The Seifert Case: Who is separating themselves from the Church?


On August 31st, Monsignor Javier Martínez Fernández, Archbishop of Granada, after having suspended the Austrian philosopher Josef Seifert from teaching, he expelled him from the International Academy of Philosophy of which he is one of the founders, but today comes under the authority of the Archdiocese.

It should be borne in mind that Professor Josef Seifert is considered one of the most important Catholic philosophers of our time. His curriculum and his bibliography fills numerous pages. However, he is noted most of all for his fidelity to the Papal Magisterium, which earned him the nomination as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Any Catholic university would be honoured to have him among their teaching staff. What is the reason for the drastic measures taken against him? According to a communiqué from the Archdiocese the motive for his latest dismissal is an article in which Professor Seifert made a plea with regard to Pope Francis’ Post-Synod Exhortation Amoris laetitia. *

In the incriminating article, Seifert, asked Pope Francis to retract an affirmation in Amoris laetitia from which, on the basis of convincing logic, would result in the dissolution of Catholic moral teaching in its entirety. **

Seifert cites the sentence in Amoris laetitia according to which the conscience of adulterous couples, otherwise known as “irregular couples” “can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal” (AL, no. 303).

In other words, Seifert comments, besides defining the objective state of grave mortal sin “not yet fully the objective ideal”, Amoris laetitia affirms that we can know with “a certain moral security” that God Himself asks us to commit intrinsically wicked acts, like adultery and active homosexuality.

The Austrian philosopher at this point poses his question:” I ask: Can pure Logic fail to ask us under this assumption: If only one case of an intrinsically immoral act can be permitted and even willed by God, must this not apply to all acts considered ‘intrinsically wrong’? If it is true that God can want an adulterous couple to live in adultery, should then not also the commandment ‘Do not commit adultery!’ be reformulated? […] Must then not also the other 9 commandments, Humanae Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, and all past and present or future Church documents, dogmas, or councils that teach the existence of intrinsically wrong acts, fall? […]Must then not from pure logic euthanasia, suicide, or assistance to it, lies, thefts, perjuries, negations or betrayals of Christ, like that of St. Peter, or murder, under some circumstances and after proper “discernment,” be good and praiseworthy because of the complexity of a concrete situation.”

At this point he follows with his appeal to the Pope: “Thus I wish to plead with our supreme spiritual Father on Earth, the “sweet Christ on earth,” as Saint Catherine of Siena called one of the Popes, under whose reign she lived, while she criticized him fiercely […]to please retract the mentioned affirmation. If its logical consequences lead with iron stringency to nothing less than to a total destruction of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, should the “sweet Christ on Earth” not retract an affirmation of his own? If the mentioned thesis leads with cogent logical consequence to the rejection of there being any acts that must be considered intrinsically morally wrong, under any under any circumstances and in all situations, and if this assertion will tear down, after Familiaris Consortio and Veritatis Splendor, likewise Humanae Vitae and many other solemn Church teachings, should it not be revoked? And should not every Cardinal and Bishop, every priest, monk or consecrated Virgin, and every layperson in the Church, take a most vivid interest in this and subscribe this passionate plea of a humble layperson, a simple Professor of Philosophy and, among other subjects, of logic?”

There has been no response to the question raised by Professor Seifert. The communiqué from the Archdiocese of Granada limits itself to stating that the philosopher’s position: “damages the communion of the Church, confuses the faith of the faithful, and sows distrust in the successor of Peter, which, in the end, does not serve the truth of faith, but, rather, the interests of the world.” The diocese of Granada adds:“from the very first moment to have adopted the application of the Papal text prepared by the bishops of the Region of Buenos Aires”, in other words, following the guidelines of the Argentinean prelates, who, in their document approved by Pope Francis, allow adulterers access to Holy Communion.

The Archbishop of Granada’s stance is summed up in the veto of asking any questions, which according to the philosopher Eric Voegelin, is the characteristic of totalitarian regimes. With the same criteria, all Catholics faithful to Church orthodoxy have been eliminated from the Pontifical Academy for Life, beginning with Seifert himself, the most orthodox teachers are being expelled from schools and Catholic universities, priests faithful to Tradition are transferred from their parishes and in some cases suspended a divinis. What will happen to the cardinals if and when their correctio fraterna arrives?

This repressive logic opens a schism in the Church. The only argument that the Amoris laetitia fanatics are capable of raising against the critics of this document is the weak one of “breaking communion”. Yet, those who are raising objections about the Papal Exhortation, refer to the immutable doctrine of the Church and have no intention of leaving Her. If as a result of their fidelity to the Magisterium they are officially sanctioned, those who sanction them commit an act of auto-separation from this Magisterium.

Professor Josef Seifert’s articles are motivated by love for the Church and above all love for the Truth. The bishop who is punishing him, is separating himself from the natural and divine law which prohibits adultery, homicide and other grave sins, without exceptions or compromises. By accusing him of breaking unity with the Pope, the prelate manifests the existence of a magisterium by Pope Francis incompatible with that of perennial Church Magisterium.

Monsignor Martínez Fernández punished Professor Seifert because he had asked the Pope, humbly and respectfully, to withdraw an affirmation which leads to adultery and the dissolution of morality. So, in the diocese of Granada, as in those of Malta and Argentina and in many other places in Christendom, in order to be in communion with Pope Francis you need to accept, at least in certain instances, the lawfulness of adultery and other transgressions of the moral law. Pope Francis is the successor of Peter, but Our Lord doesn’t say: whoever loves Me must follow blindly the successor of Peter.

On the contrary: “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. ” (John 14, 15-21). If the Supreme Pastor should diverge from the Divine commandments and invite the flock to follow him, the faithful should distance themselves from him, as “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5, 29). If to be in communion with Pope Francis one is constrained to embrace error, those who want to remain in the truth of Christ, are obliged to separate themselves from Pope Francis. This is what Monsignor Martínez Fernández, the Archbishop of Granada is affirming publically.