Head of CDF calls SSPX stupid and claims God is the greatest liberal.

Quoting roughly St Thomas Aquinas (see below).

Relaxed and at ease, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller returns a week after his appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the Diocese of Regensburg. A series of interviews for journalists are on the agenda for Friday: liberation theology, the SSPX and the situation of divorced and remarried. Minefields for an ecclesiastic, who has moved to third place in the Vatican's ecclesiastical pecking order.

Archbishop Mueller, first of all, congratulations on the new job. Since when did you know about your appointment?

I definitely knew it on 16 May, when the Holy Father has summoned me to his presence.

Did your commitment to the liberation theology endanger your appointment?

I do not know. If you know the Catholic faith, we know that to her essentially belong the social obligation, the responsibility for the world, the love of the poor. Liberation theology is a big word - but every Christian theology has something to do with the freedom of man. Also in South America in this context, it is about theological questions: Given the misery and indignity that many people around us can not imagine, given this glaring injustice, we can not simply go away with a pious raising of eyebrows about it. Faith and doing good go together. These are the two sides of a coin.

Are you then in agreement with the Pope?

Total agreement . Not even when he was my predecessor's predecessor in the CDF did he put liberation theology in its entirety in question, but some aspects which I fully underline. Liberation theology is not a loose mix of communism and the Catholic faith. Theology, if it is to be Catholic, you must find out an answer from his own sources. The social teaching of the Catholic Church has proven to be far superior to the Marxist analysis. We do not want a society that is divided into rich and poor, and in which one has access to education, and not the other. Workers and employers must not act against each other as pure interest groups, but they must all be committed to the common good. Even against the rampant commercialization of all aspects of life we must be critical: the economy is there for people, not vice versa.

You have been declared, in respect of such words, to be among the liberals. Did that surprise you?

Oh well. Saint Thomas Aquinas says, "Deus maxime liberalis est - God is the Greatest Liberal". (Cathcon- normally translated as “God therefore is in the highest degree liberal” to ensure that there is no conflation of the ideas of liberality with the practice of liberalism in any sense). In the original sense is liberalis is liberally and generously. " In this sense, I love being a liberal.

(Cathcon- one waits for years for the Head of the CDF to quote St Thomas and he is now used in such a poor way)

You have always been very critical of the SSPX. Now, you are responsible as Prefect for the return of the fallen-away Society into the bosom of the Church. How difficult is it? 

The negotiations of the Vatican with the SSPX brothers are friendly, Christian and humane, but clearly in formation. Who wants to become Catholic again must recognise the authority of the Pope and the bishops (Cathcon- the SSPX certainly think they both are Catholic and recognise the authority of the Pope. Big misunderstanding from Mueller which is at variance with various Vatican statements of recent years). No one should think that they can impose his own ideas of the Catholic Church. The talks in Rome are not negotiations between two parties. No religious fraternity may impose conditions of the church. 

 The negotiations between the SSPX with the Vatican have been going on since January 2009. How much more time is needed.

Eventually, the "point of no return" is coming and they must decide: Do they wish for the unity of the Church? This includes the acceptance of the form and content of the Second Vatican Council, and the previous and subsequent statements and decisions of the Magisterium. There is no other way. (Cathcon- he seems to be deliberately tearing up bridges that have already been built). 

The main criticism of the SSPX is the Second Vatican Council's- the permission for Masses in the local language instead of Latin. Is there any leeway? 

What can be granted, is that which actually belongs to the diversity of the Catholic faith and life. The liturgical reform of Vatican II was factually correct and necessary. One cannot issue polemic against it just because there are abuses.

The SSPX have just designated you again as a heretic, that is, as one who has fallen from the faith.
(see for background SSPX calls on new head of CDF to retract heretical views)

I must not give an answer to every stupidity. (Cathcon- image what the response had been if the SSPX had issued a press release calling the Archbishop dumb.  Mutual respect is needed for dialogue, as the Vatican is only too quick to point out in other ecumenical dialogues).

In Germany, discussed the admission of remarried divorcees to Communion is discussed. What do you think?

The same as the Pope. The lesson is clear: A valid marriage between Christians is indissoluble, and includes the promise of lifelong fidelity. We also need to see the injuries to children of divorced parents. They are deeply shocked when suddenly a parent is away and a strange man or a strange woman sits in the apartment. We therefore need to scrutinize a mentality that sees the promise of marriage and family formation too loosely.

Are there no concessions? 

We also recognize the difficult situation of the spouses in a mixture of guilt, which is not always equally distributed. The parish priest can see in the assessment of the individual situation of reasons how to respond. But the judgement would be wrong: If I cannot go to Communion, I am nothing in the Church. But this is not the whole Catholic faith. The central part of the Mass is the Eucharistic Prayer and the saving mystery of Jesus Christ. We are committed to the celebration of the Mass, but not every time to go to Communion, although the Frequent Communion is desirable and useful. 

 You strengthen the German faction in Rome. What does this mean for the national mix? 

In the CDF, about 15 nations work together. We are the world church, so its a colourful little nation with many languages. The languages do not separate us after Pentecost not but lead us together in the spirit of God. I'm still grateful that God has so ordained it that I grew up into the German language and culture. But of course, this is not to be seen as naive patriotism - or as a rivalry in the sense of who is now better. 

 After your departure a successor is sought as Regensburg Bishop. Passau is also vacant. Will you play an open role or behind the scenes? 

Episcopal appointments are an important matter. There is not a power struggle behind the scenes, in the way that it is often portrayed. When it comes to people, a discreet process is needed. This has nothing to do with secrecy. What qualities does a bishop of Regensburg need? For the Bishops must someone be found to be suitable or be considered fit. Although there can never be the ideal candidate, because we people always go through life as a mixture of ideal and empirical reality. But of course he must be clearly based in Catholic faith and belief and also able to proclaim this. He must have or acquire leadership skills. As a personality he must be able to give little something without getting a cold in every breeze. The bishops office also means conflict. The understandable human desire to be recognized by all as the nice uncle is not the best basis for a good appointment. 

 Do you expect a very long transition period in Regensburg? 

 I hope that it will be decided this year. In August and September are initially holidays, but after that the full procedure goes into action. Are there suitable candidates? They is no lack. One must also pay attention to the 2014 Catholic Congress in Regensburg . There is speculation over the Bishop of Eichstätt, Gregor Maria Hanke, the Augsburg Bishop Anton Losinger, the founding director of the Pope Benedict Institute, Rudolf Voderholzer and the Director of the Shrine of Maria Vesperbild, William Imkamp. 

Who is favorite? 

 I would rather say nothing about names. I am also not the person appointing the new bishop. That happens via the Nuncio in Germany. But of course they will ask me. It is important that continuity is maintained. There are objective guidelines, which were started by my predecessor, Bishop Manfred Müller - whether in the field of schools, the cathedral choir, in the many charitable organizations, or in our activities for the disabled. That cannot be wound back in any way. 

 In the interim, Provost Wilhelm Gegenfurtner is undertaking "the role of the bishop during transition" . Were you surprised by his election by the chapter? 

I think we were all surprised. 

 Finally, personal questions: How did it happen that the pope gave you his old cardinal's apartment in Rome? 

I think there that all were amazed. But the Pope has given it spontaneously, entrusting me the appartment - even the books that are still there, and some other things. These will be made available in accordance with his wishes to our "Benedict Institute" in Regensburg, which is responsible for publishing the works of Joseph Ratzinger. 

 Can he visit you in his old apartment? 

I will ask about that 

 Do you remain despite your move to Rome, a Regensburger? 

I am Bishop Emeritus of Regensburg. In this respect, this is my home Diocese. When I come to Germany, it's my first stop. 

 You're a big football fan and have been sighted many times at the games of the SSV Jahn in Regensburg . 

Are you looking for a new club in Italy – how about the Lazio? 

I am a member of the Curia, but not Bishop of Rome, so I do not have to support the Italian teams. 

When I visit home, I remain faithful to the SSV Jahn. 

 You have been Archbishop for week. 

When will you become a Cardinal? 

Only the Holy Father knows that.

End of interview


Geremia said…
"If I cannot go to Communion, I am nothing in the Church."
So Canon 915, e.g., is useless?
Also, baptism makes us members of the Church.

"The central part of the Mass is the Eucharistic Prayer and the saving mystery of Jesus Christ."
I thought it was the transubstantiation.
Jeffrey Pinyan said…
Alan, I think you took the "If I cannot go..." remark out of the context he put it in:

"But the judgement would be wrong: 'If I cannot go to Communion, I am nothing in the Church.'"

Müller is saying that the judgment (statement) "If I cannot go to Communion, I am nothing in the Church" is wrong. Then he clarifies what he means:

"[T]his is not the whole Catholic faith. [...] We are committed to the celebration of the Mass, but not every time to go to Communion, although the Frequent Communion is desirable and useful."

As for the central part of Mass, transubstantiation does not happen for its own sake, it happens within the context of the Eucharistic Prayer, making present Christ's saving death and resurrection. I don't think it's worth the effort to quibble over that (among all other things).
The poor, poor man. I am glad I offered part of my Holy Communion for him yesterday. In an SSPX chapel of course!

Pray for the demonically disoriented.
Geremia said…
Thanks, Mr. Pinyan, for the clarifications.

I still don't understand when he says "The central part of the Mass is the Eucharistic Prayer". Isn't the prayer only the means whereby Christ becomes really present in body, blood, soul, and divinity? Wouldn't the "Eucharistic Prayer" be central only in a Protestant liturgy, which has no transubstantiation? Thanks
Banshee said…
Re: Aquinas --

Give the man his joke. It was funny. It's the sort of thing Latin teachers usually come out with, so I bet he's not the first one to make the joke, either.

And I think he was actually trying to say that he's not all that liberal, although of course most people who are really really liberal don't realize it. So it's not proof one way or another.

Just make sure you're ready to turn that joke if liberals use it against you.

Re: the Eucharistic Prayer --

We in the West tend to point to the moment of consecration. In the East, they tend to point to the whole schmole of the Eucharistic prayer, because of the Holy Spirit coming down also. (Which we also have.)

Ever since the proclamation that the Assyrian Eucharistic prayer of Addai and Mari is valid, there's been a push from the CDF to remind us Westerners about the whole schmole interpretation, because that way people understand the Eastern and the Assyrian take.

So it sounds a bit weird, but it's always been in the doctrine. It's just been standing around the corner, where it was harder to see.
Banshee said…
Re: Pope Benedict giving the new head of the CDF his old apartment and its books --

Well, obviously Levada didn't get the pope's old apartment. But of course, if somebody lets you have books, even if they're meant to go to a library elsewhere, there's an expectation that you should read some of the books.

However, it also would seem that the Pope is being prudent by disposing of things he's not using before he passes away, to make sure they go where they will be useful and not just be sold on Ebay as collectors' items.
Anonymous said…
We are commanded to attend the Sacrifice and offer ourselves. We are not commanded to individual reception of Communion. Reference : Baltimore Catechism, Council of Trent.
Anonymous said…
I don't think distortion are helpful on either side of the SSPX argument. The ABp's comments do not cause me to fear the future for the SSPX. I think he has a general misunderstanding of the position of the SSPX which should be easily rectified in his new position. I don't think he hijacked Aquinas; I think he illuminated the distinction of "liberal" as to generosity vs. lackadaisical theology positively. I have the impression the ABp will follow the letter of Doctrine as he should.
mostly young said…
Could you please link to the original article? The German one?
The Personalist said…
Many things come to mind after reading this interview--great things! The new prefect sounds like the right man for the job.

I'm sure he will be misunderstood by many, e.g:

"Cathcon- one waits for years for the Head of the CDF to quote St Thomas and he is now used in such a poor way"

I find this statment quite interesting. In regards to being liberal, the good prefect said: "In the original sense is liberalis is liberally and generously. " In this sense, I love being a liberal."

Bishop Mueller is only expressing his vast understanding of the meaning of being truly liberal. Unfortunately, many people tend to equate liberal with immoral, as if liberal and immoral always come in the same package.

Rather, it sounds like the new prefect is actually expressing his deep understanding of human freedom, and freedom is only experienced when we choose the real good and give ourselves generously to God.

This is something I think we can take from his example. Let's put the stones down and be liberal and generous with our prayers for him, as well.