Abuse in the Church: A Cardinal Gives the Moral of the Story

November 20, 2018
Source: District of the USA
Cardinal Walter Brandmüller

The moral state of the clergy is critical, and the current situation is “comparable to that of the 11th and 12th century”, explained Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a renowned historian and co-signatory of the 2016 Dubia in answer to Amoris Laetitia, in the November 2018 issue of the German monthly Vatican Magazine.

The cardinal has no doubt when he sees the present-day Church "shaken to its foundations" on account of the spread of sexual abuse and homosexuality "in an almost epidemic manner among the clergy and even in the hierarchy."

To offer an explanation for this decadence, Cardinal Brandmüller refers to the centuries in which the papacy itself had become such a source of wealth that there was "fighting and haggling over it.” 

The effect was that “the place of pastors was taken by morally dissolute persons who were attached to the endowment rather than to the care of souls” and by no means inclined to lead a chaste and virtuous life, the cardinal goes on to explain.

Mutatis mutandis, the present situation offers serious similarities to the past, except that today, Rome has taken too long to react. In particular, the supreme authority allowed scandalous or outright heretical authors to publish their works and teach in the pontifical universities.

The Causes of This Decadence

It is true, he admits, “some books on sexual morality were condemned” and “two professors had their teaching licenses revoked, in 1972 and 1986”. “But,” the cardinal goes on to say, “the truly important heretics, like the Jesuit Josef Fuchs, who from 1954 to 1982 was a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and Bernhard Häring, who taught at the Redemptorist Institute in Rome, as well as the highly influential moral theologian from Bonn, Franz Böckle, or from Tübingen, Alfons Auer, were able to spread without interference, right in front of Rome and the bishops, the seed of error. The attitude of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in these cases is, in retrospect, simply incomprehensible. It saw the wolf come and stood looking on while it ravaged the fold.”

The cardinal is convinced that if a reaction is still possible, it will have to come from the one who has received the power of the keys. “The more the hierarchy, from the pope down, feel supported by the effective resolve of the faithful to renew and revive the Church, the more a true housecleaning can be performed,” he believes.

We might add that the moral decadence is not only due to the – undeniable –influence of this world, for which Our Lord refused to pray because Satan is its prince. It is also a result of the warping of minds, the impossible marriage between the true and the false, good and evil. It is the consequence of moral laxism, the insufficiency of the modern catechism, and weak preaching. The Christian people has lost its sense of beauty, truth and goodness, and therefore its horror for sin, vice and error. The root of this state of affairs is none other than the fifty-year-old crisis of the Faith in the Church. The reforms implemented in the name of Vatican Council II are not without their responsibility in all of this.