(Rome) In recent interview with the Herder Korrespondenz Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the CDF, described the closest adviser of Pope Francis as "heretical".
In the June issue ofHerder Korrespondenz (issue 6/2006) reaffirmed the Cardinal Prefect, that "no one" should relativize the doctrine of the papacy as a divine institution, for that would mean, wanting to "correct God." Some time ago, there was someone who was presented by "certain media" as one of the "closest advisers" of the Pope, the Cardinal said.This consultant has opined that there would be no problem in transferring the seat of the Pope to Medellin in Colombia or elsewhere, and the various Curia offices could be shared among the various local Churches.This, says Cardinal Müller, is fundamentally wrong and "even heretical". On this subject, it is sufficient to read the Dogmatic Constitution "Lumen Gentium" of Vatican II in order to identify the ecclesiological nonsense of such mind games."The seat of the pope is Peter's in Rome."
The cardinal added that it is the express commission of St. Peter, to lead the whole Church as her supreme pastor. This commission was transferred to the Church of Rome and its bishop by Peter. This is not just an organizational question. The general aim was to preserve God-given unity. This also applied to the task of the high clergy of the Roman church, the cardinals who assist the Pope in the exercise of his primacy.
Victor Manuel Fernández: Chief consultant and ghostwriter of the Pope
With the Prefect in his allusion "aimed his sights," said the Vatican expert Sandro Magister, it is not hard to see: it is the Titular Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández , the Rector of the Catholic University of Argentina .
Fernández was already the preferred speech writer of the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires. Fernández was then, and still is, the confidence theologian and the ghostwriter of the Archbishop, and now, the papal documents of Evangelii gaudium to Amoris laetitia . In the particularly controversial Apostolic Exhortation can be found verbatim, whole passages from [crap] essays Fernández published ten years ago.
Cardinal Müller did not call the Pope's advisers by name. But what he said is unambiguous. Likewise, the word, which the Faith Prefect leveled: "heretic".
The Cardinal had in view an interview of Fernández in Corriere della Sera of 10 May 2015 where the speechwriter of the Pope explained, "the Vatican curia is not an essential structure. The pope could live outside of Rome, have a dicastery in Rome and another in Bogotá, and to connect, for example, by videoconference with liturgy experts in Germany. That which is around the Pope, in the theological sense, is the college of bishops to serve the people. [...] Even the Cardinals could disappear in the sense that they are not essential."
Fernández's attack against Cardinal Müller
Fernández attacked the Faith Prefect even directly because of this in a March 29, 2015 in La Croix , the daily newspaper of the French Bishops' Conference where he had said in the published interview, the pontificate of Pope Francis was essentially a "pastoral" pontificate, making it the object of the CDF was to "restructure theologically" this pontificate.
"Papa's favorite grumbles," Jürgen Erbacher wrote for ZDF Fernández's reply:
"I have read that some say that the Roman Curia is an essential part of the mission of the Church, or that a Prefect of the Vatican is the safe compass which preserves the Church from falling into a Light-thinking; or that this prefect ensures the unity of the faith and the Pope guarantees a serious theology. But for Catholics who read the gospel, knowing that Christ has assured the pope and all of the bishops as a guide and a special enlightenment, but not a prefect or other structure. When you hear say such things, it seems almost as if the Pope is one of their representatives, or one who has come to interfere, and must be controlled."
More than a year has passed since the Argentine aimed his arrows against the Prefect. Arrows that do not need for the Pope to have approved them but which have not bothered him since Fernández is still the chief advisor at Francis' side.
Fernández in his sights, but did he mean the Pope?
The conflict between Pope and CDF is heating up more and more, and with each new document with ambiguous formulations which Pope Francis publishes with the active help of his Argentine prompter, Cardinal Müller seems to be more irritated.
With his criticism in Herder Korrespondenz the cardinal prefect strikes close to the Pope according to the Interpretation mess of Amoris laetitia. So close that he has accused the pope's closest staff member as a "heretic." It's a verdict that is meant for Fernández, but also radiates to the Pope, because of a "theologian of little brilliance" (Sandro Magister) in Argentina would hardly draw the attention of a Prefect of the Congregation.
The German cardinal is a clever man. He knows that his frontal attack against the right hand of the Pope, will bring his reputation with Francis to the point of freezing. A "risk", Cardinal Müller obviously approvingly obviously takes into account. He knows that Francis has in fact sidelined, the CDF and cares precious little about the work of this curial authority and its documents. Just as he had been in June 2013 when recommended to the Bureau of progressive confederation of Latin American and Caribbean religious.
Redefining the understanding of the office of the Prefect of Faith?
Cardinal Müller seems to work on a new definition of his role as head of the CDF. As mere collaborator of the Pope, he can hardly make a difference. The pope made him to know only a few days ago , when he hinted that the authentic interpretation of Amoris laetitia was not about Müller'sgruelingeffort, to somehow bring the controversial papal Fernandezian theses in harmony with the ecclesial tradition, but the interpretation of Vienna's [evil] Archbishop, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.
Cardinal Müller will have to understand his role in serving the Vicar of Christ on earth as Prefect, regardless of the current incumbent's understanding and exercise of that office. He may not really "theological structure" this pontificate, but he may strengthen the faith of 1.3 billion Catholics.And eventually this pontificate will also end.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: MiL / Herder correspondence (Screenshot)