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Is the new Prefect of the CDF really not a man of ‘secure doctrine’? Some in Rome think so, and he does defend liberation theology: so what’s going on?

Archbishop Gerhard Müller is a friend, co-author, and defender of Gustavo Gutiérrez. But he’s also close to the pope, who knows what he is doing

By on Friday, 6 July 2012


What are we to make of the appointment of Bishop (now Archbishop) Gerhard Ludwig Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? It looks, at first sight, to be an obvious choice of a tough and orthodox bishop, close to the Holy Father. According to the renowned Vaticanologist Sandro Magister, he will be part of a “small nucleus” of cardinals in whom the pope can have complete confidence, including Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the French Canadian who is Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and Cardinal Kurt Koch, who is Swiss and is President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Archbishop Müller is an old friend of the pope, and is presently editing a 16-volume Collected Writings of Joseph Ratzinger.

So, what’s not to like? Well, he may be an old friend of the pope; but he’s also an old friend of the most renowned (or notorious) of liberation theologians, Gustavo Gutiérrez. He has written a book with him; and according to John Allen, every year since 1998 has travelled to Peru to “take a course” (What does that mean?) from Gutiérrez. In 2008, he accepted an honorary doctorate from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, which is widely seen as a bastion of the progressive wing of the Peruvian church. On that occasion, he praised Gutiérrez and [ital] defended his theology.[end ital] “The theology of Gustavo Gutiérrez, independently of how you look at it, is orthodox because it is orthopractic,” he is on record as saying: “It teaches us the correct way of acting in a Christian fashion since it comes from true faith.” This Gutiérrez connection, it appears, among other issues, led to an unsuccessful attempt by Vatican conservatives to prevent the appointment, and you can see why it might.

Other issues raised by these Vatican conservatives—who sent out e-mails all over the place (don’t you love it? Vatican conspiracy in the digital age) suggesting that Archbishop Müller is not a man of “secure doctrine”—were his views on the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Eucharist (he has apparently suggested we shouldn’t use the term “body and blood of Christ” to describe the consecrated elements – so what DO we call them?), and ecumenism (last October, he apparently declared that Protestants are “already part of the Church” founded by Christ.)

What remains obscure to those of us who haven’t actually read the works in which he proposes these things is what he actually means by them. His defenders are arguing that in every one of these examples of his supposed “insecurity of doctrine” his words have either been taken out of context or are consistent with official teaching. I’m sure that must be true; quite simply, I trust the pope, who knows the difference between an orthodox theologian who is so solid in the faith that he can afford to speculate and a flaky liberal who thinks that speculation isn’t just a permissible intellectual activity within accepted boundaries but is itself the ultimate aim of all intellectual life and that there are no such boundaries.

So, I am sure that Archbishop, Cardinal-to-be Müller is doctrinally as solid as a rock. All the same, the Prefect of the CDF surely needs to be easily and unambiguously understood by the faithful. These speculative flights could lead to trouble, and I hope he will soon take steps to dispel the uncertainty by explaining himself in simple language. Already, for instance, there are signs of trouble from the SSPX, from the wing of the SSPX who are already giving Bishop Fellay problems over his attempts to bring the Society back into full communion with the Catholic Church. The issue is Archbishop Müller’s allegedly heterodox views on Our Lady’s perpetual virginity. “It is not acceptable that the leader of the congregation holds a heresy,” said Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta.

Well, no, absolutely—but does he? The Pope obviously thinks he doesn’t. But the Pope is a real theologian of theologians: what about simple people like me? His hermeneuticalness, Fr Tim Finegan says he is sitting on the fence over the appointment, over precisely the same issue, though he comes down on the opposite side of the fence from the SSPX over the issue of Our Lady’s perpetual virginity. “Essentially” he explains, Archbishop Müller has said that “the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary is not so much concerned with 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). He says that it is concerned rather “with the healing and saving influence of the grace of the Saviour on human nature”… The question of Our Lady’s physical integrity was discussed by Tertullian. Writing against the docetists and in favour of Christ’s true humanity he argued against physical integrity and in favour of a normal birth. In summary, Bishop Müller’s theological opinion on the relationship of physical integrity at birth to the doctrine of the virginity of Our Lady… is not heretical, even if most devout Catholics would want to go with the general teaching of the Fathers and St Thomas.”

All the same, Fr Finegan himself is, he says, “sitting on the fence at the moment” even after giving various examples of Archbishop Müller’s orthodox toughness, including a recent sermon—much attacked by the We Are Church mob—in which he said that “We should not allow any room for anti-Roman blabber… Any activities directed against the truth of the Faith and the unity of the Church will not be tolerated”.

Well, I’m not sitting on the fence. I trust the pope; when I’m a bit perplexed, that’s my default position. All the same, I have my fingers crossed. In the words of the song, “there may be trouble ahead”.

  • Paul (Bristol)

    I too trust the pope to make a sound appointment.  Archbishop Müller isn’t the only member of the clergy to suggest that Protestants (when did we stop calling them our “separated brethren’?) are  ‘de facto’ already part of the Church.  Fr Ian Ker, in his book “Mere Catholicism” states, “… Catholic belief is that just as there is only one baptism, so there is only one Church into which it is possible to be baptised.  What happens afterward to the baptised person is another matter, but to begin with, everyone belongs to only one Church.  It doesn’t matter whether you are an Anglican or an Orthodox or a Methodist; at your baptism, according to Catholic theology, you became a member of the Catholic Church”, (page 68).  I presume this is what Archbishop Müller means although I haven’t read any of his work.  Thank you Dr Oddie, I think I will now do so.

  • Patrick_Hadley

    Apart from anything else this appointment has drawn out into the open those who claim to be “traditional” Catholics but are really nothing of the kind.

  • Herman U. Ticke

    O  that which God did give thee
    Let mortal ne’er disclaim
    when wicked men blaspheme thee
    I’ll love and bless thy name. 

  • Arturo

    Yes, in the past, reception into Full Communion, meant the abjuring of, and doing penance for, the particular heresy one had fallen into after Baptism. Baptism made one a Catholic, subsequent believe made you an Anglican, Methodist etc

  • Jeannine

    When Archbishop Levada was appointed to the post, many viewed him as a theological lightweight but politically asute. Examine his bio online; he was at the right place at the right time. That said, Pope Benedict has known him for many years & probably appointed him to sort out the English-speaking countries’ sex abuse scandals.  Because English is his native language he would understand the nuances expressed in the documents written on the sex abuse from these countries.
    Same holds true for Muller. (And I think it was implied somewhere in this blog.) He’s appointed to sort out the German & Austrian sex abuse scandals. The Congregation has experts on staff to help with the theological issues & I’m sure they were appointed by the pope.——-I wouldn’t worry about Muller’s liberation theology opinions; he’ll be too busy with the sex abuse cases.
    I think this pope wants to be remembered as the pope who aggressively tried to clean up & eliminate child sex abuse within the Church.

  • paulpriest

    a] Fr Tim’s right about Archbishop  Müller not being in material heresy in regards to Our Lady but I despair of the mystagogic language! Being a Virgin has nothing to do with enduring birth pangs or rupturing a hymen – these are mere metaphysical speculations on the Genesis consequences of the Fall – they’re not dogma. Our Lady’s Virginity is: So there is no need to hide behind quasi-ethereal obscurantism to make a simple doctrine more awkward than it tever could be.

    b] Guttierez may not be a heretic but he’s wrong! He’s enmeshed in Pelagian desacralised Left-wing-Hegelian hyper-secularist class warfare which is contaminated all the way through with the poor being vindicated in any of their totalitarian injustice, violence or social engineering merely on the grounds of their being dispossessed & disenfranchised – It is the Martyr fallacy in that the underdog is right by virtue of their oppression and the Last Man Standing Fallacy in that they the people are the force-majeure with the loudest voice – ergo they are axiomatically right…
    Well Sorry Gustavo old chum – much as I’m an old fashioned Leftie – Christ came to save my soul: I have to take up my cross and follow Him…

    Archbishop  Müller sounds the romantic idealist..failing to see that this ideology – despite its overwhelming appeals to justice – becomes somewhat remiss when it fails to acknowledge the fundamental Catholic precept which begins Quadragesima Anno – words written in the Blood of Our Redeemer :”Charity goes beyond all demands for Justice”

    c] Yes – anyone Baptised in the Trinitarian formula…

     [without aberration of Form - e.g. Changing the words to Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier [invalid!] or where there is an intrinsic denial of the Form while retaining the words [e.g. the three fused aspect-godlets of the Mormons]

    …is indeed a member of the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church…But Protestants have excommunicated themselves – separated themselves from the Mystical Body of Christ and slammed the door in the face of their neighbour – be they member of Church Militant, Penitent or Triumphant.

    I’ve no time for those who extend a message of brotherhood across the gulf…We shouldn’t be spending  time buiding bridges – we should be building rescue ships and life rafts…

    We’re called to love protestants unconditionally – and an axiomatic consequence of that is to hate the nature of protestantism [not necessarily its worthy exigents] with every fibre of our being and seek its destruction to lead our neighbour safely home into the One Eternal Church 

    What was Archbishop  Müller saying?
    I have no idea but even if it was said in a non-heretical way he shouldn’t have said it because it’s open to the gravest misinterpretation from all sides…

    d] But here’s the toughie – and it’s the one I simply can’t get round…

    What Archbishop Müller says on the Eucharist – if translated properly – is consubstantiation.
    The dogma is that the Form of the Bread & the Wine are annihilated – they cease to be – after consecration it IS the Real Presence – each species is fully the Body & Blood of Christ – “This is..” – not “Within this”…

    …it’s an insurmountable hurdle – IF he said it…

    But I’m not sitting on the fence either.
    I don’t understand why His Holiness is doing this but I trust in the Holy Spirit – and frankly the Successor to Peter has harvested such a Bounty of rich fruits in everything he has performed so far…I refuse to abandon him or question his choice [even when it came to +Rochey]

  • Nat_ons

    This seems to be another one of those decisions of the awesome Benedict XVI against which the worldly mind will rail, bitterly – and unjustly – or assert as mere indecision and error. I suspect it is rather more sound than many believe, even if it is fraught with a terrifying potential for disaster. Once more it is a hefty dose of (seemingly unwelcome) reality – not least for the firmly traditional.

    In seeking to reintegrate the SSPX into communion with himself, for example, Benedict XVI is not unaware of the trial any such reunion shall be for those who are now comfortable in their own tiny corner of pious purity; this appointment is one such divine test on the spirit of their faith. A pious society that seeks to hoik up its liturgical and doctrinal skirts for fear of contamination by another’s sin, error or wandering is heresy and schism not the Faith. The Society of Saint Pius X cannot be that, if it desires communion with the Holy Father, rather it must seek, faithfully, to correct perceived confusion, mistake and impiety .. from within a messy Vatican scrum not without, merely hollering abuse or advice; rubbing shoulders with Archbishop Mueller may be a fiery test indeed, while speaking the truth in love.

    Yet this is one of those poacher to gamekeeper/ fox among the chickens moves that the Holy Father seems to relish, and wisely. A free-wheeling dismisser of any hermeneutic of continuity and friend to Liberation Sociology is perhaps the ideal man to set in the Holy Office, for in this Congregation he will not be free to give his own opinion on this or that – rather he must obediently look to uphold the Faith that binds him to dubious yet powerful theologians and to distressed yet important bishops. Far from a hostile move to the more orthodox, pious and traditional Catholic, Benedict XVI is forcing the intelligent opposition’s hand (not the We Are Church magisterium of nuns version of loyalty, but the careful and calculating minds still drunk with the spirit of Vat II – simply binding time until the Holy Father and his hermeneutic passes on ..)

    Many would have fainted away had they thought the Vatican II bright Light Josef Ratzinger would have proved himself to be such a staunch and intelligent upholder of the continuity of Sacred Tradition as the living Faith, fearing that in him a lurch to the liberal-modernist-progressive undoing of faith would follow, when appointed to the CDF. A colleague of Hans Kueng, Edward Schillbeeckx et al and defender and friend of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Josef Ratzinger could have seemed to be set among the least well suited to opposing error (in morals as in doctrine) even after leaving the Concillium Clique in 1972, nonetheless: 

    Archbishop Mueller may well not be a scholar of firmly orthodox opinions (as yet), still any loose ideas he may share must now be set aside – for his inquisitorial decisions are not his personal opinions but solely an integral fidelity to church teaching in mercy and love (as well and justice) .. without favour, regard or taste. 

    So if this poacher must indeed now keep the game, well, as a German prelate from among the woefully modernist German episcopy, he will have a fair insight into the egregious errors that he and his one-time futuristic colleagues wove into the fabric of life for the church catholic in Germany .. and he must now set about exposing, opposing, undoing and reversing this mayhem along with the baneful spirit such modernism has wrought across the globe.

     Whether he is set to do so, and admirably, or will even try so to do, is moot, perhaps he too is determined to be but one of skirmishers in the ever mucky Vatican scrummage, biding his time – or rather watching the clock tick by on Benedict XVI; I trust he will not let His Holiness down, although chances are high that he may – some of his flaky opinions are not a firm grounding for trust (in him as a man, however it is the Holy Ghost in whom he must trust .. as do we all do for him); the trial of fidelity that he must already set out before Bishop Fellay can only make one pause, still, Archbishop Mueller is a symbol of why the church catholic needs the SSPX witnessing from within and under papal protection .. God willing the Archbishop’s heart and mind may undergo the necessary conversion of purpose without losing its perception of modern needs (and that he may seek to make Bishop Fellay’s waiting cross that bit more bearable – if he chooses to bear it).

  • Catholic Youth Work

    Unless we have a serious, clear and grave reason not to do so, I think we must always trust the Pope. Though this makes good blog-fodder, the fact is that he just simply wouldn’t appoint a dodgy theologian to the CDF!

  • pooka

     This stuff about Mary’s virginity goes to the heart of both the Catholic Church’s hang ups about sex and also its attitude to women.

    The notion of aging, allegedly celibate, men sitting about discussing discussing women’s reproductive physiology is by turns hilarious, disgusting and disgraceful.

  • JByrne24

    Protestants “already part of the Church founded by Jesus Christ”;
    Not a good idea to call the consecrated host and wine “the body & blood of Christ”  etc…
    Obviously a very dangerous man, this future Cardinal.

    The conservatives already run the Vatican. The people spreading gossip on the Net are probably best-described as HYPER-conservative.


  • JByrne24

    He may even be looking past his hyper-conservative bureaucrats – to their shock and consternation and as they seek succour in their mailings.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Thank you.  Thank you. I went to the link and found bullet point four as you suggested. I’m afraid I found myself squirming as I read discussions about Our Lady’s birth canal and hymen.  Felt quite sick actually.  What an intrusion!  The quote below is from the online Catholic Encyclopedia, and the description is beautiful.’that the supernatural influence of the Holy Ghost extended to the birth of Jesus Christ, not merely preserving Mary’s integrity, but also causing Christ’s birth or external generation to reflect his eternal birth from the Father in this, that “the Light from Light” proceeded from his mother’s womb as a light shed on the world; that the “power of the Most High” passed through the barriers of nature without injuring them; that “the body of the Word” formed by the Holy Ghost penetrated another body after the manner of spirits.’Compared to this, Archbishop Muller sounds like a rather sleazy gynacologist.

  • Alan

    As a 1969 convert from a Protestant church, I certainly was not asked to “abjure and do penance” for a heresy.  I can’t even recall believing any particular “heresy”, save for the negative one of having been unconvinced of the claims of the Catholic Church.  As for the notion that baptism makes one a Catholic even though one is an Anglican or whatever, this sounds a bit like Karl Rahner’s claim that everybody is really an “anonymous Christian”, to which any non-Christian can reasonably take offence.

  • Parasum

    Bishop Mueller on the Perpetual Virginity:  

    “In his 900-page work “Katholische Dogmatik. Für Studium und Praxis
    der Theologie” (Freiburg. 5th Edition, 2003), Müller says that the
    doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is “not
    so much concerned with specific physiological proprieties in the natural
    process of birth [...], but with the healing and saving influence of
    the grace of the Savior on human nature.””

    [The quotation is no longer available on the page, but that was the source]

    ## This does not deny
    the reality of the Perpetual Virginity. It can be read as doing so, but
    the words do not require or necessarily imply this interpretation,
    though they are open to being read as a denial of it.

    What he –
    AFAICS – is saying, is, that the doctrine, while making an assertion
    about “specific physiological proprieties [*sic*] in the natural process
    of birth”, is not *primarily* concerned with them. “…[N]ot so much
    concerned with…” does not mean “…not at all concerned with…”. 
    Instead, he is – ISTM – drawing attention to the *significance* of the
    doctrine, which (as a matter of fact) is a doctrine about “specific
    physiological proprieties [*sic*] in the natural process of birth”.  And
    he is entirely right to do so. ”

    IOW, he is emphasising the *significance* of the reality of the Perpetual Virginity – not denying the *reality
    *of it. He may seem to do so, because he is – in this quotation –
    emphasising one aspect of the doctrine (its significance) wheras his
    critics are emphasising a different aspect of it (its reality). Neither
    aspect is the whole doctrine, both are important, and they are
    non-contradictory.  Its reality is a question of a different order from
    its significance.

    a writer’s words can be given an orthodox meaning, even if they seem on
    the face of it unorthodox, they should be given an orthodox meaning.
    St.Thomas Aquinas does this with (IIRC) some words of St.Ambrose. It is
    called *pia interpretatio*, and it is morally very attractive, because
    it allows for the possibility that an author whose words  may sound
    unorthodox, is not unorthodox. It is a protection against rash, ignorant
    & uncharitable judgement – none of which have any place in the
    Church. It is harder to fall into *odium theologicum*, if one adopts
    this attitude. 

    Theological documents & assertions have to
    be read as the *theological* documents & assertions they are.
    Theologians are used to doing this. Such documents are as distinctive a
    literary genre as legal documents – & no one without a training in
    law would set up as a divorce lawyer, or as a consultant in some other
    kind of legal practice. Non-theologians, who have no training in
    theology, are not equipped with the same means as theologians. So they
    often see error where it is not to be found, or miss it where it is
    present: something that is for some reason less frequent that seeing it
    where it ain’t.  

  • Parasum

    “Archbishop Müller
    isn’t the only member of the clergy to suggest that Protestants (when
    did we stop calling them our “separated brethren’?) are  ‘de facto’
    already part of the Church.”

    ## If that is so, the Church’s previous self-understanding must logically be worthless nonsense,untrue, & wrong. So much for the Church’s infallibility ! How can the Church be certain that its current self-understanding won’t be found equally wrong in time to come ? It fouled up royally after V2 – as anyone who’s read books of that period will know.  Why should anyone believe Benedict XVI, if Benedict XXVI or Benedict CXXVI holds positions that logically entail the wrongness of Benedict XVI ? Unless Protestants put their heresies aside, they are heretics. Materially alone, maybe, & not formally – but heretics even so.

     And that is to put it nicely. The Church cannot monkey around with dogmas on the nature & membership of the Church, and expect nobody to notice; or when they notice, not to draw attention to the fact. What the Church condemned as heresy or apostasy in the past, and required Catholics to believe was heretical  or apostate, it cannot now claim is not heretical or apostate – not unless it is subscribes to some kind of relativism, or believes that the infallibility it claims is unrelated to whether the content of a doctrinal position is true or false. It has made resort to these two positions impossible for itself.

  • Parasum

    “As for the notion that baptism makes one a Catholic even though one is an Anglican or whatever, this sounds a bit like Karl Rahner’s claim that everybody is really an “anonymous Christian”, to which any non-Christian can reasonably take offence.”

    ## It’s more like the Muslim idea that everyone is by nature Muslim. I think the claim is insulting, arrogant, & imperialist. It ignores people’s wills – a lot of Christians  don’t want to be Catholic, and regard the CC as mistaken, at best, or as satanic, at worst. Would we like to be called “unconscious Satanolaters” ?

    (“You *know* you want to worship Lucifer & sacrifice virgins to Belial Lord of Darkness – go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, GO ON !!”) – as Mrs Doyle might say:

  • Hopkins

    Liberation theology errs greatly in its Marxist assumptions that poverty is a necessary results of someone else’s wealth. Although there is corrupt capitalism that is predatory, it is not necessary that someone’s wealth create another’s poverty if business is transacted with Christian integrity. In addition, we can learn from the old testament wisdom passages that abundance is a blessing that all God’s children deserve. Liberation Theology expresses a mentality of scarcity which is neither Christian nor helpful to those that would like to overcome poverty.

  • Rowancarstairs

    Just read what the man says. He is that elusive VII modernist who darts in and out of truth in order to confuse and hence many souls are lost. Another 2 plus 2 is four, but it could be 5 subjectivist. These old men of the 60′s and 70′s will pass away soon and I pray that the new priest, will like Fortinbras, look at the dead and dying church they will inherit and restore all thing in Christ, not man. 

  • Maria

    Too early to see what CDF will become … so far … he already said NO to US LCWR sisters who want women deacons. 

  • Maria

    I think he wants to be remembered as cleaning-up and uniting us up … I think he will be busy with sex abuses, sisters in US (LCWR), women who wants to be priest, priest who wants to merry, clergy who supports same-sex marriage and catholic theologians who write books that they are better than the church magisterium or the pope…. 

  • JabbaPapa

    The position of the Church towards the liberation theologians is complex — and it’s a mix of praise and condemnation.

    Liberation theology itself has been condemned, and quite rightly — as it was a form of the Modernist heresy.

    BUT the good works of the liberation theologians themselves has, just as rightly, been praised, as a model of good pastoral work in the difficulties of the contemporary world.

    Roughly, the liberation theologians are considered as some excellent pastors who also happened to be spectacularly bad at doctrinal theology.

  • Catholic Youth Work

    Well said. I never really understand how these “More Catholic than Rome” types fail to spot the massive contradiction in what they’re doing!!

  • Alan

    “I’ve no time for those who extend a message of brotherhood across the gulf…We shouldn’t be spending  time buiding bridges – we should be building rescue ships and life rafts…”  This attitude gets you nowhere, as Protestants (or whoever) can say exactly the same thing and it degenerates into a shouting match.  I recommend a book by Fr. Louis Bouyer (written before Vatican II) called “The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism”, which argues that, though the 16th century Reformers went too far, they had some valuable insights which the Catholic Church took up and benefitted from.  If that was true then, it can be true today.  Ecumenical discussions are essential in the service of Truth, which cannot simply be imprisoned in dogmatic formulae for all time.

  • Kevin

    Meanwhile, back in the everyday world, materialists are riding the crest of a wave with their increasingly aggressive denunciations of creationism as being on an intellectual par with astrology. If Catholics flinch upon reading the word “creationism”, perhaps they should consider how well-equipped the CDF has left them in fighting what should be a vigorous intellectual defence of the First Article of the Creed, which is recited at Mass every Sunday.

    This, moreover, has been the responsibility of the CDF for generations, not just this week.

  • Aunt Raven

    As (venerable) Bishop Fulton Sheen observed on this topic in the largely mainstream Protestant United States: almost “every two year old child you know is a Catholic. . . ” 

  • paulpriest

     Truth is a Person – and we are part of His Mystical Body.

    What makes you think we’re imprisoned in dogma?

    There’s One, Holy,Catholic & Apostolic Church.
    On the price of my soul and the love of my neighbour I refuse to suggest otherwise

    Irrespective of how noble, worthy, capable,wise, sinless or efficacious or how much better,caring, evangelically successful or administratively competent they are – they’re excommunicate!

    …and no-one can say otherwise…

  • Alan

    I wrote that Truth cannot be imprisoned in dogmatic formulae, by which I mean that words are not absolute, they change their meaning over time, and we always have to be open to the “development of doctrine” (which is very different from contradicting what has gone before).  I still recommend that book (published in 1954).

  • W Oddie

    The vitally important thing to remember in all this, when we think about those Vatican “conservatives” who wanted to scupper Archbishop Müller  is that there is a vital difference between a conservative and a reactionary. A reactionary is one who substitutes intellectual resistance to all change or movement for vitality and thought. Josef Ratzinger was never a reactionary. A conservative is one who understands that an acorn must to be true to its own nature become an oak. A reactionary will just feed it to the pigs.

  • theroadmaster

    The quoted comments of 
    Archbishop Müller  on certain aspects of Catholic teachings and doctrine, at worst renders him suspect, and at best,makes him careless with words.  I think that we should give him the benefit of the doubt, as his tenure as head of the CDF is soon to start.  His previous association with  Fr Gustavo Gutiérrez , the father-figure of  Liberation Theology, may place the Archbishop to the far left in regards to religious interpretations of socio-political matters, in some eyes.  But it is possible that he has retained the Christian context of this school of Theology while dispensing with it’s more controversial, worldly, marxist leanings.  His comments of the Perpetual Virginity of Our Lady or the canonical status of protestant groups, while not strictly heretical(but one can argue against this), do seem puzzling.  I still think that we need to give 
    Archbishop Müller the necessary time to make his mark in his new position and judge him on the basis of his deeds and pronouncements during his time there.

  • Patrick_Hadley

     Thanks CYW.

    This is Off Topic but, have you ever seen this presentation of what a successor of the apostles is wearing these days?

  • Alan

    You are aware, I hope, that the Church has never insisted on a “Creationist” interpretation of Genesis and of the Creed (i.e. one which says that the world, and man, was suddenly created out of nothing some 6000 years ago).

  • Catholic Youth Work

    Crikey!! That much money could buy a lot of much needed stuff in a lot of place :)

  • Anthony

     Is this the same Richard Sipe who was present at the installation of 23 new cardinals, and heard them take a solemn vow to keep secret all those things which if known would bring dishonour to the Church?

  • Anthony

     A childlike reading and acceptance of the  NT accounts of Jesus’ life with his sisters and jealous quarrelling brothers would have saved a lot of ink, and avoided the pornographic speculation which the meditation on ‘perpetual virginity’ encourages.

  • Parasum

     An amusing analysis.

    Just one point: “re-action” is good, bad or different depending on the circumstances. “Reactionary”, like “discrimination”, “liberal”, “conservative”, “traditional”, “democratic”, “Christian”, “Catholic, “Protestant”, become  what C. S. Lewis called a “worsened word”. Reaction & discrimination  are essential to societies of all kinds – social life would be impossible w/o them.

  • Lewispbuckingham

     A literal interpretation of the story of Genesis was being taught in a local Christian Brothers high school in the 1950′s.All of the top students with a maximum pass in the Leaving Certificate lost their faith, bar one, when they went to University.
     He, a geneticist, discussed with me what was happening when I was twelve, which allowed me to dodge the Creationist bullet to intellectual life.
     Subsequent education by the Jesuits showed that the creation account was self conflicting in a scientific way.
     Two truths cannot contradict but may be shown to be different expressions of the same truth.
     If I had gone to that school I would probably be a practicing Atheist today.

  • Charles Martel

     To you, JByrne24, anyone actually holding the Catholic in its fullness is a hopeless reactionary. You are pro-abortion, which is an ‘unspeakable crime’ that even good pagans know to be so. What gives you the right to comment here at all? After all, you are a self-declared enemy of Catholic teaching polluting a Catholic website.

  • Charles Martel

     We should certainly give this man a chance; he’s the Pope’s appointment after all.
    However, we would be naive if we did not take into account his
    character, writings and speeches up to the moment of his appointment. He
    has a peculiar hatred for the SSPX, which he wants to close down and
    disperse. He would rather see the seminary of Zaitzkofen given over to
    Muslims than carry on training Catholic priests. Having said that, he
    would probably raze it to the ground, plough it over and sow the ground
    with salt. He is an irascible authoritarian with no patience for those who respectfully disagree with him.
    He has written many things of extremely doubtful orthodoxy, but when
    the SSPX ask him to clarify them, he lashes out and calls them ‘stupid’.

    Well, this is a man who says protestants are fully integrated into the
    Church and we are one with them in the visible Church (if this is true,
    what’s the problem with inter-communion?). Anyone, any child with a
    minimal understanding of our faith knows this is NOT TRUE, but we are
    not allowed to question this intellectual prodigy of our times.

    So, let’s give him a chance, pray for him, but not be overly surprised
    if this appointment turns out to have been a monumental blunder.

  • Patsy

     Agree – could you image a bunch of edlerly nums sitting around discussing the apearance and physiology of male organs? Shameful

  • stan zorin

    “A reactionary will just feed [the acorns / the truth] to the pigs.”

    This is a bizarre assertion. I’ve always thought that it is the so called liberals or progressives that turn the deposit of our faith bit by bit into the slops of Modernism fit only for Gadarene swine and their like. Somehow in this age of Renewal of ours many acorns seem to grow into cactuses instead of oak trees, or better said, they are renewed into cactuses.A “reactionary” of today transported into the pontificate of Pius XII [1939-1958] would be a plain conservative of that time, a conservative of today would be a liberal of that time and a liberal of today would be seen as being clearly possessed and fit for an exorcism.

  • Alban

    Sounds as though Archbishop Muller might be just what the doctor ordered.

  • Charles Martel

     JByrne24 is a pro-abortion anti-Catholic troll. Beware!

  • Charles Martel

     JByrne24 is a pro-abortion anti-Catholic troll. Beware!

  • Parasum

    What does the word “creationist” mean ?

    1. It used (as recently as 1967) to be the name of a theory – within Catholic theology – about how the soul contracts original sin; over against traducianism, a competing theory on the same subject.

    Now it appears to mean either:

    2. An interpretation of the hexhaemeron  in Gen.1-2.4, that maintains the creation was finished in 6 days of 24 hours each (this is AFAIK the standard Calvinist interpretation of the chapter);

    or, rather differently:

    3. The belief of Christians that all things were created by God.

    Presumably (1) is not intended – so, assuming that to be the case, is (2) meant, or is (3) what is meant ?

    If (3), then all belief in a Divine Creator, no matter how intellectually sophisticated and intelligently presented, is creationist.

    What is not clear, is whether atheist objections to creationism in sense (3) take into account that to believe in God the Creator, is not understood by mainstream Christian Tradition – Catholic, Protestant, other ancient Christian Churches – in a *crassly* anthropomorphic way. To say that God is the Creator of all things, though to some degree an inescapably anthropomorphic statement, does not imply that God is a “giant in the sky”, nor that creation is “out of” anything. Nor does it imply that God is a cause or factor of the same order as created causes or factors. It seems to be thought by atheists of the YouTube variety that the Christian belief necessarily entails treating the Genesis passage (1)
    as though it alone were the Biblical source for the notion of creation (there are others, but they are overlooked);
    (2) as though it were comparable, and to be compared with, more recent understandings of the origin of the universe (it’s not – to compare that passage with much later, scientific ideas about the universe, is to miscategorise it: something Fundamentalists, Christian and atheist, do all the time.)

    So ISTM that the issue of creationism conceals many others, that also need to be clarified. Otherwise what could be a useful exchange of ideas between Catholics & atheists will be undermined from the start, by all sorts of misunderstandings.

  • Parasum

     Define “literal”

  • Parasum

     “Another 2 plus 2 is four, but it could be 5 subjectivist.”

    ## What is the basis for saying that he thinks like that ? 

  • Parasum

    A rather informative article on Abp. Mueller & Liberation Theology:

    (It’s in English – despite the Italian in the URL)

  • Lewispbuckingham

     in accordance with,involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of a word or words, not figurative or metaphorical.

  • JabbaPapa

    stan, extremist liberals and progressives are reactionaries too — just of a different stripe than those that Mr Oddie originally referred to.

  • JabbaPapa

    Proper Scriptural interpretation is not possible if one does not understand that the literal interpretation is the foundation stone of a valid interpretation of the text.

    This is not to say that one must provide the literal meanings of any clear allegories or analogies or metaphors or myths or poems that are contained in Scripture with an affirmation of their material truthfulness — but rather that any derived moral, spiritual, philosophical, religious, historical, or other truths than can be inferred or derived from such Scriptural passages MUST be coherent with the literal meanings provided, even where credence in those literal meanings as historical truths is not provided.

    The extraordinarily complex matrix of metaphorical, mythic, poetic, psychological, spiritual, mystical, religious, philosophical, anthropological, sexual, biological, and other forms of truth that is vehicled by the Myth of Eden in the Book of Genesis simply CANNOT be made sense of without first ensuring one’s understanding of the literal meaning of the text, and no sense at all can be made of it if one starts out by a priori rejecting the text as a “scientific falsehood” — which of course, it ISN’T, because the Myth of Eden does not constitute a scientific description of any kind whatsoever (the talking snake is a bit of a giveaway in this respect).