Interview in German Newspaper
“Cardinal” Brandmuller warns of Schism:
“May God prevent it”
[UPDATE 29-OCT-2017: Full Interview Text now available in English here]
The Oct. 28, 2017 edition of the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine contains a full-page interview with “Cardinal” Walter Brandmuller, one of the only two surviving Novus Ordo cardinals who petitioned Francis to answer five specific questions or doubts (“dubia“) regarding the teaching of his exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Fr. Brandmuller’s responses throughout the interview are refreshingly clear and firm, especially for Novus Ordo standards.
To review, the five now world-famous Dubia are the following:
1. It is asked whether, following the affirmations of “Amoris Laetitia” (nn. 300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person “more uxorio” (in a marital way) without fulfilling the conditions provided for by “Familiaris Consortio” n. 84 and subsequently reaffirmed by “Reconciliatio et Paenitentia” n. 34 and “Sacramentum Caritatis” n. 29. Can the expression “in certain cases” found in note 351 (n. 305) of the exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live “more uxorio”?
2. After the publication of the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (cf. n. 304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s Encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” n. 79, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?
3. After “Amoris Laetitia” (n. 301) is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (cf. Mt 19:3-9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration, June 24, 2000)?
4. After the affirmations of “Amoris Laetitia” (n. 302) on “circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,” does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s Encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” n. 81, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?
5. After “Amoris Laetitia” (n. 303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” n. 56, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?
(“Cardinals” Walter Brandmuller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Joachim Meisner, Letter to “Pope” Francis, Sep. 19, 2016; in Sandro Magister, “‘Seeking Clarity.’ The Appeal of Four Cardinals To the Pope”, Chiesa, Nov. 14, 2016)
These fives questions were sent to Francis on Sep. 19, 2016. To this day, he has refused to answer them, and we all know why: He cannot win. If he answers them in accordance with what he is really thinking (as expressed here), he is condemning himself. If he answers them in accordance with traditional Catholic teaching, then he is condemning Amoris Laetitia. Either way, Francis loses. The problem for him is that the questions are very direct and very clear, when he prefers to inject his heretical poison into souls indirectly and with loads of ambiguity.
In the interview published today by Frankfurter Allgemeine, Fr. Brandmuller reiterates the legitimacy of the Dubia and the importance of receiving an answer. While the entire interview is worth a read, the most explosive part comes at the end:
[Interviewer:] Which of the doubts formulated in your “Dubia” letter is the principal one? How would you try to explain it once more, succinctly, to a layman?
[“Cardinal” Brandmuller:] First: To pose “dubia”, i.e. doubts, questions to the Pope has always been a way of eliminating ambiguities. That’s completely normal. Then: Put simply, the question is: Can something be permitted today that was a sin yesterday? It is also asked if, as has always been taught, there really are actions that are immoral at all times and under any circumstance? Such as, for example, the killing of an innocent man, or adultery? That’s what the issue ultimately is. Should, then, the first question indeed be answered with “yes” and the second with “no” — then this would be heresy [Irrlehre, “doctrinal error”] and subsequently [mean] schism. A split in the Church.
Do you really consider schism a possibility?
May God prevent it.
(“Das Christentum hechelt nicht nach Applaus”, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Oct. 28, 2017; our translation.)
Notice that “Cardinal” Brandmuller brings up schism entirely on his own initiative. The interviewer did not “bait” him to speak about a split in the church. In fact, the questioner seems somewhat incredulous at Brandmuller’s comment and therefore asks if he considers schism a genuine possibility. Brandmuller does not say “yes” or “no”; he gives a response that deliberately avoids a direct answer: “May God prevent it.”
Apparently even Novus Ordo cardinals are now asking themselves the same question.