Full interview- Cardinal Müller speaks out on Catechism, Amoris Laetitia and the Correctio Filialis, attacks bishops

"Clarify the unclear and do not obscure the clear"

Cardinal Gerhard Müller on over 25 years of the World Catechism and the question of whether "Amoris laetitia" is Thomistic.

Eminence, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is now a quarter-century old. It is always said that the theologians in Germany had at that time been somewhat disdainful and judged it as handed down from above. You were a dogmatic theologian in Munich at that time. How did you receive the new Compendium of the Faith from Rome in 1992?

At that time, I let internationally renowned theologians write profound analysis on the subject as I was the chief editor of the Munich Theological Journal. That has found a good response. However, there were some disagreeable objections from colleagues who were fed more by an anti- Roman resentment. The opponents of that time have become enthusiastic Papal devotees.

Is this World Catechism a summary of the theology and results of the Second Vatican Council, or a step back behind the Council, as critics claim?

Certainly, it is a good summary of the entire doctrine of the Church in the light of the Second Vatican. The slogans such as "beyond the Council" - the so-called "Bologna School" - or "behind it" are simply stupid, that every historical and systematic expert knowledge glances off.

The time has passed since 1992. The Holy Year 2000 came, including the great prayer of forgiveness of the Latin Church, then the teaching of Benedict XVI and finally that of Pope Francis. Must one today "rewrite" the World Catechism, that is to say, to supplement more recent aspects – on is thinking of "Amoris laetitia"?

It is certainly possible to supplement some aspects of the doctrinal development in a ne32 version in response to new medical, bioethical and scientific challenges. The content of the Faith handed down by the Apostles, the "depositum fidei", is both invariable and variable in its forms of expression and understanding. It is worthwhile to study on this subject the second chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, "Dei verbum" of the Second Vatican Council entitled " Handing On Divine Revelation".

The debate on "Amoris laetitia" is relentless and it is always said that at the theological core this post-synodal writing is pure Thomism. In the Second Synod on Marriage and the Family, it was above all the German linguistic circle, which apparently, on the basis of the propositions of Saint Thomas Aquinas, united itself to a common language rule. You sat in this language group. What happened then?

I myself have raised the reference to Questions 79 and 80 of the Third Part of the "Summa theologiae" in this language group, so that Cardinal Christoph Schönborn was happy about all that his brother of the Order had already written six hundred years ago on the subject of the lawful and fruitful Reception of the Eucharist. It is said that the final report was adopted with one vote, namely mine. The truth however was this vote was secret. If the Holy Father calls the "Doctor communis" to assist the right interpretation of "Amoris laetitia" in the light of the Catholic doctrine of the sacrament defined at the Council of Trent, then this can mean only in the explanations of "Amoris laetitia" to make the clarity of St. Thomas the criterion, and not vice versa. We want to clarify the unclear and not to obscure the clear. In an introductory essay to an essay by Professor Rocco Buttiglione, I tried to make the most of the situation. The unity of the Church must be preserved in the truth of the Gospel.

See also Cardinal Schönborn on the writing of the Catechism

Could St Thomas, therefore, sign the pastoral instructions which the Bishops of Malta, the Philippines, or the Greater Buenos Aires district have given to their parish priest on the basis of "Amoris laetitia" especially with regard to the remarried divorced?

Some of these episcopal statements have attempted a purely textual interpretation of "Amoris laetitia". They thought that, in a mere doctrinal positivism, they could dispense with the examination of their theses against the findings of the entire teaching tradition of the Church, and above all in the corpus of Scripture, and still with the renunciation of the principles of interpretation of Catholic theology based on Revelation itself. The applause of the published opinion is by no means a theological criterion. A synopsis of these texts with the corresponding statements of St. Thomas on the Sacraments of Repentance, the Eucharist and marriage, conscience, the commandments of God and the concept of grave sin and the state of sanctifying grace could open many eyes.

There are "doubts" on some points of "Amoris laetitia". The "Correctio filialis" has brought the accusation of heresy into the room. You propose a mediated dialogue between advocates and critics of Papal letter. How could this look?

There has been a gap developing between fierce critics and most biting advocates. The dispute can neither be extinguished nor solved by an attempted knock-out blow. We must solve the theological and pastoral problems objectively with an advance of trust and help the affected persons as best they can on their way to God. Neither can the indissolubility of the marriage be shaken, nor can we remain inactive in the face of the many marriage crises. Somehow, both concerns are correct. Some set a stop sign in front of a dangerous ditch, the others are already trying to build bridges over it. Both are necessary on the path of salvation.


Question 79 On the Effects of the Sacrament

Question 80 The Use or Receiving of the Sacrament in General