Cardinal Gerhard Müller: The Congregation for the Faith should correct Bishop Johan Bonny.
“The blessing of rainbow couples is heresy. The Belgian bishops cannot legitimize them by referring to alleged statements by the Pope. Even if he had said so, it is not within his competence to alter revelation." Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who was prefect of the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith until 2017, put the coordinates in the Church in clear terms, revealing where there are serious undesirable developments, especially in Germany, but also in Rome. He also clarified: "To attack the ancient Rite is absurd."
Nico Spuntoni of La Nuova Bussola Quotidianaconducted an interview with Cardinal Gerhard Müller on the occasion of the publication of the Italian edition of his book "The Pope. Mission and Ministry”. The German edition was published in 2017.
NBQ: Your Eminence, why did you characterize the words of Pius XI, who condemned the emergence of national churches, as "truly prophetic words that retain their meaning even in today's confrontation with media-driven totalitarian claims"?
Cardinal Müller: The national church is a complete contradiction of God's will to save all mankind and to unite all people in the Holy Spirit. One cannot reduce the faith to a single nation as the Orthodox do with autocephaly. This is not a Catholic principle. We are the Catholic Church, ie universal, for all peoples.
NBQ: The thought inevitably goes to what is happening in 'your' Germany. Do you fear that the results of the German Synodal Way could infect the next synod on synodality?
Cardinal Müller: Yes, of course. The proponents and supporters of the German synodal path do not want to separate themselves from the Catholic Church, but on the contrary, want to become its engine. Their agenda has been known for more than half a century and is still that of the Central Committee of German Catholics. They are not the true representatives of the German lay faithful, but officials who have been fighting for decades against priestly celibacy, against the indissolubility of marriage and for the ordination of women.
NBQ: These proposals were presented during the synodal meetings as a solution to the problem of child abuse by clerics. Didn't the admission of guilt and resignation over their failure on this issue by German bishops who were key players in this path undermine the credibility of this narrative?
Cardinal Mueller: The truth is that in Germany these sad events committed by some priests have been used to a large extent to push through an agenda that existed before and which has nothing to do with this tragedy. On the other hand, the mainstream media in Germany do nothing but praise the changes in teaching promoted by the Synodal Path. For them, only the Frankfurt congregation is good in the church, while everything else is slandered, using labels like conservative or even fascist! The majority of the German press is for the Synodal Way, not to improve the Church but to destroy it. It is no coincidence that they have cases of pedophilia, committed by priests while remaining silent on those committed in sport, in universities or in politics [Or among other denominations and religions, like Judaism], where the percentage of crimes is even higher. Those who have always opposed priestly celibacy and the Church's sexual morality have now found in the tragedy of child abuse by priests an instrument to destroy what they have always wanted to destroy.
Cardinal Mueller: Anyone who represents heterodox positions today tries to legitimize themselves by referring to alleged statements or interviews by Francis. But in doing so, they exceed their competence. There have been many heretical bishops throughout history. This pro-rainbow blessing scheme is clear heresy. To legitimize it, they cannot cite a moment when the Pope said something to them. Even if the Pope actually said so, they can never institute the blessing of same-sex couples as if it were marriage. That's absolutely impossible. It is not within the competence of a pope to change revelation and the basis of Christian and Catholic morality. And certainly, neither can bishops' conference do this.
NBQ: Do you think that the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith should intervene to reprimand the Bishop of Antwerp?
Cardinal Müller: Yes, it must intervene.
NBQ: If you were still Prefect, would you have intervened?
Cardinal Müller: Maybe that's why they no longer wanted me as Prefect because I would have intervened (laughs, editor's note). That is the task of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. You can't just argue with political or diplomatic logic. The time has come to confess the truth.
Cardinal Mueller: As a theologian, I am not happy about this statement by Cardinal Roche. The belief is always the same. We cannot change beliefs. Theology evolves, but always on the basis of the same faith. The Second Vatican Council did not change belief in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the sacramental representation of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the real presence of Jesus Christ. Only the liturgical forms have developed from this good idea of the active participation of all believers. The external form of the liturgy has evolved, but there are no substantive changes. I think to express oneself, one should do so with a deep understanding of the theology of the development of the Mass and the liturgy. The great councils on the Eucharist - the Council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council - teach that there has never been a single rite in the Catholic Church.
NBQ: So you see no threat to the unity of the Church in the so-called Tridentine Mass?
Cardinal Müller: No, not as such. There are some who say that this is the only orthodox form and that the form developed after Vatican II is invalid. These are extremists. But one should not react by wanting to hit a few extremists in an extremist way and punishing the great majority of these communities who love the Church, the Pope, and the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. There are extremists on both sides: on the one hand, there are those who say that orthodoxy depends only on the Rite. So the Greek Catholics don't have a true Mass? That is absurd. These public statements are made without deep thought.
Cardinal Müller: It would be better to follow the line of Benedict XVI. to hold, the greatest connoisseur of the liturgy and also the greatest theologian. The supreme authority of the Church must always seek reconciliation. It takes a dialectic to find a path to peace. In Christ, the Church is the symbol of the unity of mankind. And I'll add something else.
Cardinal Müller: These communities, linked to the so-called Latin Mass, suffer from the prejudice that they are enemies of the Second Vatican Council. But there are bishops in Germany who openly deny Vatican II! They question it or say it's just a stage in the past. They do not accept the teaching of the Council. What is Rome's reaction to this? Why is there a reaction against one side with all authority, while against the other side - which promotes the blessing of homosexual couples, for example - there is practically no reaction?
NBQ: In 2022 the long-awaited reform of the Roman Curia saw the light of day, decided in the General Congregations before the Conclave in 2013. In your book, you write that "waiting for a plan from experts in politics, finance and economics to reform them misses the mark". So you don't agree with the innovation of Praedicate Evangelium that lay people can also become dicastery leaders.
Cardinal Müller: If you look at the dicastery as a kind of civil institution of the Vatican, the layman can also be a minister. But the Roman Curia is different from the Vatican City State. It is a Church institution. The congregations are now called 'dicasteries' to avoid an ecclesiological term. I am against the secularization of the Roman Curia. The head of the communication department can be a competent layman. But a clear distinction must be made between the institutions of Vatican City, which is a state and which the Church cannot govern. The Vatican has nothing to do with the Church.
NBQ: In plain language: a layman can be governor of Vatican City State but not direct the former Holy Office?
Cardinal Müller: Exactly. The basis of the Roman Curia is the College of Cardinals. There is a Roman Curia that serves the Pope in his ministry to the universal Church. I think those who designed these innovations didn't think about all of this. We've looked at the financial scandals, but haven't thought enough about what the Roman Curia really is on a theological level. Vatican II speaks of the Roman Curia, but as an ecclesiological body: what touches the Church is the business of our congregations and of the Pope as Pope, not as head of state.