Friday, June 7, 2019

Gänswein Speaks on Alpha and the Omega of Human Dignity and the Catholic Foundations of Modern Law (I)

Edit: looks like a citation which I found on Canon212 from is not looking at the context of the entire speech. I just went through it today in its first part.

KARLSRUHE, 05 June, 2019 / 8:59 PM (CNA Deutsch) .-
The Federal Republic of Germany, too, as a state and society needs the Catholic answer to the question of the dignity of man: this has been postulated by Archbishop Georg Gänswein.

The prefect of the papal house and private secretary of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. In yesterday's lecture on the annual reception in the foyer "Church and Law,” called on Christians to "take up a stronger and courageous position again.” At stake is nothing less than a right understanding of human dignity as the likeness of God, emphasized Gänswein.

Ultimately, as an image of God, man is not identifiable over "accidental" questions such as his sexual orientation or his profession, the archbishop emphasized: questions that the Federal Constitutional Court has been concerned with recently, such as homosexual marriage.

"The homosexual partners are - whether claiming marriage, or no marriage - old, and are about to take the last step of their lives - and sexual orientation no longer matters - being a nurse or being homosexual is accidental, it is not essential to being human. All homosexuals, divorced people, atheists and so on will at once stand before God and before his judgment,” said Gänswein.

In view of the 70th anniversary of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Archbishop underlined that the Basic Law was "open to the natural law of its origin, which the Creator has imprinted on his creature and on his creation".

This must be done today - with Pope Benedict XVI. and his speech in the Bundestag in 2011 - to be reminded again urgently, said Gänswein on 4 June 2019 at the annual reception of the foyer "Church and Law".

"What is needed in a society where relativism and the rejection of religious truths are a good thing is a contribution to a different truth, to a different perspective, to an alternative concept of the nature of man."

CNA Deutsch EXCLUSIVELY documents the full text of the speech with friendly permission in two parts. Here is the first part:

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

This place and this hour invite in a special way, not always to find new topics, but rather to reflect in patient dialogue and in ever new variations about what holds our community together in its innermost. An approximate sketch of the reflections, which I would now like to present to you, I had almost spontaneously in my mind when I pledged, which Archbishop Stephan Burger, the bishop of my home town, had wrested from me about half a year ago.

After looking at the contributions of the previous speakers, I can now feel confirmed, starting with the profound comments of Cardinal Lehmann's "On the opposing-peaceful relationship between church and state today,” with which he addressed the series of the Karlsruhe Foyer "Church and Law" on 19 June 2007, to the lecture last year by Professor Peter Dabrock, the President of the German Ethics Council, on the topic: "The dignity of man is granularizable, does the basis of our community have to be rethought?"

Thus, as a German and a Catholic priest, who works at the Roman Curia, I can not avoid the concept of human dignity. For in this concept, which consists of two words, religion and law, which so to speak, give the kiss of peace. And how could I pass over this most wondrous concept of our German constitution in the year in which the Constitutional Law celebrates its 70th birthday.

It did not shock me then that last year it said: "The dignity of man is granularizable", when Professor Dabrock sharpened his brilliant analysis with the aforementioned expression of the Ssociologist Christoph Kucklick at this point! Literally this means that the dignity of man is not only palpable, it can de facto also crumble between our fingers into granules like a friable piece of dry earth. Why is that not shocking me? Well, from history we know that the human body is virtually pulverizable, as the world had to exemplify 80 years ago in the extermination camps of the Nazis and the gulags of the Soviets and their battlefields - up to the nuclear flashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After all, we all learn that at some point the human body will crumble to dust even after the most beautiful, peaceful, and happy life. We learn it from our relatives, friends, and ourselves. "Remember, man, that you are dust, and you will return to the dust again" (Gen 3:19). This is the annual reminder of Ash Wednesday, in which the liturgy of the Church reminds us of our earthly end. This reminder is an invitation to pause and meditate.

The human disintegrates. He becomes earth or ashes. His body is pulverizable. Is that his dignity? - What is human dignity? Our Basic Law seems to begin with a pious wish, a sentence that can only be understood aesthetically, and, strictly speaking, with a false statement: "The dignity of man is inviolable." What does this sentence mean? What follows from him? And what if the dignity is touched? And what do you do as a lawyer under these circumstances?

I do not want to give you a legal or legal history lecture - which you certainly will not be sorry at me for - but let me get straight to the heart of the matter.

I am a priest, bishop of the Catholic Church. We have the ius divinum and the jus mere ecclesiasticum, divine and purely ecclesiastical law, which is why my supreme legislator would, so to speak, "make hell with me" if I now tell you something different from what is covered by natural law and revelation. The lawyers, judges, canonists and civil servants present represent the state of the Federal Republic of Germany. Perhaps your chief employer gives you a little less Hell if you should tell me something different in this dialogue than state raison d'etat and state doctrine of the Federal Republic - but for sure public opinion would set a fire beneath you all the more effectively. But since we are, so to speak, among ourselves, let us now look at whether and how we come together in the concept of human dignity.

The Catholic answer to the question of the dignity of man is this: human dignity is not that man has a leg or a brain. Man does not earn his dignity. Therefore he can not lose it. It is given to every single human being before the beginning of creation, and lies in the will of God to create man in his image, in the image of God. This dignity is therefore given to all people and their own, no matter where they come from, what language they speak, which skin color they have, whether they are politically uninterested or particularly radical, whether law-abiding or lawbreaker. It is - although we all know it, be it at this point once again explicitly stressed - of course, also to all non-Christians. All human beings are created in the image of God.

The dignity of man does not depend on what he does, what he thinks or says, but on what he is. So what is the human? What does it mean that he is the image of God?

I found a particularly beautiful answer in Chartres years ago, when unknown sculptors staged Genesis' Biblical account of the creation of the world with a semicircle of sculptures over the cathedral’s 13th century north portal, in which we speak of the fifth day of creation - in the moment when he has just created the birds and when he looks lovingly at them, how they flee from his gaze and fly freely into the sky! - for the first time falls the idea: "Let us make human beings in our image, similar to us (Gen 1:26)". At the very sight of the freedom of the birds, God therefore falls for the thought of creating man as a coronation of creation, as a free being, even like himself. God looks like his son, like Jesus, who, just at the moment of this idea, with his first idea and conception of man, the young Adam - as thought, but bodily - looks over the right shoulder, like him with a twin his features, but without a beard.

The location of this representation at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres also shows that this image of humanity is a special good that does not simply come from nature and has grown on trees. And so it is with human dignity. It is a cultural asset. It originates in a genuine way from our culture; it does not come from China or Japan, not from India, not even from the "House of Islam". It comes solely from our history, and especially from the self-revelation of God, as it has come down to us in the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity.

It is therefore not surprising that in recent years, especially in Germany, the realization has prevailed - in statements of such sober thinkers such as Jürgen Habermas and Ludger Honnefelder - that especially against the background of Judaeo-Christian tradition, the divine image of man became the matrix of the notion of "human dignity,” where the beautiful word received not only constitutional rank, but where has occupied the central place of the new German Constitutional Law since May 8, 1949, where in the very first sentence of the first article is says laconically: "The dignity of People is untouchable. "

The sentence has become, so to speak, the soul of our constitution, which the legislative elite of the new Federal Republic rediscovered only four years after the end of World War II and the incredible catastrophe of the Germans under the National Socialists, thank God. That was not accidental. After all, it was also an unprecedented break with civilization by the arbitrary legislation that Europe experienced and suffered under the Nazis in Germany. 70 years ago Germany returned to the civilization of Europe and its Jewish-Christian heritage with this step and phrase. It was a stroke of luck, almost a miracle. And it was a homecoming.

And here we come with our brief reflection in the core of that point, the state  and constitutional law judge Ernst Wolfgang Böckenförde spoke out in 1964 in his famous and often cited dictum: "The liberal secular state lives on in conditions that it itself can not gaurantee. That is the great venture it has made for the sake of freedom.”

If, therefore, the state can not guarantee the necessary, life-giving conditions, others are called upon to guarantee and protect them as well as possible, or at least to remind them of them again and again. But in this country, that can not be first the parliaments and other chambers of the sovereign people. This is primarily a matter for churches and synagogues, especially in a radically pluralistic world. This is what Pope Benedict XVI did on September 22, 2011, when he stated in front of the German parliament in the Berlin Reichstag: "The idea of ​​human rights, the idea of ​​the equality of all people before the law, the recognition of the inviolability of human dignity in each of them is based on the conviction of a creator God. This knowledge of reason is our cultural memory, ignoring it or seeing it as a mere past would be an amputation of our culture as a whole and deprive it of its wholeness. "

I return to the initial question: is the dignity of man pulverizable, as the body of man? The answer is absolutely clear: no. Man, as an image of God, is not a collection of matter produced according to a certain pattern, or a clumped pile of cells that works for a certain lifetime, and then nothing more. As an image of God, man is called to seek and recognize with his soul his archetype, the true and eternal God, beyond his death - even if his body has already fallen apart and no longer exists. His dignity lies in his freedom to seek God and to know God, no matter where and how the individual is at the moment, which material constraints press him or which bodily afflictions hinder and burden him. His soul is created freely and it remains for all eternity.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope that you can largely agree with me here and that neither you nor I will have problems with our respective employers because of this agreement.

For where you could agree with me in my previous reflection on human dignity, it shows how close Catholic moral teachings and convictions of the constitutional legislator once must have been. Of course, they were never identical. But the Basic Law is open from its origin to the natural law which the Creator has imprinted in his creature and in his creation. This is clearly demonstrated by the concept of human dignity. Is this still the case today in the general public, in the everyday life of the Federal Republic? Is the drawn view suitable for everyday use?

Of course, it can not be overlooked that you, ladies and gentlemen, in the distinguished forum of the Constitutional Court, with your case-law, are something of a legal navigator for the whole of Germany, which has undergone remarkable developments in recent years. For example, they have opened the door to same-sex partnerships between men or women, calling their marriage a "marriage," and with regard to the case-law relating to church labor law, the ladies and gentlemen of the Federal Labor Court have gained a lot of power.

I deceive myself by saying that the jurisprudence in Germany is almost always and everywhere hailed when it makes decisions that minimizes, eliminates or rejects consideration for Christian values ​​and Christian moral concepts. And I can understand that very well.

In the immediate material concerns of a civilian divorced and remarried nurse, it may be important to continue to practice the profession. For two men or two women who love each other physically, it may be a great relief for society to create more comfortable living conditions. There is almost preprogrammed the jubilation for the legislation and jurisdiction that introduces such changes, and also the vilification for the Church, which does not come to this jubilation, even blocks it.

Do Church and state in Germany perhaps no longer speak of the same concept, if they invoke the dignity of man? Are Church and state now on different sides, separated by a deep ditch? At best, we have the same point of view, but we are looking in opposite directions. The Church does not want and must not only satisfy the material needs of man. It is not just Caritas, even though these and many other outstanding Catholic social and health care institutions naturally belong to the Church. The Church as a whole, however, is responsible for more, first and last, for the souls and their peace with themselves and God. The material concerns, on the other hand, are relative and constantly changing. The nurse just mentioned is no longer a nurse but a human in her spare time, in her retirement. The gay partners are - marriage, or not marriage - also old and are about to take the last step of their lives - and then sexual orientation no longer matters. Being a nurse or being homosexual is accidental, it does not really matter to being human. All homosexuals, divorcees, atheists and so on will once stand before God and before His judgment.

In the Last Judgment, it depends on their humanity, not on accidents such as sexual orientation, duration of a partnership, world view et cetera. The legislation and jurisprudence I have just targeted in Germany, however, is only concerned - may I once pronounce this in front of you so unguarded? - with these accidents, which of course require a necessary regulation in order to maintain the common good.

Let me continue to make it clear that the Federal Republic is on its way through history, seventy years after its foundation, to say goodbye to the priming of its original Christian-humanistic world view and of natural law. At this fork in the cross, Church and state are now going their own separate ways. It is a crossroads. That's what the Catholic Church understood. The fact that she can not help but cling to natural law and her Christian view of man is obvious. We can not and will not pass over the differences nicely. But perhaps I should now put my finger in this wound and introduce an alternative, natural law-based conception of jurisprudence and law creation from the Catholic side to once again to promote understanding and to open eyes, ears, heart and mind for classical Catholic positions,  but also in the foundations of the modern and prosperous Federal Republic, which, after the apocalyptic years of the "Third Reich" and the wars instigated by Hitler and his extermination campaign against the Jewish people, experienced a legal peace unprecedented in the history of Europe?

Nobody can close their eyes to this reconciliation. Who could have known this miracle 80 or 70 years ago? And I could almost conceive it as a small miracle that you have invited me as a member of that profession, whose reputation has recently come so terribly under the wheels, to take the floor today at this point. For this reason, allow me, in the following, not so much as a canonist, but above all as a Catholic priest, to address the word to you, who also had the undeserved fortune of being allowed to stand next to Pope Benedict at the altar in the last few years. And so I would like to ask you now to allow me to remind you of his epochal speech to the German Bundestag in September 2011 again, a longer passage in the wording:

"In a majority of legal matters, the majority may be a sufficient criterion, but that in the basic questions of law, which is about the dignity of man and humanity, the majority principle is not sufficient, it is obvious: Every person responsible must look for the criteria of his or her orientation in understanding the law ...

This conviction was what motivated resistance movements to act against the Nazi regime and other totalitarian regimes, thereby doing a great service to justice and to humanity as a whole. For these people, it was indisputably evident that the law in force was actually unlawful. Yet when it comes to the decisions of a democratic politician, the question of what now corresponds to the law of truth, what is actually right and may be enacted as law, is less obvious. In terms of the underlying anthropological issues, what is right and may be given the force of law is in no way simply self-evident today. The question of how to recognize what is truly right and thus to serve justice when framing laws has never been simple, and today in view of the vast extent of our knowledge and our capacity, it has become still harder.

How do we recognize what is right? In history, systems of law have almost always been based on religion: decisions regarding what was to be lawful among men were taken with reference to the divinity. Unlike other great religions, Christianity has never proposed a revealed law to the State and to society, that is to say a juridical order derived from revelation. Instead, it has pointed to nature and reason as the true sources of law – and to the harmony of objective and subjective reason, which naturally presupposes that both spheres are rooted in the creative reason of God.

Through this encounter, the juridical culture of the West was born, which was and is of key significance for the juridical culture of mankind. This pre-Christian marriage between law and philosophy opened up the path that led via the Christian Middle Ages and the juridical developments of the Age of Enlightenment all the way to the Declaration of Human Rights and to our German Basic Law of 1949, with which our nation committed itself to “inviolable and inalienable human rights as the foundation of every human community, and of peace and justice in the world”.

How do you recognize what is right? In history, legal systems have almost always been religiously founded: the view of the deity determines what is right among people. Unlike other great religions, Christianity has never given the state and society a right of revelation, nor a legal system of revelation. Instead, it referred to nature and reason as the true sources of law - to the harmony of objective and subjective reason, which of course presupposes the foundation of both spheres in the creative reason of God ...

For the development of law and for the development of humanity, it was highly significant that Christian theologians aligned themselves against the religious law associated with polytheism and on the side of philosophy, and that they acknowledged reason and nature in their interrelation as the universally valid source of law. This step had already been taken by Saint Paul in the Letter to the Romans, when he said: “When Gentiles who have not the Law [the Torah of Israel] do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves ... they show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness ...” (Rom 2:14f.). Here we see the two fundamental concepts of nature and conscience, where conscience is nothing other than Solomon’s listening heart, reason that is open to the language of being. If this seemed to offer a clear explanation of the foundations of legislation up to the time of the Enlightenment, up to the time of the Declaration on Human Rights after the Second World War and the framing of our Basic Law, there has been a dramatic shift in the situation in the last half-century. The idea of natural law is today viewed as a specifically Catholic doctrine, not worth bringing into the discussion in a non-Catholic environment, so that one feels almost ashamed even to mention the term”

After reading these words you will understand why I have so extensively quoted Benedict XVI. It is also an appeal to Christians in our society to return to a stronger and more courageous position.

We have seen that legislation and jurisprudence, pushed by a passing materialistic mainstream in public opinion, deal primarily with the accidental problems of being human. But we need to stick to the essence, and we hope in this way to be helpful as Christians to our homeland, in which we only speak with the majority, if it is the truth, and otherwise confess the truth in contradiction. Because that covers our constitution, in which one should feel comfortable as a Catholic and as an atheist. What is needed in a society where relativism and the rejection of religious truths are a good thing is a contribution to another truth, to a different perspective, to an alternative concept of the nature of man. The Church has always offered that over the centuries.

The continuation of the lecture can be read later.

Trans: Tancred


  1. Human Dignity can only be determined "This is primarily a matter for churches and synagogues, especially in a radically pluralistic world."
    False statement, a different faith presumes a different understanding of God, and His Law and Dignity of Creation. Whole some religions such as Modern Reform Judiasm teach one thing about abortion and divorce, and homosexuality, other Protestants also teach that, and Mormons and Muslims teach polygamy. Orthodix Judiasm teaches abortion if the "woman's health" is in danger, and teach that one is not with a human soul if not Jewish. Some Protestants accept assisted suicide. Others do not. Most religions teach that women's and racial dignity comes from struggle and resistance. So only The Faith-the Catholic Faith holds a complete understanding and defence (FREE OF FRANCIS) of true human dignity.

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  3. His emphasis on Judeo-Christian Civilization was especially disappointing.

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    1. This might have been a popular boomer response to attack Christians being critical of the Pharisees, but everybody who has read the Bible and is conversant about western literature (e.g., Golem of Prague or Merchant of Venice) knows what the Synagogue of Satan is. Every cheap progressivist from AmChurch repeats this drivel, which is why I delete your contributions, because they add nothing to the discussion.