Twenty-three Catholic scholars and pastors, three of them Oxford University academics, have given their names to a statement in support of “the four cardinals”, after the cardinals’ request to Pope Francis to clarify his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

The scholars include Dr Robert Beddard, the former vice-provost of Oriel College, Oxford, Professor Luke Gormally, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and Dr Nicholas Richardson, sub-warden of Merton College, Oxford.

Most of the 23 signatories also signed a previous letter to the College of Cardinals, asking them to request clarification of Amoris Laetitia.

The statement says that the four cardinals raise “pertinent and searching questions” about whether Church teaching on the sacraments and the moral law is to be upheld. They say that if the Pope fails to reaffirm Church teaching, it may be necessary for the cardinals to “collectively approach him with some form of fraternal correction, in the spirit of Paul’s admonition to his fellow apostle Peter at Antioch”.

Cardinal Burke, one of the four cardinals, said he believes that that such a move might be necessary.

The Pope has so far declined to reply to the questions, which were sent in September.

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