Card. Brandmüller blasts some German bishops

In an extraordinarily telling interview at kathnet Walter Card. Brandmüller blasts some German bishops who have been whining about all the changes that they want to Catholic moral teaching, and so forth.

There is a compression of the longish piece at il Foglio in Italian.

I don’t have time to do the translation of this stuff right now, but I know that there are a few German speakers out there… hint hint.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. ClavesCoelorum says:

    Hint taken and understood. It’s quite a long piece, but I shall work my way through it and post translations here.

  2. Imrahil says:

    All right… (All quotation marks in the original, except of course in brackets. “”, alas, seems to like to use scare quotes for positions they – rightly – disagree with.) In an interview with Mainzer Allgemeine, Bishop of Trier Stephan Ackermann gave kick-off to a new-old “morality discussion”. The bishop at first made clear this was not about “principal changes of teaching”. However, the sense of responsibility of the individual were to be forstered with the aim to “respect, however, a choice of conscience afterwards once it is taken”. In addition the bishop mentioned far heavier topics and declared it were no longer up-to-date to think a second marriage a mortal sin and to continuously deny to the remarried admission to the sacraments. It were not likewise defensible to generally assess premarital sexual relationships as grevious sins generally. The distinction between natural and artificial conception-regulation is, for [Bishop] Ackermann “also somewhat artificial”; nobody [he said] understood that any more. In all these areas he [said he] was seeing “need for change for morals and sexual ethiks” of the Church. Your Eminence, can the moral teaching of the Church be changed, when and where?

    Cardinal Brandmüller (CWB): One annotation first. Isn’t it striking that for so many contemporarians, morality teaching is exclusively restricted to sexual morality? But how many problems there are, with respect to truthfulness, justice, protection of life etc. Of these one should speak much more.
    But now to the question whether the Church’s moral teaching must-can be changed. Church morality can only be changed if human nature is changed. For Church morality devolves from the essence of man as a bodily-spiritual person. From these premises one has to draw conclusions for practical life. In addition, we have the Gospel which raises man, and hence human action and responsibility, to the level of being-God’s-child. [T. N. this is a normal, if theological word in German and has little to do with sentimentality.]. Now neither nature, nor God’s commandments nor the Gospel are distributed with [my artistic freedom, lit.: have an] expiration date. Who still makes the said claims to change Catholic moral teaching is betaking himself into contradiction to the Word of God.
    As to “conscience”: Forstering the sense of responsibility, enabling a responsible judgment of conscience is aim of Church pastoral from its beginning. That conscience is the last subjective norm to human action is classical Catholic doctrine. It must be added unto this that such a binding judgment of conscience is, however, possible if and only if the conscience of the individual is taking orientation from the objective norm. Conscience is not an instance to make norms but to interpret them, an instance, an ability of man which applies the norm – valid always and for all people – to the singular case in question and decides this case.

    The Bishop of Fulda Heinz Josef Algermissen has underlined that truth “is not matter of conformation”. What does the horizon of truth consist of for the Altogether of the now once-again intensively kicked-off debate for the so-called necessary reforms of the Church? How do you estimate the danger that in a relatively disquite time of lacking carity in her interior, the Church becomes victim to a frenetic try to conform her to the spirit of the time?

    CWB: The desire to find assent and applause is a constant temptation for Church preaching [“Verkündigung”, announcement]. But whenever the Church sees herself confronted to contradiction by public opinion, the example of Jesus is both binding and challenging. When Jesus confronted his audeince with the call to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood to gain eternal life he received energical contradiction and experienced the numerous disciples move away. In this situation, Jesus asked the apostles the question whether they, too, will go now or no. Whence Peter answered: “Lord, thou hast words of eternal life. Where else were we to go?” Anyone who has a place in Church preaching [announcement] has to display this courage to proclaim truth against a common trend.

    Both the utterances of the bishop of Trier and the results, published in advance, of the poll initiated by the Holy See to develop the “instrumentum laboris” for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on family have underlined that the Church – not only in Germany – seems to have a big problem to impart her view and doctrine to matrimony and sexuality, to what family is and what the sense of familiy consists of. A notable percentage of the faithful seems not to treat essential parts of Catholic morality by neither accepting nor even valuing them. How can or must this imparting problem be solved? Cardinal Marx [of Munich and Freising] thought that the Church should not speak about morality on the basis of “sin catalogues and penal registers”. Much more, [he said,] it were about helping men to “shape” their lives under the challenge [Anspruch, not precisely challenge, but it works] of the Gospel and to come to “reflected” decisions of conscience.

    CWB: Well who does speak in any way about catalogues of sins and registers of punishment! [I allow myself an annotation that I belong to my generation, too. As such, we have heard the word “challenge” all a few times too often. By comparison, a catalogue of sins which can easily be avoided simply by not doing them seems of almost immoral easiness.] And: is there such thing as an “unreflected” decision of conscience? In this context we often come by the phenomenon that on the part of Church responsibles a language is spoken which is very cloudy and nebulous and lacks precision and clarity. Thus we hear formulations which can neither be assented nor dissented with, anyone pick that part which he happens to like.
    It would be pressingly needed to impart clear terms in Church preaching [announcement]. Then of course it must be said that this imparting must use a language not only meeting the ear but also the heart, which sinks in sensitively to the actual [/concrete] situation of the hearers and is able to lead them to a real understanding of the Church message [ or annoucement; I guess Anglophone preachers call this “Gospel”] Today, bishops, priests, teachers of religion must be made take to heard a Goethe quote [lit. “a Goethe quot. must be written into their stem-book”, idiom]: “Who’s wav’ring in mind to wavering time, is fostering evil” [which in German has neither the rhyme or rhythm which happened to pop up in translation].
    One thought must not be forgotten in all these “morality questions”: there is a big difference between objective judgment of an act or manner-to-act and subjective responsibility of the actor, which is most-time overlooked. Already St. Augustine says: One must hate error and love the erring one!

    One thing must still be said: if one who has is entrusted with Church preaching [/annoucement] should find himself convicted that he cannot authentically represent Church teaching, his intellectual honesty demands to accept the consequences. [lit., with a slight difference, “draw”: thus CWB implies that he not only must “accept” a dismissal, but quit himself.]

    Your Eminence, thank you very much for this interview.

  3. Imrahil says:

    The lacking “carity” in her interior is “clarity”. I say that because it could theoretically also stand for charity.

  4. ClavesCoelorum says:

    OK, Father, I have translated the entire article. Where shall I send it?

  5. ClavesCoelorum says:

    Sorry for spamming the moderation queue, Father. Here is the link to the PDF of my translation for you.

  6. McCall1981 says:

    @Father Ignotus,
    Thank you for the translation and the post.

  7. Charles E Flynn says:

    From Bad News from Deutschland, by Fr. Gerald E. Murray, for The Catholic Thing:

    Ask yourself this question: If the Vatican produced a survey on attitudes towards ecology that found that the majority of the baptized in Germany liked burning down forests and wantonly killing animals, would that information have been reported to Rome without a hint of condemnation, or even embarrassment, by the German Bishops’ Conference?

  8. majuscule says:

    Thank you Father Ignotus! I see there’s another blog I will be following!

  9. Sandy says:

    Thank you to both of you, Fathers. I wish to adopt that quote from the Cardinal that “neither human nature, nor the Commandments, nor the Gospel have an expiration date”! It should be a motto somewhere, shouted from the rooftops! Love it!

    The world needs to know the truth of the above, when acts that were once illegal (and violations of the Commandments), are now just fine with all of society.

  10. WesleyD says:

    Sandy, I agree that this is one of the greatest quotes I’ve heard in a long time!

  11. SKAY says:

    ” I wish to adopt that quote from the Cardinal that “neither human nature, nor the Commandments, nor the Gospel have an expiration date”!
    That was my exact thought also as I read it.
    My thanks also to Father Z and Father Ignotus. This is a bright spot in my day!

  12. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Truth has a such a clarity to it, no?

  13. Confitemini Domino says:

    “If a person in charge of the proclamation of faith in the name of the Church comes to the conviction that he cannot authentically represent the teachings of the Church, intellectual honesty demands that he should draw the consequences.
    Eines muss noch gesagt werden: wenn ein mit der Verkündigung im Namen der Kirche Bevollmächtigter zu der Überzeugung kommen sollte, die Lehre der Kirche nicht authentisch vertreten zu können, verlangt es die intellektuelle Redlichkeit, die Konsequenzen zu ziehen.

  14. Confitemini Domino says:

    On the talk about conscience: Strengthening the sense of responsibility, enabling people to judge responsibly, has always been a central point of Church pastoral care. […] However, a binding judgement of conscience can only be reached if the conscience of the individual orients itself towards the objective norm. Conscience is not a norm setting instance but a norm interpreting instance. It is the ability of man to take the law which is valid for everybody at any time and apply it to the case in question in order to resolve it according to the norm.

    “Zur Rede vom „Gewissen“: Die Stärkung des Verantwortungsbewusstseins, die Befähigung zu einem verantwortbaren Gewissensurteil ist von Anfang an Ziel kirchlicher Seelsorge. Dass das Gewissen die letzte subjektive Norm für das Handeln des Menschen ist, ist eine klassische katholische Lehre. Dem muss hinzugefügt werden, dass ein solches verbindliches Gewissensurteil aber nur dann möglich ist, wenn sich das Gewissen des Einzelnen an der objektiven Norm orientiert. Das Gewissen ist keine normsetzende Instanz, sondern eine norminterpretierende, eine Instanz, eine Fähigkeit des Menschen, die die immer und für alle gültige Norm auf den in Frage stehenden Einzelfall anwendet und diesen danach entscheidet.”

  15. Confitemini Domino says:

    @Imrahil Great job! I don’t know why your poat appeared on my phone some hours late- I wouldn’t have added my posts if I had known your work.

  16. Imrahil says:

    Thanks! as for the not appearing, well, have a guess.

  17. Andrew says:

    Cardinal Brandmüller’s motto is “ignem in terram”. How appropriate.

  18. e.davison49 says:

    Thanks for the translation!

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