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Catholic Scholars React to Dismissal of Josef Seifert Over Exhortation Critique

A few days ago, OnePeterFive reported that Professor Josef Seifert, a prominent Austrian Catholic philosopher and defender of Life, had been removed by Archbishop Javier Martínez Fernández, of Granada, Spain from his Dietrich von Hildebrand Chair at the International Academy of Philosophy. Moreover, the archbishop made an explicit reference to Seifert’s 2016 and 2017 writings, his published polite critiques of the papal document Amoris Laetita. This piece of news has caused much international discussion and drawn significant attention. Reports about it have been published in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.S., to name but a few. Professor Roberto de Mattei, the Italian historian and Catholic commentator, for example, has written an excellent analysis of the moral and intellectual crisis caused by this unjust dismissal. In light of the grave injustice to be found in the Seifert case, as well as the likely consequences stemming from it for many other sincere and doubting critics of Amoris Laetitia, we have decided to reach out to several Catholic scholars and authors, asking them to submit their own reflections about this case, also in light of a defense of Professor Seifert’s life work and of his academic and intellectual freedom. In the following, we gratefully present some of them to our readers.


Dr. Claudio Pierantoni

Professor of Medieval Philosophy, University of Chile

I thank you for the occasion to publicly express all my solidarity and admiration for Josef Seifert, my excellent friend, teacher in Philosophy, brother in the Catholic faith and companion in the present difficult resistance against heresy within the very heart of the Church. I think the firing of Prof. Josef Seifert by Archbishop Martínez of Granada is an act of persecution, and a highly preoccupying one, against not only an outstanding Catholic philosopher, but a sincere and loyal son of the Church, who has always been moved by a relentless love of Truth.

As such, he had always been appreciated by Pope St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and many other defenders of the Catholic faith, not least by Card. Caffarra. I can give testimony of his profound grief and preoccupation for the present systematic destruction of the Magisterium that Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI dedicated to the defense of Catholic moral doctrine and the eternal principles of Natural Law: to this Magisterium he gave continuous and brilliant support with an impressive number of books and articles during more than thirty years. So it appears particularly hideous, not to say frankly diabolical, that he now should be dismissed from the Academy he himself founded and served for so many years out of love of the Truth and the Church.

I don’t make any judgment about the good faith of Archbishop Martínez of Granada; still, I’m obliged to note that his act proceeds from a profound misconception of the Papacy and Catholic orthodoxy. He seems to be assuming that this text of Amoris Laetitia is to be believed as if it contained a truth “de fide credenda”, and so to simply raise a doubt or propose a question about it must be judged as a sin against the Pope and the unity of the Church. Does the archbishop of Granada ignore that similar profound doubts and questions have been raised by a great number of qualified theologians in the whole world? Three or four, like Schönborn, Buttiglione, Fernández, Guerra, have ventured to defend the text, and have instantly been submerged by critics who very easily show the feebleness of the defense. Does he ignore that even four Cardinals of the Church have raised the same doubts? Have their doubts been answered? Has AL made any well-founded contribution to the moral doctrine of the Church? Or is it sowing doubt and confusion everywhere? So, who is attacking the Papacy? Who is menacing the unity of the Church? Martínez has no doubts: Josef Seifert.


Luke Gormally

Director Emeritus, The Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, London (1981-2000)

Research Professor, Ave Maria School of Law, Ann Arbor Michigan (2001-2007)

Corresponding Member, The Pontifical Academy for Life (1996-2001); Ordinary Member (2001-2016)

I have known Professor Josef Seifert since I became a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life in 1996. He has come to seem to me to be one of the few characters I would call ‘noble’. He has been extraordinarily dedicated in his devotion to the truth, both the truth as it may be known by reason and the truth as we know it from revelation. And he has combined this devotion with frankness, courtesy and charity in his dealings with others.

His two publications on Amoris Laetitia identify propositions more or less explicit in that Apostolic Exhortation which are subversive of un-revisable Church teaching and the necessary discipline of the sacraments. He has done so in a spirit of filial devotion to the Church and to the person of the Pope. A just perception of what he has done should inspire any bishop in his own ministry to avoid the errors of Amoris Laetitia in the interests of unity in truth. It is no service of ecclesial unity to ingratiate oneself with the Pope when papal leadership is destructive of unity.

It is truly shameful that Professor Seifert has been so unjustly removed from the Institute which he founded and to which he has devoted so much of his professional life. Saint Teresa Benedicta, lover of truth, pray for him.


From a priest and canon lawyer who has asked for anonymity:

Aquinas and Bellarmine indicate not only that it can be permissible, if a pope’s words or actions pose an “imminent danger of scandal concerning the faith,” to publicly rebuke him, but that this can even be a duty.

Aquinas, for example, teaches:

“…if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning the faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Gal. 2:11, Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.” [II-II Q. 33, art. IV. ]


Dr. John Lamont, Dr. phil.

Philosopher, Theologian, and Author

I of course fully support Professor Josef Seifert in his statements about Amoris Laetitia and denounce the injustice of his being forced into retirement by the Archbishop of Granada, and you are free to quote me on this if you wish. I think he should proceed canonically against the Archdiocese for this action, and take the case to the civil law if that is feasible.


John M. Haas, Ph.D., S.T.L., M.Div., K.M.


International Institute for Culture

Philadelphia, PA

Professor Josef Seifert has been a friend and colleague for decades. I would regularly have him lecture at Workshops in Bavaria on the relationship between faith and culture organized by my Institute. He is a creative thinker with a keen philosophical mind who has always been solidly orthodox with an unwavering commitment to magisterial teaching and the received traditions of the Catholic Church. Many Catholic scholars, including members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, have received advanced degrees from his philosophical academy. May his service to the Church continue.



Mathias von Gersdorff

Pro-Life Activist, Journalist, and Author, Germany

The punitive measure taken by the Archbishop of Granada concerning Professor Josef Seifert is truly “a preferential option for irrationality.” The worldwide renowned philosopher has merely raised – in a respectful manner – a question concerning a passage of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. He did so by strictly remaining in the field of logic – one of his fields of expertise, and not in the field of theology. With an utmost sense of tact, he raises the question as to whether the said passage in the Apostolic Exhortation – possibly because of a lapse and not with the explicit will of the pope – really wants to claim that, if there are cases where God offers the way of adultery as the only and best solution, this would also apply to the act of stealing, the act of murder, etc.

If this would be the case, obviously the whole Catholic moral theology would collapse. In the face of the fact that Professor Seifert totally proves that this very sentence allows such a logical conclusion, he pleas that this passage will be explained, reformulated, or even removed and rescinded. Now, instead of dealing with the matter at hand, the Archbishop of Granada (Spain) has made use of his authority in order to degrade Professor Seifert and to dismiss him. If authority is being used in such a manner, earlier or later the principle of authority within the Church itself will be destroyed.


Hugh Owen 

Director, Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, Mt. Jackson, Virginia, USA

Dr. Josef Seifert belongs to a long line of faithful witnesses who have taken a stand for the Truth – and been calumniated for it. As someone who was privileged to participate as an observer in an exchange of views among various experts in theology and philosophy regarding Amoris Laetitia, including Dr. Seifert, I can testify that he was always respectful of the authority of the Pope and of his Archbishop, merely seeking faithfully to fulfill his mandate as a Catholic scholar to uphold the doctrine of Holy Marriage as it had been handed down from the Apostles. Indeed, these are strange times when those who defend what all of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers have upheld in their authoritative teaching can now be condemned as dissenters and stripped of their right to teach in Catholic institutions!


Wolfram Schrems

Mag. theol., Mag. phil., catechist, active in the pro-life field, Vienna (Austria)

As a graduate from the International Academy of Philosophy (IAP) in the Principality of Liechtenstein – which was founded by Professor Josef Seifert – I support Professor Seifert’s position as it has been expressed in his recent document “Does pure logic threaten to destroy the entire moral doctrine of the Catholic Church?” and I join him in his call to Pope Francis to rescind the incriminated passage in Amoris Laetitia (303).

Because the pure logic of AL 303 will indeed lead to a justification of all intrinsically evil acts. There exists then no reason at all to halt or to stop at adultery. For, the relativism as represented here by the pope will lead, with the same inner logic, to the justification of political crimes. That is to say, he who makes relativism his own position and rejects the teaching about the intrisece malum, (the intrinsically evil), may not any more then complain about the national-socialist crimes.

Dietrich von Hildebrand – one of the most important teachers of Professor Seifert and thus in a certain way himself the spiritus rector of the IAP – pointed already in the 1930s, and from Vienna, to the radically relativistic character of National Socialism.

Nowadays, however, one is miles away from such an analysis since National Socialism has received a “special status” in the history of ideologies. This special status is not justifiable.

Therefore, one should completely support Professor Seifert’s call to Pope Francis to rescind the above-mentioned passage – especially by those who themselves stem from the German-speaking realm!

In my view, Professor Seifert could have even formulated his own critique in a sharper way. Since Pope Francis had presented relativistic and Teilhardian ideologies already in his earlier teachings, one may certainly already exclude in this case any possibly well-meaning merely “pastoral motives.” One cannot exclude that, with his fundamental decisions that are now clearly recognizable as being openly heretical, Pope Francis, possibly, has excluded himself already from the Church.

This matter should be investigated by the cardinals, theologians, and philosophers, and urgently so.


Paolo  Pasqualucci

Retired Professor of Philosophy of the Law, University of Perugia, Italy

I think Prof. Seifert’s flawless, critical but respectful analysis of certain ambiguous statements included in  ‘Amoris Laetitia’ is absolutely correct. Therefore I think that the punitive measure taken against him by the Archbishop of Granada is unjust.


This post has been updated. 

47 thoughts on “Catholic Scholars React to Dismissal of Josef Seifert Over Exhortation Critique”

  1. Dr. Seifert’s own work speaks well of him, as do his peers. It would be interesting to know if anyone with such credentials will come to the defense of the archbishop.

  2. The truly puzzling thing here is that Abp Martinez had been seen as a conservative, and associated with Communion & Liberation, up to this point. Maybe this episode is a sign that the conservatives are doubling down on Bergoglio and enforcing obedience or silence at all costs.

    • The trouble with “conservatives” is that for the most part they are papolaters. So lots of these “new movements” like Opus Dei, C&L, Neocats., Regnum Christi etc. will not hear a word spoken in criticism of the Pope because they place him on a higher pedestal than Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

      • We know that they know that a pope or a council that contradicts the perennial Magisterium of the Church forthrightly or by allusion, implication or innuendo is engaging in a mode of clerical malpractice – at the very least.
        There is no virtue in affirming the specious by silence, by deference or by conformity. The façade of obedience employed by the “faithful” of any stripe in the face of an
        unhinged pontificate is a moral train wreck. But it does serve a purpose, the
        purpose being to confirm themselves in their own eyes to be superior in virtue,
        providing a bogus consolation to the cowardly in a state of protracted adolescence.

    • There is NOTHING conservative about “Communion and Liberation. Some of the most appallingly “cafeteria” Catholics I know are deeply involved in that movement.

  3. and……………of course……yes…….good man……noble man………..spoke to the Truth of A.L…………..,,unfairly dismissed……….etc.,,,,

    So many scholars, but no cardinals, and not even a priest who felt he could leave his name, in addressing this topic. God bless Dr. Seifert, God bless those who have witnessed the faith and sought to bring God’s Truth to mankind.

    Nature has a way of correcting of what man has done, and I am not referring to Francis’ idea of nature…..fossil fuels, renewable resources…….I am referring to the abomination of homosexuality, and all sins of the flesh…….a course of correction is upon us. May God have mercy on the many who have given all for Him.

  4. An example of Bishop Schneider’s “Little Ones” at work.

    No ordained come to his rescue, only those who are laymen do.

    An amazing collapse.

    • I would be quite happy to reveal my hand and speak out in support of Prof. Seifert, but I don’t think deacons are important enough to be interesting. At least not since the deacon Athanasius opposed Arius at the Council of Nicea, or the deacon Francis of Assisi shook up the tumbling down Church of his time.

        • I have checked out St Ephrem many a time. The Syriac tradition is quite close to my heart as one of my god-daughters had a Melkite bishop in her family. 😉

          • Well I did send a message of support for Prof Seifert under my offline name giving permission for it to be added to the above list, but it hasn’t gone up there yet. Maybe it wasn’t received?

          • If we stand up or if we don’t we will be persecuted. That is without a doubt. But we must also remember what our Lord has said, “…Those who are not for Me are against Me…” (paraphrased). There is a time for everything under heaven…a time for speaking and a time for silence. Now is the time for speaking. Those who do not side with and witness to the Truth will be accounted as opposed to it.

          • Awesome! I’m Ukrainian Greek Catholic. My siblings and I had ECF classes which used the God With Us series, which had Byzantine and Melkite usages in the text.

            Btw, do you know if Fr. Fred Saato is still living? He was the editor of A Guide for the Domestic Church in 1985. I loved that book . Sorry this is out of season but anyway: Al-Maseeh Haqqam!

          • Sorry, Margaret, I am very much a Latin rite deacon and I have virtually no Arabic, but I think the appropriate response is “He is risen indeed!” I have only read St Ephrem in translation. I don’t know much about the situation of the Melkites in the US, but I speak to a good friend who is a Melkite deacon every week and I will ask him about Fr Saato when we talk. If anyone will know, he will know because he is the biggest name-dropper in the world!!!!… 😉

            The Melkites over here in London have most of their Divine liturgies in English now. Do the Ukrainians tend to vernacularize over time or do they keep the old language?

  5. I am not a bit surprised to see NONE of my colleagues at Franciscan University rise to the defense of Seifert. Papalotry is one of the distinguishing features of our parody of Catholic orthodoxy.

  6. Remember when Humanae vitae was published and gangs of dissenting theologians were rapidly and ruthlessly purged from their positions by faithful Catholic bishops?

    Remember that?

    Neither do I.

  7. If the shepards are silent the lambs have to speak. If the shepards are beating the lambs will be wounded but they will not stop to speak!

    • Yes, but ALL of us lambs must speak with the voice of a lion, the Lion of Judah and we must do it loudly, persistently and in a place and form where we will be heard by the satanic bunch AND by the world. We are supposed to be the body of Christ. Well then, let that body wake from sleep, arise, walk into the daylight, speak and be heard!

  8. The post-Vatican II Hierarchy, in their circling of their liberal wagons around the figure of the heretic Pampas Pete, resemble more a mafia organisation, a criminal fraternity, than Apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The truth and the Faith mean nothing to these men.

    This obsession with “communion” even at the expense of the Faith – where has this come from? God knows in recent years they talk about “communion” as much as they do “walking together” or “dialogue”.

    But it’s the communion of the vorii v zakone, the tattooed Russian mafia, or the communion of the Mexican or Honduran drugs gangs. Unity at all costs – even if that cost includes the Catholic religion itself.

    Apostates, cowards and knaves!

      • Soros minions who pose as cardinals and bishops.
        Our Lady’s prophesy is being fulfilled right before our eyes – cardinals opposing cardinals and bishops opposing bishops – the smoke of Satan is enveloping the Church – Lord help us.

  9. If this is what happens in the case of someone of such stanidng as Professosr Seifert, what about many other faithful defenders of the perennial teaching of Church who teach in seminaries and are booted out in a similar way? I know of a case of a priest who was a Professor of Theology at a seminary in a Latin American country. Around the time of the publication of Laodato Si, he had the course on Creation, and in answer to quesitons from students regarding Pope Francis’ defense of the global warming theory, he stated that this is a very politicized scientific matter and it is not part of the competence of the Magisterium to decide on it. He also stated that what Pope Francis holds regarding Islam, that is is not violent, is not correct and has no basis in the Koran and other Islamic canonical texts. He was removed from his post with no dialogue, not even being told the motive, which he found out later from students on the “grapevine”. The bishop never even spoke to him on the matter. The seminarians were told that this priest was teaching contrary to the doctrine of the Church. This is also a case of slander. Isn’t this similar to what happened to Cardinal Muller’s three collaborators, who were given the boot just before Chirstmas of last year. PF told the Cardinal when he asked him why these good priests were to be given the boot, he said something to the effect that he is Pope and has no obligation to explain his decisions to anyone. Besides, it was later ascertained that the person who did the squealing on the three priests was the Under Secretary of the CDF and when Cardinal Muller was removed he was promoted to Sectetary. A squealer promoted in part at leas for his squealing!!!

    What about the right to due process as expressed in Canon Law In order to teach in a Catholic seminary or University, one has to make a Profession of Faith and an Oath of Fidelity. All the more reason for due process, and the good name of the professor ought to be protected. Do priests have any real rights in the Church these days or is Canon Law merely rhetorical in nature? It is not only priests, but also lay Catholics, as is the case of Professor Seifert.

  10. Oh come on. Why is everyone surprised? We should be used to this by now. This is the way so long as the merciless Pope is on the chair. Truly nothing would surprise me anymore. We know where we are heading with the Pope and it aint pretty.

  11. It’s hard to be Catholic these days – the pain, the shame, the deception and the outright lies at the highest levels are mind boggling!
    God help us to stay faithful.


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