In the wake of the sudden and sad death of Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has just revealed in a new 5 July interview that he spoke with Cardinal Meisner the night before he died. As the Passauer Neue Presse reports:
Müller had spoken over the phone with the former Archbishop of Cologne [Cardinal Meisner] the previous night [before he died the next morning]; and they also had spoken about the non-renewal of his former position. Meisner had shown himself to be “deeply saddened” by this dismissal. “That moved him personally and wounded him – and he considered it to be a form of damage for the Church,” as the Curial Cardinal [Müller] himself described the reaction of Meisner.
Just as we all are deeply saddened and discouraged by the recent demoralizing developments within our beloved Church, could it be that Cardinal Meisner was himself finally overtaken by them? We have learned that Cardinal Meisner died sitting and praying his breviary, in preparation for the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass. May he rest in peace.
Cardinal Müller also commented and sharply criticized in this new interview the conduct of Pope Francis with regard to his dismissal from the CDF. According to the Passauer Neue Presse:
In the interview with the PNP [Passauer Neue Presse], he explained that Pope Francis “communicated his decision” not to renew his term “within one minute” on the last work day of his five-year-term as Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith. Additionally, he [Müller] was not given any reasons for it. “This style [sic] I cannot accept,” as Müller stressed, clearly distancing himself from the procedure of the pope. In dealing with employees, also in Rome “the Church’s social teaching should be applied.”
In spite of this strong criticism of the pope’s conduct, Cardinal Müller nevertheless insisted upon his loyalty to Pope Francis. Müller will not respond to the pope’s personnel decision “with some kind of actions,” he said, adding: “Some people think now that they can put me in front of a movement [Vor den Karren spannen –an idiom which means pulling a cart or carriage] that is critical of the pope.” He continues, however, to bear as a cardinal his understanding of “the responsibility for the unity of the Church and to avoid as much as possible polarizations.” Müller explains that he has “always been loyal to the pope” and he wishes also to remain loyal in the future “as Catholic, bishop, and as cardinal, just as it is due.”
These words of Cardinal Müller make clear that even after his unusual dismissal, and though he is now less closely bound to Pope Francis, he will continue to place loyalty to the pope and the preservation of the Church’s unity above any public fraternal correction or resistance to the words and deeds of the pope — a pope who has unmistakably wreaked havoc in the Church to such an extent that she is now nearly unrecognizable.
Next to Cardinal Müller, Archbishop Georg Gänswein also happened to meet Cardinal Meisner shortly before his death. According to the Passauer Neue Presse, Gänswein visited Bad Füssing (near Passau) on 2 July in order to give a talk at the “Bad Füssinger Gespräche” [Bad Füssing Talks]. Cardinal Meisner himself had been staying also in Bad Füssing for the sake of some recuperation and vacation and so it was that the two met in person there, but no details have been revealed about their conversation.