legitimateBridie Stringer

This reflection offers a lay perspective - 'a view from the pew' - on the accusations of heresy levelled at Pope Francis during the summer of 2017. Bridie Stringer is an associate lecturer in pastoral theology at St Mary's University, Twickenham.

The political summer of 2017 was characterised by the challenging behaviour of two of the world's significant aspirants to nuclear supremacy. Threats of being 'locked and loaded' and the dress rehearsals for firing nuclear missiles were played out, usually via Twitter, in 140 characters1, the limit for posting news, opinions and, in this case, polemic. Within the Church too, there was a threat of the H bomb but, in this case, not nuclear ordnance but the bombshell of heresy. Instead of the Twitter word limit, the authors deployed over 13,500 words of 'filial Correction concerning the propagation of heresies ' in a letter to Pope Francis. The sixty-two signatories comprised a mixture of clergy and lay theologians2 and they listed seven specific instances where, in their view, the Holy Father had been found to be erroneous in the teaching contained within the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (Love in the Family), given during the Jubilee of Mercy on 19 March 2016. Further supporting signatures were added to the Correctio in the weeks following its publication and a counter petition in support for Pope Francis initiated by a group of mostly German theologians garnered more than 57,500 signatories from around the world. It is not my intention to forensically dissect the Correctio in the manner of a post-mortem in order to facilitate the judgment of a theological coroner, but to make some personal observations about what this disagreement might signal for the lay person in the pew.

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