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Robert Spaemann: “It is Deplorable that Only Four Cardinals Have Taken the Initiative”

Robert Spaemann, the prominent German philosopher and outspoken critic of the papal document Amoris Laetitia, has just given an interview to the Italian website La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, in which he comes to the aid of the Four Cardinals.

As the same website has now also revealed, in a separate article – although Professor Spaemann appears not yet to know of this speculation – the other two prelates who had earlier also signed the dubia which were sent to Pope Francis are “in all probability” the retired Curial Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes of Germany and His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Cardinal Cordes had been a critic of some of the liberalizing tendencies manifested in the Family Synod discussions in 2014 and 2015, and he had also published a booklet in which he spoke about the strong resistance against the “Kasper proposal” during the 2014 Consistory itself, and surfacing just after Cardinal Walter Kasper’s own speech.

To return to Professor Spaemann’s own defense of the four (now five and one Major Archbishop) cardinals: in the new interview, La Nouova Bussola Quotidiana asks the German philosopher and personal friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI what he thinks of the decision of the cardinals to first send the dubia privately only to the Holy Father, but then, subsequently also to make their doubts public. Spaemann responds:

With the dubia, the cardinals fulfill their own duty to support with their own counsel – as “senators” – the Church in the person of the Holy Father. The supreme judge of the Church is the pope. And that is why it is deplorable that only four cardinals have taken the initiative in this case… The four cardinals have chosen the right path. The pope is the first addressee of the dubia, even if I think that the letter should have gone through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. [my emphasis]

The German philosopher continues to explain the nature of the dubia when he says that “the authors did not write ‘an open letter’, but they directly addressed the Holy Father. The publication [of the dubia] only took place after the pope refused to answer.”

When asked how he interprets the perduring silence of Pope Francis in the face of an objective situation of confusion, Spaemann responds:

The pope’s refusal to respond to the appeal of the four cardinals makes me worried, because the supreme Magisterium is being thereby [lowered and] sunk. The pope has a very deep aversion against decisions which demand a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’. However, Christ – the Master of the Church – confronts his disciples with decisions of this kind. In His own [unambiguous] demand in regard to adultery, He ‘shocks’ the Apostles with the simplicity and the clarity of the teaching.

With these words, the German philosopher makes it clear that Pope Francis is not following here the path of Christ Himself. This applies also to the question of a worthy reception of Holy Communion. In Spaemann’s eyes, there is no way to refer to a form of subjectivism in order to justify the reception of the Holy Eucharist, even though one is living in an objective state of sin. He says that “it is an error to believe that the subjective is the ultimate criterion for the administration of the Sacraments.” In his eyes – and quoting here St. Thomas Aquinas – one can only escape this dilemma of the “subjective conscience” by conversion, “in opening one’s conscience up to objective truth.” And he continues, saying: “The place where one finds truth is, on the one side, reason, and on the other, Revelation.”

In piercing words that also go to the root of the problem, the 89-year-old Spaemann answers, on the question of whether one should follow the truths of Revelation:

Does one have to believe still in the sources of Revelation? “Do you want to leave Me, too?” (John 6:67) This question Jesus put to His Disciples when the crowds leave Him, after having heard the words of Jesus. Peter does not discuss [them], but simply asks: “Whereto shall we go? Only you have the words of Eternal Life.” (John 6:68)

This man of advanced age – and with all of his life experience and wisdom – still holds fast to the words of Christ and thus stands athwart even the Supreme Pontiff when he dares to oppose the very words of Our Savior. Earlier, Spaemann had warned the pope, in April of 2016, that this ambiguity as it is to be found in Amoris Laetitia might very well be the cause of a split in the Catholic Church, as is becoming more and more obvious. He said:

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.

May the words of this wise man now be listened to and resolutely acted upon.

81 thoughts on “Robert Spaemann: “It is Deplorable that Only Four Cardinals Have Taken the Initiative””

  1. Well, I for one am extremely grateful that four Cardinals put the faith above all other things and the information is in the public domain due to a lack of a response.

    It’s unpleasant to see a pack of wolves attacking those Catholics who value their faith above everything else, however the line has been finally drawn in the sand. We can now see clearly those that used to hide in the shadows, saying the right things when prompted are now showing their true colours.

    On another note…….. good news that Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s cause is gaining traction, hopefully we will after due process see another Saint. In a tale of two Cities Charles Dickens wrote: It was be best of times and it was the worst of times…. kind of sticks in my mind when looking at the current battle.

    Praying for the truth to be restored in The Holy Church and that the wolves do not consume those who are standing firm.

    Hopefully our pope will truthfully answer the questions raised in the letter written by the four Cardinals.

    • If PF answers you probably will not like it. PF never says what he doesn’t mean. Clearly. Remind me again Who is the Master of Lies?

      • PF still has time to convert himself back to the truth, how many people would be dumbstruck if that happened! BTW can anyone help with this problem? Our church steps are constantly covered in pigeon droppings, which are constantly washed by the people that give up their time to clean the church.

        In France it’s the responsibility of the Mayor to look after the churches and she isn’t forthcoming on providing a solution, so does anyone have a good idea that is cost effective and doesn’t involve shooting them as we are not allowed to shoot them.

  2. I think Pell, Mueller and other cardinals agree with the four cardinals but now is not the time to lay cards on the table. I saw a mention that the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople has sided with Francis. The Greeks for whom Second marriages entered into the practice of the Eastern Churches in a later era, toward the end of the first millennium. They entered under the invasive influence of civil legislation, of which the Church was the executrix. This was a corruption of the Jesus’s instructions on marriage. As with now, the secular governments have invented civil marriage and many Faithful have been lured into second involvements masquerading as marriage because civil marriage exists and thereby entered into mortal sin. Receiving Communion is not a right or even to be expected because hearing Mass itself provides grace. However receiving Holy Communion unworthily in a state of mortal sin brings condemnation, is a profanation bringing illness and even death. .

    • “I think Pell, Mueller and other cardinals agree with the four cardinals but now is not the time to lay cards on the table. ”
      I think so to. The public release of the dubia has shown us that action was going on behind the scenes of which we, faithful Catholics were unaware, I think that now, too there is quiet action. As this action will probably be unprecedented in Church history, it is imperative that it is done prudently, carefully, and well.
      I also think, orthodox Catholics should be storming heaven with prayer in support/ for protection of the 4 plus yet unknown Cardinals who are/well be taking action. Something which I am doing, and am “edified’ to hear of many who are praying as well.

    • I think they have already placed their cards on the table so to speak as they have already supported the eternal Truth of Jesus Christ clearly and publicly several times. I do think if push comes to shove they will stand with the Four Cardinals who will then be being shoved.

    • Please stop it. These are courageous men of God, standing for Truth and risking whatever they must to stop this runaway train.

      • If you understood modernism you would see that the true battle line is between traditional catholicism and modernism. And you would see that these four cardinals, while certainly brave and courageous, are still at heart, modernists.

        • I understand modernism, believe me. But pegging these cardinals as ineffective ‘modernists’ is divisive, and triumphalistic. They have not betrayed the Church — quite the contrary: the modern Church is instead betraying them. They are doing what Our Lord would want them to do, and what their divine offices necessitate — they are defending Truth itself. Let’s not create a schism where it doesn’t need to be — an “us” and “them” mentality among faithful Catholics.

          • Indeed. Even if they WERE modernists they should be applauded for what they are doing.

            Heck, if Kasper himself had an epiphany and decided to recant on his so-called “Serene Theology” I’d slap him on the back and buy him a beer.

        • Tom,

          Sure, there are likely some aspects of modernism that Cardinal Burke and Bp. Schneider adhere to. It’s difficult NOT to be influenced by Modernism to some extent, when operating within the confines of the Conciliar church. But at least they trying to do are doing something about the situation. Which is more than I can say for Bp. Fellay, who has not done anything to confront the heresy in AL. I’m quite sure that if Archbishop Lefebvre were still alive, would also have confronted the Pope about AL. But the SSPX isn’t what it used to be, that’s for sure.

          I can understand wanting to separate oneself from the Conciliar church. The True Church is, unfortunately, occupied by a Modernist sect that has been in control since just before the Council. But in not wanting to be influenced by Modernism, we have to be careful to not have disdain for those who still adhere to the Conciliar church. This is something that Bp. Williamson has been stressing of late. And we have to not fall into he trap of Sedevacantism as well. My apologies, but I can’t tell if you are an SV or not.

    • I don’t know that anyone thinks that these prelates will “restore” anything per se. But it’s a laudable action to clarify Church doctrine, no matter what else is true. And more likely to persuade other Catholics, precisely *because* they are not traditionalists per se.

    • Even though I don’t know if you are a Sedevacantist Tom, I think I understand the point you made, and I agree with you. Just to quickly get to my point – Bergoglio is a Modernist in the extreme. Cardinal Burke has never, to my knowledge, criticized Francis for any of his numerous outrages against the faith except for his concerns about the two synods and AL in particular. So how can he not be a Modernist? And that goes for most cardinals and bishops. Even Cardinal Sarah, the only one of the bunch that I admire. So even if perchance the 4 cardinals persist and get some kind of honest response from Bergoglio,. the Modernist problem still has to be faced up to. Modernism has infiltrated the church and its corruption continues, with or without Francis. If he goes, of course, that will be a step in the right direction.

      I’m not a sede even though I subscribe to Novus Ordo Watch. I do because they really know what they are talking about. They don’t evade criticisms. They take them all on and answer them squarely and fairly. And that impresses me.

      However, I can’t just reject all of Vatll, or accept all that NOW claims just because they say so. Two examples – all post Vatll conciliar ordinations are invalid, and the NO mass is not a true mass. My understanding is that the cinclusions they draw depend on prior assjmptions and not just rigorious reasoning.I believe the late Fr. Gregory Hesse held the opinion that the NO was valid, but illicit.

      My main concern is with the valid principle of “external/internal” forums. I think NOW does an excellent job sticking to the external forum. In writing this I’m raising more questions that I have answers for. The internal forum is much. More difficult to obtain clear answers to since it’s our interior life, inaccessible to our 5 senses, and is the source of our psychological and spiritual lives and is a minefield of traps and heresies if we don’t have the church’s guidance.

      I guess the best way to explain myself considering the inadequacy of my explanation, is that apart from logic which is a big part of my life(I am Catholic, so respect for reason is paramount)is that I strive to live from my heart. And that has nothing to do with feelings, which is what Protestants mean by “heart”. So I have to be convinced more deeply than just from my intellect.

      This is all in reference to Vatll and the popes following Pius Xll. Are they all heretics, apostates, antipopes? They were/are all modernists. They did and continue to do great harm to the church. So getting rid of Bergoglio will be a Godsend, but the problem of deeply entrenched modernism will remain, still to be dealt with.

  3. I have to say that only thing keeping me from believing that Francis has lost the papacy (if he was ever validly elected to begin with) is a declaratory statement from the Four Cardinals (and their supporters) declaring Francis a manifest, material, and obstinate heretic, thus, also declaring the Chair of Peter is vacant.

      • I thought he had resigned? He underscored his reasons & made it perfectly plain that he voluntarily stepped down from the Seat of Peter. Can’t see how he can make a comeback!

      • Unless Benedict (even on his deathbed) says that his resignation was not free and was, instead coerced, he is of mostly little value at this point. I do not mean that in a negative way. However, he is approaching 90. But, what a bombshell that would be if he really said something like that, eh?

  4. Too many hirlings refusing to protect their sheep. Your only defense is to learn deeply the faith and practice it daily since your hierarchy doesn’t help you, and more likely they fight against you like McElroy in San Diego. Come Lord Jesus and send the fire from the sky (Akita) so that religion will flourish again (La Salette).

  5. So Shevchuk was one of the others?

    I always admired him. Now I admire him even more?

    The good news is that a) as an Eastern Rite patriarch, he’s much harder for Francis to remove or punish, and b) being in his early 40’s, he should greatly outlive Francis – and probably a couple of his successors, too.

    • Amen.

      I think of the age of this man and the hideous grievances against the Lord that he has witnessed. And yet even in his old age he stays true to Jesus.

      • I presume you mean Fr. Paul Check, formally the executive director of Courage? I do not know him personally, though I think he came and addressed the seminary I attended.

        • I’ve had you confused with another priest since CM, that I personally know and have met. You must of thought I was crazy with some of my comments, but you have the same initials and sound like him and this person told me you were him before. They just told me that this priest said he was not the priest on here meaning you. Well you’ve taught me a lot never the less.
          GB. ☺️ Feeling foolish.

          • Oh. From your comments I presumed that you were the mother of a priest friend of mine out in the Fall River Diocese as you speak like her and have made comments that made me think you lived in Massachusetts.

            No harm done, but a bit comical nonetheless. You thought I was someone else and I thought you were someone else.

            May God Bless You too and keep the Faith, don’t let the faithless win the day.

          • No harm done here, but I stuck up for you at CM thinking you were him and they said they never banned this priest and knew his name, so thanks to my friend you could say I have egg on my face. I used to talk to Simon personally.

          • Don’t worry, CM knows who I am and they know I am a priest in good standing. I just won’t submit myself to their criterion of posting or deal pleasantly with one of their exceedingly obnoxious Mods (I have one in mind in particular.) So I choose to remain suspended from posting etc…

          • Do you know the story of the San Diego priest? They are going to do an interview with him and I told them I thought they were hypocrites to ban you then use your story for their own purpose and because I’m banned I had gone through Simon. Egg on my face.

          • Not that I am aware of, but I can see how that would be embarrassing. That’s ok, the Lord allows for our embarrassment from time to time to deepen our humility and total surrender to him. It doesn’t matter what others think about you and they have all made mistake as well. So chin up and trust in God.

            PS: Ugh. When I first read your post I thought that you said “Santiago” priest and of course you did, just in English, which makes a big difference. Yes, I know of the San Diego priest who is being suffering under the episcopal bully McElroy…

          • I could tell that which is why I thought you were my friends mom. During my seminary years I spent Thanksgiving every year with a classmate and his family who lived in Wrentham, because I could’nt afford to go home (too far away.) He’s a priest in the Fall River Diocese and his mom doesn’t take any crap from modernists in the Church.

  6. Glad to see Prof Spaemann is holding the line.

    Curious to see how this goes.

    The Church moves slowly it is true, but as many dioceses and regions now approve the communing of public adulterers, we are seeing a situation where there will be no going back when the day comes that Christ’s clear words are again affirmed by a pontiff.

    The concrete of schism has been poured and it is setting. Not dry yet, but getting pretty stiff.

    • We are going to need a godly Pope who puts entire dioceses, even nations, under interdict unil they come to their senses.

      • Honestly, there will be no other way to save the Church than for what you say to come into effect. It must happen.

        In effect, the Catholic Church is functioning as a Neo-Orthodox “Communion” or Association at present.

  7. To stay where we are is just not tolerable. I don’t know how long it can be borne, but I would say each day it grows harder to bear. He knows exactly what he is doing. I live in New England, in an area where only NO Masses are offered, and there are no monasteries, etc., and we can see it from here, he promotes and teaches heresy, and he can’t stand the Catholic faith as it has been understood for 2000 years, nor can he stand faithful Catholics. We can’t follow him, we won’t.
    As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
    Please God, come to our rescue soon.

    • My heart goes out to the folks like you.

      I am a convert and sometimes when I look at the state of affairs, I have to pinch myself to see if it’s real, really this BAD but also how blessed I am under the circumstances to have a FSSP parish relatively nearby.

      Please don’t give up.

      • Thank you for your kindness. Worry not, as I told my son I am Catholic until the day I die. We can never let these innovators have that victory.

    • What does it matter if you have monateries around since some of them are also infected. It is hard to find true faith – even in monateries.

  8. “You do not want to go away also, do you?” John 6:67.

    Most of the Cardinals and Bishops should hearken to these words of Jesus.

    Let us pray that they do not abandon the faith in order to preserve their jobs and status.

  9. “Pray constantly, implore tirelessly, and weep bitter tears in the seclusion of your heart, beseeching the Eucharistic Heart of my most holy Son to take pity on His ministers and to end as soon as possible these unhappy times by sending to His Church the Prelate who shall restore the spirit of her priests.”

    –Our Lady of Good Success to Mother Mariana, 1610.


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