Bishop Mueller: an SSPX analysis
Bishop Gerhard Mueller, the former bishop of Regensburg, Germany, has just been appointed Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope Benedict XVI.
Fr. Matthias Gaudron, a priest of the SSPX specializing in dogmatic theology and author of the book, Catechism of the Crisis in the Church, recently published some remarks on the SSPX’s German District website concerning certain statements made by Bishop Mueller in the past. Fr. Gaudron’s comments conclude with a request to His Excellency.
The Church has always considered it to be one of her most important tasks to faithfully keep the Deposit of the Faith, confided to her by Christ and the Apostles, and to defend it against errors in order to pass it on intactly to the coming generations. And thus, rightly so, the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is one of the highest offices in the Church.
The SSPX in Germany has therefore with astonishment taken notice of the fact that the Bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, has been appointed to this office. The SSPX asks what suitability for this office can be found in a man that has gone against the Catholic doctrine on a number of occasions, both in his writings as well as in his public speeches.
The following things should be mentioned:
Bishop Mueller denies in his book Die Messe: Quelle christlichen Lebens [The Mass: Source of Christian Life] the real transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Bread and wine remain, according to him, what they are; however, they become tools for integrating the faithful into the living community with the Father and the Son. This resembles the Calvinistic teaching, according to which bread and wine do not transform, but become tools of grace.
Contrary to Catholic doctrine, according to which the transformation of the gifts occurs with the pronunciation of the words of institution, “This is my body… This is the chalice of my blood”, Bishop Mueller asserts that the question of the moment of transformation “doesn’t make sense”.
Bishop Mueller denies in his Dogmatik [currently a standard work in Germany about Dogmatics] the dogma of the Virginity of Mary while giving birth, and, therefore, the teaching that Mary gave birth to her son without violating her physical integrity.
In a eulogy for the Protestant bishop Dr. Johannes Friedrich, Bishop Mueller said on October 11, 2011: “Also the Christians that are not in full community with the Catholic Church regarding teaching, means of salvation and the apostolic episcopacy, are justified by faith and baptism and they are fully(!) incorporated/integrated into Church of God, being the Body of Christ.” This contradicts the integral Catholic tradition and especially the teaching of Pius XII in Mystici Corporis.
Against the Catholic doctrine of the necessity of a conversion to the Catholic Church, as is still proclaimed in the teaching of Vatican II, Bishop Mueller characterizes in the same speech the so-called “ecumenism of return” as being “erroneous”.
The Society urgently appeals to Bishop Mueller to comment on these controversial statements, or to correct them. The motivation for this attitude of the Society is not one of personal aversion, but only the wish for unadulterated proclamation of the doctrine.
Since Bishop Mueller has, in the past, not made a secret of his negative attitude towards the Society, the Society does not at first see in this a positive sign for the readiness to discuss its canonical recognition. Nevertheless, it hopes that the new Prefect – regarding discussions in the universal church – may achieve a more positive attitude towards the SSPX.
In reality, the body and blood of Christ do not mean the material components of the human person of Jesus during his lifetime or in his transfigured corporality. Here, body and blood mean the presence of Christ in the signs of the medium of bread and wine. …We have “now a community with Jesus Christ, mediated by eating and drinking the bread and the wine. Even in the merely personal human sphere, something like a letter may represent the friendship between people and, that is to say, show and embody the sympathy of the sender for the receiver.” Bread and wine thus only become “symbols of his salvific presence”. (Die Messe: Quelle Christlichen Lebens, Augsburg: St. Ulrich Verlag: 2002, p. 139).
2 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1375, n.1377
3 Die Messe: Quelle Christlichen Lebens, p. 142.
4 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 499, n. 510
5 “It is not so much about specific physiological proprieties in the natural process of birth (such as the birth canal not having been opened, the hymen not being broken, or the absence of birth pangs), but with the healing and saving influence of the grace of the Savior on human nature, that had been wounded by Original Sin. …it is not so much about physiologically and empirically verifiable somatic details.” (Katholische Dogmatik für Studium und Praxis, Freiburg 52003, p. 498) In fact, traditional doctrine is concerned precisely with such physiological details.
6 “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.” (Lumen Gentium, 14)