DEC 1ST 2016 BY DEACON NICK DONNELLY
Cardinal Müller has made his first comments about the four cardinals’ dubia and the controversy following Pope Francis’s decision not to respond. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has told Kathpress that the dicastery charged with upholding the Faith of the Church would not be involved in the discussions because it acts and speaks “with the authority of the pope” and “cannot participate in the controversy of opinions.”
Cardinal Müller further explained that though the dubia were personally addressed to the Holy Father, Pope Francis could commission the CDF to “settle the dispute ad hoc”.
The Prefect for the CDF would not be drawn into the controversy of whether or not Amoris Laetitia allowed the divorced and “remarried” to recieve Holy Communion in justified cases. However, Cardinal Müller did emphasize that Amoris Laetitia should not be “interpreted as if earlier statements from Popes and the Congregation were no longer valid”. In particular, Cardinal Müller singled out Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1994 response to the pastoral letter issued in 1993 by Cardinals Kasper, Lehmann and Saier that proposed allowing divorced and remarried to receive communion on a case-by-case basis:
He expressly named the official response of the Congregation for the Congregation to the pastoral writings of the three South German Bishops of 1993 to the reception of communion by remarried divorced persons. In this, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation at the time, rejected bishops to allowing communion in individual cases. The indissolubility of marriage must be the “unshakeable foundation for every pastoral accompaniment”, stressed Müller. At the same time, Francis wishes to help all those whose marriages and families are in a crisis “to find a way in accordance with the ever-gracious will of God.”
Cardinal Müller also commented on reports of “alleged trench battles in the Vatican” and “power struggles behind the scenes or the high walls of the Vatican between reformers and stalwarts”. He warned about polarization in the Church, saying that it was wrong to think in terms of power politics, but rather it is about the “the victory of truth and not the triumph of power”.
The prefect went on to correct Religion Confidencial’s account of the Dean of the Roman Rota’s address in which he strongly criticised the four cardinals. Cardinal Müller explained that according to the sound recordings of the interview Archbishop Pio Vito Pinto had emphasised that “Francis was not a pope of past times who would withdraw the title from the Cardinals.”
Though Cardinal Müller doesn’t come out and say it, his interview with Kathpress strongly implies that Pope Francis has told him that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith must not reply to the four cardinals’ dubia on Amoris Laetitia. Having stated that the CDF will not get involved in the debate, his comment that the Holy Father could commission the CDF to settle the dispute ad hoc suggests a degree of frustration at having his hands tied.
During the interview Cardinal Müller signals as strongly as he can in the circumstances that he is on the side of the four cardinals who submitted the dubia to Pope Francis. He does this by going out of his way to emphasise that Amoris Laetitia must be interpreted according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried members of the faithful (1994). This definitive reiteration of the Church’s magisterial doctrine on communion for the divorced and remarried was an explicit correction of the main architect of Amoris Laetitia’s “innovative” approach to the issue, Cardinal Kasper. Cardinal Müller has just stated categorically that Amoris Laetitia cannot introduce any change to the Church’s doctrine and pastoral practice.