|Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, |
prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
In a move that is making headlines in Germany, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has said German bishops are leading the Church to a schism.
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller is warning that the tendency of German bishops to divide doctrine from pastoral practice is not unlike the abuses surrounding the Protestant split in 1517. One should "be very vigilant and not forget the lesson of Church history,” he said.
Last week, in a speech at the release of the German version of Cardinal Robert Sarah's new book God or Nothing in Regensburg, Germany, Cardinal Mueller criticized "a climate of the German claim to leadership for the Universal Church." According to the German newspaper Die Tagespost, Mueller said that he is frequently asked why German bishops claim to be leaders of the Catholic Church -- while flouting teachings on marriage and sexuality -- despite overseeing dramatic reductions in church attendance, shrinking numbers of seminarians, and a drop in vocations to religious orders.
Mueller also said that predictions of a worldwide collapse in Christianity, as has taken place in Europe, were premature. "We should not predict for others that it will all develop as it has developed with us [in Europe] - as if de-Christianization is a process according to a law in nature. No. With the help of the Faith, one can move mountains," he explained.
Only with the help of a "strong new evangelization with an apostolic courage and zeal," can weakness in Germany's Christianity be reversed, explained Mueller. However, such zeal faces an enormous challenge that he described as "an ideological constrictedness," according to which the truth and the unity of the Church shall be sacrificed in order to achieve a change at least in the field of pastoral care.
Mueller specifically identified allowing "remarried" Catholics to receive the Eucharist, as well as accepting a redefinition of marriage, as challenges to overcome. "One tries, with all means - with the help of exegesis, history, dogmatic history, and with reference to psychology and sociology - to deconstruct and relativize the Catholic teaching on marriage which comes from the teaching of Jesus, and this only in order that the Church appears to conform with society," he said.
"He who remains faithful to the teaching of the Church is attacked by the media, and even defamed as an opponent of the pope," Mueller said, "as if the pope and all the bishops in union with him were not witnesses of the revealed truth which has been entrusted to them so that it does not run the risk of being leveled down by men to a human measure."
"We may not deceive the people, when it comes to the sacramentality of marriage, its indissolubility, its openness toward the child, and the fundamental complementarity of the two sexes," he firmly stated. "Pastoral case has to keep in view the eternal salvation," as opposed to a desire to be popular or accepted in the world.
German bishops cannot separate themselves from the Universal Church, said Mueller. The nation's Catholic leaders must be "very attentive and [not] forget the lesson of the history of the Church."
Many German bishops have declared that "life realities" must be taken into account as part of Church teaching and salvation. However, Mueller said the goal should not be "about adapting the Revelation to the world, but … about gaining the world for God."