Cardinal Müller against hypocritical Papal devotion

Dismissed Chief of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Cardinal Müller steps out

Cardinal Müller makes his displeasure known: in Rome there is a "hypocritical Papal devotion" and "courtly behavior". He also has a clear opinion on abuse.

For five years, the former Regensburg Bishop, Gerhard Ludwig Müller was the Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As his five-year fixed term was drawing to a close, the Pope dismissed him from his service at the beginning of July.  The reason was not explained by the Vatican. However, political and theological differences between Francis and the conservative Müller are the main reason.

Müller had criticized the Pope in various respects, for instance, in the context of the post-synodal papal letter, "Amoris Laetitia," in which the Pope makes the communion possible for remarried and divorced persons under certain conditions.

Müller pretends not to know the reasons for the non-prolongation of his term. But what the decision meant, "everyone can imagine", he has said now in an interview with the news agency, dpa.  He was received by Pope Benedict XVI. Only to Rome for this office. "You can usually expect that it will last until the age of 75.  But it has now been decreed differently." For me, the world does not collapse, and I can continue to do much for the Church. "

It was true that tensions between himself and Francis had been "talked about by interested parties". "The Pope has always assured me, however, that he does not believe these rumours and trusts me fully."

Criticism of the Pontifex nevertheless, Müller considers to be constructive. Many people maintain a "hypocritical papal devotion" according to the rationale: "The Holy Father has an idea, and we follow this unconditionally and all are full of admiration." But the Pope, according to Müller, is also only a man: "That means that not everything he does and says is, from the outset, already perfect and unsurpassable."

Every Catholic, especially every bishop and every cardinal, had a positive and constructive relationship with the Pope, according to the Cardinal. "But that is completely different from courtly behaviour and subterranean machination, against which Pope Francis always spoke."

Among the faithful, he wished for less of a Pope cult. "There should not be a person-cult and a touch-the-Pope tourism, which is a bit dangerous in the age of the mass media, so that people now cheer only the Pope, or that one goes to Rome for sensational pleasure.  And then to be able to say, I have seen the Pope in the first row, very close to him. "

"Priest a priori suspected of abuse"
During his time as Bishop of Regensburg (2002 to 2012), the cardinal was supposed to have delayed the investigation of the abuse scandal at the Domspatzen (the Cathedral Choir). He has always denied this. With the publication of the final report on the scandal, allegations were again voiced which the Cardinal apparently interprets as a general attack on the Catholic Church. "It is obvious that the Catholic Church is tackled on this subject more harshly and that priests are suspected a priori," said the 69-year-old in Rome.

"There are clergymen- let it be lamented before God- that they have committed such crimes, but that is why one cannot collectively suspect the others just because they are also priests." The percentage is even less with regard to the total number of clergy in the world than in the case of comparable pedagogical professional groups - which of course does not in any way excuse the offense and nor alleviates the suffering of the victims, " he said.

Müller refers to a study of the forensic psychiatrist, Norbert Leygraf from the University of Duisburg commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference. According to this, paedophilia was diagnosed only in nine out of a total of 78 priests who had been examined for accusations.  The proportion of priests with a sexual preference disorder in the entire priesthood is not significantly different to the proportion of those affected by it in the German general population. However, the question of whether or not sexual assaults by Catholic clergy have occurred disproportionately frequently cannot be answered "either by means of extensive US studies or by the present study," wrote the authors in 2012.

Cardinal Müller has been repeatedly criticised for his unhappy dealings with the misuse of abuse, including the lack of dialogue. "Some people think they write a letter and get an answer with the verdict of a defendant," he said. "This is simply not possible, because the process has a structure and must be carried out according to objective criteria."

In addition to his responsibilities as a Regensburg bishop, Müller was, as the Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, responsible for the investigation of abuse worldwide. He defends himself against the accusation that he, as prefect in Rome, also hindered the processing of such cases. "It is simply not true that we have been negligent in the prosecution of such crimes, or that due to a lack of workforce," he says. "The exact opposite is the case." The Congregation has always represented the zero-tolerance line despite some attempts to interfere from outside.

There are great prejudices against Catholic clergy regarding celibacy, according to Müller. "It is considered, when someone is voluntarily living in continence, he has to get rid of his feelings somewhere.  Even if that were true, a normal person would look for a relationship with a woman rather than a child."