Cardinal Müller: Nobody can alter the way the Sacraments work

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said that local bishops cannot reinterpret Church teaching subjectively.

In an interview with the German magazine Rheinische Post, Cardinal Müller said: “I do not think it is particularly beneficial for each individual bishop to comment on papal documents to explain how he subjectively understands the document.”

He further said: “It cannot be that the universally binding doctrine of the Church, formulated by the Pope, is given different and even contradictory regional interpretations. The basis of the Church is the unity of faith. The Church no longer experiences a new revelation.”

In recent weeks, the bishops of Malta and Germany have issued guidelines permitting Communion for the remarried. The Maltese bishops said that it might be “impossible” for some couples to avoid sex, and that people could not be refused Communion if they discerned that they were “at peace with God”.

However, several bishops have affirmed the traditional teaching that the remarried cannot receive Communion, except when they endeavour to live “in complete continence”. Cardinal Müller pointed to magisterial teaching, most recently that of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which says continence is necessary. The cardinal told an Italian magazine that this teaching was “not dispensable, because it is not only a positive law of John Paul II, but he expressed an essential element of Christian moral theology and the theology of the sacraments.”

Cardinal Müller also said that, in order to be absolved of adultery, a penitent must resolve not to sin again. He said: “No one can alter the sacraments as a means of grace according to their own choice – for example, so that the sacrament of Confession can be given without the intention to sin no more.”


Vatican doctrine chief: Amoris Laetitia cannot be interpreted in a way that refutes previous teachings of popes

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, said that Amoris Laetitia cannot be interpreted in a way that contradicts magisterial teachings of previous popes and councils.

In his December 1, 2016 interview with the, the radio station of the Diocese of Cologne, Germany, the Vatican’s doctrine chief said:

The binding declarations of the popes, of the Councils of Trent and of the Second Vatican Council and of the Congregation for the Faith on the essential characteristics of marriage and on the precondition for a fruitful reception of the Sacraments in the state of justifying [i.e., sanctifying] grace may not be pushed aside by anyone under the pretext that marriage is, after all, merely an ideal which only can be reached by a very small number of people.

Regarding Communion for “remarried” divorced Catholics, Muller cites a 1994 letter by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which denied the possibility for bishops to permit Communion for the couples in question. The letter  by Cardinal Ratzinger was a response to a 1993 Pastoral Letter of three progressive German bishops (one of them being the then-Bishop Walter Kasper) who were then already pushing for Communion for the “divorced and remarried.”

The indissolubility of marriage must be “the unshaken foundation of teaching and of every pastoral accompaniment,” Müller emphasizes.

The interview was Muller’s first – and so far only – public response to the issue of the four Cardinal’s Dubia addressed to the Pope. Muller said that his Congregation cannot answer the four Cardinals’ Dubia without the express authority of the Pope.

Cardinal Müller stated in the interview that the “Holy Father, at the same time, wishes to help all people whose marriages and families are in a crisis to find a path in accordance with the ever-merciful will of God. We can always assume that the just and merciful God always wants our salvation in whatever need we find ourselves. But it does not stand in the power of the Magisterium to correct God’s Revelation or to make the imitation of Christ comfortable.”

As a follow-up question, the interviewer asked Muller: “Would the bishops’ conferences thus then be asked to help? Francis himself, after all, writes in Amoris Laetitia that not all questions need to be clarified in Rome….”

When answering this pertinent question, the German Cardinal first explains that bishops’ conferences “are merely working groups with certain competences” and, thus, are not of “Divine Law.” He continues:

Only in fidelity to the teaching of the Apostles, to the whole of the revealed Faith, can the bishops of a conference speak, for example, about the pastoral application of Amoris Laetitia. Otherwise, the Church would disintegrate into national churches and, in the end, would atomize. The Sacrament of Marriage, however, is in Korea just as valid as it is in Germany.

When asked whether the individual bishop may make his own independent decision as a response to Amoris Laetitia, Muller responded that  “Nor can the individual bishops do whatever they want according to their own private taste. They are servants, not masters of the Faith.”

Muller emphasized that marriage is not an “ideal” to which we aspire to, but rather a Sacrament founded by God Himself:

Marriage is in truth not a wishful image produced by ourselves, but, rather, a Sacrament, that is to say a reality founded by God Himself. It is an expression of the Mercy of the Creator and of the Redeemer. God does not put excessive demands upon us so that he then can show His Mercy toward us in the face of our own failure. With the help of Grace, we are able to fulfill the Commandments – among them the Sixth Commandment – and thus find peace of heart in a life in accordance with God’s will.

Cardinal Muller: No Reason to Celebrate the Protestant Reformation

The Vatican’s chief doctrinal watchdog is saying Catholics have “no reason” to honor the Protestant Reformation.

In a wide-ranging, book-length interview recently published by the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, a Madrid-based publishing house, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), speaks on a number of subjects — including the upcoming commemoration in Sweden of the 15th-century Protestant Reformation.

Pope Francis to Celebrate with Protestants

The matter is a timely one for Catholics, as Pope Francis will travel to Sweden in October to attend a joint ecumenical service kicking off the year recalling the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Revolt. Others attending will include leaders from the Lutheran World Federation as well as representatives of various Christian communities. The meeting will take place October 31 in Lund, where the Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947.

Meant not only to commemorate the Reformation, the Pope’s presence will also highlight the advances in dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans over the past century.

“Strictly speaking,” Cardinal Müller said in his interview, “we Catholics have no reason to celebrate October 31, 1517, the date that is considered the beginning of the Reformation that would lead to the rupture of Western Christianity.”

He continued:

If we are convinced that divine revelation is preserved whole and unchanged through Scripture and Tradition, in the doctrine of the Faith, in the sacraments, in the hierarchical constitution of the Church by divine right, founded on the sacrament of holy orders, we cannot accept that there exist sufficient reasons to separate from the Church.

Protestant communities see things differently, he observed. “The Protestant reformers arrived at the conclusion, 500 years ago, that some Church hierarchs were not only morally corrupt, but had also distorted the Gospel and, as a result, had blocked the path of salvation for believers toward Jesus Christ.”

The head of the CDF criticized a distorted understanding of ecumenism, which blocks the path to true unity. “The relativization of the truth and the acritical adoption of modern ideologies are the principal obstacle toward union in the truth.”

He sees this approach being adopted by some in the Catholic Church today. “In this sense, a Protestantization of the Catholic Church on the basis of a secular vision without reference to transcendence not only cannot reconcile us with the Protestants, but also cannot allow an encounter with the mystery of Christ,” he insisted.

He acknowledged the validity of the Vatican II document “Unitatis Redintegratio,” but also noted it must be balanced against the CDF’s own 2000 document “Dominus Iesus,” which re-asserts the primacy of the Catholic Church as the one true Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, superior to all other religions. Müller called this document “the magna carta against the Christological and ecclesiological relativism of this time of such confusion.”

Cardinal Müller also touched on other topics, including Holy Communion for those in irregular unions, the twisting of Pope Francis’ words by some to push the gay agenda, women’s priesthood and clerical celibacy.

“Saint Paul insists on the fact that he who eats the bread and drinks the wine of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord,” he commented, referring to the issue of who may receive Holy Communion. Catholics may only be restored to the state of grace through the sacrament of penance, he explained, and “access to Eucharistic communion certainly presupposes the life of grace.”

On those who would twist the Holy Father’s words for their agenda, His Eminence said:

Precisely those who until now have shown no respect for the doctrine of the Church are using an isolated phrase from the Holy Father, “Who am I to judge?” taken out of context, to present distorted ideas on sexual morality, reinforcing them with a presumed interpretation of the “authentic” thought of the pope in this regard.

He also made clear that female ordination to the priesthood is impossible, as “this is a matter that has already been decided.”

Finally, he defended clerical celibacy as “a special gift from God through which the sacred ministers can more easily unite themselves with Christ with an undivided heart.”

Cardinal Müller: Communion Remains Off-Limits for “Remarried”

mullerThe head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, considered second only to the pope as the Vatican’s authority on doctrinal matters, has responded to the question of whether Pope Francis’ recent exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, has opened the door to giving Communion to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s response is unambiguous: the Church’s teaching cannot be changed, and the exhortation did not do so.

“It is not possible to live in God’s grace while living in a sinful situation,” he said, and continued by saying that people living in sin “cannot receive Holy Communion unless they have received absolution in the sacrament of penance.” Müller importantly added that the “Church has no power to change the Divine Law” and that “Not even a pope or council can change that.”

The cardinal gave his remarks during a recent trip to Spain. As reported by the German Newspaper Die Tagespost, and translated by Maike Hickson at 1Peter5, Cardinal Müller spoke directly to arguments interpreting Amoris Laetitia as saying, in the words of the newspaper, that “the door has been opened for the remarried to be admitted to the Sacraments in individual cases.”  The newspaper reports that the cardinal stated, “with decisiveness,” that this is not the case, and that statements by previous popes on the matter still stand.

“This applies clearly to the reception of Holy Communion by remarried divorcees,” said Müller. “What has been taught by John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio and by Benedict XVI in Sacramentum Caritatis is still valid in an unchanged way.”  He further emphasized: “The principle is that no one can really want to receive a Sacrament – the Eucharist – without having at the same time the will to live according to the other Sacraments, among them the Sacrament of Marriage.”

Arguments that Amoris Laetitia changed Church practice on Communion for the divorced and remarried are based largely on footnote 351, which comes in the context of a chapter devoted to the Church’s pastoral care for couples in “irregular” unions, and which states that this help can “in some cases include the help of the Sacraments” – with reference to Confession and the Eucharist.

At face value, this footnote was taken by many, including several German bishops, among them Cardinal Reinhard Marx, as marking a change from Pope St. John Paul II’s teaching in Familiaris Consortio. Cardinal Walter Kasper, while not making specific reference to the footnote, has also stated that it “seems clear” the exhortation allows Communion for the remarried divorcees.

In Familiaris Consortio Pope John Paul II had stated that couples in adulterous second unions can only receive the Eucharist if they separate, or, if they cannot separate for “serious reasons,” then they live together as “brother and sister” – i.e. without sexual relations.

However, Cardinal Müller clarified that this Magisterial teaching cannot change, and that, even if the pope intended to do so, the conditions for changing such a serious matter are not present in Amoris Laetitia.

If Amoris Laetitia intended to rescind such a deeply rooted and such a weighty discipline, it would have expressed itself in a clear manner and it would have given the reasons for it. However, such a statement with such a meaning is not to be found in [Amoris Laetitia]. Nowhere does the pope put into question the arguments of his predecessors. They are not based upon the subjective guilt of these our brothers and sisters, but, rather, upon the visible, objective way of life which is in opposition to the words of Christ.

Speaking directly to footnote 351, the cardinal stated that the footnote was not speaking specifically about situations of remarried divorcees.

“Without entering into this question in a deeper way, it is sufficient to point out that this footnote refers in a general way to objective situations of sin, and not to the specific cases of the civilly remarried divorcees,” he stated. “Because this latter situation has its own distinctive characteristics which differentiate it from other situations.”

The cardinal clarified once again that footnote 351 did not change the teachings promulgated by Pope John Paul II or by Cardinal Ratzinger, when the latter was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Footnote 351 does not “touch upon the earlier discipline,” said the cardinal. “The norms of FC 84 and SC 29 and their application in all cases continue to remain valid.”

by Maike Hickson,One Peter Five

Pope’s doctrine chief warns of possible ‘schism’ in the Church like Protestant split

Cardinal Mullerby Maike Hickson, from Lifesite News

In a move that is making headlines in Germany, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has said German bishops are leading the Church to a schism.

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller is warning that the tendency of German bishops to divide doctrine from pastoral practice is not unlike the abuses surrounding the Protestant split in 1517. One should “be very vigilant and not forget the lesson of Church history,” he said.

Radical German cardinals, led by Walter Kasper (known as Pope Francis’ “favorite theologian”), are behind a big push to change Church teaching and practice on issues such as allowing “remarried” Catholics to receive the Eucharist, as well as redefining marriage to accept “non-traditional” unions such as those between homosexuals.

In a recent speech at the release of the German version of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s new book God or Nothing in Regensburg, Germany, Cardinal Muller criticized “a climate of the German claim to leadership for the Universal Church.” Muller said that he is frequently asked why German bishops claim to be leaders of the Catholic Church – while flouting teachings on marriage and sexuality – despite dramatic reductions in church attendance, shrinking numbers of seminarians, and a drop in vocations to religious orders.

“He who remains faithful to the teaching of the Church is attacked by the media, and even defamed as an opponent of the pope,” Muller said, “as if the pope and all the bishops in union with him were not witnesses of the revealed truth which has been entrusted to them so that it does not run the risk of being leveled down by men to a human measure.”

“We may not deceive the people, when it comes to the sacramentality of marriage, its indissolubility, its openness toward the child, and the fundamental complementarity of the two sexes,” he firmly stated. “Pastoral case has to keep in view the eternal salvation,” as opposed to a desire to be popular or accepted in the world.

Many German bishops have declared that “life realities” must be taken into account as part of Church teaching and salvation. However, Muller said the goal should not be “about adapting the Revelation to the world, but…about gaining the world for God.” ∎

Pope’s doctrine head: We can’t adapt doctrine to suit secularists or ‘superficial’ Christians

Cardinal Müller In an interview with the French Catholic bi-weekly journal, La Vie, which was published on April 29, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, once more defended the teaching of the Catholic Church on Marriage. When questioned about the possibility of allowing “remarried” divorcees to the Sacraments, as proposed by Cardinal Walter Kasper, Cardinal Müller states:

It is impossible to have two wives. If the first union is valid, it is not possible to enter into a second one at the same time. A path of penitence is possible, but not a second union. The only possibility is to return to the first, legitimate union, or to live in the second union as brother and sister: that is the Church’s position, in agreement with the will of Jesus. I would add that it is always possible to try and obtain an annulment from an ecclesiastical tribunal.

He said that the Church cannot change the indissolubility of marriage:

The doctrine of the Church is not a theory, it reposes upon the fidelity to the Word of God. The marriage between two baptized persons is an effective sacrament, an objective reality. It is impossible to dissolve a sacramental marriage with all its constitutive attributes of liberty, indissolubility, fidelity and of fruitfulness. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith I have to present the doctrine of the Church. The Church cannot change the sacramentality of marriage; one promises to be faithful until death.

Cardinal Müller also cautioned against concentrating too much on the question of “remarried” divorcees during the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Family in October of 2015:

The object of the Synod is not to discuss the problem of remarried divorcees, but to reaffirm marriage as the foundation of civil society and of the community of the Churches, and to revive its fundamental dimension…It is not possible to adapt the doctrine of the Church to our secularized countries, and even less to accept a superficial Christianity.

When asked to clarify what he meant with the expression “superficial Christianity,” Cardinal Müller points out that many Christians in European countries “are baptized, but do not believe and do not practice the Faith.” And he continues:

They do not accept the substance of Christianity which produces a change in thinking and acting: a conversion. I do not judge theses persons in saying that, but in our countries, it suffices to see the percentage of the baptized Christians who are not confirmed or the multiplication of abortions to see that the existence of a superficial Christianity is a reality.