The cardinal also said the motive for sexual abuse was not priestly celibacy but ‘unmastered sexual desire’
Cardinal Gerhard Müller has described critics of his ‘Manifesto of Faith’ – especially those who accuse him of trying to act as an “anti-Pope” – as “political strategists and theological ignoramuses”.
In an interview for Catholic World Report, Cardinal Müller said those critics clearly had not read his previous work in papal supremacy, adding: “The same people who were critical, even hostile, towards Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whom they denounced as traitors of the spirit of the [Second Vatican] Council, now invoke Pope Francis.”
Cardinal Müller published his manifesto last month because “many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith, so there is a growing danger of missing the path to eternal life.”
The document reaffirmed traditional Church teaching on issues such as Communion for the divorced and remarried and Communion for Protestants.
However, it drew sharp criticism from supporters of Pope Francis, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, who compared Müller to Martin Luther: “One who rightly advocates reforms in the Church, but wants to pursue these behind the Pope’s back and enforce them in opposition to him.”
However, Cardinal Müller has hit back in the interview with Catholic World Report, accusing critics of trying to use Pope Francis as a “vehicle for their leftist-liberal agenda to desacramentalize the Church”.
“When it comes to the sexual crimes of some priests,” he continued, “they hold priestly celibacy or the sacramentality of the episcopal and priestly offices to be responsible, instead of looking to the collapse of the priestly ethos and sexual morality during the 1980s, for which these critics’ intellectual predecessors were to blame.”
Regarding Church reform, the cardinal said that true reform means “spiritual and moral renewal in Christ, and not the dechristianization of the Church or her transformation into an NGO, where global warming is more important than the awareness that God is the source and goal of man and of the whole creation.”
He also said warned against misusing the word “clericalism” when trying to find the causes of the abuse crisis, saying the term was being used as a “battle cry against the office instituted by God”.
“What the term ‘clericalism’ is about is the abuse of authority in order to gain personal advantages by abetting friends, who get moved into positions in the Church despite their incompetence and unworthiness.
“[However,] the motive for sexual abuse of minors and ecclesiastical inferiors is not the thirst for power over others, but unmastered sexual desire, which leads to the sin of lust and dehumanizes the victims.”
The best remedy for the crisis, he said, was not in talk of changing structures but in simply following traditional teaching.
“The sacramental constitution of the Church, obedience to the Ten Commandments, and fidelity to one’s call as a baptized, ordained, or married/unmarried Christian—these, when heeded, are the best protection against all forms of disobedience to our Creator and Redeemer and against injury to the love of God and neighbor, that love which encapsulates all the commandments.”