Catholic philosopher who questioned Pope sues archdiocese for firing him
GRANADA, Spain, September 27, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- A leading Catholic philosopher is suing an archdiocese after the local archbishop fired him from a Catholic university for publishing a critique of Pope Francis’ teaching on marriage and family.
Dr. Josef Seifert filed a civil lawsuit last week against the Archdiocese of Granada saying that his removal from the university was unjustified and a violation of two of his fundamental human and constitutional rights.
Seifert, an intimate friend of the late Pope St. John Paul II, was removed in August from his post at the International Academy of Philosophy in Granada by Archbishop Javier Martínez Fernández.
In an article published online last month, Seifert called the Pope’s 2016 Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL) a ticking “theological atomic bomb” that has the capacity to destroy all Catholic moral teaching.
In his article, the philosopher argued that if Pope Francis believes that adultery — to quote the exhortation — “is what God himself is asking” of couples in “irregular” situations, then there is nothing stopping any other intrinsically evil acts from eventually being justified.
“If this is truly what AL affirms, all alarm over AL’s direct affirmations regarding matters of changes of sacramental discipline refer only to the peak of an iceberg, to the weak beginning of an avalanche, or to the first few buildings destroyed by a moral theological atomic bomb that threatens to tear down the whole moral edifice of the Ten Commandments and of Catholic moral teaching,” Seifert wrote.
Archbishop Fernández related in an August 31 public statement that Seifert’s removal was spurred precisely by his recent article. He said the article “damages the communion of the Church, confuses the faith of the faithful, and sows distrust in the successor of Peter, which, in the end, does not serve the truth of faith, but, rather, the interests of the world.”
Fernández also said that while Seifert was removed from his teaching duties last year after his “first critical writing” on the exhortation, he is now being entirely dismissed from the university.
“And right now, concurring with the precise and fuller reasons for it, his retirement from the above-mentioned International Academy of Philosophy is now being processed,” the archbishop wrote.
Seifert sued the Archdiocese after exhausting all other avenues for a charitable reconciliation, according to a report by OnePeterFive.
“Important, too, in this context, is that Archbishop Martínez never met personally with Professor Seifert or gave him a chance to defend himself before punishing him, and he even went so far as to publish a public announcement of Seifert’s forced retirement in response to his latest article, without first sending a formal personal letter to Seifert himself,” wrote Maike Hickson of OnePeterFive.
“Thus, even to an outsider, it is evident that there have been many abnormalities in the episcopal conduct of Archbishop Martínez. Conduct that seems to bypass normal – not to speak of humane and charitable – procedures and customs that are designed to prevent such arbitrary actions,” she added.
Hickson outlined in her report how Seifert repeatedly reached out to the Archbishop Martínez for a peaceful solution to the conflict, only to be ignored.
Seifert also filed a canonical “remonstratio” with the Church tribunal, claiming that the Bishop’s accusations against him were unjust.
Patristics scholar Professor Claudio Pierantoni wrote in an article earlier this month that the archbishop’s removal of Seifert signifies that an "official persecution" of faithful Catholics has now begun under the Francis pontificate.
“The official punishment of a Catholic thinker for the sole crime of defending an orthodox doctrine,” wrote Pierantoni, signifies the “beginning of the official persecution of orthodoxy within the Church.”
Vatican expert Sandro Magister commented that the removal of Seifert from his teaching post might go down in history as “perhaps the most dramatic legacy of Amoris Laetitia.”