"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matt 16:18-19)
In the wake of the publication of the Filial Correction on 24th September, 2017, many Catholics have been left in a state of deep confusion as to whether a validly elected Roman Pontiff can teach heresy as part of his Ordinary Magisterium. The Ordinary Magisterium is found in the day to day teachings of the Holy Father, issued through various encyclicals, apostolic constitutions, apostolic exhortations, etc., and although this particular exercise of the papal office is fallible in nature, and certain deficiencies may be present, all Catholics are bound to give their religious assent (the submission of will and intellect) to whatever is contained in the Ordinary Magisterium. This is distinct from the more binding assent of faith which is required for infallible pronouncements such as dogmas, or the contents of Sacred Scripture. As the Catechism states, there is a special Divine assistance given which protects the pope from teaching any errors which contradict faith or morals in the Ordinary Magisterium itself - a charism which is to be considered quite separately from the doctrine of papal infallibility, which is only very rarely exercised through ex cathedra pronouncements, or through the solemn definitions of ecumenical councils, etc. As the Catechism states:
Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent" which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it. (CCC 892)
One must therefore take into account the proper character of every exercise of the Magisterium, considering the extent to which its authority is engaged. It is also to be borne in mind that all acts of the Magisterium derive from the same source, that is, from Christ who desires that His People walk in the entire truth. For this same reason, magisterial decisions in matters of discipline, even if they are not guaranteed by the charism of infallibility, are not without divine assistance and call for the adherence of the faithful. (Donum Veritatis 17)
So while there may be certain deficiencies present in the Ordinary Magisterium, the faithful are still required to submit their will and intellect to its higher prudential judgment by giving religious assent, and such deficiencies can never fall into error in matters of faith and morals through the promise of Divine assistance accorded to even these non-infallible pronouncements. As Lumen Gentium 25 states:
This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.
In the CDF document Donum Veritatis, a special dispensation is given for trained theologians to withhold their religious assent from certain aspects of the Ordinary Magisterium they perceive to be potentially problematic, so that they can bring their findings and objections before the Magisterium for study and reflection. However, Donum Veritatis states that such non-assent should always be conducted privately, so as not to lead the faithful into confusion, and any dissenting theologians are instructed to avoid presenting their objections before the mass media:
"In cases like these, the theologian should avoid turning to the "mass media", but have recourse to the responsible authority, for it is not by seeking to exert the pressure of public opinion that one contributes to the clarification of doctrinal issues and renders servite to the truth."
(Donum Veritatis 30)
So since the authors of the Filial Correction have turned directly to the mass media in order to present their dissent to Amoris Laetitia (which is part of the Ordinary Magisterium of Pope Francis), this action was made in direct contravention of the guidelines for dissenting theologians outlaid in Donum Veritatis, and should therefore be considered illicit.
In banding together to form a "parallel-magisterium" which aims to "correct" the Ordinary Magisterium of Pope Francis, the authors of the Filial Correction have brought about a great source of confusion and harm to the faithful.
As to the "parallel magisterium", it can cause great spiritual harm by opposing itself to the Magisterium of the Pastors. Indeed, when dissent succeeds in extending its influence to the point of shaping; a common opinion, it tends to become the rule of conduct. This cannot but seriously trouble the People of God and lead to contempt for true authority. (Donum Veritatis 34)
Polling public opinion to determine the proper thing to think or do, opposing the Magisterium by exerting the pressure of public opinion, making the excuse of a "consensus" among theologians, maintaining that the theologian is the prophetical spokesman of a "base" or autonomous community which would be the source of all truth, all this indicates a grave loss of the sense of truth and of the sense of the Church. The Church "is like a sacrament, a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men". Consequently, to pursue concord and communion is to enhance the force of her witness and credibility. To succumb to the temptation of dissent, on the other hand, is to allow the "leaven of infidelity to the Holy Spirit" to start to work. (Donum Veritatis 39-40)
This false accusation railed against Pope Francis, claiming that he is teaching or promoting heresy in part of his Ordinary Magisterium is in effect a denial of the one of the essential truths behind the teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, who is granted Divine assistance which prevents him from erring in matters of faith and morals, even when teaching non-infallibly. If we are to reject this essential truth, then the entire edifice of Catholic theology comes crashing to the ground. Once broken down to its constitute parts, this false accusation amounts to nothing less than a charge of formal heresy against the Pope himself, and cannot be recognized as anything other than an attempt to precipitate some form of schism within the Church, renting apart the seamless garment of Christ.
Lest we forget: "The First See is judged by no one." (Canon 1404)