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Professor Seifert Defends Himself and the Truth against the Unjust Treatment and Accusations of the Archbishop of Granada

Автор: Петро Гусак від 9-10-2017, 22:35, переглянули: 925

Professor Seifert Defends Himself and the Truth against the Unjust Treatment and Accusations of the Archbishop of Granada

The recent dismissal of Professor Josef Seifert – the prominent Catholic philosopher, who has been punished by his Spanish archbishop for publishing polite questions with regard to Amoris Laetitia – has provoked an international just indignation. Among the commentators of this incident are: Bishop Athanasius Schneider; Professor Claudio Pierantoni; Dr. John Haas, and Professor Paolo Pasqualucci. The story also has found its way into an article of the New York Times. This collective reaction shows the gravity of the unjust treatment of the highly respected Professor Seifert, as well as the danger of a direct attack on legitimate academic freedom.

Yesterday, 22 September, Professor Seifert has taken the step to defend himself legally against the episcopal injustice to remove him from his Dietrich von Hildebrand Chair at the International Academy of Philosophy in Granada, Spain. He has filed a civil law suit against the archdiocese of Granada and the Instituto de Filosofía Edith Stein with the argument that his dismissal was unjustified and violated two of his fundamental human and constitutional rights. This legal step comes after Professor Seifert repeatedly tried to find a truly peaceful – yet truthful and just – extrajudicial solution with the archbishop. He did, however, already earlier file a canonical remonstratio due to the very short period of time in which he was permitted to file such a complaint. (This is something to keep in mind by anybody who is being punished by his ecclesiastical superiors: canon law often gives only a certain amount of time, sometimes only ten days, for the faithful to file an ecclesiastic complaint!) Important, too, in this context, is that Archbishop Martínez never met personally with Professor Seifert or gave him a chance to defend himself, before punishing him, and that he even published the public announcement of Seifert's forced retirement in response to his latest article, without first sending a formal personal letter to Seifert himself.

Thus, just for an outsider, there can be seen many abnormalities in this episcopal conduct that seems to bypass normal – not to speak of humane and charitable – procedures and customs that are designed to prevent such arbitrary actions. As our readers will see in the attached commentary written by Father Brian Harrison, O.S., a well-known theologian, we are also dealing here with the danger that a sort of arbitrary rule tendentiously replaces reason and justice.

One of the most grievous parts of this dismissal of Professor Seifert – next to the material damage and the fact that Seifert's professional career has been gravely damaged – is that Archbishop Martínez published, in his official statement, some grave accusations against Professor Seifert as a Catholic. That is to say, he has claimed that Professor Seifert – with his attempt to defend the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and the family and to put a serious question about one statement in Amoris Laetitia to the Pope – had “spread distrust in the papacy”, had “harmed the ecclesial community”, and also had “caused confusion of faith among the faithful.” Such charges could lead, under other historic conditions, to an excommunication such as St. Athanasius suffered it repeatedly for defending the true divinity of Christ against Pope Liberius’ semi-Arian declarations that put this central dogma of faith into question. Thus, Professor Seifert had to act expeditiously and immediately, and to file a “remonstratio” with the Church tribunal about the injustices done to him in this matter.

However, he did not file any civil legal complaint without making every conceivable effort to reach a peaceful solution and reconciliation. Being keenly aware of the damage a civil law suit – as well as the ecclesiastical proceeding – could cause to the archdiocese, as well as to the Institute of Philosophy Edith Stein (IFES), which is Seifert's employer, and to Archbishop Martínez, whom he is close to and admires in many respects, Seifert repeatedly reached out to the Archbishop for a peaceful solution of the conflict. In spite of the harsh treatment he had already received, acceptance of his proposals would have moved him to recall the ecclesiastic, and to abstain from the civil, legal proceedings.

I personally can testify to Josef Seifert's attempt at seeking a charitable reconciliation, since he openly (but confidentially) shared with me his own different steps and written proposals. In his last attempt – after the archbishop had refused his first written and oral proposal – Seifert went so far as to drop any request for a material and professional restitution and only requested a public recantation to be made of the grave charges against him as a Catholic. He offered to withdraw both processes (civil and ecclesiastical), in order to avoid the great economic and moral damage that losing two processes (Seifert was told by both lawyers that he could easily win them) would cause to the sacred person of the archbishop, to whom he owed much, to the IFES, the Diocese of Granada, and to the Holy Church, under the following conditions:

He asked DON FRANCISCO JAVIER MARTÍNEZ to put out a text that would confirm that his article "Droht eine reine Logik die gesamte Morallehre der katholischen Kirche zu zerstören?," Aemaet, Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie, http://aemaet.de, Bd. 2 (2017), 10-20 – "¿La lógica pura amenaza con destruir la entera doctrina moral de la Iglesia católica?" Infovaticana, 1. 9. 2017, stands in total harmony with the encyclicals Familiaris Consortio and Veritatis Splendor of Saint Pope John Paul II and with 2000 years of the moral doctrine of the Church. He wanted the archbishop to mention that Seifert’s article coincides with one of the dubia that the four cardinals have presented to Pope Francis. Therefore, to accuse his article of “harming the community of the church”, “confusing the faith of the faithful,” and “sowing distrust in the Holy Father” could not be more justifiedly attributed to his article than to the dubia of the four cardinals, who posed their questions in the most polite form and deep respect to the office of the Pope, just as did Seifert. Seifert asked Don Javier also to put in writing that the cardinals themselves understand their dubia, just like Seifert understands his article (with the support of several cardinals, archbishops, bishops and other many faithful), as a service to the Holy Church and to Pope Francis.

Seifert left it entirely in the hands of the archbishop to revoke his forced retirement, which was not due to any valid and constitutional law about retirement at age 70, but was clearly a response to his article so severely attacked by the public information put out by the archdiocese. While Seifert proposed to leave him in his chair, at least for four years, in order to honor the commitment to do so IFES had entered into in order to get a huge research grant Seifert has requested. However, Seifert promised not to undertake any legal steps to save his position or salary, if the charges against him were publically set into perspective (even if not retracted) and if Professor Seifert could revoke (as foreseen in the contract of donation) the donation and take with him the many books and inedited original writings of four or five important philosophers and his own unpublished manuscripts. It is worth noting that Professor Seifert thought that he would spend the rest of his life in Granada!

What can be seen from this proposal of peace is that Professor Seifert has a accepted to suffer any damage to his career, as well as financial and material losses that would result from his dismissal in the mere exchange for a reconciliation with his archbishop on the level of justice and truthfulness. At the same time, he could not sacrifice the truth and his reputation as a respected Catholic thinker in own good standing and full orthodoxy.

To Professor Seifert's second written proposal of a conciliary solution, Martínez did not make any further reply.

Thus it seems more than just and appropriate for Professor Seifert now to take all the licit steps at his disposal to receive justice and to defend the truth, inclusively of the truth about the real reasons for his dismissal, which IFES and the Diocese now seek to hide under the false pretext of simply applying a “law about retiring at age 70,” a law the Supreme Court of Spain has declared unconstitutional in 2016. He thereby fights not only for the truth and his own reputation and career, but also for all those within the Catholic Church who already suffer under similar injustices, or who will do so in the future. Thus we ask our readers to keep these legal actions in your prayers, for the greater good of the Church and also for the deeper “conversion” of Archbishop Martínez from his flagrantly unjust claims and actions. As we understand from different sources, Professor Seifert has very good chances to win both his ecclesiastical and civil cases because so many ecclesiastic and civil rules have been unjustly broken and rights violated. Since the civil claim went first to a “Peace-Court of Reconciliation” there are still chances and hopes that the conflict can be resolved in an extrajudicial forum.

In the following, we herewith publish an analysis written by Father Brian Harrison, O.S., who himself has shown his Catholic courage and witness in these times of disorder. We thank him for his generosity in defending a fellow soldier of Christ.


The recent dismissal of Professor Josef Seifert, an outstanding Catholic scholar, can be seen as a particularly acute symptom of at least three distinct, but interdependent, maladies that have been afflicting the Church for many decades now, but which are becoming critical under the unprecedented pontificate of Pope Francis.

First, at the level of Dr. Seifert's own sphere of professional expertise, philosophy, we are seeing a crisis of natural, rationally knowable truth. When a philosopher is removed from office for pointing out that premises inexorably produce logical conclusions, the very foundations of all philosophy are being undermined – and in this case by the Church's own leaders. Unlike Luther, who railed against human reason as being "the Devil's whore" ever since the Fall, the Catholic Church has always understood that the credibility of Catholic doctrine rests on its harmony with sound philosophy. Therefore, when leading prelates brush aside the importance of logic, revealed truth is also undermined.

This in fact is the second malady now afflicting us. If the Church were to formally contradict what it had always taught emphatically about moral principles and specific norms regarding marriage and sacramental life, it would not be an infallible Church. It would be reduced to a protestantized community wherein the individual's private judgment ultimately reigns supreme: a community in which the 'depositum fidei' is increasingly relativized by what the present Pontiff likes to call the 'depositum vitae'. But a so-called "deposit of life" is by nature indefinable and indeterminate. Appealing to it thus leaves everyone free to subjectively apply, adapt, or reinterpret the moral law according to the way each person evaluates his or her "real life circumstances."

In the essay that provoked the wrath of his superiors, Professor Seifert pointed out that if God could sometimes "ask" a person in a particular "life situation" to continue violating a norm of sexual ethics which the Church has always taught allows for no exceptions, that novel principle would flow over catastrophically to influence other areas of conduct.

Perhaps even more ominous is the passage of Amoris Laetitia which says that in some circumstances a person might incur "further sin" (supposedly against the children springing from an adulterous union) by compliance with the norm against sexual intimacy outside of a valid marriage. But to say that in some circumstances one could be guilty of sin, and thus offend God, precisely by OBEYING a Commandment of the divinely revealed Decalogue, would not only be ruinous to all Christian morality; it would also verge on blasphemy by seeming to impugn the veracity of God himself.

The above-mentioned philosophical and theological maladies have to do with the Church's doctrinal, magisterial function – her role as 'Ecclesia docens'. The third malady of which Dr. Seifert's dismissal is symptomatic is located in the Church's pastoral, administrative and disciplinary function: the 'Ecclesia gubernans'. But it follows inevitably from the two previous afflictions. If logical coherence, the law of self-contradiction, and doctrinal consistency are now no longer to be absolute standards for Catholic thought and practice, but are to be continually adapted to a supposed "deposit of life" by which one "reinterprets" the deposit of faith according to ever-changing circumstances, then order and unity in the Church will have to be maintained by the simple exercise of power, authority, jurisdiction.

So the spectre of a new era of ecclesial voluntarism looms before us, in which the primacy of the Intellect – always recognized by the 'philosophia perennis' championed by St. Thomas Aquinas – may give way to the primacy of Will. The fact that Professor Seifert's ecclesiastical superior in Spain felt no need to offer any reasoned rebuttal of his criticism of Amoris Laetitia is ominous. The mere fact that he had openly charged the Supreme Pontiff with error was deemed sufficient cause for his removal from office. That was traditionally a reasonable procedure when the Supreme Pontiff's teaching was always backed up by a massive and solid wall of agreement on the part of all his predecessors. But Dr. Seifert was pointing out that Pope Francis was DEPARTING from the teaching of his predecessors! "No matter", was the implied response: "The present pope says what he says, and that settles it!" This is to convert legitimate papal authority into Papal Positivism: the sheer Will of the present pontiff defeats all his predecessors and defeats all contrary arguments. Indeed, it makes any contrary argument simply irrelevant. May heaven preserve us from this threatening Triumph of the Will over both faith and reason!

Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S.

Категорія: Документи Церков, Психологія подружніх стосунків, Психологія впливу та протидії маніпуляцій, Наукові статті, Блог Петра Гусака

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