Today, 28 April, an important exclusive interview with a well-known Catholic philosopher has been published in Germany. The important statements of Professor Robert Spaemann might well indicate that the wind is turning now against the “Francis Revolution”.
Spaemann – who is a personal friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – says about Amoris Laetitia that there are some ways of interpreting the document against the continuous teaching of the Church. He then continues:
However, the article 305 – together with the footnote 351 where it is said that faithful “in the middle of an objective situation of sin” and “because of mitigating factors” may be admitted to the Sacraments – is in direct contradiction to the paragraph 84 of the document Familiaris Consortio by John Paul II.
Spaemann explains a little further this point:
He [John Paul II] formulates very clearly in paragraph 84 that remarried divorcees have to refrain from sexual relations if they want to go to Holy Communion. A change in practice of the dispensation of the Sacraments would therefore not be a “further development of Familiaris Consortio,” as Cardinal Kasper says, but a breach with its essential anthropological and theological teaching on human marriage and sexuality. The Church has no authority – without a previous conversion – to positively, sanction with the help of the Sacraments, disordered sexual relationships and thereby to get ahead of God’s Mercy. Independently of how these situations have to be assessed in human and moral terms – the door here is closed, just as in the case with female priests.
The Catholic philosopher also criticizes the idea of marriage as presented in Amoris Laetitia when he says that the Christian life is “not a pedagogical event where one slowly moves toward marriage as an ideal, as Amoris Laetitia seems to propose in several passages.” Any violation of God’s Laws in this field is, in his eyes, a “violation of God’s holiness” which requires “a conversion.” By admitting such habitual sinners to the Sacraments, one would “violate God’s Mercy.”
Robert Spaemann also stresses that it is “absolutely justified” that so many critics now concentrate on these most troubling parts of the document. He says:
One cannot expect, when dealing with a papal magisterial document, that people rejoice about a beautiful text and then ignore the decisive sentences which change the teaching of the Church. There is indeed only the clear yes-or-no decision. There is no third possibility between giving Holy Communion or not.”
Speamann also questions the pope’s claim that one should not judge people in these areas of moral conduct. Of course, says the German, do we not judge the personal consciences of people. “But when it comes to sexual relations,” he continues, “which are in objective contradiction to the Christian order of life, I would like to know from the pope after which time period and under which conditions such an objectively sinful behavior becomes a conduct which is pleasing to God.”
When asked as to whether there is to be found in Amoris Laetitia a breach with the Church’s traditional teaching, Spaemann responds: “It is clear to every thinking person who knows the texts that are important in this context that there is a breach.”
The German philosopher rejects the “situation ethics” that is to be found in Amoris Laetitia. He shows that the consequences of this document are “insecurity and confusion.” He knows of priests who say that there is the general impression that no one living in an “irregular situation” will now be any more excluded from the Sacraments – and this “without conversion.”
Spaemann indicates also that the pope is fostering now a schism within the Church:
The chaos has been turned into a principle – with one stroke of a pen. The pope should have known that he will split the Church with such a step and that he leads her into the direction of a schism – a schism that would be not at the periphery, but in the middle of the Church. May God help us to avoid this.
He forcefully ends his interview with the following consequential words:
Each individual cardinal, as well as each bishop and each priest is now called to preserve in his field of authority the Catholic Sacramental Order and to confess it publicly. If the pope is not willing to make a correction, it is up to another pontificate to officially put things back into order.
We might have reached the tipping point now in the Church. May many voices follow the courageous one of Professor Spaemann.