Cardinal Mueller: To lead in Europe, Germany must recover moral strength

Parramatta, Australia, Jul 30, 2018 / 04:38 pm (CNA).- While Germany has the potential to be a major European leader, the Church in the country must take a strong stand to insist on moral direction as well, said Cardinal Gerhard Mueller in a recent interview.

“Germany is the leading country economically but we need leadership also in the moral-ethical orientation,” said the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He warned that “most of the European leaders and people in authority are too much linked with certain ideologies,” such as support for abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage. “They think this is the progress of humanity but it is a regression.”

Mueller spoke to Catholic Outlook, the diocesan newspaper of Parramatta, Australia during a recent trip to the country to give a talk to a group of priests.

In the interview, published July 23, Cardinal Mueller responded to a question about the German bishops’ conference pushing to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive the Eucharist in some cases.

“Unfortunately, our bishops are thinking more in categories of politics and power and not in this line of the New Evangelization,” Mueller said.

“Intercommunion is not possible, absolutely, objectively, is not possible because the Communion is the sacramental representation of the communion in the Faith,” he said. “If you don’t have full communion in the Faith, it’s not possible to have full communion in the sacramental expression, especially in the Eucharist.”

“[W]e cannot say it is all the same it is enough to have a religious feeling, or sentiment that we are belonging together,” he said. “That is very good but it’s not enough for the sacramental communion and therefore I hope the German Bishops will find the way back to more a religious and spiritual understanding of the Church and to respect also the fundamentals of the Catholic Faith, that cannot be changed.”

Cardinal Mueller also spoke about the relationship between Church and state. Government has a proper role and limitations, he said, cautioning that not all legal actions are moral.

“The power of the state must be responsible to the transcendent, to the higher law and reality,” he said.

Government’s power is not absolute, but must adhere to natural moral law, which is universal, he said. Efforts to violate this natural moral law – for example, by legalizing abortion or attempting to require priests to violate the seal of confession – are unjust.

The Church can help society understand the foundation for a democratic, pluralistic state, Mueller said: “The state must be tolerant and accept all the diverse, different religions but on the basis of human rights and the natural moral law.”

“We as the Catholic Church are the promoters of religious freedom, not only requiring it for ourselves. We are not a lobby for ourselves, but we are the promoters of this natural right, which everybody deserves: religious freedom derived from the natural moral law and freedom of conscience.”

The Church also contributes to society through the development and promotion of Catholic Social Doctrine, education, and workers’ rights issues, he said.

In engaging with modern challenges, Catholics should be careful not to fall into the political labels of conservative and progressive, the cardinal said.

“It is absolutely necessary that we overcome this distinction, this schism in the Church, as well as in the other Christian communities where we have this problem,” he emphasized.

“The Word of God is this reality who unites, unifies everybody. We are not divided in parties… we all united in the one Body of Christ, we are members of the Body of Christ, Christ is the head of His body, which is the Church herself.”

The division between “liberal” and “conservative” Catholics, Cardinal Mueller said, “is against the Holy Spirit…[who] unites the Church and is the antidote against the divisions and separations.”

Following the Holy Spirit’s guidance in humility is critical, he continued.

“Nobody, even the Pope and a council, has a direct line to the Holy Spirit because they are not receiving a new revelation. There is one revelation, forever given in Jesus Christ and therefore our basis is Holy Scripture.”

“We can say nothing, nor establish a doctrine or an understanding in the Church that is against the words of God in Holy Scripture and the expression of Catholic tradition,” he emphasized.

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  1. About the time of the Maastricht Treaty (1993) which instituted the European Union, a very “conservative” intellectual from central Europe was on a speaking tour in the United States (Eric von Kuehnelt-Leddhin). In front of a group of college students and the G.K. Chesterton Society of Seattle he was asked if he thought such a novelty—a transnational and potentially collectivist/ bureaucratic organization—was a good idea.

    From his many writings, Eric’s reconciliation of historical identity and philosophical depth (Christendom) with free-wheeling modernity came in the form of constitutional monarchies, so our guess was that he would be instinctively opposed.

    Not so, his succinct answer: “Yes, but we have to be about something more than FATNESS!” Yup,something more than trade deals–the core reality of the Human Person, and for some at least, even the sacramental life. As for the superficial dichotomy between “conservative” and “liberal” as now is used to divide the Church, he insisted that as a Catholic Christian he was a sovereign balance of both as well as many other seeming incongruities.

  2. As the German question unfolds the Church in Europe and the world witness a prototype for the future. Cardinal Mueller’s argument centers on what binds the Church. The Holy Eucharist. The question is what direction the German bishops led by radical Cardinal Marx take on sharing the Eucharist with non believers many who deny the Real Presence, some who live in adultery, other sinful situations. That is a repudiation of the bonds of divine love that is the Mystical Body’s remaining cohesion. Remove the conditions, Christ’s commandments from partaking of his body and blood and we remove the conditions defining love of God for anyone including Catholics living in mortal sin. It’s more than a grasp for power and political correctness. Rather it reflects a long deterioration of faith subject to intellectual pride in one’s capacity to interpret the Word Cardinal Kasper a prime example. It’s the deception that accommodation of a broken humanity is greater charity than adherence to rules. Therefore Kasper’s God is subject to change. “Nobody, even the Pope and a council, has a direct line to the Holy Spirit because they are not receiving a new revelation. There is one revelation, forever given in Jesus Christ and therefore our basis is Holy Scripture.” Mueller here presents the central rationale for refusing this radical change of course. We have one revelation. We have one Messiah Jesus Christ. Hope lies with our prayers and willingness to sacrifice and with Germans who are deeply faithful one of whom is a dear friend who recently entered a contemplative convent for that very purpose.

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