Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, just gave a wide-ranging interview to Edward Pentin, the Rome Correspondent of the National Catholic Register. Among other important aspects of this report, Cardinal Müller for the first time admits publicly that the Congregation for the Faith did not itself edit the final version of the papal document Amoris Laetitia, and that he does not even know who actually did the final editing of that document. In this 29 September interview, Cardinal Müller for the first time revealed how fear-filled the atmosphere in Rome now is. He also calls for a further discussion of the dubia, and he defends Cardinal Carlo Caffarra in his expertise as a moral theologian. In the following, we shall present the most crucial section of that lengthy interview in which he explicitly speaks about people who are being spied upon in and about the Vatican:
Careerists and opportunists should not be promoted, and other people who are competent collaborators not excluded without any reason or expelled from the Curia. It’s not good. I heard it from some houses here, that people working in the Curia are living in great fear: If they say one small or harmless critical word, some spies will pass the comments directly to the Holy Father, and the falsely accused people don’t have any chance to defend themselves. These people, who are speaking bad words and lies against other persons, are disturbing and disrupting the good faith, the good name of others whom they are calling their brothers.
The Gospel and the words of Jesus are very strong against those who denounce their brothers and who are creating this bad atmosphere of suspicion. I’ve heard that nobody speaks; everyone is a little afraid because they can be snitched on. It’s not the behavior of adult people, but that of a boarding school.
[Edward Pentin:] One senior Church figure, speaking to me on condition of anonymity, called it a “reign of terror.”
[Cardinal Müller:] It’s the same in some theological faculties — if anybody has any remarks or questions about Amoris Laetitia, they will be expelled, and so on. That is not maturity. A certain interpretation of the document’s Footnote 351 cannot be criteria for becoming a bishop. A future bishop must be a witness to the Gospel, a successor of the apostles, and not only someone who repeats some words of a single pastoral document of the Pope without a mature theological understanding. […]
[Edward Pentin:] Regarding Amoris Laetitia and the fear of criticizing it, and the lack of response to the dubia, isn’t the irony that it goes against the Pope’s wish for parrhesia (to speak boldly and frankly) and dialogue?
[Cardinal Müller:] Everyone who becomes bishop, cardinal or pope must learn to distinguish between the critics who are against the person and critics against the mission you have. The Holy Father, Francis, must know that it is important one accepts his intention: to help those people who are distant from the Church, from the belief of the Church, from Jesus Christ, who wanted to help them. … This discussion is not against him, it is not against his intentions, but there is need of more clarification. Also, in the past, we had discussions about the faith and the pastoral application of it. It’s not the first time this has happened in the Church, and so why not learn from our long experiences as Church, to have a good, profound discussion in promoting the faith, the life of the Church and not to personalize and polarize? It’s not a personal criticism of him, and everybody must learn it and respect his high responsibility. It is a very big danger for the Church that some ideological groups present themselves as the exclusive guardians of the only true interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. They feel they have the right to condemn all people of another standpoint as stupid, rigid, old-fashioned, medieval, etc.
Nobody can, for example, say Cardinal Caffarra didn’t understand anything of moral theology. Sometimes the un-Christian behavior is printed in L’Osservatore Romano, the semi-official Vatican newspaper, or given in official organs of the media, to make polemics and rhetoric. This cannot help us in this situation — only a profound theological discussion will. [emphasis added]
These observations and comments have some grave implications with regard to the papacy of Pope Francis, inasmuch as he is, finally, responsible for this atmosphere of fear and distrust in Rome; and even for the suppression of some of the orthodox clergy and laymen (such as the highly respected Professor Josef Seifert).
In another section of his interview, however, Cardinal Müller insists, with regard to the confusion concerning Amoris Laetitia, that it is somehow not the pope’s fault: “I think the Pope should not be blamed for this confusion, but he is authorized by Jesus Christ to overcome it [the confusion].”
Cardinal Müller is at least to be commended for his courage to speak much truth in this new interview, and he likely will suffer for it. However, one may politely challenge him as to why he still does not call that man to come forth who is actually responsible, in the end, for this current state of affairs within the Catholic Church: Pope Francis himself. Do we not all have a duty loyally to resist him for creating such an atmosphere of fear and distrust and for suppressing the truly orthodox teaching? For, is it not finally about Christ’s own truth that we reverently speak?