The indefatigable Mary O'Regan has just garnered an exclusive interview with the recently-appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Müller. The conversation is warm and personable, and politic; and may be of interest to some of our readers. The whole interview is published under the politic title of "Catholics ought to avoid extremes" (Catholic Herald, December 19, 2012).
Here are some excerpts I found interesting:
In 1977, [Müller] submitted a dissertation on the Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s sacramental theology. In 1985, so that he would be eligible to be a professor of theology, he wrote a second doctoral thesis on Catholic devotion to the saints. The “Karl Rahner connection” is that Archbishop Müller’s doctoral supervisor for both his theses was Professor Karl Lehmann, who received his doctorate under Karl Rahner.There is a great deal more, but I shouldn't wonder if here alone is sufficient grist for the mill.
... One thing in particular from his priestly formation guides him to present day: he recalls that he read Joseph Ratzinger’s book Introduction to Christianity when he was a seminarian. “It was a new book at the time, and the concentrated theological insights are ever present in my mind to this day,” he said....
As Prefect of the CDF, Archbishop Müller is responsible for the implementation of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. He was keen to talk about the great benefits which have come to the Church through the inclusion of these communities of Anglicans, with their pastors, into Catholic life. Commenting on the ecumenical dimension of the personal ordinariates, he said: “It’s not only the will of the Holy Father, but it is the will of Jesus Christ that all the baptised are drawn together into full visible communion. In this way Anglicanorum Coetibus is both a fruit of the ecumenical dialogues of the last 40 years and an expression of the ultimate goal of the ecumenical movement.
“What we notice particularly from the clergy who are applying for ordination in the various ordinariates is that there has been a rediscovery in some Anglican and Protestant circles of the importance and the necessity of the papacy in order to maintain the authentic link with biblical Christianity against the pressures of secularism and liberalism. Many of those who have entered into full communion through the ordinariates have sacrificed a great deal in order to be true to their consciences. They should be welcomed wholeheartedly by the Catholic community – not as prodigals but as brothers and sisters in Christ who bring with them into the Church a worthy patrimony of worship and spirituality.”
One of Archbishop Müller’s trickier tasks is overseeing the reconciliation process with the Society of St Pius X. When I probed to get an idea of the current situation between Rome and the SSPX, Archbishop Müller answered pithily: “There remain misunderstandings about Vatican II, and these must be agreed upon. The SSPX must accept the fullness of the Catholic faith, and its practice.
“Disunity always damages the proclamation of the Gospel by darkening the testimony of Jesus Christ.
“The SSPX need to distinguish between the true teaching of the Second Vatican Council and specific abuses that occurred after the Council, but which are not founded in the Council’s documents.”
... Focusing on a difficulty experienced by ordinary Catholics in parishes, I asked his advice on what to do when one is stuck in the middle between traditionalists and progressives.... Archbishop Müller responded: “Catholics must avoid these extremes, because such extremes are against the mission of the Church. In the world of politics, you have extremes of Right and Left. But the Church is united in Jesus Christ and in our common faith. We must avoid the politicisation of the Church.”