Last year I blogged about Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book-length interview, entitled God or Nothing. I hope I persuaded a few readers to tackle a work by this African cardinal of obvious holiness and spiritual profundity. Now Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has given a book-length interview to Fr Carlos Granados, titled The Cardinal Müller Report. While lacking the intensely personal, reflective response of Cardinal Sarah, it is nonetheless very reassuring, in a time of great turbulence in the Church, to find that Cardinal Müller speaks with firmness and clarity on a wide range of questions.
Again and again he emphasises that the love of Christ, mediated through the Church, is the only sure hope for all the problems with which modern society is beset. Asked whether there is today a “crisis of hope”, the cardinal is clear that true hope can only be found in the Trinitarian God, and contrasted this with the promises made by the Enlightenment. As he explained, technical and scientific progress alone do not provide people with “a strong story line…a noble story that elevates them, that gives meaning to their whole life, that explains why they are here, what they are living for, why they suffer…” In other words, modern man’s existential crisis can only be truly addressed and healed through experiencing the love of Christ.
The cardinal is scathing on “self-help dynamics”, describing them as “absolutely superfluous” – simply because, using human resources alone, without reference to the transcendental, we lack the means to be happy. He was also robust in defence of the Church’s history, remarking that it is “not a shameful history that has to be covered with a plea for pardon.” Equally dismissive of the idea that “The Church has to change [in keeping with the times]”, the cardinal responded that if every baptised person fully lives his own vocation, “doing what Jesus Christ has entrusted to him”, the Church will always flourish.
Asked about a change in the discipline of priestly celibacy, the cardinal was firm that crises within the Church and society “have always demonstrated and consolidated” the worth of celibacy. Questioned about the possibility of a “probationary priesthood”, he responded “Absolutely not”, adding that as the years go by a priest discovers his vocation comes from nothing but the “pure grace of God”. He is equally forthright on gender ideology.
On the now notorious remark of Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge?” Cardinal Müller responds unhesitatingly: “The Church, with her Magisterium, has the power to judge the morality of specific situations.” On apparitions of Our Lady he mentions approved ones, such as Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima, commenting diplomatically that “sin and misery … hide behind a phenomenon of pseudomysticism.” He is also not afraid to say, regarding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, that “We Catholics do not have any reason to celebrate October 31, 1517.”
I have selected a few noteworthy responses here. It is well worth reading the whole interview to feel a renewed sense of hope in the Church’s salvific mission and the vocation of each person within it. Cardinal Müller comes across as neither a traditionalist nor a progressive; he is simply, unabashedly, Catholic. With a 24-hour media keen to highlight dissent and division within today’s Church, it is reassuring to know that.