Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Interview with Archbishop Gerhard Müller


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.

... 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.”
There is a great deal more, but I shouldn't wonder if here alone is sufficient grist for the mill.


13 comments:








Sheldon

said...

So being a traditional Catholic, who accepts not only the licitness of Vatican II but also the abiding normativity of all prior Ecumenical Councils and magisterial teaching, must have an "ist" suffix added to his designating term ("traditional-ist") and be regarded as an EXTREMIST on a par with the "progressive" who rejects the normativity of ANY Councils or Church teaching! Surprise-surprise!

And the archbishop, while bending over backwards to accomodate Anglicans and telling Protestant "bishop" Johannes Friedrich in Bavaria last year that Catholics and and Protestants already belong to "the same Church," implicitly questions whether the SSPX belongs to "the same Church" (see Tradition in Action website).





Sheldon

said...

It is small wonder that he lists among the primary influences on his education the indirect influence of Karl Rahner and of Cardinal Ratzinger and his book, Introduction to Christianity," which paints Teilhard de Chardin in glowing terms.

So Catholics must "avoid extremes" and yet embrace the Counter-Syllabus of Gaudium et spes, and the other innovations of and since Vatican II that are now commonplace and to which Pius XII or any of the earlier popes would have responded in horror and disbelief.

The archbishop chastises traditionalists by insisting that they must accept "the fullness of the Catholic faith." What does this mean? He says it means that they must "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."

Has the archbishop read the documents of Vatican II? Can he not see that they are often so full of contradictions and ambiguities that nearly any opinion can claim to be "founded upon" them? Progressives can justly claim, for example, that the use of the vernacular in the Mass is "founded upon" Sacrosanctum Concilium, while traditionalists can justly claim that the continued us of Latin is "founded upon" it.

The whole trajectory of the archbishop's thinking leads directly to the foundation of Protestantism in apotheosis of subjective opinion.





I am not Spartacus

said...

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...

Well, so much for the whole absolutely null and utterly void thingy.

The ease with which a few political pleasantries can be made to paper over declared doctrinal truths is a wonder to behold; that is, the many married lay ministers (that's what they are), not Priests, in the Anglican Community (absent Holy Orders, Eucharist, and Apostolic Sucession they are not a church) are to be welcomed as brothers and sisters whereas the celibate Ordained Men of the SSPX are heretics.

The sad thing is that many Catholics have become so inured to these claims that they are just read and accepted with alacrity whereas they ought be responded to with the same sound made by Donald Sutherland in the last scene of "Body Snatchers."





JFM

said...

Of Ratzinger's "Introduction...." he says, "the concentrated theological insights are ever present in my mind to this day."


Can someone, anyone, PLEASE explain the unique insights of this book to me? I tried to read it. Perhaps it is its Euro-orientation, but I could not, not could I imagine any layman making much sense of it.

Meanwhile, I just finished Amerio's "Iota Unum." Not only was it as clear as a bell: it also clearly sounded problmatic problems I think the new Prefect has not even pretended to approach.

I personally very much appreciate his comments on Anglicans. But I do not think his approach to Trads and Vatican II will do much other than contribute to their exclusion from the Neo-Cath Mutual Admiration Society that has already secured a safe place near the papal offices. Hope I am wrong there...





Paul Borealis

said...

"I asked his advice on what to do when one is stuck in the middle between traditionalists and progressives"

I wonder if I am the only one who will admit to doing some cherry picking in my time, leaning towards a more so-called liberal Catholicism one moment, middle ground the next, then towards the so-called traditionalist Catholicism at another... and everywhere in between I suppose.

I have read a bit of Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, Pius X, Lefebvre, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, Romano Amerio, Danielou, De Lubac, Dietrich Von Hildebrand, Origen, Jerome, James Hitchcock, Anne Roche Muggeridge, Teresa of Avila, Newman.....

I am not an expert..... on clarity least of all.

You know what? I doubt many self-styled traditionalist, middle road, or liberal Catholics have ever read every Ecumenical Council, Papal teaching and encyclical, not to mention really understood them through and through and in context. And how many are really deeply well-read in history, theology, philosophy....? Not to mention Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition.

I encounter experts everywhere. True believers.

Church - State relations over 2000 years....hmmm. Now THERE are grounds and justification for schism.

I suppose I am neither a royalist, fascist, capitalist, communist, socialist, populist, distributionist, democrat... Constantine the Great, and Popes Leo III, Julius II, Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius XII and Paul VI notwithstanding.

"Catholics ought to avoid extremes"

I have read a bit of Vatican II, Vatican One, the Council of Chalcedon, Florence....

At weak moments in places I have found or seen haunting ambiguity , --- contradiction, antinomy and paradox rise and appear like phantoms. Who can say?

Let me say unmysteriously here and now, after making the rounds of the blogs lately, if I read one more sectarian "traditionalist" telling all how he or she believes and has understood what the true Church, with steely immobility, infallibility, logic and noncontradiction always and everywhere - as clear as light - and solid rock,-- unambiguously teaches and taught, AND then have suffer the same persons condemning most including the Pope of being a modernist/heretic (along with the total Vatican II Council), I am going to be sick, cry, or jump off a bridge. Humbug.





George

said...

I find this all very distressing. When Ratzinger was elected Pope, I had thought that we would see significant restoration of Catholic tradition. We have seen some modest amelioration of defects here and there; but we have also see, to the contrary, a perpetuation of the regime of novelties. For example, we have seen Pope Benedict continue the Assisi fiasco to the continued confusion of the faithful. Oh, bother ... I can't go on.





Sheldon

said...

Paul,

Yours is a counsel to fideism in the face of skepticism here, methinks. Since there are conflicting understandings of the Church and her teaching, let's throw up our hands and blindly trust that the Church somehow will get it right.

But if the basic outline of Church teaching is not comprehensible to the faithful, how can they be expected to even know their faith or practice it? This is not rocket science. There are dogmatic definitions, doctrines, and various instructions from Rome. Disciplines are changeable, dogmas and doctrines are not. Our understanding of them can deepen over time, but but their substance cannot change. If anyone (even a bishop or a pope) says they do, there's a problem.





Roger Lessa

said...

Sheldon writes: "But if the basic outline of Church teaching is not comprehensible to the faithful, how can they be expected to even know their faith or practice it? This is not rocket science. There are dogmatic definitions, doctrines, and various instructions from Rome. Disciplines are changeable, dogmas and doctrines are not. Our understanding of them can deepen over time, but but their substance cannot change. If anyone (even a bishop or a pope) says they do, there's a problem."

I'm thinking this is not lukewarm, but a passion for the Catholic faith, just sayin.





JFM

said...

Paul:

How about those of us who try not to be "steely," but still see a series of messages so quite obviously contradicting that they compromise the idea of objectively revealed truth as a relible guide? Sincerely, whether it is posturing or seriosuly held contempt, I have to say I find your seeming dismissal of concerns as the terrain of contention-seeking or hair-splitting Traddies to be unnecessary. For my part, I praise the Lord for the internet voices that demonstrate a concern for clear, consistent and forthright theology that respects as true and needful that which has been taught in the past. In a Church that stresses Tradition as an essentil of the faith, it seems a bit... strident... to upbraid those looking for a consistent as well as a "Living" tradition. Also, maybe you should broaden your browsing. For every shrill voice I encounter, I find an equally charitable and resonable one. Just saying... Merry, merry Christmas!





Ralph Roister-Doister

said...

The argument that V2 has been misunderstood because of the hermeneutical "rupture" which occurred after it is a fabrication designed to save the credibility of the nouvelle reiminagining of Catholicism. It requires one to believe that the same people who set the agenda and produced the documents of the council suddenly -- boink!! -- misunderstood completely what they had done, and implemented something else altogether. What sort of dullard would take such a fable seriously?

It is an inconvenient truth that the people who were responsible for V2 were the SAME people responsible for its implementation! That being the case, it is absurd (or disingenuous) to hold that there was a "rupture" between agenda and implementation. Agenda and implementation form a seamless whole: the "rupture" is between that whole and Catholic tradition.

Alas, the SSPX is one of the few remaining unrazed bastions where this is understood and stated plainly, instead of covered up, or accounted for with self-serving alternate realities.





Ralph Roister-Doister

said...

"It requires one to believe that the same people who set the agenda and produced the documents of the council suddenly -- boink!! -- misunderstood completely what they had done, and implemented something else altogether."

Not only that, it requires one to believe that these people, after implementing that of which they did not conceive during the council, suddenly awoke 20-30 years later to their incredible goof up, and began to exclaim, "hey, wait a minute, there's been a RUPTURE!!"

Boink! -- man, I cudda hadda V2!!

The V2 fathers as The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Papa Ratzinger as Rip Van Winkle. Faith and credulity may not be synonymous terms, even for NeoCaths, but apparently it would help some people if they were.

A radically different view of this whole situation is provided by Ralph Wiltgen, who quotes the liberal apostate Schillebeeckx on HIS problems with the planned implementation of one issue (caps added by Ralph):

"As early as the second session [of the council], wrote Father Schillebeeckx, he had told a peritus on the Theological Commission that he was sorry to see in the schema what appeared to be the moderate liberal view on collegiality; he personally was in favor of the extreme liberal view. The peritus had replied, 'We are stating this in a diplomatic manner, BUT AFTER THE COUNCIL WE SHALL DRAW THE CONCLUSIONS IMPLICIT IN IT.'"

Schillebeeckx, concerned that the text was insufficiently modernist in its language, was told by his colleague not to worry -- the fix was in. This little exchange concerning one pillar of V2 reform -- collegiality -- provides strong anecdotal evidence that (a) the purveyors of the V2 counciliar agenda would also be the leaders in the implementation of that agenda after the council, and (b) there was no uncertainty whatsoever about that which would be implemented. Though the language of the documents might be ambiguous and "diplomatic," there was no "rupture": the fix was in from the very start.





George

said...

Ralph:

So the chaos FOLLOWING Vatican II is not unrelated to the 'fix' which you say was already "in from the very start".

If the Council was hijacked by the Rhineland sources flowing into the Tiber, as suggested by you and Wiltgen, then what do you make of the charism of infallibility that is presumably attendant to the documentary yield of the Council? Would you agree with someone like Christopher Ferrara who argues that nothing explicitly heretical is taught in the Conciliar documents, but that ambiguities having the character of "viruses" nevertheless plague them to dire effect? Or that they conceal what Michael Davies calls "time bombs," hidden from the sight of the credulous majority of Council fathers, who would later find themselves bewildered by the exploding chaos antecedent to the Council? Or do you think the Council itself fell substantially into error in some way?





Ralph Roister-Doister

said...

George, I think that either the time bomb or the virus metaphor expresses the problem succinctly. I also think that either metaphor implies strongly that "the Council itself fell substantially into error in some way."

I believe that the charism of infallibility covers a more complicated situation than the simple assertion that whatever twisted braids of thought modernist periti managed to commit to council paper are ipso facto infused with grace by the Holy Spirit. This is not an alchemical process after all: lead cannot be changed to gold.

I have to believe that that grace will ultimately descend upon those within the Church who succeed in recognizing and rooting out the "implicit" conclusions of the Wiltgen quote above, wherever they may be found, and who thereby reassert the truth of Catholic dogma, and restore the essence of Catholic tradition.

After all, such has been the role, and the "charism," of those saints and scholars honored as "Doctors of the Church" over twenty centuries: why would it change now?