Lintner on the Vatican Veto: My case shows an institutional problem

Moral theologian Martin M. Lintner, in his first statement after the Vatican vetoed his election as rector of the Philosophical Theological University (PTH) Brixen, sees his case as an example of an institutional problem. The reactions of the past days made it clear to him that “anger and helplessness permeate here from many colleagues who have faced similar problems and obstacles in the course of their academic work”, Lintner wrote in a statement posted Monday on the university’s website. These problems were kept an open secret for decades, and meant stress and injuries for those affected “to the point that professional careers were permanently damaged”. Fearing to lose their reputation and suspected of lacking in the Church, many keep silent.

Lintner continued that the Vatican’s decision caused misunderstanding and anger among many believers. “It raises doubts about the success of the complex.” It hurts him when others encourage a critical attitude towards the Church. “Anyone who knows me knows of my sense of belonging to the Church and of my critical, constructive devotion to the Church’s Magisterium.”

Lintner notes that during his tenure as president of the European Association for Catholic Theology and the International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology he “met many such fates”. In formal and informal conversations with the Vatican authorities, he got the impression that the Doctors were aware of the problem and recognized the need to review procedures and implement procedures transparently and fairly. “I hope and hope that my case will contribute to building a constructive relationship of trust and dialogue between the teaching profession and academic theology, between doctors and theological societies, colleges and universities,” says the moral theologian. This corresponds to the synodal spirit to which Pope Francis wants to lead the Church.

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No ‘nerve-wracking procedure’

Lintner expressly thanked the Bishop of Posen-Brixen, Ivo Moser, who granted his request not to file an appeal against the Vatican’s decision. “It is important to me not to subject my university or myself to a potentially prolonged and nerve-wracking process.” Regarding the wave of statements of solidarity that reached him in the past days, Lintner said that it was good for him because the Vatican’s decision surprised him and affected him as well. “Encouragement from a variety of camps underscores my efforts as a theologian to also serve as a bridge between church and society and to pursue a theology that is relevant to life and sensitive to suffering and is important to people in their concrete life situations and challenges.”

And the university announced last Monday that Lintner, who was elected dean by University College, had not been allowed to take the position due to a veto by the Vatican Department of Education. The reason is Lintner’s publications on Catholic sexual morality. Several theological societies, including the European Society for Catholic Theology, protested this decision and expressed solidarity with Lintner. It was also supported by the Faculty of Professors at PTH Brixen.

South Tyrol’s Martin Lintner has been full professor of moral and spiritual theology at PTH Brixen since 2011. The priest is a member of the Order of Service. From 2011 to 2015 he was Vice-President and President of the European Association for Catholic Theology, from 2014 to 2017 President of the International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology, from 2017 to 2021 President of the International Society for Moral Theology and Social Ethics. In his research, he deals not only with sexual ethics, but also with animal ethics. (times)

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