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The Church and sexuality: An interview with Cardinal Brandmüller

“I would argue,” says that German prelate, 90, “the real scandal is that when it comes to this issue, clergy and employees of the Church are not sufficiently distinguishable from society overall.”

German Cardinal Walter Brandmuller attends a conference on Blessed Paul VI's 1968 encyclical, "Humanae Vitae," in Rome Oct. 28, 2018. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Vatican City, Jan 9, 2019 / 10:50 am (CNA).- Cardinal Walter Brandmüller made headlines last week, after he told German news agency DPA that debate over the clerical sexual abuse crisis should not “forget or silence the fact that 80% of the cases of sexual assault in the Church affected male youths not children,” adding that a connection between homosexuality and sexual abuse has been “statistically proven.”

Brandmüller, 90, told the news agency Friday that “only a vanishingly small number” of priests has committed sexual abuse, and that it was “hypocritical” to focus only on the sexual abuse crisis in the Church.

“What has happened in the Church is nothing other than what is happening in society as a whole,” he said.

In an interview with CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language sister agency, the church historian explained his remarks – and pointed to causes of the Church crisis and possible solutions:

Your Eminence, your interview on Friday has generated a great deal of attention. How do you deal with the reporting and the reactions?

What secular media makes of statements that do not correspond to the worldview of the reporting journalists might well raise certain questions. But I was concerned with scandals that are more important than how I am being dealt with as a person.

You’re referring to the abuse scandals and their coverup?

Well, I would argue that the real scandal is that when it comes to this issue, clergy and employees of the Church are not sufficiently distinguishable from society overall. The apostle Paul admonished the Romans, “do not be conformed to this world.” [[12:2]]

[But] sexual abuse – in whatever form – is anything but a specifically Catholic phenomenon.

How is that to be understood in this context?

The sexualization of society over decades – think of Oswalt Kolle and Beate Uhse – has left its mark on Catholics and those in the employ of the Church. This statement may help explain the heinousness of the transgressions, but is by no means an excuse!

[ed. Note: Oswalt Kolle was an author, filmmaker, advocate for the sexual revolution in Germany, prominent during the 1960s and 1970s. Beate Uhse AG is a German distributor of pornography, “sex toys,” and lingerie.]

In other words, the role and self-conception of the clergy are at the heart of the issue?

First of all, it must be emphatically emphasized that hundreds of thousands of priests and religious people faithfully and selflessly serve God and men. To put them under general suspicion is just as offensive as unjustified, considering the tiny percentage of abusers. On the other hand, it equally is an excessively narrow view of reality to look only at the Catholic Church.

But surely one must be differentiate between abuse in the Church and across society?


It would be no less unrealistic to forget or conceal that 80 percent of cases of abuse in the church context were perpetrated against male adolescents, not children. This relationship between abuse and homosexuality has been statistically proven – but it has nothing to do with homophobia, whatever one might mean by that term.

How can sexual misconduct and abuse be prevented in principle? Irrespective of whether it is perpetrated against minors or adults, men or women?

In the first place it will be necessary, before any religious consideration, to once again refamiliarize and deepen our understanding of the principles of sexual morality brought about by human nature being that of man and woman. John Paul II, with his Theology of the Body, has made a groundbreaking contribution on this matter.

Surely such an understanding would particularly be required of the clergy, and anyone in a teaching capacity, both in terms of educating on this matter and themselves actually living it?

Indeed, this doctrinal teaching of John Paul II should also form the basis for the selection and formation of future priests and religious educators. Then we should pay attention to their psycho-physical constitution. However, it should not be forgotten that all of this is not just about psychology and sociology, but rather about recognizing a true vocation coming from God. Especially when it comes to priests! Only when these aspects are duly considered and taken into account can a candidate be admitted to ordination.

This is also what Pope Francis has said on several occasions.

By the way: Experienced rigor in the selection of candidates also leads to a higher attractiveness of the priestly profession.

Given this falls under a bishop’s bailiwick, surely theirs is a key role in bringing this about?

The present crisis can only be overcome if, above all, the bishops understand it as a call and an incentive to a new spiritual awakening, drawing on the roots of our Faith. Is it not it astounding that the “conventional” seminars of so-called traditionalist communities, especially in France but not only there, have no shortage of seminarians? So why not adopt this model for success?

In the face of the current crisis, the credibility of the Church as a moral institution is severely shaken in the eyes of many. What is more, Catholics are asking themselves in which direction the Church is headed.

The question I ask myself is whether there really is any direction. Is the Church not tossed back and forth on contradictory currents? Can one recognize any direction at all?

In any case, it is obvious that – at least in Western Europe – Church statements are more or less in line with the social mainstream, and that purely secular matters often determine the speeches and actions of ecclesiastical authorities instead of following the lead of Benedict XVI, who in his speech in Freiburg in 2011 talked about the necessary detachment from worldliness [Entweltlichung], which promptly was misunderstood and even met with disapproval.

In the meantime, even some bishops, especially in the field of morality, have expressed views that are diametrically opposed to Scripture. But in doing so, one removes oneself from the very foundations of the Church’s existence.

So the Church and its foundations are still in their place?

Naturally. And of course it is all the more embarrassing when a financially potent but spiritually foundering  Church in Germany reckons it has a mandate to lecture its “poorer brothers and sisters” in – of all places – regions where  the Church is experiencing a period of spiritual vitality and growth, ie in Eastern and Northeast Europe as well as regions such as Africa and Asia.

What is also noteworthy in the West, however, is the phenomenon of religious awakenings among the youth, who are unimpressed with the decline around them.

“Fluctuat nec mergitur” – This expression is written on the coat of arms of the city of Paris, which shows a ship on high waves: Despite being tossed back and forth, it is not lost! In fact, Jesus Christ is on board even when he appears to be asleep. This is a depiction of of the Church.


Translation provided by AC Wimmer.

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  1. God bless his Eminence Cardinal Brandmuller for speaking truth when doing so has effectively been criminalized in the Western world.

  2. I take issue with Cardinal Brandmuller when he says ““only a vanishingly small number” of priests has committed sexual abuse, and that it was “hypocritical” to focus only on the sexual abuse crisis in the Church.” He is the only prelate that says that. How does he know the number of clerics involved.

    I do agree however with his statement: “Catholics are asking themselves in which direction the Church is headed.”

  3. If you keep telling a lie long enough, people will believe it. “there is only a vanishingly small number” of priests has committed sexual abuse…”

    Francis-Bergoglio’s mouthpieces are going on television and claiming that paedophile crimes are in the past, that they have stopped since corrective action was taken in 2001, when the Great Sex & Embezzlement Holocaust erupted worldwide onto the front pages. Like the rest of the propaganda that the church panders, this statement too is a lie. The Great Sex & Embezzlement Holocaust continues unabated.

    That is the very word, “lie,” used by one of its recent victims, Stephen Szutenbach, a seminarian just who had just graduated from high school and had gone directly into one of those church seminaries that are little better now than homosexual brothels. This is the reason why so few young men chose to go into church-run seminaries and why the number of church clergy will come close to disappearing in 10-20 years.

    The former teenage seminarian, a clueless innocent, was sexually assaulted by a church presbyter in Denver, Colorado’s St. John Vianney seminary. The assaults went on for four years. When Szutenbach tried to stop the assaults, the presbyter threatened to commit suicide. This is a story that has been heard before. Similar charges were made against Theodore McCarrick, of Washington, D.C. After he had tired of assaulting children, he went on to assaulting seminarians in their late teens.

    The name of the presbyter involved was revealed by an investigative reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kent Drotar was actually the Vice Rector of the Seminary. The reporter further revealed that even though the Denver Archdiocese found the seminarian’s charges credible and took his teaching credential away, he was allowed to continue to pander in other positions in the Archdiocese. In fact, the Archdiocese posted the sex criminal at a church school. It never attempted to remove him from the presbyterate.

    The Archbishop in charge at the time, Charlie Chaput, was then being lauded by as being “conservative.” It has become clear since then that “conservatism,” like permitting an occasional New Latin Mess, is used as a cover by bishops who suborn paedophilia and ephebophilia. Chaput was not fired, but promoted, by Benedict-Ratzinger, to the Archbishopric of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he pontificates to this day.

    -On January 7, 2019, the Washington Post revealed that an Opus Dei “celebrity” presbyter sexually assaulted a woman, who was secretly paid 1,000,000 USD to keep quiet. Presbyter John McCloskey preyed on the woman, who was receiving “spiritual direction” from the presbyter because of marital troubles and spiritual depression. McCloskey attacked her on numerous occasions. Two other women’s accusations of sex crimes by the presbyter are currently being investigated.

    -On January 4, 2019, sex-crime accusations against a favorite bishop of Francis-Bergoglio, Gustavo Zanchetta, became public. The revelation rocked an already tottering Bergoglio regime, as it was Bergoglio himself who placed the Zanchetta in a top position after he had abruptly quit his post in 2017 as bishop of Oran, Argentina, because, it is now known, Zanchetta had been involved in sex crimes against young seminarians there.

    -The Survivors Network of Those Abused by [Presbyters] reports that since the issuance of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report in August 2018, which exposed hundreds of paedophile cardinals, bishops, and presbyters, at least 18 girls have contacted the organization to report sex crimes against them by paedophile church “nuns.” One girl victim of a lesbian “nun” reported that the church has canon lawyers on retainer to silence child victims of Newclergy sex crimes: “They had canon lawyers on retainer just for people like me. Shut her up, pacify her, tell her you love her, and you’ll pray for her, and send her on her way.”

    – On December 27, 2018, three members of Francis-Bergoglio’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors have complained that the Commission is a fraud, as Bergoglio never attends meetings. Bergoglio indicates thereby that that is not interested in his church’s Great Sex & Embezzlement Holocaust, in which tens of thousands of children have been raped, sodomized, and otherwise sexually assaulted by presbyters, bishops, and cardinals. He set up the Child Protection Commission as a propaganda stunt just to turn aside vehement accusations that he is an accomplice to the paedophilia crimes.

    Francis-Bergoglio “never came to one of our meetings,” said one of the former members of the commission, from which she resigned in frustration. “I think at this point the pontifical commission seems to have completely lost its way.” In the four years since its inception in March 2014, Bergoglio dragged his feet on giving the commission its bylaws and appointing all its members. Only a glitzy web site has been rolled out for propaganda purposes. The members now want the commission independent of Bergoglio.

    – A Wall Street Journal investigative report revealed on December 21, 2018, that while Francis-Bergoglio lies to the world about his “zero-tolerance” policy against his presbyters and bishops who commit sex crimes against children, he in fact established in 2015 a secret panel that has been reducing penalties against such criminals. This secret “appeals” panel has been operating within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and has sharply reduced or even eliminated penalties against one-third of Bergoglio’s paedophile clergy.

    Before Francis-Bergoglio implemented his secret leniency policy, it took the full body of the Congregation to reduce a penalty. Now it takes only a minority eight members of the “appeals” panel to reduce or eliminate penalties for sex crimes. The panel has even reinstated some of Bergoglio’s clergy that have been convicted.

    – In a December 19, 2018, report, the State of Illinois Attorney General, Liza Madigan, accused Chicago cardinal-archbishop Blase Cupich, a bosom buddy of Francis-Bergoglio, and his associates of covering up 500 sex crimes against children by church presbyters. The Attorney General charged that Cupich failed to enforce even the U.S. bishops’ own Dallas Charter, which claims to implement a “zero-tolerance” policy for such crimes.

    The Attorney General initiated an investigation in August 2018 into sex crimes by Illinois presbyters against children in the state’s six church dioceses. She also found that the bishops of Illinois failed to assist the child victims, failed to follow the church’s “zero-tolerance” policy, and failed to report crimes and their scope. Even when crimes were reported to the cardinal and his associates, no action was taken.

    The truth will set you free.

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