Cardinal Gerhard Müller Receives Sharp Criticism for His Recent Il Timone Interview
Today, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, is the 39th Anniversary of Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s Priestly Ordination. And exactly on that same day, a piece of news comes to us according to which Cardinal Müller is now under increasing pressure for having recently given an interview to the Italian journal Il Timone; in that interview, the German cardinal had made it clear that “For Catholic doctrine, it is impossible for mortal sin to coexist with sanctifying grace.” He also repeated the Catholic Church’s teaching according to which the “remarried” divorcees may not have access to the Sacraments unless they live “as brother and sister,” according to the 1981 papal document, Familaris Consortio, 84. With this interview, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has given an indirect answer to the Four Cardinals’ dubia which have been presented to Pope Francisin November of 2016.
This very interview has now provoked harsh criticism in Italy. It nearly seems as if his dismissal is being prepared by rebuking him for his disloyalty toward Pope Francis. In the following, we publish a translation of an article published today by the same man who conducted the Il Timone interview, Riccardo Cascioli. Mr. Andrew Guernsey was so kind and generous once more to provide a translation of this new article. Furthermore, Guernsey added some excerpts from a 10 February article written by the Vatican expert and close confidant of the pope, Andrea Tornielli. Tornielli’s articles are often regarded as expressing the voice of the pope. Thus his indirect criticism of Cardinal Müller might also be of greater-than-average significance. (It is Tornielli whom Cascioli refers to as “The Vatican Sniper,” for reasons explained here.)
Before going to the translations, I would add one thought. If Pope Francis were to decide to put Cardinal Müller — whose current five-year term is ending, and who would need to be re-appointed next July — out of his office, he might well offend Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who had called Müller to that very office. Secondly, he might not realize that Müller henceforth — after his dismissal and with all of his usual respect toward Pope Francis — might become a mightier and more influential critic of his papacy than the constraints of his current office seem to allow. I have observed several Catholic conservative journalists who have wished for quite some time that Cardinal Müller would be freed from his duties so that he may be stronger in his public defense of the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage.
As we say, God’s will be done. And everything will work unto His Glory for those who love Him and obey Him.
And They Continued to Call Him the Vatican Sniper
Translated by Andrew Guernsey
It took a few days to sort things out after the interview published in the monthly magazine “Il Timone”. But now the decision has been made, the word of command has been given: to eliminate Cardinal Müller. His words in defense of the doctrine – he who is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – evidently have given much annoyance, and were judged not in line with the intentions of the Pope. In the interview, Müller points out that Amoris Laetitia cannot be interpreted in discontinuity with the previous Magisterium, according to which there is no communion for the divorced and remarried, and that it must be remembered in the ecumenical process that Luther has corroded the content of Revelation.
Two challenges were issued both to the bishops and to Pope Francis, which certainly enraged them: and the super-sniper, the Vatican Sniper, came into action. Yesterday [he published] a long article retracing, in the last 50 years, the history of disagreements between Popes and their closest collaborators, the Secretary of State or the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We find, therefore, that differences about some decisions have always been there but were resolved in private, also with the willingness of the collaborators to resign if the Pope did not listen to reason. Today, however, the Vatican Sniper complains, these cardinals speak through newspapers. The invitation is clear: Cardinal Müller should resign. Some will object: nowhere in the article is Cardinal Müller named. This is true, but this is classic clerical style: when someone ought to be eliminated he is not challenged directly, he is made to feel a hostile atmosphere that grows around him, allusions are made, are insinuated, oblique messages are sent. Moreover, by doing so one is made to understand that it is not a personal problem, the same fate can fall upon anyone else who stands in the same way. Today it is Müller’s turn, but the message must also get to other well-known names.
But meanwhile, since the signal has been given, the crossfire has already begun: Alberto Melloni of La Repubblica had already said, ahead of time a few days ago, that for only half of what Cardinal Muller has done and said, Pius XII would have taken away the cardinal’s hat. On Panorama.it, in an article by Orazio La Rocca dedicated to the booklet put out by Cardinal Coccopalmerio, which justifies communion for divorced and remarried, a little thought for Müller is not lacking: To make the dubia public is “a gesture of blatant disrespect towards the Pope,” and it is equally disrespectful to make use of interviews: “As, for example, German Gerhard Ludwig Muller cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has done in recent days, who in a newspaper has openly criticized the admission to the sacraments of the cohabitating and the divorced and remarried because, he warned, “you do not touch” Doctrine. Curious: to defend doctrine today has become a point of accusation.
And who knows what will await us in the coming days. Surely the tones are becoming ever more violent, and Cardinal Raymond L. Burke can testify to it: after being deprived of authority as the spiritual leader of the Knights of Malta, after having suffered repeated attacks from the usual Guardians of the Revolution, yesterday, February 10, he was the target of a most violent article in the Washington Post, which demands – with a certain conceit and arrogance, it must be said – that the Pope throw him out of Rome, where he could obstruct the path of reform that Francis is carrying out with success. The author of the article, Emma-Kate Symons, is notoriously far off from Catholic views – it is indeed curious that those who care so much about the path of reform of the Church are those who hate it – but she seems to be terrified by a possible alliance between Burke and the Trump administration that (it is not clear how) could facilitate the rise of fascism in Europe.
This is a madness typical of the 1970s, but the violence of the words (even in Italy) prompts us not to underestimate the phenomenon.
The Dossier and Undermining the Pope in the Press, All Have Been Seen Before
Continuity and discontinuity: corrosive articles and the maneuvers of prelates, the precedent of 1962. But today the curial style has changed
Translated by Andrew Guernsey
[Bolding used by Tornielli]
The drama and aggravation of tone that accompany certain media polemics on the current pontificate can make one think that we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation. It is not so: the posters in the streets of Rome in the faux popular Roman style (received by the Pope with a laugh), as well as newspaper articles that, well beyond legitimate criticism, attempt to undermine anything in the Successor of Peter says or does, are part of a “tradition” that sees in the media a pawn of the internal power struggles of the Curia and the Church. The recent history of the Holy See, together with the constant repetition of a few, however, also highlights the discontinuities: one of these concerns certainly the style and attitude of those who work most closely with the Pope, on the part of curial cardinals. The most authoritative and influential “ministers of the Pope” until the other day were, in fact, accustomed to talk face to face with their superior, not to distance themselves from him publicly.
One of the major novelties of the present season, however, is represented by the repeated public statements of cardinals “ministers” of the Pope and his collaborators in the Roman Curia. Critical statements, even in the press, on the part of bishops and cardinals with respect to some papal decisions are not unheard of: it would be enough here to recall certain statements following the publication of Paul VI’s “Humanae Vitae.” But in that case it had been the cardinal or resident bishops (or, as happened a few years earlier in the case of a booklet strongly opposed to the liturgical reform, by curial cardinals emeritus, no longer in office) [the Ottaviani Intervention]. An example of the style of the past is represented by Joseph Ratzinger. It is no secret, for example, that the ideas of the then-Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, did not always coincide with those of the Pope, John Paul II. […] There was some difference of opinion, for example, on the occasion of the first interreligious meeting in Assisi. These differences of opinion, however, were presented and discussed in the context of the personal relationship between the cardinal and the Pope, in audiences at table or meetings requested ad hoc. Contrary to what happens today with the practice become commonplace, one would search in vain, when Ratzinger was Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith, to find some public statement of his that seemed to distance himself from Pope John Paul II.
[…] Examples of the old curial style. the closest and most authoritative collaborators of the Pope, at the helm of the most important dicasteries, expressed their positions in face to face meetings with their superior – willing, in some rare cases, even to give up their posts in order to defend them – without any of this to be found at all reflected in public statements, as instead is the case today.