PopeWatch: Robert Spaemann

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Hattip to commenter Greg Mockeridge.  Robert Spaemann, emeritus professor of theology at the University of Munich, an advisor of Pope John Paul II and a friend of the Pope Emeritus, has some dire comments on Amoris Laetitia:



Pope Francis has stressed that we should not focus on only single sentences of his teachings; rather, the whole should be kept in mind.

Concentrating on the stated passages is fully justified, in my eyes. It cannot be expected in a papal exhortation that people will rejoice in a pleasant text and ignore decisive sentences that change the teachings of the Church. There is actually only a clear Yes or No decision: to give Communion or not. There is no intermediary between them.


The Holy Father emphasizes in his exhortation that nobody may be allowed to be condemned forever.

I find it difficult to understand what he means there. That the Church is not allowed to condemn anyone personally — of course not forever (what she cannot do) thank God — is clear. When it concerns sexual relationships that objectively contradict the Christian way of life, I would like to know from the Pope, after what time and under which circumstances is objectively sinful conduct changed into conduct pleasing to God.

Is it, in your perspective, actually an issue of a breach with the teaching Tradition of the Church?

That it is an issue of a breach emerges doubtlessly for every thinking person who knows the respective texts.


Regardless of whether or not one agrees with this assessment: The question arises as to how it came to this.

It was already apparent that Francis views his predecessor Pope John Paul II from a critical distance when he canonized him together with John XXIII, even though a second required miracle was not attributed to the latter. Many felt this to be manipulative. It seemed as if the Pope wanted to relativize the importance of John Paul II.

The actual problem is an influential movement in moral theology, which holds a purely situational ethics and which can be found as early as the 17th century among the Jesuits. The quotes from Thomas Aquinas, which the Pope cited in Amoris Laetitia, appear to support this direction. Here it will be overlooked, however, that Thomas knows objectively sinful actions for which there are no exceptions. Among them is all sexually disordered conduct. John Paul II rejected situational ethics and condemned it in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor — as did Karl Rahner before him, in an essay in the 1950s that contained all of these essential and presently valid arguments. Amoris Laetitia also challenges Veritatis Splendor. With all of this, we cannot forget that it was John Paul II who centered his pontificate on the subject of Divine Mercy: His second encyclical was devoted to it, the diary of Sister Faustina was discovered in Krakow, and he later named her a saint. He is her authentic interpreter.

What consequences do you see for the Church?

The consequences are already foreseeable: uncertainty and confusion, from the bishops’ conferences to the small parishes in the middle of nowhere. A few days ago, a priest from the Congo expressed to me his perplexity in light of this new papal document and the lack of clear precedents. According to the respective passages from Amoris Laetitia, not only remarried divorcés, but also everyone living in some certain “irregular situation,” could, by further nondescript “mitigating circumstances,” be allowed to confess other sins and receive Communion even without trying to abandon their sexual conduct — that means without confession and conversion. Each priest who adheres to the until-now valid discipline of the sacraments could be mobbed by the faithful and be put under pressure from his bishop. Rome can now make the stipulation that only “merciful” bishops will be named, who are ready to soften the existing discipline. Chaos was raised to a principle by the stroke of a pen. The Pope must have known that he would split the Church with such a step and lead toward a schism — a schism that would not be settled on the peripheries, but rather in the heart of the Church. May God forbid that from happening.

One thing, however, seems clear to me: The concern of this Pope — that the Church should overcome her own self-referencing in order to be able to free-heartedly approach persons — has been destroyed by this papal document for an unforeseeable amount of time. A secularizing push and the further decrease in the number of priests in many parts of the world are also to be expected. It has been able to be observed for quite some time that bishops and dioceses with a clear stance on faith and morality have the greatest increase in priests. We must remember the words of St. Paul in the First Letter to the Corinthians:  “If the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8).

In your opinion, where do we go from here?

Every single cardinal, but also every bishop and priest, is called upon to preserve uprightly the Catholic discipline of the sacraments within his realm of responsibility and to confess it publicly. In case the Pope is not ready to make corrections, it remains reserved for a later pope to officially make things right.

Go here to read the rest.  What is the traditional reaction of Catholics to a bad Pope?  One is to pray for a better pope and better times.  A braver route is to speak up.  Herr Spaemann has chosen the braver course.

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  1. Hooray for Robert Spaemann. It would be great if, Robert’s friend, Pope Benedict got on the “speaking up” bandwagon. That would have real impact.

    It seems to me what we have is an anti-Pope who has personally created a doctrinal heresy in the Church. AL will have to be declared anathema and all Bishops and priests should treat it accordingly. And let us all pray that good Bishops and priests speak up against AL. Doing so may well be the means of their salvation.

  2. St. Augustine of Hippo

    Are the following words of St. Augustine to be ignored and censored, as well as all other similar works of his ?

    “There is a certain punishment future, fire of hell, fire everlasting.” (On The Psalms, Psalm LVIII)

    Chapters 110-113 of St. Augustine’s Enchiridion are they to be ignored and deleted? which include, inter alia, these words:

    “Chapter 110. The Benefit to the Souls of the Dead from the Sacraments and Alms of Their Living Friends.. . . . . No one, then, need hope that after he is dead he shall obtain merit with God which he has neglected to secure here.
    Chapter 111. After the Resurrection There Shall Be Two Distinct Kingdoms, One of Eternal Happiness, the Other of Eternal Misery. After the resurrection, however, when the final, universal judgment has been completed, there shall be two kingdoms, each with its own distinct boundaries, the one Christ’s, the other the devil’s; the one consisting of the good, the other of the bad—both, however, consisting of angels and men. The former shall have no will, the latter no power, to sin, and neither shall have any power to choose death; but the former shall live truly and happily in eternal life, the latter shall drag a miserable existence in eternal death without the power of dying; for the life and the death shall both be without end.
    Chapter 112. There is No Ground in Scripture for the Opinion of Those Who Deny the Eternity of Future Punishments.It is in vain, then, that some, indeed very many, make moan over the eternal punishment, and perpetual, unintermitted torments of the lost, and say they do not believe it shall be so; not, indeed, that they directly oppose themselves to Holy Scripture, but, at the suggestion of their own feelings, they soften down everything that seems hard, and give a milder turn to statements which they think are
    Chapter 113. The Death of the Wicked Shall Be Eternal in the Same Sense as the Life of the Saints.This perpetual death of the wicked, then, that is, their alienation from the life of God, shall abide for ever, and shall be common to them all, whatever men, prompted by their human affections, may conjecture as to a variety of punishments, or as to a mitigation or intermission of their woes; just as the eternal life of the saints shall abide for ever, and shall be common to them all, whatever grades of rank and honor there may be among those who shine with an harmonious effulgence.
    St. Thomas Aquinas
    Are all works of St. Thomas Aquinas, a non-Jesuit, contrearty to the New Truth, such as the following, to be censored, ignored and never cited or referred to again ?

    “Thus, God forbids adultery both to men and women. Now, it must be known that, although some believe that adultery is a sin, yet they do not believe that simple fornication is a mortal sin. Against them stand the words of St. Paul: “For fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” And: “Do not err: neither fornicators, . . . nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind shall possess the kingdom of God.” But one is not excluded from the kingdom of God except by mortal sin; therefore, fornication is a mortal sin.

    “But one might say that there is no reason why fornication should be a mortal sin, since the body of the wife is not given, as in adultery. I say, however, if the body of the wife is not given, nevertheless, there is given the body of Christ which was given to the husband when he was sanctified in Baptism. If, then, one must not betray his wife, with much more reason must he not be unfaithful to Christ: “Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid!” It is heretical to say that fornication is not a mortal sin.”

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