Brandmüller, Burke, Caffarra and Meiser have performed a signal service to the Church by sending five dubia on the apostolic exortation Amoris laetitia to the Holy See, requesting an authoritative clarification of the meaning of that document, and then making public the text of the dubia when no response to them was given. Cardinal Burke has performed a further service to the Church by explaining this initiative in an interview with Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register on Nov. 15th 2016, and stating that if no response was given to the dubia the cardinals would have to make a formal act of correction of a serious error.
As is proper, the dubia were formulated in a manner appropriate to an official request of this kind, and the formal act of correction to which Cardinal Burke refers is an act with a legal character. Catholics may find it helpful to be given a presentation of the canonical, historical and theological background to the dubia and the suggested act of correction, and to the situation that has led to the action of the Cardinals. This background is no doubt well known to the four Cardinals, but it is less accessible to those who lack their specialised knowledge. This article is intended to help with the comprehension and appreciation of their initiative.