Pope Francis and the Marginalization of the CDF
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
(Rome) In his first interview with the a theist Eugenio Scalfari, published on October 1, 2013 in the daily newspaper La Repubblica, Pope Francis said overlooking some members of the Roman Curia: “The court is the leprosy of the papacy”. But Francis seems “to be fighting not the leprosy but the leper,” said Secretum meum mihi . The daily Il Foglio headline in yesterday’s edition of the first page: “Müller Besieged”.
Schönborn instead of Müller
The distance that exists between the Pope and the Cardinal Prefect of the Faith, Gerhard Müller, is recognized “by all”. “The cold was obviously” felt by the exclusion of German Cardinal from the presentation of the post-synodal letter Amoris Laetitia, although the entire discussion since two and a half years touched on his area of responsibility, of doctrine. While Pope Francis stuck with the German-speaking countries to present the Exhortation, it was the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.
This was not only a form of neglect, but even more as a security measure. Cardinal Müller would Amoris Laetitia would have left an impression, that the pope wouldn’t have wanted after all the effort expended to “Catholicize” divorce.
Since the intended camouflaged “openings” were packaged in footnotes, the presentation was crucial to for effect. Recommendations were issued ahead to all dioceses. Thus it was clear that the most important, the Roman presentation, was to be prepared with great care.
The main part fell to Vienna’s archbishop who was to explain the substantive significance of writing. There was no trace of Cardinal Müller. Thus it was already, during the double-synod. Think of the human resources policy at the daily press conference. The one-sidedness with which the the Kasperians were represented, only lef the synod members shaking their heads.
Diametrically opposite positions
Although the controversial questions about divorce, remarriage and communion for divorced and remarried directly affect the Doctrine of the Faith, the prefect of the doctrinal congregation remained disregarded in all media-moments, where this would be communicated by the Church to the world public.
“The fact is that the Cardinal and Francis represented diametrically opposed lines on the subject,” said Matteo Matzuzzi in Il Foglio . It was sufficient “to compare the Cardinal’s writings with Bergoglio’s speeches.” While Müller emphasized the need to reaffirm “healthy” cornerstones of the Church’s teaching, Francis speaks constantly of a charity that goes beyond the law.
The contrary positions in paragraph 311 of Amoris Laetitia are clear where Pope Francis writes:
“It is, for instance, true that mercy justice and the truth does not exclude each other, but above all we need to explain that charity is the fullness of justice and the most brilliant expression of God’s truth.Thus, one should always bear in mind that all theological terms are unreasonable, that ultimately call into question God’s omnipotence itself and especially his mercy.”
Faith Prefect Müller had already given his answer in autumn 2013 to the Daily Mail anticipating that by 23 October of the same year, what Osservatore Romano would say:
“Because the whole sacramental order is a work of divine mercy, and can not be reversed with reference to the same. Through the factually inaccurate emphasis on charity, there is also the risk of trivializing the image of God, that God can do nothing else than to forgive. For the mystery of God, besides His charity, is included his holiness and justice. If one omits these attributes of God and sin is not serious, then his mercy can not be ultimately conveyed to His people. Jesus met the adulteress with great compassion, he also said, however: ‘ Go and sin henceforth no more ‘ (John 8:11). The mercy of God is no dispensation from the Commandments of God and the teachings of the Church. Rather, it needs the power of grace to meet them, and rise again after the fall and to a life of perfection in the image of the heavenly Father.”
None of this can be found in Amoris laetitia .
Corrections of the CDF were disregarded
Pope Francis indeed had sent the draft in accordance with Vatican tradition to the CDF for correction. However, only some of the numerous points elaborated under Muller’s correction proposals were considered by the Pope. Pope Francis leaves the structures and the people in place, where they would work diligently, but then ignored them. An efficient form of integrating an opponent in an unassailable manner and at the same time leaving him in the dark.
This marginalization of the CDF in the preparation and the presentation of a papal document anticipated with such tension concerns not only the post-synodal letter.
“This means that more is going on beyond the Tiber, of a potential, if not immediate change at the top of the Congregation,” said Matzuzzi. Rumor is heard that Müller could vacate given his exclusion from the field.
Such flight from responsibility may, may only be ascribed to the German cardinal by someone not familiar with him. Müller knows precisely, because of his opposition, just how important his resistance at the Vatican is, to prevent the court formed by Francis from completely taking over possession of the Church.
Schönborn “is a great theologian” – and Kasper “does theology on its knees”
On the return flight from the island of Lesbos, Francis openly said: Schönborn “is a great theologian”.To confirm this statement, the Pope added: “He is a member of the CDF”. [LOL]
Cardinal Müller is not only a member, but the head of the CDF. But for him Francis had no comparable praise left. Quite the contrary: Such praise was already, but for a different German, for Ratzinger’s old opponent, Walter Cardinal Kasper, who in the opinion of the pope, did “theology on its knees.” [Or brings theology to its knees.] Kasper and Schönborn are both ready to give Communion to the divorced and remarried. In Vienna it was already a practice for “15 years,” about which the Austrian Archbishop had informed the public at the presentation of Amoris Laetitia in Rome. That explains why Schönborn and not Müller was determined for this task.
Cardinal Schönborn is currently, particularly in the favor of this Pope. It’s a favor that can change rapidly depending on the area and moment. Nevertheless, Vienna’s archbishop is allowed to be seen as the winner of the Synod of Bishops. Cardinal Kasper threw out the net, Cardinal Schönborn took the fish ashore. With his diplomatic skills he helped Pope Francis in the final phase of the Synod of Bishops from the jaws of defeat, as he looked set to be a minority in the final vote. It’s a public betrayal, which has not as yet ever been seen in the Church’s history, certainly, it’s the most recent.
Schönborn offered a compromise, which Cardinal Müller at the end, in order to avoid a split in the Church, but he did not conceal his doubts about the ambiguous formulations. Synod members registered Kasper’s obvious satisfaction at each consent Müller gave to controversial paragraphs.
Where does the pontificate of Francis run now?
In his latest book, Müller put his position unambiguously and thus directly to address clergy and laity. It’s a more direct exercise of office since Pope Francis has left him in the void in Rome. Müller made more than just an important clarification in his book. One of them is:
“We Catholics have no reason to celebrate October 31, 1517.”
Although Pope Francis does not mention his disapproval, the attitude of the Pope on another front is unmistakable. Francis will fly on the next 31 October to Stockholm in order to participate in an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation. [Protestant Revolt]
But the front between Reformation and divorce is perhaps not so different. The papal Reformation commemoration and the first step towards recognition of divorce are connected by a common thread: Protestantism. Since the German Cardinal Müller is particularly sensitive in this regard and has already posed the question what the actually is the intended course Rome is taking for the past three years.
Edit: they’re both liberation theology enthusiasts from different camps in Latin America, and it’s surprising to seem them at each other’s throats now.