We are publishing this interview with Cardinal Brandmüller courtesy of Sabino Paciolla’s Blog. Italian translation of the original German, which appeared in Die Tagestpost, by Alessandra Carboni Riehn; English translation by the staff of Pan-Amazon Synod Watch.
The fact that the Church in Germany is going through a crisis has been demonstrated by the figures published a few days ago (in 2018, over 200,000 people abandoned the Catholic Church). In recent months, a report published on sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church in Germany caused a great deal of scandal. Representatives at the highest levels of the Church, beginning with Cardinal Marx, president of the German Bishops’ Conference and a very close adviser of Pope Francis for the reform of the Curia, have considered starting a “synodal path” defined by “binding” results that could lead to potentially disruptive decisions. This is what Cardinal Brandmüller, an eminent Church historian and one of the four signatories of the Dubia to Pope Francis regarding the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, is commenting about. The Dubia remain unanswered to this day.
Your Eminence, regarding the figures on the flight of faithful in Germany just published by the Catholic Church and the EKD [German Evangelical Church], what do these figures say about the future of the Church?
These figures on the number of departing faithful are an extremely alarming symptom of the spiritual situation of the Catholic Church in Germany. At the same time, we must not be surprised by this apostasy in view of the statements of our Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament: many will grow cold in their love, Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, and many false prophets will appear and seduce many.
However, when it comes to the true Church of Christ, this naturally presupposes that the Church – Christians and their pastors – does not consider itself just a pious association that sometimes can even change its status, but knows that it is supported by a mission entrusted to it by the Lord.
With the “synodal way,” the German bishops want to react to the crisis in the Church, further aggravated a year ago by the results of the study on abuses. Do the interventions of the bishops who have expressed themselves on this “path” make you confident so far?
Absolutely not. Apart from this, the expression “synodal way” is a tautology. We are together and travel along a common road, but it all sounds a bit out of focus. But apart from this, so far nobody knows, in the first place, how this common path will be addressed and, secondly, where it should lead.
If one considers the utterances of a whole series of bishops, it can be said that this “synodal path” leads to catastrophe. Or if in the end Rome must ensure that the Church in Germany does not break away from unity with the universal Church, as we read in the Pope’s letter to the people of God in Germany, it will result in a gigantic frustration.
The bishop of Essen, Franz-Josef Overbeck, who as a bishop of Adveniat has supported the preparation of the Synod on the Amazon and participated in several preparatory meetings, argues that the meeting of the bishops in Rome would represent a break, but at the same time links this concept to the “synodal way”. What kind of break could it be?
In any case, it will be something that is no longer the Catholic Church. Because when you refer to an organism, a break is a category completely opposed to organic development. A break after which nothing would ever be the same would mean the end of the Church.
The essence of the Church is the transmission of the content of faith from the Apostles to the new coming of the Lord – but not a progressive evolution in which the essence of the Church changes.
Both in the preparation of the Amazon Synod and in view of the “synodal way” they are talking about a revaluation of the laity and especially of women. Will it be the end of the Church of clerics?
Instead of the Church of clerics, it is better to speak of the Church in which the holy orders have existed from the beginning. Seen in this light, the end of the Church of the clergy would probably mean that Martin Luther’s idea of church as outlined in his pamphlets in 1520 would be realized. And that would no longer be the Catholic Church.
For Luther, all the baptized as such were already pope, bishop and priest. On the other hand, in the Catholic Church, by virtue of the sacramental laying of the hands at ordination, the priest at the altar acts “in persona Christi”; therefore, he also shares the lifestyle of his Lord, that is, celibacy. So much is said about celibacy that it will probably be called into question by the “synodal way” and the Amazon Synod.
How would the goals of the “reformers” in Rome and Germany influence the life of the Church?
One need only look at the situation of the communities of the German Evangelical Church to imagine how the former Catholic churches would be reduced.
Source: Blog of Sabino Paciolla, July 28, 2019
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