„Die Päpstliche Akademie für das Leben verrät die Morallehre der Kirche“ — Brief von Josef Seifert

(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 Arz๠Wil­son ein ande­res gewich­ti­ges Aka­de­mie-Mit­glied an. Arz๠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):

 

10.4.2012

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.“
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
Bild: Life­Si­teNews