Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was recently interviewed by Johannes Schidelko of the German Catholic news agency KNA.
The Archbishop, who will be created a cardinal at the consistory on February 22, dismissed the mainstream media portrayal of him as the “conservative adversary” of Pope Francis and emphasized that the Pope’s teaching, while presented with “great charisma”, “embraces and contains the entire Catholic faith”. Abp. Müller noted that although he himself was a theology professor for years, while Jorge Bergoglio served in the Society of Jesus, their approaches are “complementary and not opposed”. Müller said that the Holy Father’s relationship with him is “fraternal, paternal, indeed cordial”.
As for his work with other Vatican officials, Abp. Müller admitted that he was something of an outsider who “did not make [his] way through the ranks of the Curia”. He reported “good, fraternal collaboration with the heads of other dicasteries” in the service of the Church. He questioned whether individuals interested in “power, career or money” could be suited for such “laborious service that requires self-denial”. The Pope appreciates “the collegial work methods” of the CDF; decrees are not written unilaterally, but by a gradual, consultative process. “The most important decisions are reserved for the meeting of cardinals that takes place once a month.”
Abp. Müller had irenic words for the Society of Saint Pius X: the Dogmatic Preamble composed and presented by the CDF in late 2011 was “like the door through which the SSPX and the persons who belong to it can enter into the full communion of the Church. This door stands open; we are not closing it…. We are attending to these efforts at reunion patiently and firmly, as Pope Francis commissioned us to do.”
In response to a question about a greater role for the laity and in particular women in the government of the Church, the CDF Prefect commented: “It is not true that until now the clergy was the active part and the laity—the passive part. Through Baptism and Confirmation and the universal priesthood, all Catholics are wholly and entirely members of the Church.” In governing the Church there are duties “that belong exclusively to the apostolic [i.e. ordained] ministry…. Women will therefore not be able to head Congregations in the Curia.” Nevertheless laymen and women can hold positions of responsibility “for instance in the area of theological scholarship, instruction, counseling, or in the field of charitable work” or finances.