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Fr. Martin Lintner (R) & Bishop Ivo MuserDiocese of Bozen-Brixen

BRIXEN, South Tyrol (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican has approved a priest to become dean of theology in the Philosophical-Theological College in Brixen, less than one year after the Vatican rejected him for the position over his heterodox views on homosexuality. 

In a series of posts April 3, it was announced that Fr. Martin Lintner would assume the role of dean of theology at Brixen’s influential Philosophical-Theological College (PTH) starting September 1, where he has taught theology since 2009, during which time he has published his support for homosexual relationships. 

Bishop Ivo Muser of the local Diocese of Bozen-Brixen – who is grand chancellor of the university – wrote that the announcement was “good news for our diocese and for our university.”

The approval came from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education, which oversees such appointments. Led by Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça since September 2022 – a Portuguese prelate who has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the Roman Curia under Pope Francis – the dicastery had previously vetoed Lintner’s appointment as dean in July 2023. 

READ: Pope Francis appoints pro-LGBT cardinal as head of culture and education in Roman Curia

PTH university had elected the priest as dean in November 2022, but Mendonça’s dicastery refused Bishop Muser’s request for the necessary nihil obstat for Lintner, thus preventing his installation. 

As noted by the university at the time, the Vatican refused to make the approval “due to Prof. Lintner’s publications on issues of Catholic sexual morality,” though no specific writings were cited.

The Vatican’s rejection of Lintner in the summer of 2023 prompted outrage from German academics, and protests were made for the nihil obstat requirement to be amended. Some theologians attested that the nihil obstat procedure restricted them in their academic work and said that it “is associated with fear and pressure.”

Lintner himself said at the time that the decision “casts doubt on the success of synodality.” His already existing teaching position remained unaffected.  

The recent letter signed by Mendonça approving Lintner’s appointment referenced a visit made by Bishop Muser to the Vatican in February, adding that following the visit and subsequent communication “we notify you that upon completion of the procedure of the file this Dicastery confirms the above-mentioned candidate as Dean of the Theological Studio.”

Lintner stated that “it is entirely in my interest to close this chapter, which has been stressful for everyone involved, and to concentrate on theological work again. I am approaching the new challenges as Dean of our university with joy and confidence.”

The new dean was unable to comment on whether his appointment was related to the nihil obstat procedure being reworked, a process which has been quietly underway for up to a year. 

Fr. Lintner’s pro-homosexual record

Lintner’s heterodox record on Catholic moral teaching includes advocating for a change in Catholic teaching and practice regarding homosexuality. 

In 2020, the Austrian bishops requested the compilation of a book entitled “The Benediction of Same-Sex Partnerships,” to which Lintner contributed a chapter. 

READ: EXCLUSIVE: Cardinal Müller calls Pope Francis’ homosexual ‘blessings’ an attack on marriage

Following Pope Francis’ 2020 comments supporting homosexual civil unions, Lintner praised the pope for his comments. Speaking to the German bishops’ news outlet, Lintner said Francis was demonstrating a personal opinion but also it was “an indication that a rethink is taking place at the level of the ecclesiastical magisterium on this matter.”

Continuing his comments, Lintner attested that the Church must realize that in the current “perspective” and given certain current biblical “exegesis” the Church could “no longer form the foundation for condemning a same-sex partnership.”

“The unconditional condemnation of a homosexual relationship as sinful is obviously not the last word of the Church on this issue,” he claimed, in contradiction to the teaching of the Catholic Church and divine revelation.

The Catholic Church condemns homosexual activity as “intrinsically disordered,” gravely sinful, and a “sin that cries to heaven,” in accordance with Sacred Scripture and the constant Tradition of the Church. The Church also teaches that the homosexual orientation is itself “objectively disordered.”

It is hard to overlook the possible effect that Fiducia Supplicans has had in reversing Cardinal de Mendonça’s July 2023 veto on Lintner’s appointment to the university. While Lintner’s problematic writings were not specified by the cardinal, his texts which were most out of line with the Vatican had been those dealing with homosexual relationships. 

With the pope and Cardinal Fernández approving – against Catholic teaching – “blessings” for homosexual “couples” in December 2023, Lintner’s writings no longer contravene the public, heterodox stance of those leading the Vatican’s doctrine department.

READ: Pope Francis again defends ‘blessing’ homosexual ‘couples,’ downplays idea it causes ‘schism’

Vatican Radio debacle

A minor scandal emerged in 2015 when Lintner spoke about the Church’s “long and oppressive shadow of her sex-negative tradition.” He welcomed the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family, stating that they showed “the Church is becoming more sensitive to the unfortunate experiences of those affected and of families in which homosexual people live.”

This, Lintner said, was indicative of a “rethink” in the Church, which he said is “significant, even if the Church emphasizes that a homosexual partnership must be differentiated from marriage.” 

READ: Top African cardinal: Pope’s homosexual blessings document was seen as ‘Western imperialism’

“The personal judgment of conscience remains the final authority,” said Lintner, drawing on arguments made heavily in Amoris Laetitia – a document whose passages on admitting the divorced and “re-married” to Communion he also ardently proposed inserting into the Catechism.

Vatican Radio published on its website a since-deleted article summarizing Lintner’s recent remarks on homosexuality with a large picture of two women kissing. Amidst a furor over the image and the article, the image was taken down within the week though the editor of the German edition of the website said that publishing Lintner’s comments “was not really a scandal.”

As reported by Dr. Maike Hickson in 2016, Lintner and theologian colleagues also argued passionately in line with Amoris Laetitia, stating that no “irregular situation” could any longer be deemed gravely sinful.