(Vatikan) Wie berichtet, ist in der Päpstlichen Akademie für das Leben ein offener Konflikt über deren Auftrag und Ausrichtung ausgebrochen. In einem Brief an den Präsidenten der Akademie, Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, wird der Akademie-Leitung vorgeworfen, der Lehre der Kirche zu Fragen des Lebens, der Sexualität und der Familie nicht ausreichend zu folgen. Einige führende Akademie-Mitglieder, von der derzeitigen Akademie-Leitung als „kleine Minderheit“ bezeichnet, werfen der Akademie-Spitze in einer harten Kritik „systematischen Verrat“ der christlichen Werte vor. Sie werfen ihr zudem vor, an bestimmten Programmen mitzuwirken, die nicht die kirchliche Lehre vertreten. DieKritiker bezeichnen die Situation als „extrem schwerwiegend“.
Einer der führenden Kritiker ist der österreichische Philosoph Josef Seifert, der Rektor der Internationalen Akademie für Philosophie im Fürstentum Liechtenstein. Am 10. April 2012 verfaßte er einen ausführlichen Brief an den Präsidenten der Akademie, Kurienbischof Ignacio Carrasco de Paula. In diesem Schreiben brachte Seifert seine ganze „Sorge“ über die „große Gefahr“ zum Ausdruck, daß die Akademie durch den eingeschlagenen Weg ihren Auftrag verrate. Kurienbischof Carrasco de Paula gehört dem Opus Dei an.
Seifert führt darin aus, daß er am 24. Februar 2012 den „schlimmsten Tag seines Lebens“ durchlebte, als in Rom eine Tagung der Akademie zum Thema Unfruchtbarkeit stattfand. Seine Kritik faßte Seifert in acht Punkten zusammen. Fünf von sieben Referaten an jenem Tag ließen keinerlei Verbindung zur katholischen Morallehre erkennen. Nicht nur das. Ihr Inhalt habe sich ausschließlich auf Methoden der künstlichen Befruchtung oder Verhütung beschränkt, wie Pille, künstliche Befruchtung und In-vitro-Fertilisation. Abgesehen davon waren die ethischen Aussagen der fünf Referenten ein offener Angriff „gegen die Lehre der Kirche und gegen die Wahrheit“.
Der Kritik Seiferts schloß sich mit Mercedes Arzà¹ Wilson ein anderes gewichtiges Akademie-Mitglied an. Arzà¹ Wilson ist Vorsitzende der Stiftung Family of the Americas und der Weltfamilienorganistion. Folge des rund um die Februar-Tagung ausgebrochenen internen Konflikts war die Streichung einer weiteren Tagung, die für April im Vatikan zum Thema Stammzellforschung geplant war.
Die Kritiker der Februar-Tagung stemmten sich gegen die April-Tagung, weil einige der geladenen Referenten embryonale Stammzellforschung betreiben, bei der Embryonen „verbraucht“, sprich getötet werden oder sogar das Klonen von Menschen begrüßen. Positionen, die in offenem Widerspruch zur Lehre der katholischen Kirche stehen.
Die Kritik löste heftige Reaktionen an der Römischen Kurie aus, die mit der Streichung der Tagung endeten. Eine Streichung, die der derzeitigen Akademie-Leitung angeordnet wurde. Die dadurch entstandenen Irritationen innerhalb der Akademie führten zum offenen Bruch der Akademie-Leitung mit ihren Kritikern. Die Absage ließ den schwelenden Konflikt offen zum Ausbruch gelangen.
Die Kritiker entschlossen sich daraufhin, ihre Bedenken und ihre Kritik bis zu den höchsten Stellen zu tragen und auch Papst Benedikt XVI. über die „negativen Bündnisse“ zu informieren, die von der derzeitigen Akademie-Führungen eingegangen wurden, Bündnisse, die „die Lehre der Kirche und vor allem jene Johannes Pauls II. über das Leben, die Liebe, die menschliche Sexualität und die Familie zerstören“ könnten.
Katholisches – Das Magazin für Kirche und Kultur veröffentlicht den Brief von Professor Josef Seifert vom April 2012, mit dem er die Kritik an der Ausrichtung der Päpstlichen Akademie für das Leben zusammenfaßte (Erstveröffentlichung Vatican Insider):
Your Excellency, dear President Carrasco:
I am writing you this letter without any intention to offend you in any way, but out of a profound wish for the PAV to retain and to regain the 100 percent service to Christ and to the Gospel of Life which I know you desire and which clearly is our mission as PAV members. And precisely for this reason I am writing this letter with a deep feeling of sadness and an enormous concern over the great danger I perceive of the PAV losing its full and pure commitment to the truth and its enthusiastic service to the unreduced magnificent Church teaching on human life in its whole splendor.
In the Saturday morning session of our 2012 Annual Assembly Meeting of the PAV, I expressed the opinion that the publically accessible session of the day before had been possibly the worst day in the history of the PAV. As there was no time to explain this judgment, you asked me to write you a letter in which I would explain myself. I gladly fulfill your wish even though the matter saddens me greatly, especially since, after so many years of knowing you as a person deeply committed to the truth and Church Teaching, I never would have expected to experience something similar in the PAV under your direction (but in your absence from the meeting).
As the final morning session was open to all PAV members, who also attended the public meeting, I wish to send my answer to your question also to all members of the PAV who have heard my remark and to whom I feel I owe the same explanation that you requested from me. Moreover, as my remarks refer exclusively to the public conference, I want to publish this letter, at least its main contents, as an “open letter“ also addressed to countless persons who directly or indirectly, through the press, will get information about this event.
My answer is very simple and can be summarized in 8 reasons for my critical judgment on this public conference:
- Neutral scientific discussion of treatments of infertility, which the PAV ought to treat also and even primarily from an ethical and magisterial viewpoint: Of the seven conferences this day that dealt with the ethically speaking highly sensitive issue of treating infertility (many methods of which stand in direct contrast to the sublime truth that the Church teaches on these matters) the first five almost entirely prescinded from any anthropological, ethical, theological and especially all magisterial explanations of the Catholic moral doctrine on these sensitive issues and just dealt with such things and methods as the pill, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, etc. from a neutral scientific-descriptive standpoint. This alone is a great evil for a public Congress sponsored by PAV, because a neutral scientific description of methods of infertility treatment has absolutely no place in our Academy which was explicitly founded to deal with these matters in the light of anthropological, theological and moral truth. Any “purely scientific“ treatment of them falsifies them by failing to take into account the most important truths about the questions at hand.
- All first five papers (out of 7) in the little they said about ethics stood in flat contradiction to Church teaching on morals: Still much worse than this was the fact that each single one of the first five lecturers did in fact occasionally imply ethical judgments, but all of these ethical judgments without exception were a direct assault on Church teaching and on the truth: the contraceptive pill was praised if taken for a while and introduced as a healthy means for restricting periods of fertility, which was a direct assault on Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio and many addresses of Blessed Pope John Paul II, the founder of our Academy. In vitro fertilization, associated methods such as ICSI, and artificial insemination were presented as morally acceptable and as major achievements and shown graphically in little film-clips of how, for example, the proud speaker shot isolated and selected sperms into ova. His obvious ethical condoning of these methods was a direct assault on Donum Vitae and other ecclesiastical documents, and so it went on and on.The whole tenor of these first five lectures of the conference was thus on the one hand a neutral presentation that has no legitimate place in our Academy, and on the other hand a propaganda for everything the Church condemns in this field as intrinsically wrong acts.
- The Critics of this public Conference and of the cancelled stem cell Conference were ill treated and offended partly during the conference, partly in letters: Moreover, cynical mockery was added to this: instead of offering refunds to participants who had been gravely misled and wasted their money to attend a Planned Parenthood-like meeting under the auspices of the PAV, these unhappy participants were brutally told, if they did not like what they heard, not to return next year. The letter that followed the Assembly from the Rev Renzo Pegoraro, the Chancellor of PAV [Prot.N. 5154/12] explaining why a similarly ill designed stem cell meeting had been cancelled, heaped insults on the pro-life members ( ALL PAV members are vowed to be unambiguously pro life) by describing their objections to the Congress as ‘threats’ to “some higher ranking personalities“ who deserved much respect but who were surely offended as well by being described as if they were a poor misled and unfoundedly terrorized flock that had felt threatened by PAV members and other pro-life leaders who had spoken out against this meeting. In another letter from the Chancellor [Prot.N. 5148/12] co-signed by Mgr. Suaudeau and addressed to speakers scheduled to address the Congress, pro-life critics of it are described as not enjoying “any credit from PAV“ or “from other organisms of the Holy See“. The letter goes on to claim that there was “no decisive link“ between pro-life objections and the cancellation of the Congress. The truth of the matter surely is that certain high-ranking personalities were prompted to demand the cancellation of the stem-cell conference by serious, profound and intelligent arguments brought forward by some PAV members and others, arguments that had been simply brushed aside by PAV officials. The moral questions surrounding the source and methods of investigating stem-cells, which are the most significant questions any PAV sponsored Congress should examine, were dubbed “useless controversies.“
- Insulting remarks not only about PAV members but also about the central issues of Church documents: The phrase “useless controversies“ extended the insult heaped on some distinguished PAV-members to such Church documents as Donum Vitae that was composed under the present Pope while he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and which was implicitly called “useless“, because it is precisely entirely dedicated to such questions as those that were dubbed in semi-public PAV-letters “useless.“ To describe – in the name of the Pontifical Academy for Life – the key concerns and issues of a series of significant Church documents as “useless controversies“ was an unbelievably dreadful thing, unthinkable under the Presidency of The Venerable Jerome Lejeune, of Prof. Juan de Dios Vial Correa, or of Mons. Sgreccia, and even under your immediate predecessor. No such proposition has ever been previously uttered by an official of the Academy and, associated as it is with the recent Assembly conference, it confirms my judgment that it was the worst day in our history.
- The low scientific level of six out of seven papers read in the public conference: As a minor reason for my finding the public conference the worst in the history of the PAV (in which we have lived through some other phases of deep crisis), I might add that also the purely neutral scientific content and level of these presentations was bad: not a word on all the studies on the negative side-effects of the pill; not a word on its potentially abortifacient effects; not a word on all the research done on their causing at times lasting infertility; not a word on the negative psychological aspects, etc., etc. These presentations had more the character of a cheap “infertilitytreatment technology“ session and of pseudo-scientific propaganda against Church teaching, without a trace of a serious, balanced scientific spirit. This added to the main scandal of the meeting which consisted in promoting uncritically what the Church teaches to be intrinsically bad. The excellent paper of Professor Hilgers, which was the only one that dealt with a principal concern of so many recent Church documents in the right spirit of respect and truth, was so unrelated to the rest of the session that any dialogue on these important issues was lacking. Indeed, he was made to appear an isolated figure, having to defend himself against critical objections from one of the chairpersons of the session at which he spoke.
- Unscientific and Unhelpful “Discussions“: This devastating impression and effect was heightened by the entirely unscientific way in which the so-called “discussions“ are being conducted in open meetings of the Academy (this is an evil dating back several years but taking on new dimensions of harmfulness in a Conference with 6/7th of bad speakers: a genuine discussion requires an oral dialogue of the sort I could participate in several times in the Pontifical Academy of Science, especially if such a momentous challenge to Church teaching was presented by the speakers. The questions, half of which were not even read, were so abbreviated by the chairpersons that they gave the impression that the bad speakers were being addressed as if they were authorities on what falls within the competence of PAV and so were enabled to repeat their errors another time around. As if this were not already sufficiently intolerable, some kind of censorship distinguished “nice“ from “negative“ questions, and many of these “unacceptable questions“ were sifted out entirely, others freely rendered in very different words that misrepresented them or even made them seem derisory. In this way the discussion was also made to be a pitiful spectacle.
- An academic and doctrinal failure of the only speaker asked to address the ethics of fertility treatment: Moreover, the only person (another scandal of the organization of the conference) invited to address directly the ethical aspects of infertility treatment, while she was no doubt well-intentioned, was academically and as an ethicist below the level of the Academy. Instead of throwing the desired ethical light on what her predecessors had said, and in spite of repeatedly stressing that she was a simple and obedient sheep of the flock of the Church, explicitly repeated some of the bioethical errors which the first five speakers had peremptorily advanced. What was additionally scandalous about this misguided presentation was that it was featured on the program as coauthored by the Chancellor of the PAV, the Rev Renzo Pegoraro.
- The knowledge of truth and the Image of the PAV have suffered an Immense Harm from This Conference, and Its Effects on the World Will Be Disastrous: To present such a conference, over which Planned Parenthood would have rejoiced and the angels in heaven must have wept, to an audience many of whom came from far away to hear the Church’s position on these matters, as our constitution explicitly prescribes, is in my opinion a profoundly sad and even scandalous thing. Many of the outside visitors to whom I spoke were deeply disappointed and shocked, and felt deserted by our PAV that should have given them guidance. The journalists who will report on this conference or a PAV publication of these papers, which I hope will never occur, will spread the exact opposite of the Church’s teaching as something promoted by our Academy. The outside image of the Academy and of the Church was gravely hurt and harmed by this event.
I am not alone with my feeling of profound shock over the public conference and some of the official PAV communications, and can understand those members (most of whom never before criticized the PAV and are very soft-spoken) who told me that the only choice that remains for the Directory Board of the PAV after this public conference is to resign.
I hope I have explained sufficiently in this letter the reasons for my judgment. I believe that you and whoever else organized this session and invited these speakers, owe a profound written apology for this event to all participants as well as to all members of the PAV, who must have felt ashamed by this and whose image will be tainted by this conference being attributed to the PAV.
I can only hope and pray that many members and outside guests (and I) will never again have to sit through such a tormentingly bad session of the PAV and that never again will the effect of a PAV conference be so radically turned into the opposite of its desperately needed mission: taking on, in an almost diabolical way, the traits of a “Pontifical anti-Life Academy“.
In deep pain, but in the hope that some of the harm can be undone,
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Professor Dr. Dr. habil. Dr. h.c. Josef Seifert, Founding Rector and President of the Senate of the The International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Liechtenstein, ordinary member of the PAV.
P.S.: Knowing well that my concerns are shared by many other PAV members, I herewith encourage all my fellow members in the Academy to let you know to which extent they agree with the contents of this letter. J. S.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi