Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bishop demands oath of fidelity from three dissident theologians

Professors should apologize to the Pope from the Sueddeutsche Zeitung

The Regensburg bishop Mueller requires an oath of fidelity from the three theologians who signed a petition for the Second Vatican Council .

The Regensburg Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller threatens three professors of the theological faculty in Regensburg with sanctions because they have signed up to a petition for the Second Vatican Council. He accuses them, with their consent to the Petition Vaticanum 2 to have insulted the Pope. The professors had thereby "disqualified themselves" as Catholic theologians. Mueller has given the professors an ultimatum to distance themselves from the Declaration and to apologise to Pope Benedict XVI

The petition to maintain the council decisions was drafted by the retired Heidelberg theology professor Norbert Scholl in response to the lifting of the excommunication of the four SSPX bishops at the end of January. "We Are Church" suppported the petition, which had a nationwideresonance. Among the signatories - allegedly running to several tens of thousands –demanding the "full recognition of the decisions of the Second Vatican Council" are Regensburg pastoral theologian Heinz-Günther Schöttler, religious studies lecturer Burkard Porzelt and canon lawyer Sabine Demel.

Mueller has asked all three in a letter dated 9 February to respond within two weeks by dissociating themselves from the petition. Müller let it be known that he will forward an apology from the Professors to the Pope. As a sign of “recognition of the ecclesiastical Magisterium ", they should appear before him and make confession of faith and take an oath of fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Otherwise, Müller threatens "further action", which means the withdrawal of their license to teach.

The Regensburg bishop took exception primarily to the passage in the petition, which states: "The undersigned consider it a clear sign that Pope Benedict XVI undertook this repeal (of the excommunication, editor's note.) so near in time to the symbolic 50th anniversary of the announcement of the convening of a Vatican Council by Pope John XXIII. This backward turn can give rise to the fear of return of parts of the Roman Catholic Church to an anti-modernist enclave. Through this backward part, parts of the Roman Catholic Church will be allowed- among many others – to reject the open letter and the spirit of the important documents of the Second Vatican Council. " So, as Mueller believes the professors represent the Pope acting to the detriment of the church.
Müller has sent a copy of the letter to the professors to the Prefect of the Congregation of Faith, William Joseph Levada, the Head of the Congregation for Education, Zenon Grocholewski, the Apostolic Nuncio in Germany, Jean-Claude Périsset, the Dean of the Faculty of Regensburg and the Trier Bishop Robert Brahm skillfully. Meanwhile, many German bishops are also aware of the German Bishops’ Letter. It remains to be seen how they will position themselves relative to the approach of their brother in office in Regensburg. This is because not only the three Regensburg professors, but many religious people and theologians have signed the petition.

Several theological faculties also have writen their own, sometimes sharper statements, such as the faculties of Würzburg, Freiburg and Tübingen. Even at the Catholic University in Eichstätt, professors are rebelling against the readmission of the bishops of the SSPX. The spokesman of the Bishops' Conference, Matthias Kopp did not want to comment on Monday on the action of the bishop against the professors, referring to the jurisdiction of the local bishop.
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