side old age and middle life, go to the youth, and, if possible, even to the infancy. Never speak in their presence a word of impiety or impurity. Maxima debetur puero reverentia. Never forget these words of the poet for they will preserve you from licenses which it is absolutely essential to guard against for the good of the cause. In order to reap profit at the home of each family, in order to give yourself the right of asylum at the domestic hearth, you ought to present yourself with all the appearance of a man grave and moral. Once your reputation is established in the colleges…and in the seminaries – once you shall have captivated the confidence of professors and students, act so that those who are engaged in the ecclesiastic state should love to seek your conversation…then little by little you will bring your disciples to the degree of cooking desired. When upon all the points of ecclesiastical state at once, this daily work shall have spread our ideas as light, then you will appreciate the wisdom of the counsel in which we take the initiative… That reputation will open the way for our doctrines to pass to the bosoms of the young clergy, and go even to the depths of convents. In a few years the young clergy will have, by force of events, invaded all the functions. They will govern, administer, and judge. They will form the council of the Sovereign. They will be called upon to choose the Pontiff who will reign; and that Pontiff, like the greater part of his contemporaries, will be necessarily imbued with the…humanitarian principles which we are about to put into circulation… Let the clergy march under your banner in the belief always that they march under the banner of the Apostolic Keys. You wish to cause the last vestige of tyranny and of oppression to disappear? Lay your nets like Simon Barjona. Lay them in the depths of sacristies, seminaries, and convents, rather than in the depth of the sea… You will bring yourselves as friends around the Apostolic Chair.

With this in mind, I found it really quite interesting that more than one of our readers has pointed out that Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto — Dean of the Roman Rota and perhaps now the loudest of the critics of the Four Cardinals — is to be found on the famous “Lista Pecorelli” — a list of alleged Freemasons within the Church.

I say “famous” because many people know about it. I didn’t. But the list has been around since the 1970s, compiled by the Italian investigative journalist — later murdered — who gave it its name: Carmine “Mino” Pecorelli.

In a comment on the 1P5 Facebook page, reader Andrew Guernsey writes:

Here is a high quality version of the original Pecorelli list, which famously includes Bugnini, the architect of the New Mass

Investigative journalist and a member of the elite Propaganda Due (P2) Lodge, Carmine “Mino” Pecorelli, Director of L’Osservatorio Politico, a press agency specializing in political scandals and crimes, was murdered on March 20, 1979. Prior to his death he published what became known as “Pecorelli’s List.” It contained the names (code names and card names as well) of alleged Freemasons in high level Vatican offices during the reign of Paul VI. Among the prominent prelates identified as Freemasons were Jean Cardinal Villo, whose family is believed to have historic ties to the Rosicrucian Lodge; Agostino Cardinal Casaroli; Ugo Cardinal Poletti; Sebastiano Cardinal Baggio; Joseph Cardinal Suenens; and Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, C.M.; and Archbishop Paul Casimir Marcinkus, to name a few.

A priest who worked for Cardinal Ottaviani investigating Modernists in the curia speaks of the authenticity of Pecorelli’s List:…/Paul_VI.._beatified…

The principal “list” appeared on “OP” (Osservatorio Politico Internazionale) Magazine of September 12, 1978, the magazine of lawyer Mino Pecorelli, during the brief pontificate of JP1, thus subsequent to that which came out on “Panorama” Magazine of August 10, 1976.

And sure enough, Msgr. Pinto’s name is there:


The book Guernsey links is Paul VI Beatified?by Fr. Luigi Villa. This is where, to the uninitiated, the rabbit hole gets deep. I’ve never had the time or the patience to go through the voluminous materials about Freemasonry and the Church. I have no doubt of the designs of the Masons, nor of the Church’s reasons for condemning them. But I am woefully ignorant of many of the facts on the ground. Of Fr. Villa, the website says:

Almost sixty years ago, “Padre Pio first met Father Luigi Villa, whom he entreated to devote his entire life to fight Ecclesiastical Freemasonry. Padre Pio told Father Villa that Our Lord had designs upon him and had chosen him to be educated and trained to fight Freemasonry within the Church. The Saint spelled out this task in three meetings with Father Villa, which took place in the last fifteen years of life of Padre Pio. At the close of the second meeting [second half of 1963], Padre Pio embraced Father Villa three times, saying to him: ‘Be brave, now…for the Church has already been invaded by Freemasonry!’ and then stated: ‘Freemasonry has already made it into the loafers (shoes) of the Pope!’ At the time, the reigning Pope was Paul VI.

“The mission entrusted to Father Luigi Villa by Padre Pio to fight Freemasonry within the Catholic Church was approved by Pope Pius XII who gave a Papal Mandate for his work. Pope Pius XII’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tardini, gave Father Villa three Cardinals to work with and to act as his own personal ‘guardian angels’:

Cardinal Ottaviani, Cardinal Parente and Cardinal Palazzini. Father Villa worked with these three cardinals until their deaths.”

In order to fight this battle, in 1971 Fr. Villa founded his magazine, “Chiesa viva” with correspondents and collaborators in every continent.  It was immediately attacked by the upper echelon of the Catholic Church: the magazine was ostracized among the clergy and its collaborators were gradually forced to leave.  Then they isolated its Director and his few remaining collaborators.  The efforts to silence “Chiesa viva” once and for all also included seven assassination attempts on Fr. Villa!”

I do not vouch for this information, because I have not verified it. (Readers here have mentioned Fr. Villa on numerous occasions, and have done so favorably.) But I present it to you nevertheless, because it is an interesting piece of the puzzle.

Of the alleged Freemasons on Pecorelli’s list, Fr. Villa writes:

“Pecorelli’s List” found credit even in the Vatican, where a young employee – nephew of a (well known) ecclesiastic (Father P. E.) – had handed a series of delicate “documents” to Monsignor Benelli, then Substitute of the Secretary of State, who made him swear «that he was not lying about so grave a matter». Some photocopies of those “documents” were also in the possession of Cardinal Staffa.

I had “assurance” of this “fact” from a cardinal of the Curia,who later also gave me some photocopies of those same “documents”.

3rd – The “Card Numbers”, reported on the “Pecorelli’s List”, confer a more than credible spin, since Pecorelli was a member of the P2 Lodge (and thus in the know of “secret things”), but also for the reason that, with that list, he had just invited the scarcely elected Pope Luciani to a rigorous control, with the intention of offering a valid contribution to the transparency of the Catholic Church Herself.

In any case, that “list” should have sparked off either a shower of denials or a purge in the ecclesial ranks. On the contrary, not a single “denial” was to be had. As for “purges”, besides, the newly elected Pontiff did not even have the time, perhaps even “because” Pope Luciani, “who had manifested the intention of having a hand in the issue of the IOR and shed a light as to the list of alleged Prelates affiliated to Freemasonry”, He, too, passed away in circumstances and ways as yet unknown. What is more, Mino Pecorelli, the author of that “list”, was gunned down a few months later, on March 20, 1979; hence, with him, were buried all of the other “secrets” concerning that Masonic sect in his possession.

Now, one could ask oneself: why is it that all of the “listed” in that “Masonic list” have never come together in order to deny that public denunciation, complete with detailed “entries” (Affiliation, Registration, Monogram), asking the courts for a clarifying investigation, at least on the graphological analysis of the acronyms at the foot of the documents? How not to recognize, then, that that lack of denials and that prolonged silence are more than eloquent as they take on the value of circumstantial evidence of the greatest import?

The only one to be removed from office was – as we noted – Monsignor Bugnini, the main author of that revolutionary liturgical reform that upset, in a Lutheran form, the bi-millennial rite of the Holy Mass, but it was only after the presentation to Paul VI of the “evidence” of his belonging to the Masonic sect, that he was sent away from Rome and dispatched as a “pro-Nuncio” to Iran.


The buzz about these people had been around since 1970. Let it be no doubt about it: it was not mere talk; it was “confidential information” we at the top of Italian Freemasonry used to pass on to one another”.

St. Maximilian Kolbe had his own take on the matter. He is famously quoted as saying:

Satan Must Reign in the Vatican. The Pope Will Be His Slave.

According to Michael Hitchborn at The Lepanto Institute, this bold proclamation

was personally witnessed by St. Maximilian Kolbe, who watched Freemasons celebrate their bicentennial in St. Peter’s Square in 1917. St. Maximilian Kolbe saw banners bearing these words amidst the revelry. It’s a jarring and shocking statement, but it is totally in keeping with the aims of Freemasonry and it bears a great deal of significance for us today.

Hichborn also notes the plans laid out in the Alta Vendita:

According to these documents, the Alta Vendita lodge of Freemasonry openly declared that its “ultimate end is that of Voltaire and of the French Revolution – the final destruction forever of Catholicism, and even of the Christian idea.”


St. Maximilian Kolbe expounded on this plan at the founding of the Militia of the Immaculata. On October 16, just three days after the miracle of Fatima, the saint wrote:

“These men without God find themselves in a tragic situation. Such implacable hatred for the Church and the ambassadors of Christ on Earth is not in the power of individual persons, but of a systematic activity stemming in the final analysis from Freemasonry. In particular, it aims to destroy the Catholic religion. Their decrees have been spread throughout the world, in different disguises. But with the same goal – religious indifference and weakening of moral forces, according to their basic principle – ‘We will conquer the Catholic Church not by argumentation, but rather with moral corruption.‘”

There is no question that religious indifference and moral corruption are the hallmarks of our present ecclesiastical crisis. The two most scandalous issues facing the Catholic Church of 2016 are the twin pillars of the capitulation to Lutheranism as witnessed by the pope’s pro-Luther statements at the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Lund, and the deconstruction of the Divine teaching on marriage, sexuality, family, and the Sacraments as launched by the synods of 2014 and 2015 and the exortation they led to: Amoris Laetitia. 

And what of Francis? If Fr. Pinto — one of the pittbulls he has unleashed against the Four Cardinals — is a Freemason, does that tie Francis to the secret society? It is well known that Buenos Aires is a stronghold of Freemasonry in Latin America:

Freemasonry is no stranger to Argentina, as the society has been present here for more than 150 years and has in many ways helped shape its history. Many of the Argentine forefathers, including Jose de San Martín, Manuel Belgrano and Domingo F. Sarmiento were freemasons, as well as many Argentine presidents. There are currently 130 active Masonic lodges in Argentina, 60 of them in the city of Buenos Aires alone, and if you do a little research, you’ll find their symbology present on many buildings, monuments and even in cemeteries.

When I read this, my mind immediately called up an image of a captioned statement Francis made in a meeting with Fernando Solanas, an Argentine politician, environmentalist, and film director. During the filmed conversation, he quipped:


In a statement on the occasion of the bicentennary of Argentina’s independence, he explained further:

We are celebrating 200 years along the road of a homeland which, in its desires and anxieties for brotherhood, projects itself beyond the boundaries of this country towards the Greater Fatherland of which José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar dreamed. This reality unites us in a family of broad horizons and fraternal loyalty. That Greater Fatherland should also be included in our prayers during our celebrations — may the Lord look after it, making it stronger and more beautiful, defending it from every kind of colonization.

“Fraternal loyalty.” Sounds like something a good Mason would say. “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Solidarity.” Solidarity…


It’s probably nothing.

Although the notion of Fraternity and Fatherland appear in the Manifesto of the Freemasons.

Masonry preaches peace among men, and in the name of humanity proclaims the inviolability of human life.

Masonry curses all wars; it wails over civil wars.

It has the duty and the right to come among you and say: IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY, IN THE NAME OF FRATERNITY, IN THE NAME OF THE DEVASTATED FATHERLAND, stop the spilling of blood. We ask this of you, we beg you to hear our appeal.

I’m not going to even to bother making the connection between “cursing all wars” and a certain someone who is always…cursing all wars.

It’s probably all just a coincidence.

Just like the fact that Francis was lauded by the Freemasons upon his election. The Masonic Press Agency (MPA) — self described as “the first structure providing Masonic news and information designated as such” — ran a story upon the election of Francis under the headline, “Jorge Mario Bergoglio elected Pope Francis I at 187 years since the issuance of Quo Graviora Papal Bull against Freemasonry“. The story itself is brief – just two paragraphs long – and it is simply noted without further explanation that his election took place 187 years to the day since Pope Leo XIII issued the papal bull Quo Graviora against Freemasonry.

In two separate stories in the MPA upon the occasion of his election, we were given yet another glimpse of the odd acceptance of the secret society for Pope Francis. In one, we learn:

Grand Lodge of Argentina officially welcomed the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of the Vatican. Argentinian Grand Master Angel Jorge Clavero considers that this appointment brought recognition to Argentine nation.

In the last week several Grand Lodges in Latin America, Europe and Asia (Lebanon) welcomed the election of the new Catholic Pope.

In the other, a stronger but more cryptic statement:

The Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy expressed his joy regarding the election of Pope Francis. Raffi stated that: “With the election of Pope Francis nothing will ever be the same again.” [emphasis in original]

A truer statement has likely not been issued by a Freemason since the publication of the Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita. Maybe they got their man after all.

Correction: We originally reported Pio Vito Vinto’s title as “Father”; as Dean of the Roman Rota, his proper title is His Excellency, the Most Reverend Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto. We have corrected the story to reflect his proper title of “Monsignor”.

Read the source:

Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto Redoubles His Rebuke of the Four Cardinals

After there has now come to us a sort of denial concerning the recent words attributed to Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto about the Four Cardinals – namely, that he did not say that the pope would remove the red hats of these Cardinals – the German Catholic website has published its own interview with Msgr. Pinto where he now redoubles his critique of the four prelates. In this interview, Pinto again uses very harsh language against these Four Cardinals who have expressed their serious concern that Amoris Laetitia could teach the faithful doctrines that go against the traditional Catholic teaching.

Pinto now says about the Four Cardinals:

They have written to the pope and that is correct and legitimate. But, after there did not come [from the pope] an answer after a few weeks, they published the case. That is a slap in the face. The pope can choose to take counsel with his cardinals; but that is something different from imposing upon him a counsel.

When the journalist then says in response that the Four Cardinals would answer that they had no other choice, the Italian prelate further responds:

They are not a council with any kind of competences. On the contrary, they as cardinals are bound in a higher degree to be loyal to the pope. He stands for the gift of unity, the charisma of Peter. That is where the cardinals have to support him, and not hinder him. By what authority do the authors of the letter act? On the fact that they are cardinals? That is not sufficient. Please. Of course they can write to the pope and send him their questions, but to oblige him to answer and to publish the case is another matter.

As others have done before him (and in spite of the facts), Pinto insists that the pope’s family document is based on the work of two Roman synods of bishops – as well as the world-wide questionnaires circulated and received back. He explains:

The absolute majority of the first synod and a two-thirds majority in the second, in which the members of the bishops’ conferences were present, have exactly approved these theses that now the four cardinals contest.

Pinto insists that the pope “does not force, much less does he condemn.” Thus, “some bishops are putatively having difficulties, others pretend to be deaf.” To the claim that Father Pinto himself said that the pope might remove the red hats of these four cardinals he then responds:

I am not the type who can threaten [people]. To write something like this is quite a journalistic license and is not serious. What I have said is, rather: Francis is a lighthouse of mercy and has infinite patience. For him, it is about agreeing, not about forcing. It was a serious act that these four have published their letter. But to think that he would remove their cardinalate – no. I do not believe that he will do that. […] In itself, as pope, he could do such a thing. The way I know Francis, he will not do it.

When asked about Cardinal Burke’s words that he would present a formal correction of the pope if necessary, Pinto responds once more with vehemence:

This is crazy. Such a council of cardinals does not exist that could hold the pope accountable. The task of the cardinals is to help the pope in the exercise of his office – and not to obstruct him or to give him precepts. And this is a fact: Francis is not only in full accordance with the teaching, but also with all of his predecessors in the 20th century, and that was a Golden Age with excellent popes – starting with Pius X. [my emphasis]

The Dean of the Roman Rota then also proceeds explicitly to criticize Cardinal Joachim Meisner for his own participation in the publication of the Dubia. When asked as to whether he is disappointed about the four authors of the letter, he explains:

I am shocked, especially about the gesture of Meisner. Meisner was a great bishop of an important diocese [Cologne] – how sad that he now with this action puts a shadow upon his history. Meisner, a great spiritual leader! That he would arrive at that, I did not expect. He was very close to John Paul II and Benedict, and he knows that Benedict XVI and Francis are in full agreement about the analysis and the conclusions when it comes to the question of marriage. And Burke – we have worked together. He seemed to me to be an amiable person. Now I would ask him: Your Eminence, why did you do that? [my emphasis]

Pinto closes this interview with some seemingly flippant, if not superficial, words when he answers the question as to what should now be done: “Pray a little more, stay calm, basta. Officially, this action has no value. The Church needs unity, not walls, says the pope. We know how Francis is. He believes that people can convert. I know that he is praying for them.”

To sum up this interview: Pinto claims that the supreme principle of the Church is unity. He does not mention, much less affirm, that the basis of unity is truth. However, he claims that Pope Francis’s own teaching on marriage is in complete accord with the teaching of the previous 20th-century popes, and especially with Pope Benedict XVI.

However, such claims show forth the very issues upon which faithful Catholics disagree! For Pope Francis has indeed now encouraged a change in the Church’s teaching on marriage, and he is not in agreement with the previous teaching. Nor is he in agreement with the teaching of Jesus Christ himself! Thus, there comes a point where our loyalty to the Truth of Christ urges us respectfully to speak up, even at the cost of an ostensible unity that is not anymore itself based on the truth.

As Dr. Markus Büning, a German theologian and book author, said firmly yesterdayconcerning the “Pinto affair”:

Much less helpful are the repeatedly presented calls to obey the pope unconditionally. I beg your pardon? We are, after all, not in a dictatorship here. That goes too far. For me, kairos [the ripe and fitting moment] has come; and, fully so in the sense of Blessed John Henry Newman, we should now question this papalism that we have all-too-often practiced in our own circles. Additionally, we have at times the duty to oppose ecclesial authorities. Let us hear what St. Thomas Aquinas tells us about this matter: ‘Where, however, the Faith is in danger, one has to correct the superiors publicly, just as St. Paul did it; and as Augustine wrote on this matter: ‘Peter himself has given to the superiors the model that they – if they ever stray from the right path – shall accept not unwillingly when their own inferiors correct them.” (Summa theol., II-II q. 33, 4c)

Correction: the article originally gave Pinto the title of Archbishop, as several other outlets had reported. He is in fact not a bishop, but a priest. We have updated the story accordingly.

Correction 2: We have received correspondence from a canonist who worked in the Roman Rota. He says that Pio Vito Pinto is not a priest simplex, but has the full title of: His Excellency, the Most Reverend Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto. He is not an Archbishop, nor even a bishop, but he is a Monsignor. The Dean of the Roman Rota is styled “His Excellency” and “Most Reverend” by ancient custom and express grant of such treatment by Pope Pius XI. The story has been modified to reflect his proper title.

Read the source:


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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  •  November 29, 2016

Accuses Burke of causing “grave scandal”

The Dean of the Roman Rota, the Vatican’s top canonical court overseeing marriage, is issuing an ominous warning to Cdl. Raymond Burke that he may be stripped of his cardinalate for allegedly causing “grave scandal.”

Speaking Tuesday at a lecture at the Ecclesiastical University of San Damaso in Madrid, Abp. Pio Vito Pinto asked, “What Church are these cardinals defending? The Pope is faithful to the doctrines of Christ.”

“What they have done is a very serious scandal that could even lead the Holy Father to remove their cardinalate, as has already happened in previous times in the Church,” he added.

Cardinal Burke along with Cdls. Joachim Meisner, Carlo Caffarra and Walter Brandmüller sent a letter to Pope Francis in September asking for clarity on “Amoris Laetitia,” his apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family. Titled “Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in ‘Amoris Laetitia,’” the cardinals’ letter notes “a grave disorientation and great confusion” among the faithful over “contrasting interpretations” of the exhortation.

The letter had been sent privately to the Holy Father in September, asking him to answer five questions of doctrine, but after two months with no response, the cardinals went public with their plea. Cardinal Burke explained that the Pope’s longstanding silence on multiple occasions forced their hand.

In a follow-up interview, Burke said that if the Pope chooses not to respond, the cardinals may seek the extraordinary measure of a formal act of correction.

Days later, Pope Francis denounced critics of his papal exhortation for their “legalism.”

“Some — think about the responses to ‘Amoris Laetitia’ — continue to not understand. They think it’s ‘black and white,’ even if in the flux of life you must discern,” he told Italian paper Avennire.

Such concerns arise “from a certain legalism, which can be ideological,” the Pope insisted.

Soon after, the head of the Catholic Greek Episcopal Conference blasted Burke and his confreres for fostering “apostasy” and “schism,” while newly minted Cdls. Blase Cupich of Chicago, Illinois and Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey have contradicted Burke’s claim that “Amoris Laetitia” is not magisterial.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, on the other hand, has publicly defended Burke.

In publishing a plea for clarity in a matter that touches the truth and the sanctity simultaneously of the three sacraments of Marriage, Penance, and the Eucharist, the four Cardinals only did their basic duty as bishops and cardinals, which consists in actively contributing so that the revelation transmitted through the Apostles might be guarded sacredly and might be faithfully interpreted.

Pinto clarified that the Pope will not necessarily proceed with stripping the cardinals of their red hat, but it is a possibility. Pinto also made clear that he himself does not need permission from the Holy Father to undertake the course of action.

Pinto also remarked that although Pope Francis has yet to formally respond to the four cardinals, he has already “indirectly told them that they only see white or black, when there are shades of color in the Church.”

On November 16, Burke, former head of the Apostolic Signatura and a top canonist, clarified that “Amoris Laetitia” does not belong to the infallible Magisterium.

My position is that “Amoris Laetitia” is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities that confuse people and can lead them into error and grave sin. A document with these defects cannot be part of the Church’s perennial teaching. Because that is the case, the Church needs absolute clarity regarding what Pope Francis is teaching and encouraging.

Read the source:

Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.

Christine Niles is an executive producer at Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineNiles1

Pope Francis declines to answer four cardinals’ Amoris appeal

Pope Francis with cardinals at a 2015 consistory (AP)

The cardinals have taken the unusual step of publicly requesting clarification on Communion and the moral law

Pope Francis has declined to answer an official appeal from four cardinals to clarify his recent apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Cardinals Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner sent a request for clarification to the Pope in September. They received an acknowledgment but no reply, which they said they have taken as “an invitation to continue … the discussion, calmly, and with respect”, by making the appeal public. It is highly unusual for cardinals to take such a step.

The letter takes the traditional form of asking theological “dubia” – questions to the Holy See which ask for a yes/no ruling on doctrinal matters. The cardinals’ dubia relate to the sacraments, and to absolute moral norms.

The first of the dubia asks whether “it has now become possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person more uxorio [as husband and wife] without fulfilling the conditions provided for by Familiaris Consortio”.

In Familiaris Consortio St John Paul II reaffirmed the Church’s practice of not admitting the remarried to Communion if they are still in a sexual relationship with their new partner.

The other four dubia relate to actions which Catholic teaching considers “intrinsically evil”. The cardinals ask whether there are still “absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions”, and whether those who habitually commit these acts are “in an objective situation of grave habitual sin”.

It also asks whether St John Paul II’s teaching in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor is still valid: that, in the words of the encyclical, “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”.

Finally, the cardinals ask whether Catholics should still follow Veritatis Splendor’s teaching on conscience: that, as the cardinals paraphrase it, “conscience can never be authorised to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object”.

The cardinals say that the letter should not be seen as a “conservative” attack on “progressives”. They say they are motivated by their concern for “the true good of souls” and their “deep collegial affection that unites us to the Pope”.

The cardinals refer to “grave disorientation and great confusion” among Catholics, including bishops, about “extremely important matters”.

Amoris Laetitia makes no direct reference to Communion for the remarried. But a footnote to the document has prompted a range of interpretations. Footnote 351, which Pope Francis told a journalist he could not remember, says those in in an objective situation of sin might “receive the help of the sacraments.”

Several bishops have said this merely restates the Church teaching summed up by St John Paul. But a draft document issued by the bishops of Buenos Aires claimed the footnote meant that the teaching no longer stood. The draft document was praised by the Pope in a leaked communication.

One of the four cardinals to have signed the letter, Cardinal Raymond Burke, had a private audience with the Pope last week. The subject of their discussion is unknown.

The blogger Fr John Hunwicke said it was a cause for “sadness” that the Pope had not replied to the letter sent in September, adding: “If this pontificate was not already in crisis, it most certainly is now.”

The letter is not the first appeal to Church authority. In September, six bishops – including Cardinals Burke and Caffarra – signed a “Declaration of Fidelity” to Church teaching which has since gained 7,000 signatures. In July, 45 priests and theologians wrote to the world’s cardinals asking them to request clarification from the Pope.

One of those 45 signatories, Dr Michael Sirilla, Professor of Dogmatic and Systematic Theology, at Franciscan University of Steubenville, praised the cardinals’ letter, saying: “Faithful Catholics owe a debt of gratitude to these cardinals. The grave confusion that has followed Amoris Laetitia involves fundamental goods of the Eucharist, matrimony, and the objective standards of moral good and evil.

“Historically, a hallmark of Catholic doctrine has been its beautiful precision, directing souls to eternal salvation. Error is found rarely in the ordinary magisterium. Clarification is needed soon since episcopal conferences are deliberating about how to implement AL.”

To read the full text of the cardinals’ letter go here