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Cardinal Müller: we need a ‘calm and serene’ discussion over the dubia

Cardinal Gerhard Müller (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the recently sacked Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, has called for a “serene” discussion over the dubia, claiming all he has heard so far are insults against the cardinals who posed them.

In an interview with Il Foglio, translated into English by Rorate Caeli, the cardinal criticised the way senior figures in the church have greeted the dubia.

“I don’t understand why a calm and serene discussion hasn’t [yet] begun. I don’t understand where the obstacles are. Why allow only tensions to emerge, even publically? Why not organize a meeting to talk openly about these themes, which are fundamental?

“Until now I’ve only heard invectives and insults against these cardinals. But this is not the manner nor tone to move forward.”

On the issue of doctrinal confusion around Amoris Laetitia, the cardinal said it is impossible to change Church teaching on divorce and remarriage.

“The Pope has many times declared that there is no change in the dogmatic doctrine of the Church, and this is evident, as it would also be impossible.”

However, he admitted there could be ambiguities in the document.

“Ambiguity in Amoris Laetitia? There may be and I don’t know whether it was intended. The ambiguities if they exist, are connected with the material complexity of the situation in which the men of today find themselves, the culture they are immersed in.”

One of the most senior figures to have criticised the dubia cardinals is Archbishop of Vienna Cardinal Schönborn, who accused them of “trying to force” Pope Francis to respond.

After his dismissal as head of the CDF, Cardinal Müller said he was not impressed with the revisionist attitudes of certain cardinals, including Cardinal Schönborn, towards to issue of communion for divorced and remarried couples, describing them as “simply not convincing”.

When asked whether his position on Amoris conflicted with Cardinal Schönborn’s, Cardinal Müller responded: “Perhaps Cardinal Schönborn has a vision contrary to mine, but perhaps he has a position contrary also to what he had before, seeing as he has changed it.”

The cardinal also commented on the situation facing the German Church, calling it “dramatic”.

New figures show about 160,000 Catholics left the Church in Germany last year alone. The number may be an improvement on 2015, when 180,000 faithful left the Church – or opted out of paying a church tax compulsory for members – but it still represents a sharp decline.

Cardinal Müller lamented the state of German, and wider European, society.

“Active participation is very much diminished, also the transmission of the Faith not as a theory but as an encounter with Jesus Christ has waned. Religious vocations the same.”

Europe, he said, was undergoing a “forced de-Christianisation” that goes “way beyond secularisation”.

“It is the de-Christianisation of the entire anthropological base, with man strictly defined without God and without transcendence. Religion is experienced as a sentiment, not as adoration of God, Creator and Saviour.”