The German cardinal refused to confirm or deny whether he signed a letter allegedly sent to Pope Francis criticising new synod procedures

Cardinal Gerhard Müller has refused to confirm or deny whether he signed a letter allegedly sent to Pope Francis which raised objections to new synod procedures.

The German cardinal, who is also Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, called the leak of the letter, the alleged contents of which appeared on Sandro Magister’s blog on Monday, “a new Vatileaks”.

“I’m not saying whether I signed or not,” he told the Corriere della Sera.

“The scandal is that it makes public a private letter of the Pope. This is a new Vatileaks: the Pope’s private documents are private property of the Pope and no one else. No one can publish it, I do not know how that could happen.”

Cardinal Müller is one of a number of cardinals who, it was claimed, signed the letter to the Pope.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier has confirmed that he signed a letter but said that it was different to the text published by Sandro Magister, while Cardinal George Pell, another reported signatory, said the letter to the Pope was private and “should remain private” and that there were “errors in both the content and the list of signatories” in the original report.

Despite Sandro Magister initially listing them as signatories, Cardinal Péter Erdõ, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza and Cardinal Angelo Scola have denied signing the letter.

Speaking to Corriere della Sera, Cardinal Müller referenced remarks reportedly made by Pope Francis at the synod last week, when he warned synod participants “not to give into a ‘hermeneutic of conspiracy,’ which is sociologically weak and spiritually unhelpful.”

“To say we are friends of the Pope and those guys are the enemy, this is hermeneutics of conspiracy. I do not know anyone here who is against the Pope,” Cardinal Muller said.

“Always the synod discusses how to improve procedures, everyone has the freedom to say their opinion on this.”

The cardinal admitted to tensions in the synod “between doctrine and pastoral approach”, but added that it it is the task of the synod “to see these two aspects together”. He also said the small group discussions have helped improve the synod process.

“Everyone has the freedom to express themselves more fully,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said the new procedures for synod discussions based on the working document, or Instrumentum Laboris, are a “huge step forward”.

According to National Catholic Reporter, Cardinal Schönborn, moderator of the German language group, told Vatican Radio: “At former Episcopal Synods, we would listen to statements read out one after the other and in no way connected for up to three weeks. Today we are proceeding according to the Instrumentum Laboris and spend a whole week discussing for each section.

“At least half the time is spent in the language groups, the so-called circuli minores, which means far more intensive participation, far greater concentration on each topic, a far more effective way of working and thus far greater satisfaction. The feeling of frustration that I experienced at former synods has — as far as I could see — completely disappeared this time.”

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