Vatican City, Feb 8, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- A former prefect of the Vatican’s doctrinal office has weighed in on the Church’s theological debates regarding the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried Catholics and by non-Catholic Christians, as well as speaking about the ordination of women to the priesthood and other theological issues.
“Today, many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith, so there is a growing danger of missing the path to eternal life. However, it remains the very purpose of the Church to lead humanity to Jesus Christ, the light of the peoples,” Cardinal Gerhard Müller wrote in a “manifesto of faith” he sent to CNA Feb. 8.
“In this situation, the question of orientation arises. According to John Paul II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a ‘safe standard for the doctrine of the faith.’ It was written with the aim of strengthening the Faith of the brothers and sisters whose belief has been massively questioned by the ‘dictatorship of relativism,’” Müller added.
The cardinal was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012 to 2017. He was before that Bishop of Regensburg, Germany. When Müller’s five-year term as prefect of the doctrinal office concluded in 2017, the cardinal retired from active curial service.
Müller wrote that he issued the document in response to Catholics who have requested that he issue a “public testimony about the truth of revelation” in response to “growing confusion about the doctrine of the Faith.”
The “manifesto” addresses 5 areas of Catholic doctrine: Christology, ecclesiology, sacraments, morality, and eschatology, the branch of theology that addresses death, judgment, heaven, and hell. Each section draws heavily from references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In the section addressing the Church’s sacramental life, Müller quoted the catechism, noting that “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.”
The cardinal added that “from the internal logic of the sacrament,” that norm applies to “divorced and civilly remarried persons, whose sacramental marriage exists before God, as well as those Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Faith and the Church.”
“To point this out corresponds to the spiritual works of mercy,” Müller added.
The cardinal’s note regarding the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried persons would seem to be a response to some interpretations of Pope Francis’s 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
That document has been often interpreted to teach that a Catholic who is divorced and civilly remarried, and engaged in a sexual relationship with his civil spouse, may in certain circumstances receive the Eucharist without discontinuing the sexual relationship. That interpretation has been criticized by some bishops and theologians as discordant with Catholic theology.
In a 2017 interview, Müller said that “Amoris Laetitia must clearly be interpreted in the light of the whole doctrine of the Church.”
It is not right that so many bishops are interpreting Amoris Laetitia according to their way of understanding the Pope’s teaching. This does not keep to the line of Catholic doctrine,” he added.
The cardinal’s mention of non-Catholic Christians receiving the Eucharist would seem to be addressing a 2018 proposal by German bishops to permit the non-Catholic spouses of Catholics to receive the Eucharist. That proposal was in May 2018 halted by the Vatican’s doctrinal office.
Müller also addressed theological discussions concerning the possibility of the ordination of women.
Citing the Catechism, Müller wrote that “with a view to receiving the ordination in the three stages of this ministry, the Church is ‘bound by the choice made by the Lord Himself. That is why it is not possible to ordain women’. To imply that this impossibility is somehow a form of discrimination against women shows only the lack of understanding for this sacrament, which is not about earthly power but the representation of Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church.”
Pope St. John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis declared: “that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
The cardinal’s section entitled “Eternal Life” said that “Many wonder today what purpose the Church still has in its existence, when even bishops prefer to be politicians rather than to proclaim the Gospel as teachers of the Faith. The role of the Church must not be watered down by trivialities, but its proper place must be addressed. Every human being has an immortal soul, which in death is separated from the body, hoping for the resurrection of the dead.”
“Everyone has to face the particular judgement immediately after death. Either a purification is necessary, or man goes directly into heavenly bliss and is allowed to see God face to face. There is also the dreadful possibility that a person will remain opposed to God to the very end, and by definitely refusing His Love, ‘condemns himself immediately and forever.’”
“To keep silent about these and the other truths of the Faith and to teach people accordingly is the greatest deception against which the Catechism vigorously warns. It represents the last trial of the Church and leads man to a religious delusion, ‘the price of their apostasy;’ it is the fraud of Antichrist,” Müller said.
The document ended with a “call,” in which Müller exhorted Catholics to “ask the Lord to let us know how great the gift of the Catholic Faith is, through which opens the door to eternal life.”
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What is the point of mentioning Bishops interpreting Amoris Laetitia wrongly if you don’t have the courage to say the Pope is not stopping them either. Why talk about hell if you know the hoping for an empty hell idea of Von Balthasar and later Rahner is rampant among the clergy. Even our manifestos need a tune up…or a less ambitious noun to describe them.
God bless his Eminence Cardinal Muller. He is a tireless defender of Catholic truth. He would make a great Pope (although I would personally prefer Cardinal Sarah).
Certainly a well intended Affirmation by the Cardinal. To Bill Bannon’s point Manifesto reminds me of, say a Communist Manifesto. Manifesto used as something radically new, Revolutionary. It tells us all what terrible shape our Church is in to feel it necessary to so [heroicly?] declare the rudiments of the faith. And again to Bannon’s allusion [allusion and oblique reference to the Pontiff are in vogue] to the Pope it’s fine time that we call it as it is, that the ambiguity and misleading rhetorical flourish on mercy v rigidity emanates from across the Tiber [Have I too succumbed to oblique reference?].
Von Balthasar point was he HOPED for universal salvation but he knew he could never preach it because there is nothing in Scripture or Tradition which would justify that concept.
I stated “hoping”.
Not only that…Christ explicitly says the opposite: “ many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Luke 13:24. But then there’s the Jesuit head of order who said no one taped Christ. Chaos …until we get a very exacting mercy/justice Pope who is not afraid to flush.
You have to study Balthasar first. Only than you can write any meaningful commentary. Introductory article by Mark Brumley was recently published on CWR…
But you can also note in your own post “Christ explicitly says” – and it really means Christ. Not Billy Bannon… Billy Bannon can only (and should) hope and pray for.
Pope Francis and his friends like ex-Cardinal McCarrick and Cardinal Kasper do not “hold and teach the Catholic faith that comes to us from the Apostles.”
These men have lived a life of lying to themselves and the world, and denying The Word Made Flesh, for 50+ years.
In their darkened minds, and their decadent post-Christian careers, these men arrogate to themselves what they have taught young people and seminarians to deny to the evangelists and apostles.
One neatly sum this up:
Cardinal Kasper and former Cardinal Bergoglio, now elected Pope (by the hand of Kasper, McCarrick etc) are old friends. They are intelligent, highly skilled in the art of mass communication, and have appeared together repeatedly in public since 2013, always as an occasion to promote the “theology” of Cardinal Kasper. To use a term coined by good Fr. Morello, Kasper can be considered one of the “ghost-pontiffs” of the period beginning in 2013.
Kasper, in his book “Jesus the Christ” (1974, re-issued 2011), has for 45 years taught young Catholic people and seminarians that the miracles attributed to Jesus in the Gospels are “legends” (pp 90-91 of my 1974 edition, affirmed as unchanged in the 2011). There can be little doubt that Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, shares this disbelief. Kasper calls them “projections of the experiences of Easter back into the earthly life of Jesus.” Kasper names several miracles so that his readers have clear examples of the “legend” content in the gospels, including the stilling of the storm, the Transfiguration, and the raising of the widow’s son, the daughter of Jairus and Lazarus. (This dismissal of Jesus’ miracles sets the stage for pp. 124-160, where Kasper teaches to disbelieve the bodily resurrection of Jesus…which is his necessary tribute he must pay to his fellow skeptics from the Tubingen school.)
In sum, Kasper teaches that belief in miracles attributed to Jesus is “theological nonsense” (p. 95). To use an often employed phrase by Kasper, it is “very probable” that Francis agrees with Kasper.
And yet, Francis himself has just recently canonized Pope Paul VI, asserting that there were two miracles we can attribute to him.
So, summing up the Kasper/Francis estimation of the faithful, and the attention owed by the faithful to Kasper/Francis, the faithful should:
A – disbelieve the Evangelists’ testimony about Jesus’ miracles (including his bodily resurrection); AND…
B – simultaneously, suspend our disbelief in miracles, and attribute two miracles to Pope Paul VI, because Francis/Kasper have certified these miracles.
That is the definition of contempt, farce, arrogance…and what the English call “too clever by half.”
I must say that these aging clerics that you speak of, and their handful of minions don’t need argument; they need an exorcism. One only needs to read Cardinal Kasper’s response to Cardinal Muller’s letter to get a clear perspective of the active heresy that is being defended by Kasper and a whole host of clerics, including the Pope.
Excellent response …, Chris in Maryland.
Cardinal Muller, Thank you for all you do. God bless you now and for ever.
I agreed of you
I followed the link to the full text of the manifesto. At the bottom is this:
“* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.”
How very bizarre that they should feel the necessity to put this at the end of a clear statement of the Catholic faith.
How bizarre that a perfectly faithful Catholic statement is titled a “manifesto” and gives the impression of contradicting the current pope.
Kaspar referred to Mueller as a “reformer”. Bizarre indeed.
The gift of life residing in the poor, the maimed, the injured, the exploited, the victim of trafficking, the leper, the marginalized and the ostracized has a lot to offer and teach than any manifesto.