CV NEWS FEED // A day after an Italian seminary announced its new dean, the Vatican vetoed the appointment, citing the appointee’s views on sexual morality, which are contrary to Church teaching.
On June 26, the Philosophical-Theological College in Bressanone in northern Italy appointed Father Martin M. Lintner, OSM, to serve as its next dean from September 1, 2023, through August 31, 2025. Father Lintner currently serves on the faculty as a professor of moral and spiritual theology.
CNA Deutsch reported that the Dicastery for Culture and Education, the Vatican department responsible for such appointments, informed the local bishop that it would not be approving the appointment a day after the initial announcement.
Lintner will retain his position as a theology professor at the seminary despite his controversial theological views.
The Dicastery for Culture and Education said that “the Vatican’s decision is specific to his appointment as dean and does not influence his teaching duties or ecclesiastical authority.”
The Dicastery pointed to Lintner’s problematic published works, many of which contradict the Church’s teaching on sexual morality and marriage. The Church teaches that for a marriage to be valid, the relationship must be open to life and must be between a man and a woman. It calls homosexual activity “intrinsically disordered” and prohibits the blessing of sinful behavior.
Lintner published an article entitled “Theologian Suggests Papal Civil Union Support May Lead to Church Blessings”. In it, he writes that “A homosexual relationship does not lose its dignity due to the lack of fertility.”
Lintner also authored a chapter on theological-ethical reflections on a blessing ceremony for same-sex couples in a book titled “The Benediction of Same-Sex Partnerships.”
In 2021, the Vatican’s doctrinal office confirmed that the Church cannot bless same-sex relationships under any circumstance.
“Consequently, in order to conform with the nature of sacramentals, when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation and fully revealed by Christ the Lord,” wrote the doctrinal office in 2021.
Lintner’s article was published on the website for New Ways Ministry, which has had a contentious relationship with Church authority since its founding in 1977 by Rev. Robert Nugent and Sister Jeannine Gramick. The pair, who the Washington Post once called “the most prominent gay rights activists in the Catholic Church”, traveled the country teaching their “erroneous and dangerous” views on homosexuality. On multiple occasions, the Vatican as well as Cardinal James Hickey, former Archbishop of Washington, warned the pair to stop opposing Church teaching. In 1999, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the late Pope Benedict XVI), head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (now the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith), with the permission of Pope St. John Paul II, issued a a rare public ruling that permanently prohibited Nugent and Gramick from pastoral ministry with homosexuals. Defiantly, Gramick is still the chair of the board for New Ways.
“New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church, and they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States,” said then-USCCB president Cardinal Francis George in a 2010 letter.
Until the seminary votes on a new choice, the current dean will serve in the role. The Philosophical-Theological College in Bressanone offers philosophy and theology degrees to seminarians, deacons in formation, pastoral assistants, and theology teachers.