CAN YOU BE FIRED FOR BEING TOO LOYAL TO THE FAITH???

Settimo Cielodi Sandro Magister

All the Reasons of Professor Seifert, Fired For Too Much Fidelity to the Church

Seifert
*

The recent removal, by the archbishop of Granada, of the eminent 72-year old Austrian Catholic philosopher Professor Josef Seifert from the Spanish branch of the International Academy of Philosophy founded by Seifert himself in the Principality of Liechtenstein is perhaps the most dramatic legacy of “Amoris Laetitia.”

Because it is precisely for having dared to criticize a passage from this document of Pope Francis in the light of “pure logic” that Seifert has been banished.

The passage is the following, taken from paragraph 303 of the post-synodal exhortation:

“Conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.”

Seifert’s thesis is that according to the rigor of logic “Amoris Laetitia” here ends up maintaining that God can ask, in some circumstances, for any kind of evil action, like adultery, contradicting his own commandments.

With the result that such a “theological atom bomb” “threatens to topple the entire edifice of Catholic moral teaching.”

Seifert has published his critique in the German magazine of philosophy and theology “Aemaet”:

> Does Pure Logic Threaten to Destroy the Entire Moral Doctrine of the Catholic Church?

And it was also in this magazine that Professor Claudio Pierantoni, a professor of philosophy at the University of Chile in Santiago, recently published a biting commentary on the defenestration of Seifert, who in his judgment represents “the beginning of the official persecution of orthodoxy within the Church.”

Pierantoni is one of the six lay scholars gathered in Rome from every continent last April 22 for a study seminar on “Amoris Laetitia” with the significant title “To bring clarity,” recalled by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra in his last – and unheeded – letter to Pope Francis.

The complete text of his essay is available to all on “Aemaet” in English:

> Josef Seifert, Pure Logic, and the Beginning of the Official Persecution of Orthodoxy within the Church

The following are the central and final parts.

*

OFFICIAL PERSECUTION AND PRACTICAL SCHISM IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

by Claudio Pierantoni

[…] Notwithstanding the force and cogency of his argument, Josef Seifert does not draw himself apodictically the consequences (which would be equivalent to detect a material heresy), but rather leaves it to the Pope to reflect about such a grave matter. What could be thought of as more humble and respectful?

Now, precisely his article has led Archbishop of Granada Martínez to affirm that: “the article recently published by Professor Josef Seifert […] damages the communion of the Church, confuses the faith of the faithful, and sows distrust toward the successor of Peter, which, in the end, does not serve the truth of faith, but, rather, the interests of the world.”

With all due respect, I think that, by affirming this, Archbishop Martínez displays a truly surprising naiveté in his consideration of the present situation of the Church. Surprising, indeed, because he certainly is not only a high prelate, but also a highly educated person.

First of all, in order to affirm that someone is “damaging the communion of the Church” in some matter, one must previously assume that some kind of communion, regarding the subject we are discussing, actually exists in the Church. Now, what bishop, what priest, what educated and informed person in the Catholic Church today is unaware that there exists no subject at present more disputed and submerged in such horrifying confusion as this one? In which matter, I ask, is “the faith of the faithful” more confused by the most contradictory voices as a consequence of the publication of “Amoris Laetitia”?

Someone could object that the confusion already existed before AL: yes, but the huge problem with AL is that relativistic currents of thought and “situation ethics”, which the previous three Popes had tried hard to stop, have now surreptitiously entered the pages of an official papal document. Things have thus reached the point that one of the most outstanding and lucid defenders of the previous Magisterium during more than three decades, personally supported and encouraged in his philosophical enterprise by St. John Paul II as one of his most precious allies in the defence of the infallible moral doctrine of the Church, Josef Seifert, is now dismissed and treated as an enemy of the communion of the same Church.

Equally unjustified and naïve, I think, is the affirmation that Seifert “sows distrust toward the successor of Peter.” Archbishop Martínez seems to be unaware of what is as evident as what we said before: by allowing into an official document affirmations that are contradictory to essential points of the previous Magisterium, and of the millenary doctrine of the Church, Pope Francis has directly thrown upon himself the utter distrust of an immense number of faithful Catholics. The disastrous consequence is that distrust is thereby thrown, in the minds of many, upon the Papacy itself.

So, what is the real cause of this distrust? Can it really be Josef Seifert’s solid and consistent efort to oppose the error of situation ethics, a commitment to which he has devoted almost his entire life and that of the institution he founded, in faithful service to the Church and to the Word of God? Or must it not be due to the fact that this very error, contrary to the whole Christian tradition (a tradition so recently reaffirmed in an Encyclical as solemn and important as “Veritatis Splendor”) has now been allowed to creep into a papal document?

In the third place, we must make clear that AL’s suggestion on this topic (namely that objective adulterers could now in some cases not be considered objective adulterers) can in noway be considered true Magisterium, even though it appears on the pages of a magisterial document. To suppose that it could, I think, would be to assume a rather mechanical and oversimplified concept of the Magisterium: namely, that something is “being taught” by a Pope, only because it appears, in someway or other, in an Apostolic Exhortation.

In fact, there is clear evidence in the Exhortation itself and in the subsequent actions of Pope Francis, that this is not the case. At the very beginning, AL clearly states that “not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. […] Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. For cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle… needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied” (AL 3, my emphasis).

Now, precisely since our topic is the crucial question which the Pope foresees is bound to be called into discussion, it is clear that in order to avoid discussion about the orthodoxy of his proposal, he presents it in an indirect and “discreet” way. This is so true, that he explicitly recognizes that what is here proposed may legitimately be substituted by “another way of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences of it”. Now, this is of course very different from anything that could be considered a “magisterial teaching”: not only does a statement like this preclude any attempt to considering AL’s doctrine an infallible teaching, but it also precludes considering it even as authentic magisterium, at least in those parts that present novelties or even contradictions to the previous Magisterium.

Consistently with this statement of AL 3, the Pope has not offered any objections to the declarations of those bishops who have pleaded their fidelity to “Veritatis Splendor” and “Familiaris Consortio”, as in Poland, USA, Canada and Argentina. Archbishop Martínez says that: “The Diocese of Granada has adopted, from the very beginning, the application of the pontifical text prepared by the Bishops of the Region of Buenos Aires, recognized by the Holy Father”. Very good: but this has been his decision: other bishops have made the opposite decision, and have not been censured by the Pope. It is true that in his letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires the Pope states that “there is no other interpretation”; but in fact he has accepted the existence of other interpretations and has not censured them, consistently with what he had affirmed in AL 3.

So, what we are witnessing here is an attempt to “magisterialize” the proposal of AL chapter VIII, which is contrary to the evidence offered by AL itself, and to the course of action of the Pope himself. It should be noted that Martínez is following here the course proposed by Argentinian Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández in his recent article: Archbishop Fernández assumes that this proposal is an act of the Magisterium, and tries to confirm this by quoting the same letter of the Pope to the Buenos Aires bishops, thus implicitly assuming that this letter is an additional act of the Magisterium.

I reply: a letter that merely confirms the reception of a proposal, that cannot in itself present the credentials of the magisterial, cannot, for the same reason, be magisterium. It is merely a confirmation of the mind of the Pope on this matter. But what the Pope thinks or says is very far from being, “ipso facto”, magisterial. There must be, clearly expressed, an intention of authoritatively teaching, and not of suggesting only one possible interpretation as is explicitly said in AL 3. Furthermore, there must also be, of course, a clear harmony and coherence with the rest of the Magisterium.

In this sense it is completely true to affirm, with the so-called “orthodox interpretation of AL”, that even suspending our judgement on whether the Pope as a person has fallen into error, no interpretation contrary to previous solemn and ordinary teaching of the Church may be correctly extracted from the document.

What we would like to add, however, is that although the true Magisterium of the Church can never itself be altered by what a Pope personally thinks and says, because it rests on Jesus Christ’s promise and protection, still, an erroneous personal opinion of the Pope can have devastating effects, mainly because many people, at all levels, will inevitably tend to make a confusion between “Magisterium” and “what the Pope says”.

This is precisely what is happening today with the dismissal of Prof. Seifert from the International Academy of Philosophy in Granada. Here, in fact, the Archbishop of Granada is officially persecuting a most orthodox Catholic thinker, precisely on the assumption that “what the Pope says” in AL chapter VIII is an act of the Magisterium. For, evidently, to criticize the Pope for something that he says as a private person could not in the least suffice for the accusation of “damaging the communion of the Church, confusing the faith of the faithful, and sowing distrust toward the successor of Peter”.

So, Josef Seifert is not simply one more of the list of orthodox thinkers discriminated against for their orthodoxy. Of such people we could find many examples in the Church, not only in the past four years, but also in the past decades. Rather we have here something more: not a simple discrimination (which would need some kind of pretext to hide its true motives), but an official persecution based on a papal document. It would be hard, in modern Church history, to find another example of this. We would have rather to go back to the ancient christological controversies, when entire and vital sections of the Church – sometimes including the Papacy – were captured by heresy and thus persecuted the orthodox.

In conclusion, even while we criticise Granada’s Archbishop for the unjust punishment he has inflicted upon Prof. Seifert, we must in a sense also be grateful to him. By officially punishing a Catholic thinker for the sole crime of being orthodox, he unwittingly confirms, and throws into clear relief, the practical schism we are suffering from in the Catholic Church, because of grave errors that have managed to creep into a papal document.

So, now, not only can someone who is a public adulterer in Philadelphia automatically become, having moved to Chicago, a good Catholic who does “what God asks of him”, but, as Pure Logic dictates in consequence, a thinker who is a faithful defender of orthodoxy in Vaduz, can be punished in Granada as a menace to ecclesiastical communion and an enemy of the Pope.

But this, of course, could not happen without the Pope himself actively contributing to the confusion between the Magisterium and his private opinions.

In the light of this, it is all the more necessary and urgent that some kind of “formal”, or, maybe better, “filial” correction to the Pope, finally appear. And may God grant the Holy Father an open heart to hear it.

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About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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2 Responses to CAN YOU BE FIRED FOR BEING TOO LOYAL TO THE FAITH???

  1. Ana Milan says:

    At least he hasn’t, as yet, been excommunicated as was José Galat, although that could well follow. It is particularly disturbing that while in Colombia PF didn’t apparently speak with Señor Galat & hear his side of the story, nor did he mention the imposition the Holy See placed upon him for ostensibly upholding the Traditional teachings of the Catholic Church which no-one can alter, even PF.

  2. kevirish01 says:

    His Excellency Emeritus asks: CAN YOU BE FIRED FOR BEING TOO LOYAL TO THE FAITH???

    Apparently one can… merely by being too rigid and fundamentalist towards the Fidem Depositum. You know, not having any discernment or flexibility and all of that.

    Catechist Kev

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