Cardinal Gerhard Müller spoke with an Italian daily on Tuesday about the synod and about a letter allegedly sent to Pope Francis from a number of cardinals abouts its process, calling the leak of a private document scandalous.
“I’m not saying whether I signed or not. The scandal is that it makes public a private letter of the Pope,” the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told Corriere della Sera Oct. 13. “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.”
“The intention of those who willed its publication is to sow strife, to create tensions. I think that’s clear.”
The text of a letter, and a list of 13 cardinal signatories, were published by Vaticanista Sandro Magister the day before. Several of the prelates listed have denied having signed the document, and others have contested the text published by Magister.
Cardinal Müller is among the list of signatories published by Magister, as well as an alternate version published by Jesuit-run America magazine.
After discussing the letter with Corriere della Sera, the cardinal turned to larger issues of the synod, and Francis’ papacy.
He took umbrage at “those who sustain that in the Roman Curia there is opposition to the Pope. Those who say and write that there are wolves, that Francis is surrounded by wolves. This is an offensive expression, and criminal. I am not a wolf against the Pope.”
“I know who is the Pope and what is meant by his primacy a thousand times better than those who say these things. As prefect of the Congregation, I am the first collaborator of the Holy Father; not only myself but all those who are part of it. I will let no one put in doubt my obedience and my service to the Pope and the Church.”
Pope Francis had cautioned last week against a ‘hermeneutic of conspiracy’ surrounding the synod, and Cardinal Müller reflected that the ‘conspiracy’ would be “To say we are friends of the Pope, and they are the enemy!”
“I do not know anyone here who is against the Pope,” he affirmed.
Acknowledging that there has been concern expressed over the synod’s regulations, he said it “always discusses how to improve procedures, everyone has the freedom to say their opinion on this: the regulations are a human, not a divine law!”
Cardinal Müller spoke positively about the use of small groups for discussion at the synod, saying that “everyone has the freedom to express themselves more fully,” and that “in the [synod] hall there are only three minutes for each intervention, and a synthesis of all aspects cannot be done.”
“There was tension between doctrine and pastoral approach,” the cardinal said, “but it is the task of the synod to see these two aspects together. Every Catholic bishop, in his person, is a teacher of the faith and also shepherd of the flock.”
Regarding the link between doctrine and mercy, Cardinal Müller said, “Orthodoxy must be realized in pastoral care, and there is not a healthy pastoral care without doctrine: that is the teaching of Jesus, not an academic doctrine of theologians.”
He added that the debates should not be characterized as between “liberals” who are approved by the masses, and unpopular “conservatives” who defend the doctrine revealed by Christ.
“It is not as if one [bishop] is of the Ten Commandments, and another is of mercy. And the Gospel requires also the conversion of our lives. The door is narrow.”
Cardinal Müller then turned to the divorced-and-remarried.
“Persons are suffering because their marriage is broken, not because they cannot receive Communion. For us the center of the Eucharist is the consecration: each Christian has the obligation to attend Mass, but not to receive Communion. Concentrating only on this one point resolves nothing.”
He added that “a general rule” in this regard “is not possible.”
“Marriage is a sacrament, and the Church has not authority over a sacrament.”