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Cardinal Müller Suggests He Had Not Voted for the Unanimous German Report at 2015 Family Synod

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), keeps surprising us. After recently publicly speaking about the current atmosphere of fear and of censorship in the Vatican under Pope Francis, the German cardinal now suggests by way of implication that he himself never gave his consent to the decisive report of the German-speaking group at the second Synod of Bishops on the Family in Rome in 2015. If this were to be true, we would be facing now another large scandal since that Synod document was presented to the public as having had the approval of the Prefect of the CDF himself.

In a 13 October interview with the German Catholic newspaper, Die Tagespost, Cardinal Müller responds to a question about the German-speaking group and that group’s 2015 discussion of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. He explains, as follows:

I myself had introduced into the discussion of this language group the reference to the questions 79 and 80 of the third part of the Summa theologiae, so that Cardinal Christoph Schönborn himself was happy about all that which his fellow friar has already said six [sic] hundred years ago concerning the topic of the legitimate and fruitful reception of the Eucharist. It was said that the final report had been approved with the help of one vote, that is to say with my vote. It is also true, however, that this ballot was secret.

Now these last two somewhat vague sentences are of some considerable importance inasmuch as Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, had then insisted, in a press conference at the end of the 2015 Synod on the Family, that the final report of the German-speaking group had been unanimously approved. Was this statement not quite true, after all? For, at that time, I had reported the following:

It was in the last of the three reports of the language-groups, as Edward Pentin reports, that the German-language group floated the idea of a resort to the internal forum “which critics say is a slightly modified version of the ‘Cardinal Kasper thesis’ that would admit remarried divorcees to Communion after a period of penance […].”

Significantly, when this German-language group report was presented on October 21 [2015], it was Cardinal Marx himself who, speaking at a Synod press conference, insisted upon the fact that this report was written with the unanimous support of all the members of the group. More than once, he said: “Every text of the German-speaking group, every relatio, is unanimous. No vote against it. That is very important, I think.” He seemingly repeated this fact so that everybody in the room would realize that this meant that Cardinal Müller also supported the report. And Marx explicitly said that the idea of the “internal forum” was intended to be a means to help some “remarried” divorcees “to come to a full reconciliation with the Church,” which would include the access to the Sacraments. Cardinal Marx explicitly mentions at the press conference that there was a kind of agreement between Cardinals Kasper and Müller over the weekend, after they had each studied the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas as to how, with prudence, to “look at the different situations.” [emphasis added]

According to my report then, Cardinal Müller and Cardinal Walter Kasper had then come to some sort of agreement which led to the introduction of the idea of the “forum internum” which then entered the Synod’s summarizing final report, and which, in turn, was used by Pope Francis to justify in his Amoris Laetitia the idea that divorced and “remarried” couples might make a discernment about their situation in the “forum internum,” and that that very help of the Church might also at times “include the Sacraments.”

That is to say, Pope Francis was able, indirectly, to make use of the supposed Kasper-Müller compromise – as “moderated” by Cardinal Schönborn – in order to be able to implement his more liberalizing attitude toward the divorced and “remarried” couples with the learned “support” of the final document of the 2015 Synod. (As we still see, somehow the discussion of St. Thomas as initiated by Cardinal Müller still is being picked up by Pope Francis who now claims that Amoris Laetitia is “thomistic.”)

It was the radio station of the Diocese of Cologne, Germany, which declared hours after the end of the 2015 Synod on 24 October that the German-speaking group had been decisive:

In the end, it was the German language group which was able to overcome the obstruction and main blockage concerning the remarried questions.


A tiny little opening has been since made, and the central ideas of this group find themselves in the final report. If Pope Francis copies them later, it would be possible for those working in pastoral care to open up to those concerned – in certain “extreme cases” – the path to a “growing integration” into the communal life. Some of those who are responsible for pastoral care will also thus include the admittance to Holy Communion.

I remember hearing myself from sources in Rome at the time that Cardinal Müller had wanted to show mercy for certain extreme cases of “remarried” couples, as it was then also reported by the German magazine FOCUS. However, five months later, in March of 2016, Cardinal Müller had already distanced himself from the idea of a more liberalizing attitude toward the question of the divorced and “remarried” couples, i.e.,  by re-stating that they would have to abstain from sexual relations if they were to wish to have access to the Sacraments.

In spite of his subsequent distancing from the Kasper approach – and since that time – I have repeatedly, perhaps unfairly, held Cardinal Müller partly responsible for the ill fruits of Amoris Laetitia. For, without his approval of the German-speaking group’s final report at the Synod, the “forum internum” idea (which then did not explicitly mention access to the Sacraments yet) would not have entered the final report of the Synod and thus could not have been legitimately “picked up” and specifically used by Pope Francis.

Now I do not know what to think.

If, after all, Cardinal Müller did not give his consent to this German-supported compromise at the Synod, I would fittingly now have to retract all my ill-informed commentaries and criticisms of his person and role. But, so should many other observers who were all comparably misled.

But, why did Cardinal Müller not earlier speak up and show that Cardinal Marx was effectively speaking a falsehood when the latter insisted at the end of the 2015 Synod that the German-speaking report had been approved unanimously? Why does Cardinal Müller only now indicate such an implied correction or modification, now that he has been dismissed by Pope Francis – and quite abruptly so – from his position as the Prefect of the CDF?

This new and somewhat ambiguous Müller interview could well lead to another scandal. The scandal would be that leading figures at the Synod had falsely used Cardinal Müller’s name to implement more efficiently their own progressive agenda of reform. It would further take away “the fig leaf,” as it were, of legitimacy from that equivocal synodal process which was, in any event, quite heavily criticized.

Three days ago, I contacted Cardinal Müller’s secretary and asked him for some further clarifications as to whether or not the cardinal did actually vote to support the German-speaking group’s purportedly unanimous, final vote of concord. Should I receive a response from him, I shall update this post. I have also contacted Matthias Kopp, the press speaker of Cardinal Marx. He answered back by saying that I should, instead, now turn to the Secretariat of the Synods; and he thus declined my request to Cardinal Marx that he confirm his earlier public statement about unanimity. However, in a second answer a couple hours later, Mr. Kopp pointed out to me the official statement from Archbishop Heiner Koch – who was the relator of the German-speaking group at the 2015 Synod – in which Koch himself also states that the final report was unanimously approved by the members of the group. This makes a clarifying statement from Cardinal Müller himself even more urgent.

75 thoughts on “Cardinal Müller Suggests He Had Not Voted for the Unanimous German Report at 2015 Family Synod”

  1. How is this type of behavior in the Vatican over the past 50 years news?! Lying, deception, half-truths on religious matters? It is nothing more than consistent behavior. And they know they will get away with it… on earth.

  2. It will be interesting to see if Card. Muller responds with a clear answer. Either he voted in agreement or he didn’t. At this point it only matters just to get a more complete overall look at what actually happened. I don’t think anything will be rescinded in AL. And now I hear of a new Synod on married clergy. The fun never stops.

    • I have news for RCs (not you, obviously ????) who think that married priests are the solution:

      If you want married priests, then adopt in toto ALL the rules and regulations that married Eastern Catholic priests (like my pastor) have to follow – and I mean ALL of them. Otherwise, DON’T DO IT!!!

      RCs who want married priests have NO IDEA what they’re in for.

      Sorry for shouting – I had to get that out of my system.

        • Please see my reply to Deacon Augustine. If I find more, I’ll edit my reply to him. I wish I had a link but I can’t find anything official.

      • I think married priests in the Latin rite would be disastrous, Margaret, and am not in favour of the idea at all. But I can’t see them permitting it until they have embraced “same sex marriage” first.

        As a matter of curiosity, though, are there any “rules and regulations” that married Eastern priests have to follow that married Latin deacons do not?

        • Thank you for replying, Rev. Deacon. To recap:

          1) Eastern Catholic *priests* cannot marry! What the Eastern Catholic Churches *do* allow is for MARRIED MEN TO BE ORDAINED PRIESTS. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between the two!

          If a man is ordained celibate – both in the East and West – HE CANNOT MARRY. This is the constant and unchanging Tradition of the Church.

          So if anyone says that Eastern Catholic *priests* can marry, it’s patently false.

          2) If a married man wants to become a priest, he must first ask the permission of his wife. If she says yes, they both undergo formation – he in the seminary and she receives special formation. If she says NO, that’s the end of it. Plus, he cannot force her to consent. Her consent must be free.

          True story: When my pastor was in the seminary, a woman with 5 children knocked on the door and asked to see the bishop. The bishop came and asked her what she wanted. “Bishop, I want my husband back.” The bishop investigated the matter, and it was found that the man in question had not obtained his wife’s permission to enter the seminary. The reason why he left her? He heard in church the Gospel which says:

          And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting. (St. Matthew)

          He took the Gospel literally and left his wife and children.


          3) Married priests and their wives have to abstain from the conjugal act the night before the priest offers Liturgy. So if a priest has 4 funerals, 2 weddings and has to offer the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, that’s one week without marital relations.
          And if I remember right, celibacy is actually mandatory for a married priest and his wife. I GUARANTEE you that most RC women wouldn’t approve of that one! (And if she’s involved in the parish, they probably wouldn’t have time for it anyway imho.)

          3) If a priest’s wife dies, he is forbidden to remarry, since Christ has one Spouse and that is the Church (c.f. Ephesians 5: 22 et seq.). If there are children, that makes it more complicated.

          There are other rules and regulations which married priests must follow which do not apply to celibate priests and vice versa. If I find out more, I will edit my post accordingly.

          Honestly, if Roman Catholics knew what married Eastern Catholic priests have to go through, they’d get down on their knees and thank God that they have celibate priests.


          Full disclosure: My pastor is a Ukrainian Greek Catholic married priest. He has 2 parishes, is an on-call chaplain at local hospitals and loves gardening. Pani (pronounced Pah-nee; it’s the title for the wife of a priest) is very sweet and I love her very much.

          • Thank you for taking the time to write this up, Margeret – Until I had a few moments free here at work and saw your post, I had every intention of digging into this matter this evening, but life being what it is, as a single mom with a birthday cake to bake this evening in addition to the standard issue ‘chores’, odds are it would have fallen into the “Oh yes, I meant to do that” file, along with a host of other interesting-but-still-forgotten items.

            You know what they say about best-laid plans (or, perhaps, the “road to perdition” is more appropo!)

            Either way, thank you!

          • All that you’ve shared, Margaret, is what I recalled from one of my theology courses tgat had a section on the different rites within the One, Holy, Apostolic Catholic Church. Thank you very much for jogging my memory.

          • Yes, that’s where I learned that eastern rite seminarians could marry up until they were ordained to the full transitional deaconate (not subdeacon) and that getting “adopted” into another rite was like getting a marriage annulled.

          • Margaret, my pastor is a Ukrainian Greek Catholic married priest as well. A very kind Divine Providence allowed us to buy a house a half mile from the Ukrainian church some forty years ago. Why look elsewhere?

          • I quite liked the idea of the story in number 2.

            Until I realised that if I was to give up my wife now, I might end up with 100 wives. For ever!!

            I think I’ll stick with the one.

          • Thank you for replying at such length, Margaret.

            The rules are very similar to those which govern the lives of married deacons in the west. There is one point you make in which I think you have used the word “celibacy” when you actually mean “continence”, viz:

            “And if I remember right, celibacy is actually mandatory for a married priest and his wife. I GUARANTEE you that most RC women wouldn’t approve of that one! ”

            “Celibacy” is the state of not being married, whereas “continence” is refraining from the marital act. There is a good argument to state that married clergy in both east and west should live in a state of perpetual continence. In not insisting on it, the west seems to have followed the lead of the east without the rules of abstinence prior to celebrating the liturgy. But as you rightly say, who has time for all that conjugal stuff anyway? 😉

          • You’re welcome.

            Thank you for making that distinction. I’ve heard both terms but didn’t know the difference between the two.

      • catholic priests always have been able to marry if they were missionaries. If they were going to a place where they could not hire a woman locally who would be fully dressed etc. They could apply and get permission to take a married woman with them. Their wives of course. With the state of the world today any where in the west would be recognised. Once some tears ago in Tacoma I went early inthe day to the door of the presbytery. A rather buxom woman answered the door in a white shift. It took some second to ralized that she was showing a liitle too much ankle.

        • Not so. As I said before:

          If a man is ordained celibate – both in the East and West – HE CANNOT MARRY. This is the constant and unchanging Tradition of the Church.

          That includes missionaries.

          • Corrrct you are Margaret, whether in the east or west. However, it is true that, at least since V2, a married anglican/episolcopalian priest who converts can be accepted into a Catholic seminary and be ordained undet the same rules as for eastern rite priests. I’ve personally met two such converts.

    • Well, supposedly the next synod next year will be on the “Youth.” Potentially even more disastrous than one that will discuss married priests… though I can see married priests being brought up as a “pastoral solution for young people to enter into the priesthood” or somesuch nonsense.

  3. Maike, thank you for persisting in your efforts to get to the truth of this horrendous farce. Everything needs to be brought out into the light of day so that somebody at some point can make the necessary corrections. It may not happen during this papacy, but the more evidence that can be thrown out into the public arena, the easier it will be for a Catholic Pope to act.

  4. Is there a member of the hierarchy who can speak clearly and directly? You know, be a man? Where’s Vito Corleone to slap these fancy boys around?

    I’m tired of these games of double speak, veiled hints, weak implications and–from the pope–bizarre, twisted logic that leaves people in state of stupor. Is this all a shell game of people bucking for promotions? Why are people so hesitant to give unambiguous and direct answers?

    It shakes the faith of believers, not because I doubt the caliber of the men (they’ve always had bad apples though maybe they’re all bad now) but because these men have studied and read things and seen 2000 years of worth of documents. They don’t seem too concerned with the truth of Christ or heaven or hell. I guess it makes me wonder why I should be….

    • “Why are people so hesitant to give unambiguous and direct answers?” I believe they don’t speak because they are afraid, Simple as that

      • Scared of what? See, that’s part of the problem: what scares me is eternal damnation. If what scares these men is losing their positions and not eternal damnation, then what do they believe and why do I believe what I believe? Do you understand what I mean?

        • I do understand what you mean but I find it pretty nearly impossible to accept that all of them, every last one of them, is simply scared of ‘losing his job’. Some maybe. There is something very sinister going on in Rome to shut up so many of the good men as well as careerists, If you read Ed Pentin’s “The rigging of a Vatican Synod” you will remember that one prelate, I forget now which one, having said he was going to clarify something later was seen as white as a ghost, obviously terrified, and never did that clarifying. Like I said, something incredibly sinister.

          • I also understand what you’re implying or, rather, explicitly stating. What could be so scary that you’d rather quietly float along with the stream like flotsam instead of standing up for truth?

          • I don’t know Brian. My imagination can run riot on this, but I don’t know. I think as well, that many might be banking on the Pope’s health not being good and hoping he pops his clogs and the next one not being as bad. Or so scary

          • I hope that is not that case.
            If it is, I do not think that will find favor with our Lord, in my opinion.
            Cardinals wear red for a reason and it would be good for our Lord to see such a sacrifice from those who swore an oath and were given many special graces to defend the Church’s teachings, the faith.
            It would be a great witness to the faith and I believe, that God will reward His Church greatly for it.

          • The faithful cardinals should have walked out en masse after all the shenanigans – that would have made a huge statement. The present moral divide among clergy, the sex scandals and the loss of souls could very well have been eliminated. In addition the close link between PF, Obama and Soros on major issues of climate change, homosexuality and abortion would have been exposed.
            How do we ever go back to being a one, holy, Catholic apostolic Church?
            How our God must weep !

          • You’re right, but the “Francis effect” is dividing the Church like Our Lady prophesied – cardinal against cardinal, bishop against bishop over the critical issues of marriage, Holy Communion, homosexuality, etc.

            These heretical people (James Martin, Dolan, Cupich and others) should have been defrocked instead of which they have been awarded “red hats” and high positions destroying the unity of the world-wide Church.
            I know that God will never abandon his Church, but we are in for persecution so we better tighten our belts, read up on Scripture and the Catholic Magisterium, and take up our rosary beads.

            Prayer and action by people in the pews is urgently needed.

          • The faithful cardinals (and bishops) should have walked out en masse as soon as the council was hijacked back in 1962. If they had maybe we would not now be in this mess! I agree that literal martyrdom for the faith would go far toward restoring the faith and is REQUIRED by the vows taken by every successor of the apostles. The failure to do so is a betrayal of Out Lord.

    • It can definitely be seen and could be stated that the most highly vaunted spirit that occupies the hierarchy and makes them write and maintain the duplicity of their writings, actions and voices is not the Holy Spirit but the spirit of the Roman two faced god Janus.

    • “I guess it makes me wonder why I should be” because you need to be concerned about your own soul, these men who are foolish enough to think they can fool God will be judged, like the rest of us, keep on the path that is narrow,the path that leads to salvation, only few find it and only few will enter the kingdom of heaven.

      • Oh, but wait a minute. Haven’t we been assured that very few go to hell? If that is the case, and very few go to heaven — then where do all the rest go? 🙂

  5. “This new and somewhat ambiguous Müller interview…………………

    LOL……aren’t all his interviews like this?

    I think news of the Catholic Church in Germany needs to be quarantined in a special section all of its own.

  6. Maike Hickson seems determined one way or another to show that Cardinal Mueller caused scandal, by what he said or by what he didn’t say or didn’t say quite the way he should have said it when she thinks he should have said it… all resulting in causing her to speak “perhaps unfairly” about Cardinal Mueller. So. Whatever happens, Cardinal Mueller is guilty of something? What Mrs. Hickson quoted above: “It was said that the final report had been approved with the help of one vote, that is to say with my vote. It is also true, however, that this ballot was secret” sounds to me that it is true that his one vote helped, because it “is ALSO TRUE’ that it was secret”. Whatever Cardinal Mueller found in the Summa that Schonborn managed to twist into something else, doesn’t necessitate that Mueller agreed to the distortion. He may’ve voted in all honesty and truthfulness on a particular point agreeing with St. Thomas. I really don’t see any story here.

    • Cardinal Mueller was prefect for the CDF. He was supposed to protect the Faith, not try to twist knots and soft pedal rotten theology. With the preceding in mind, then, there is no question that he has failed–there’s no “or” scenario, only a possible “and”: he already failed the Faith.

  7. Big deal. Who cares? Sour grapes.

    His Eminence should have spoken up when he had the chance. Now he’s been fired and nobody really cares.

    If he wants to help the Church he should learn how to say the TLM and go around celebrating high profile Pontifical Masses like Cardinal Burke does.

  8. Let’s be realistic. This is all about “Amoris Laetitia”. This document condones “fornication, adultery, and sodomy”. It is being espoused by the “gay constabulary” which has now openly taken over the Vatican. The Third Secret evidently contains an axiom that corruption in the Church will “extend to the very top”. This is an obvious attempt to redefine marriage. Sister Lucy remarked that the “final battle” would be over marriage and the family.—-There is no doubt of an intimidation factor involving Cardinal Muller. Pope Francis has made it known that it is “my way or the highway”. What does Holy Scripture say about this moral definition? It would appear that it clashes with statements from the pontiff.—-The Church is being split like a pig. The redefining of marriage is nothing more than heresy.

  9. With all due respect, this article builds a very thin conspiracy theory out of a few sentences that may or may not imply what the author is reading into it. I don’t see the point or the charity in building a case against Cardinal Muller in an attempt to get him to admit something that he may or may not have said or meant, to try to get at Pope Frances and company. There is enough scandal in the Church – is there really a need to try to create one by propping up suppositions? It is no mystery that the 2015 Synod outcome was coerced, it has been reported with cited quotations as stated by the usual suspects. It’s time to move on and seriously consider how Our Lord and Our Lady would want us to respond to this crisis. I think we need look no further than Our Lady’s requests at Fatima – First Five Saturdays, Pray the Rosary daily, make reparation for our sins and the sins of others. These things may not be as glamorous as the 40 plus year divisive argument about the 3rd secret of Fatima, but they are essential ingredients to Heavens Peace Plan.

    • People even clergy need to be held accountable. The Church cannot move forward until this has been done. You need to act as well as pray.

  10. To allow one’s name to be used to support a lie makes the one lied about complicit by his silence. So, what difference does it make when the good Cardinal finds his tounge only after his job is lost?

  11. There is nothing in Cardinal Mueller’s words (It was said that the final report had been approved with the help of one vote, that is to say with my vote. It is also true, however, that this ballot was secret.) that says he did not approve the German group’s report. He needs to speak clearly or not at all. Enough with insinuations. If he voted for it then and now regrets it, man up and say so.

  12. All I can say is, Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us Your Mother to console us and strengthen us! We are like little bullied children who run to the knee of their mother for protection and comfort. I quote my friend Connie: “If I didn’t already know how this story turns out, I would give in to despair!”

  13. All national councils of bishops in the West should be abolished. Not only will the dioceses save time and money, the bishops can work on bringing more Catholics back into the church, fill up the pews, and actually provide parochial education to the youth.
    If these guys must meet, there is the option of “Go To Meeting” or Skype. A few committees and the jobs of bureaucrats will be eliminated, but we’ll manage.


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