Earlier this week, a group of 19 Catholic priests and other theologians called upon the bishops to correct the alleged heresy of Pope Francis, which includes going lax on communion for the divorced and remarried, homosexual actions, and religious diversity.
“We take this measure as a last resort to respond to the accumulating harm caused by Pope Francis’s words and actions over several years, which have given rise to one of the worst crises in the history of the Catholic Church,” the group said in a 20-page open letter this week that was published at LifeSiteNews.
The letter went on to say that Pope Francis is only being accused of heresy for public statements he has made that have allegedly undermined the faith while clarifying they are not claiming Pope Francis has "denied truths of the faith in pronouncements that satisfy the conditions for an infallible papal teaching."
"We limit ourselves to accusing him of heresy on occasions where he has publicly denied truths of the faith, and then consistently acted in a way that demonstrates that he disbelieves these truths that he has publicly denied," it says.
Aside from the Roman Pontiff's statements, the letter also takes issue with many members of the Catholic hierarchy that Pope Francis has either praised or promoted men who have either flagrantly violated the faith or have notorious histories of corruption: Cardinal Blase Cupich, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, and Bishop Juan Barros. Meanwhile, as Pope Francis held those men in high esteem, he has simultaneously side-lined other faithful members of the hierarchy.
These are among the list of many reasons that the authors "respectfully request the bishops of the Church to investigate the accusations contained in the letter, so that if they judge them to be well founded they may free the Church from her present distress, in accordance with the hallowed adage, Salus animarum prima lex (‘'he salvation of souls is the highest law’)."
The writers suggest that the bishops admonish "Pope Francis to reject these heresies, and if he should persistently refuse, by declaring that he has freely deprived himself of the papacy."
The letter has since garnered 51 signatures, according to LifeSiteNews, the most prominent among them being 70-year-old British priest Father Aidan Nichols, a Dominican and author of several books.
Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University in the United States, said the letter is nothing more than a group of extremists with no constructive criticism of Pope Francis.
"There is overwhelming support for Francis in the global Church on one side, and a tiny fringe of extremists trying to paint Francis as a pope who is heretic. The problem is that there is very little legitimate, constructive critique of Francis’ pontificate and his theology," Faggioli told Reuters.
In an 11-page letter released last year, Archbishop Viganò, former Nuncio from the Vatican to Washington, D.C., alleged that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had been sanctioned under Pope Benedict XVI only to have those sanctions removed by Pope Francis upon his ascendancy in 2013. Cardinal McCarrick had an alleged history of sexually abusing male seminarians and, according to Viganò, was ordered by Pope Benedict to refrain from saying Mass or public ministry.
Pope Francis has still not responded to the accusations laid against him by Viganò.