“God is the greatest liberal”

That seems to be the headline-making quote from a fresh interview with the new head of the CDF, Gerhard Muller.  Details, and translation, from Catholic Church Conservation:

This is a long interview with the Mittelbayerische Zeitung- now complete.

Relaxed and at ease, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller returns a week after his appointment as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the Diocese of Regensburg. A series of interviews for journalists are on the agenda for Friday: liberation theology, the SSPX and the situation of divorced and remarried. Minefields for an ecclesiastic, who has moved to third place in the Vatican’s ecclesiastical pecking order.

Archbishop Mueller, first of all, congratulations on the new job. Since when did you know about your appointment?

I definitely knew it on 16 May, when the Holy Father has summoned me to his presence.

Did your commitment to the liberation theology endangers your appointment?

I do not know. If you know the Catholic faith, we know that to her essentially belong the social obligation, the responsibility for the world, the love of the poor. Liberation theology is a big word – but every Christian theology has something to do with the freedom of man. Also in South America in this context, it is about theological questions: Given the misery and indignity that many people around us can not imagine, given this glaring injustice, we can not simply go away with a pious raising of eyebrows about it. Faith and doing good go together. These are the two sides of a coin.

Are you then in agreement with the Pope?

Total agreement . Not even when he was my predecessor’s predecessor in the CDF did he put liberation theology in its entirety in question, but some aspects which I fully underline. Liberation theology is not a loose mix of communism and the Catholic faith. Theology, if it is to be Catholic, you must find out an answer from his own sources. The social teaching of the Catholic Church has proven to be far superior to the Marxist analysis. We do not want a society that is divided into rich and poor, and in which one has access to education, and not the other. Workers and employers must not act against each other as pure interest groups, but they must all be committed to the common good. Even against the rampant commercialization of all aspects of life we must be critical: the economy is there for people, not vice versa.

You have been declared, in respect of such words, to be among the liberals. Did that surprise you?

Oh well. Saint Thomas Aquinas says, “Deus maxime liberalis est – God is the Greatest Liberal”. (Cathcon- normally translated as “God therefore is in the highest degree liberal” to ensure that there is no conflation of the ideas of liberality with the practice of liberalism in any sense). In the original sense is liberalis is liberally and generously. ” In this sense, I love being a liberal.(Cathcon- one waits for years for the Head of the CDF to quote St Thomas and he is now used in such a poor way)

You have always been very critical of the SSPX. Now, you are responsible as Prefect for the return of the fallen-away Society into the bosom of the Church. How difficult is it?

The negotiations of the Vatican with the SSPX brothers are friendly, Christian and humane, but clearly in formation. Who wants to become Catholic again must recognise the authority of the Pope and the bishops (Cathcon- the SSPX certainly think they both are Catholic and recognise the authority of the Pope. Big misunderstanding from Mueller which is at variance with various Vatican statements of recent years). No one should think that they can impose his own ideas of the Catholic Church. The talks in Rome are not negotiations between two parties. No religious fraternity may impose conditions of the church.

The negotiations between the SSPX with the Vatican have been going on since January 2009. How much more time is needed?

Eventually, the “point of no return” is coming and they must decide: Do they wish for the unity of the Church? This includes the acceptance of the form and content of the Second Vatican Council, and the previous and subsequent statements and decisions of the Magisterium. There is no other way. (Cathcon- he seems to be deliberately tearing up bridges that have already been built).

The main criticism of the SSPX is the Second Vatican Council’s- the permission for Masses in the local language instead of Latin. Is there any leeway?

What can be granted, is that which actually belongs to the diversity of the Catholic faith and life. The liturgical reform of Vatican II was factually correct and necessary. One cannot issue polemic against it just because there are abuses.

There’s much more. Read on. And read his thoughts on deacons right here.

Browse Our Archives