Interview with German Philosopher and Friend of St. JP II: Robert Spaemann on Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia”

by Steve Ray on April 30, 2016

Stuttgart, Germany, Apr 29, 2016 / 10:49 am (CNA).- Greatly valued as an advisor by Saint John Paul II, a friend of Benedict XVI, and widely held to be the most important German Catholic philosopher of recent decades, Robert Spaemann, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Munich, expressed a distinctly critical interpretation of Amoris laetitia in this interview with Anian Christoph Wimmer, editor of CNA’s German-language edition. Please find the full text of the interview here.

The full interview is carried in Catholic World Report. His interview concludes with, 

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 fromAmoris 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 diocese with a clear stance on faith and morality have the greatest increase in priests. We must remember the words of St. Paul in the Letter to the Corinthians:  “If the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (1 Cor. 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.    

For the whole interview, click here.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Govern April 30, 2016 at 11:30 AM

I pray that many of his conclusions are wrong or corrected, we will see. Somehow the Holy Spirit seems to come through for the Church. Pope Francis is a kind and holy man. Look at the long history of unholy medieval Popes the Church survived.

Michael Poulin April 30, 2016 at 5:17 PM

Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii wrote :

“No difficulty can arise that justifies the putting aside of the law of God which forbids all acts intrinsically evil. There is no possible circumstance in which husband and wife cannot, strengthened by the grace of God, fulfill faithfully their duties and preserve in wedlock their chastity unspotted. This truth of Christian Faith is expressed by the teaching of the Council of Trent. “Let no one be so rash as to assert that which the Fathers of the Council have placed under anathema, namely, that there are precepts of God impossible for the just to observe. God does not ask the impossible, but by His commands, instructs you to do what you are able, to pray for what you are not able that He may help you.”

According to Pius XI, the contention that the just are unable at times to fulfill the precepts of God – the same asserted by Francis in Amoris Laetitia – is a “calamitous error.”

So which Pope would you say do we listen to now???

Michael Poulin April 30, 2016 at 5:27 PM

Sex education for children was expressly prohibited by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical on Christian education Divini Illius Magistri issued in 1929 against the academic novelties that were being introduced into Catholic schools. Pope Pius XI states:

“Another very grave danger is that naturalism which nowadays invades the field of education in that most delicate matter of purity of morals. Far too common is the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education, falsely imagining they can forearm youths against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and, worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so it is argued, and as it were to harden them against such dangers.”

Pope Francis’ pronouncement in Amoris Laetitia on “The Need for Sex Education,” appears in Chapter Seven, titled “Towards a Better Education of Children,” directly contradicts Pius XI.

So again, I would very much like to know which Pope should we listen to???

Michael Poulin April 30, 2016 at 6:23 PM

2 Timothy 2:22
Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Michael Poulin April 30, 2016 at 6:32 PM

I disagree with Mr McGovern’s comment above that Pope Francis is a “kind and holy man.” I don’t think you have followed this man’s words and actions very closely. I doubt that a kind and holy man would put imaginary words on the Holy Virgin Mary’s lips to the tune of calling God Almighty a liar. Would a kind and holy man berate a young man for approaching the altar with his hands reverently folded, or insult a young pregnant married woman for “breeding like rabbits”? Would a kind and holy man accept a gift of a crucifix in the form of a the atheist communist hammer and sickle? Would a kind and holy man deny Jesus Christ’s miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes? I would suggest you investigate a bit more.

Michael Poulin April 30, 2016 at 6:37 PM

Apologize for mistake in name Mr Govern, I posted before proofing

Tom Govern April 30, 2016 at 11:19 PM

Wow, Michael! The anger is obvious. But I believe that the Church will survive as it always has. Seems like you are looking for issues. Compared to other pontiffs that we have survived, this one is OK and reaching out rather than trying to build an empire or being a hypocrite. Thrust God to guide the Church.

Michael Poulin May 1, 2016 at 8:50 AM

Dear Mr Govern,

So I guess its OK to give the Holy Eucharist to unrepentant sinners living in adultery and homosexual unions now? The 2000 year teaching of the Church says no one can receive in a state of mortal sin, and to do so only compounds the sin. Just ask Mr Steve Ray to look that up for you and confirm my statement.

No Pope has a right to change this teaching, and to allow it means he is possibly leading souls to Hell. If that doesn’t make you at least sad then how can one say they he has charity for their brothers and sisters?

I am not angry sir, just sad. I too believe the Church will survive Francis. But sometimes anger is justified and not sinful, such as when one defends against the sins of blasphemy or sacrelige, indifferentism and heresy. I seem to remember the Lord calling people “brood of vipers” etc…

One can “reach out” to sinners just fine without confirming them in their sin. Jesus saved the adulterous from execution but he did not say “keep adulterating,” as Francis effectively is doing.

Don’t know what people mean by “building an empire” because I never said anything like that, nor did I call anyone a “hypocrite.”

What I was doing is criticizing your comment that Francis was “good and holy” to which you have not correctly responded with any counter arguments but have instead attacked my person.

Tom Govern May 1, 2016 at 10:58 PM

Sorry if you feel that you were attacked. Seems like you were angry and attacking. My point is that the Church is bigger than any one Pope or one way of thought. It is constantly evolving and growing in its understanding. We need to trust Jesus’ promise and the Holy Spirit as to its course. Francis was elected for a reason, we may not understand it as yet but we need to trust it.

Bill912 May 11, 2016 at 12:34 PM

“attacked” your “person”? By pointing out the obvious?

STEVE RAY HERE: I know Tom and he is a good guy. I think he is trying to give the Pope the benefit of the doubt, however in most cases I can’t do the same and feel the pope is off the rails.

Bill912 May 11, 2016 at 6:07 PM

Steve, my comment was not directed at Tom.

STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks! Appreciate your participation and your comments. God bless you!

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