(Maike Hickson, Life Site News – december 5, 2018) A Catholic German ethics professor calls Cardinal Müller’s recent remarks on homosexuality “unbearable” and claims that, just as the Church’s teaching on the death penalty has changed, the teaching on homosexuality is also open to change.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has been under constant sharp criticism since his 21 November interview with LifeSiteNews, in which he had drawn a link between homosexuality and clerical sex abuse.
Several prominent Catholics – among them Father Klaus Mertes, Father Ansgar Wucherpfennig, General Vicar Klaus Pfeffer – have expressed their indignation over the German Cardinal’s re-stating of the Church’s traditional teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts; and they all have in common that they desire to normalize the practice of homosexuality. Moreover, these clergymen are now supportively joined by Professor Gerhard Kruip, who teaches at the University of Mainz, Germany.
In his 29 November article, Professor Kruip calls Cardinal Müller’s words “unbearable” and refers to Pope Francis’ post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia(AL) as a proof that the Church has now learned to regard sexuality in general in a more positive manner. Quoting AL 152 which states that the “erotic dimension” of love is a “gift from God,” and then contrasting it with the current Catechism’s claim that selfish lust is “disordered” (no. 2351), the Catholic theologian and ethicist sweepingly concludes that the Church is changing her views on sexuality: that “the Church obviously has learned something more, and that she now obviously regards the lust that is accompanying it in a more positive manner.”
The Catechism states more fully in that section no. 2351 that “Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.”
Furthermore, Kruip refers to AL 151 in order to show that the new Church teaching stresses more so that sexuality aims not only at procreation of life, but it is also an “expression of love.” If this is the case, the theologian continues, “then one also has to wonder whether this should not then also be possible among same-sex partners who love each other. Also for them who, after all, are homosexual not out of a free decision, but, rather, because of their nature, sexuality can be an expression of their love for one another.”
Referring to the supposed consensus in the field of theological exegesis, Professor Kruip claims that biblical quotes do not justify the condemnation of homosexuality: “In any event, in the exegesis, there exists a broad consensus that those Bible passages that are now being quoted against homosexuality (Gen 19, 1:29; Rom 1, 24:27: 1 Cor 6, 10; 1 Tim 1,10) cannot justify such an interdiction.”
According to Kruip, “most Catholics, theologians, and more and more bishops (even if they do not dare to say it in public) in Germany have come to the conviction that homosexual acts – at least then, when they are an expression of a loving relationship, in which the partners take responsibility for one another – are not something that is generally ‘intrinsically disordered’ (as the Catechism claims it in no. 2357).” Also with reference to Father Ansgar Wucherpfennig, Kruip points out that it should be at least be possible to discuss these matters.
As an example of how the Church is, he says, changing her teaching, the German professor then says that “such a learning progress has taken place in history again and again. The most recent example is the moral condemnation of the death penalty which, in the earlier Church tradition up to the Catechism of 1992, had previously nearly always been regarded as legitimate.”
Professor Kruip mentions additional examples of how the Church has changed, in the recent past, her own previous teaching – such as, for example, criticism religious liberty in the Second Vatican Council’s constitution Dignitatis Humanae – thus “following certain moral learning processes in society, albeit with a certain delay.”
“Nothing speaks against the possibility,” he continues, “that such adaptations to moral learning processes will also take place in the future – and the consensus in the Church is big that this is urgently needed in questions of sexual morality.”
Quoting Vatican II’s pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes (44), the author points out that the Church at the council was very appreciative of the influence of history upon the Church. The Vatican text states: “Just as it is in the world’s interest to acknowledge the Church as an historical reality, and to recognize her good influence, so the Church herself knows how richly she has profited by the history and development of humanity.”
Kruip regrets that there are currently “important groups and persons in the Church who wish to hinder such learning processes, and thus they oppose the sensus fidelium [“sense of the faithful”], Pope Francis and, finally, against Jesus’ own mandate.” Among those “resisters” is also, purportedly, the papal nuncio in Germany, Nicola Eterovic, who has recently stated with regard to the Wucherpfennig conflict that Catholic professors “have to follow what the Church’s doctrine says, and this can be found, for example, in the Catechism.”
With these words, comments Kruip, Eterovic “renders useless not only any theology as an academic discipline, but he also does so as if the Catechism of 1992 – which was even then already controversial within the Church – is the irrevocable Word of God.”
Further in the article, the German professor more specifically criticizes Cardinal Müller and his words about detecting atheism in Wucherpfennig’s own welcoming words about homosexuality. He considers this to be a dismissal of the work of Wucherpfennig and his arguments.
Moreover, Kruip argues against Müller that a good morality can be found outside of God’s Revelation, adding that “we Christians do not have a monopoly on the insights into what is morally right. Rather, the Christians also have to open themselves up to the dialogue about morally controversial questions, and they may not refuse moral learning processes which take place also outside of the Church.”
Applying Cardinal Müller’s own words here, one may conclude that Kruip proposes to ask, not the Church, but, rather, the world (among them the atheists) what is morally good and right.
In Kruip’s eyes, it is exactly Müller himself who uses God for his own purposes, “because it is he who degrades God as an aid and means of justifying his fundamentalist ideology [sic] and [favoring] an absolute position of power for certain Church authorities and institutions, which, however, cannot themselves even build upon the authority of the Pope.”
That is to say, Kruip points out that those loyal defenders of Catholic moral teaching, as it has been taught for two thousand years, cannot, in their battle, rely on Pope Francis’s support. Whoever refuses to accept these recent and new changes “is damaging the Church.” These are the last words of Professor Kruip.
In light of Professor Kruip’s reference to the recent decision on the part of Pope Francis to change the Church’s doctrine concerning the death penalty, it might be worth remembering that there was a strong resistance against the Pope’s decision. 75 Catholic scholars had published a statement in which they oppose that change in the Catechism and asked Pope Francis to withdraw it.
Professor Kruip’s article has received already some criticism. The German priest, Father Engelbert Recktenwald, showed in a critique written for CNA Deutsch how Kruip incorrectly uses quotes from Church documents in order to present a caricature of the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage.
The British philosopher Thomas Pink, who teaches at King’s College in London, commented on this article, saying that the “Denial of 19th century papal teaching on the state and religious liberty is now being used to justify radical doctrinal change on morals – from the official German Church website, no less.” Pink further showedthat some theologians such as Joseph Ratzinger “thought they could ditch Quanta Cura [condemning errors 1864] and the Syllabus [of Errors, 1873], while still relying on the authority of the very same magisterium to protect family and marriage teaching – hasn’t worked…”
What Professor Pink shows here is that, indeed, there took place in the recent past changes in the Church’s teaching that now can be exploited by modernists in order to further change Catholic doctrine.
In this context, it might be worth recalling what the Italian Church historian Professor Roberto de Mattei just stated with regard to some of the controversial parts of the Second Vatican Council – to which Kruip refers in order to justify further changes in the Church’s teaching:
“That Council heralded a great pastoral reform to purify the Church, and instead resulted in a historically unprecedented corruption of faith and morals, for it has reached the point of not only enthroning homosexuality among the highest ecclesiastical hierarchies, but also of allowing it to be publicly defended and theorized.”