CDF Prefect Characterizes Statement Made by Papal Adviser as “Heretical”

CDF Prefect Characterizes Statement Made by Papal Adviser as “Heretical”


Last year in Rome, a controversy emerged concerning some comments made by Cardinal Gerhard Müller about his own role in the Church as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Müller indicated that it was thus his task to help in the “theological structuring” of the pontificate of Pope Francis. These statements, which he made in an interview with La Croix on 29 March 2015, included the following statement:

“Pope Francis is also more pastoral and our mission at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to provide the theological structure of a pontificate.”

At the time, this particular statement had especially provoked a reaction from some of the close collaborators of Pope Francis, such as the Italian journalist of La Stampa, Andrea Tornielli, who then commented on 7 April 2015:

Cardinal Müller’s words – which introduced the new task of “provid[ing]the theological structure of a pontificate,” a task that had not been formalised until now – went practically unnoticed. While on the one hand his words open up new doctrinal scenarios in relation to Church tradition, on the other they seem to suggest that, according to Müller, the current pontificate – and [like]St. John XXIII’s [pontificate]too – lacks sufficient theological “structure.”

Moreover, the ghostwriter of many of the pope’s current writings, Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernàndez, himself decided to make his own critique of Cardinal Müller’s statement in his well-known (and quite controversial) interview with Il Corriere della Siera on 10 May 2015. In this interview, Fernàndez – whom Dr. Sandro Magister recently demonstrated to have written certain essential parts of Amoris Laetitia in articles published in his own name a decade ago – acerbically commented on those who still resist Pope Francis’s reforms. Fernàndez said, “Others — really just a few — are, instead, going their own way. And from what one can see, they tend to ignore Francis’ teachings.” The interviewer requested more:

[Question:] Could you give us an example?

“I’ve read that some people say the Roman Curia is an essential part of the Church’s mission, or that a Vatican prefect is the sure compass that prevents the Church from falling into ‘light’ thought; or that this prefect ensures the unity of the faith and guarantees a serious theology for the pope. But Catholics, reading the Gospel, know that Christ assured special guidance and enlightenment for the pope and bishops all together, but not for a prefect or another structure. When you hear such things it almost seems as if the pope were their representative, or was someone who came to cause trouble and needs to be controlled.”

[Question:] Would it be possible to have a pope without the Vatican or away from the Vatican?

“The Roman Curia is not an essential structure. The pope could even go and live away from Rome, have a dicastery in Rome and another one in Bogotà, and perhaps link-up by teleconference with liturgical experts that live in Germany. Gathered around the pope, in a theological sense, is the College of Bishops in order to serve the people.” [emphasis added]

A little later, Fernàndez continued: “Cardinals could disappear, in the sense that they are not essential. The pope and the bishops are essential.”

These terse stipulations of the Argentinian archbishop, however, provoked an immediate response in the form of a statement made to the same newspaper – only one day later, on 11 May 2015. The statement was made by Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Substitute of the Secretary of State, who then corrected Fernàndez. Becciu came to the defense of the Curia and stressed that – while it is correct that the pope and the bishops are the shepherds of the Church – the Curia has historically developed and has played a very important role in helping “the growth of the Church.”

In May of 2015, it is likely that Müller also learned of Archbishop Fernàndez’ provocations. If he did know, he maintained a public silence – until now. Müller has just given an interview to the German Catholic journal, Herder Korrespondenz. This interview has already created a stir due to the CDF Prefect’s comments indicating surprisingly strong stipulations concerning reconciliation of the SSPX. What has mostly escaped notice was another segment of the interview, one in which Cardinal Gerhard Müller thoughtfully returns to the earlier statements of Archbishop Fernàndez, at least one of which was clearly directed against Müller, if not by name.

Müller labels as heretical the claim that the pope is not bound to live in Rome. When asked about Pope Francis’ “acts of relativizing the papal office” and whether “his style is changing the theological profile of the papal office,” the German cardinal said the following :

The teaching on the papacy as a Divine institution cannot be relativized by anybody – this would mean to want to correct God Himself. […] A while ago, there were people who were presented by certain tendentious media outlets as being the closest counselors of the pope, and specifically according to whom one could even well move the residence of the pope down to Medellin or distribute the offices of the Curia to the different local churches. This is fundamentally wrong and even heretical [“sogar häretisch”]. In this matter, one only has to once read the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Council in order to recognize the ecclesiological absurdity of such thought games. The residence of the pope is the Church of St. Peter in Rome. (my [i.e., Dr. Hickson’s] emphasis added)

In his sequential remarks, Cardinal Müller presents the teaching of the Church, namely that Saint Peter’s explicit mission – “to herd the whole Church as her supreme Shepherd” – has been transmitted “to the Church in Rome, and with it, to its bishop, the pope.” He continues: “Here, it is not only about an organizational juggling, but about the preservation of the God-given unity.” Müller explains that it is also “about the representation of the leading clergymen of the Roman Church – the cardinals – who help the pope to carry out his primacy” and that “the Roman Church herself is the mater et magistra of all the churches in the world.”

It is somewhat stunning to see how the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – also without mentioning any names – has now seemingly singled out the pope’s closest advisor — and ghostwriter of important papal texts like Amoris Laetitia — in order to chasten him for his presumptuously insouciant and possibly heretical views.

Get AQ Email Updates

2 comments on “CDF Prefect Characterizes Statement Made by Papal Adviser as “Heretical”

  1. [FrankenPope’s counter-attack?]

    Pope Francis: A ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ faith is heretical

    By Rosie Scammell | 6/9/16

    VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis has called on Catholics to adopt a “healthy realism” in their approach to their faith, and he decried rigid idealists as heretics.

    Speaking during morning Mass on Thursday (June 9), Francis told congregants at the chapel in the Vatican guesthouse to try their best to seek reconciliation with others rather than pushing strict rules and a “take-it-or-leave-it” style of evangelism.

    “Many times you can’t reach perfection, but at least do what you can, come to an agreement,” Francis said during his homily, quoted by Vatican Radio. He appealed to the example given by Jesus, whom the pontiff said adopted a “healthy realism.”

    “It’s not Catholic (to say), ‘this, or nothing.’ This is not Catholic. This is heretical,” the pope said.

    “Jesus always knows how to walk with us, he gives us the ideal, he accompanies us towards the ideal, he frees us from being caged in by the rigidity of the law and he tells us: ‘But, do as much as you can.’ And he understands us well. He is our Lord and it’s this which he teaches us.”

    Speaking in a tone of irony, Francis said some often tossed out swear words “with a great deal of charity, but we address them to others.”

    “Allow me to use a word that seems a bit strange,” he continued. “It’s the tiny sanctity of negotiations. ‘I can’t do everything, but I want to do everything, so I reach an agreement with you. At least we don’t trade insults, we don’t wage a war and we can all live in peace.’ Jesus is a great person! He frees us from all our miseries, and also from that idealism which is not Catholic.”

    Noting the presence of children at the Mass, Francis also told adults “not to worry, because the preaching of a child in church is more beautiful than that of a priest or a bishop or a pope.”

    Francis’ homily continued the focus on pastoral care that has defined his papacy, during which he has urged members of the clergy to be understanding toward individual circumstances and be forgiving of their flock.

    While the pope’s conciliatory tone has seen him win favor with progressives seeking a church that responds to modern-day problems, the pontiff’s approach has drawn criticism from traditionalists who believe he is trying to water down Catholic doctrine.

    • “Many times you can’t reach perfection, but at least do what you can, come to an agreement,” Francis said during his homily, quoted by Vatican Radio. He appealed to the example given by Jesus, whom the pontiff said adopted a “healthy realism.”“It’s not Catholic (to say), ‘this, or nothing.’ This is not Catholic. This is heretical,” the pope said.”

      My God, can there be anyone who still believes that this Argentine Jesuit isn’t a flaming apostate, heretic and useful idiot to the Illuminati and to the NWO??!!
      How much longer Lord??

Leave a Reply