Müller on Francis: “Don’t get hopes too high”

Interesting, from the UK Tablet — full text of an interview between Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller and the German Catholic News Agency:

KNA: Can former liberation theologians who have been reprimanded (by Rome) now hope to be rehabilitated?

Archbishop Müller: (laughing) I myself haven’t reprimanded any! Contrary to widespread popular opinion, the two instructions of 1984 and 1986 were not a big ‘No’ to liberation theology. They merely discussed certain aspects of it. Its most important representatives have developed their thinking in a positive way. One should be glad if tensions are not exacerbated and perpetuated. It is also the task of our Congregation to contribute towards reconciliation. There must be no rival camps in the Church. When occasionally there is a hardening of attitudes, we must overcome them and lead everyone back to the fundamentals of the faith.

KNA: Your Congregation is often seen as a censor’s office for undesirable theologians, especially in Germany. After the Pope’s most recent interview (in Civiltà Cattolica) one could get the impression that Pope Francis wanted to change that image.

Archbishop Müller: The image exists but it is incorrect. Of the 4,000 or so bishops and theologians appointed, you get perhaps ten cases where the nihil obstat (nothing stands in the way) cannot be given. Then, of course, there’s a huge echo and the positive things we do to promote the faith go under. Thus the International Theological Commission and the Pontifical Biblical Commission, both of which are assigned to our Congregation, do great deal of development work. False teachings, however, must be rejected. Whether Jesus is the Son of God or was just a good person who paved the way for today’s party-political social programmes is not immaterial. Healthy doctrine, the correct practice and eternal salvation belong inextricably together.

KNA: Up to now the Pope has not proclaimed any new doctrine. He obviously wants to set different priorities as far as the way the Church approaches people is concerned. Less dogmatically and less moralising and more pastorally, instead. Would you say that that is what is at the heart of his concern or how do you interpret what he has said?

Archbishop Müller: It’s not as if other bishops or Pope Benedict had constantly spoken about abortion, sexual morals or euthanasia. And pastoral work is not a therapeutic game. It wants to serve people with the Word of God. That is why juxtaposing doctrinal and moral teaching against pastoral work is not in the mind of the inventor. The former is the source of the latter.

KNA: What does that mean?

Archbishop Müller: If Jesus Christ is not the Son of God who became Man, then he cannot be the Good Shepherd. Pope Francis has that special charism of being able to translate the Church’s doctrine of the faith, which he adheres to unconditionally as he never tires of emphasising, into a personal encounter with people. As Pope he behaves like a local pastor.

Read the rest, which goes into specifics about what the pope may or may not expect from national bishops conferences, here

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