21Jan Pope’s G8 group member criticises CDF chief

An influential aide to Pope Francis criticized the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog on Monday and urged the conservative prelate to be more flexible about reforms being discussed in the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the head of a “kitchen cabinet” the pope created to draw up reform proposals, said that Archbishop Gerhard Mueller – who has opposed any loosening of Church rules on divorce – was a classic German theology professor who thought too much in rigid black-and-white terms.

“The world isn’t like that, my brother,” Rodriguez said in a German newspaper interview, rhetorically addressing Mueller in a rare public criticism among senior Church figures.

“You should be a bit flexible when you hear other voices, so you don’t just listen and say, ‘here is the wall’,” Rodriguez said in an interview with the daily Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger.

Rodriguez, archbishop of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, did not cite any possible reforms in particular but said the pope’s critics, such as those upset by his attacks on capitalism, were “people who don’t understand reality.”

Former Pope Benedict picked Mueller in 2012 to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the successor office to the Inquisition. Benedict ran that office as a powerful and feared guardian of Church orthodoxy for 24 years as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, until he was elected pope in 2005.

But its influence has waned under Francis, who soon after his March 2013 election was reported as telling visiting South American priests and nuns not to worry if the CDF wrote to them criticizing what they were doing.

NO TO CHANGING DIVORCE RULE

In an article in the Vatican daily last October, Mueller firmly rejected growing demands for divorced and remarried Catholics to be reinstated as full members of the Church.

Catholics who divorce and remarry in a civil ceremony are excluded from communion because the Church teaches that Jesus declared marriage an indissoluble bond.

With divorce on the rise, more Catholics are asking Rome to show mercy for them. German bishops have been in the forefront of reform thinking and one archdiocese even published guidelines on how to readmit them, which prompted Mueller’s article.

The Vatican is due to consider reforming its rules on divorce at a worldwide synod of bishops next October.

Mueller has also strongly defended Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who reaped stiff criticism from German Catholics and the title “luxury bishop” in the media after it was revealed he spent at least 30 million euros ($40.69 million) on a new residence complex.

Tebartz-van Elst’s grand plans were so far from the modest approach favoured by the Argentine-born pontiff that Rome sent an envoy to inspect his diocese and later sent him off to a monastery for a leave of absence pending a final decision.

Rodriguez did not think Tebartz-van Elst would return to Limburg and said Latin Americans like himself and the pope found it hard to understand spending so much money for opulent features such as a 15,000-euro free-standing bath tub.

“For most people, a shower and a toilet are enough,” he said. “They’re enough for the pope in his three-room apartment too.” ($1 = 0.7373 euros)

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

 

5 Responses

  1. MM

    ““The world isn’t like that, my brother,” Rodriguez said in a German newspaper interview, rhetorically addressing Mueller in a rare public criticism among senior Church figures.”

    This is what has been missing in church affairs at this level – transparency and an open airing of differences. There may be fall out but doesn’t it already feel much healthier than the culture of Omertà and false consensus that the Vatican usually presents to the world.

    We are adults. We can take it.

  2. Diffal

    I read the original article and to my mind the bit on Archbishop Müller comes over as a bit condescending(I don’t think Cardinal Rodriguez meant it to though). He tells us that he has never even spoken to Archbishop Müller, and yet he feels qualified to pigeon-hole him using German stereotypes and tells us he is still learning and will grow up eventually.

    Rather than tackling his positions head on he seems to caricature Archbishop Müller and his views. Surely that doesn’t help anyone. Shouldn’t he speak to the man and find out his opinions, from the horses mouth as it were, and tackle him on the points he puts forward rather than criticise him like that in a german newspaper?

    Finally I would be mortified if I came across like Cardinal Rodriguez does in this interview. I mean if I were to say “sure what would you expect from a Honduran/Englishman/German/ Liberal/Conservative etc. but a response like that”, I would be rightly criticised for presenting a strawman argument. Surely we need to confront the issues not the people and their personalities?

  3. Eddie Finnegan

    I see Pope Francis, having kept Benedict’s five cardinal Vatican Bank overseers on hold for ten months, has put the skids under four of them, replacing them with people like my friend Schoenborn, Collins of Toronto and his new Secretary of State, Parolin.
    So why did he go so ram stam into reconfirming Gerhard Mueller as CDF Prefect on the third day of his pontificate, rather than letting him sweat it out till he (Francis) had his own chosen C8 advisers around him? The man from Tegucigalpa seems to be wondering the same thing.
    Mueller became Bishop of Regensburg, Benedict’s old stomping ground, in 2002. I wonder whose advice JPII took on that one. Maybe Vincent Twomey could tell us. In July 2012 Benedict made him Prefect of CDF (of which he had been a bishop member under Ratzinger and Levada) plus President of ‘Ecclesia Dei’, the ITC and the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
    At 66 and as cardinal four weeks from now, he’s likely to be at the CDF for the next ten or twelve years. His ‘liberation lite’ theology will do him no harm at all and, no doubt, he and Francis will make his old teacher and co-author, Gustavo Gutiérrez, an honorary cardinal as Father of Liberation Theology. (Well, if David Cameron can give his barber a knighthood . . . .?) So none of the old Boff-bashing, Kueng-curbing stuff from his mentor’s regime.
    At 77, early in 2025, he will be greeted as a refreshing breeze, Benedict XVII, as he takes over from the increasingly reactionary final years of Pope Francis, who bows out at 88 before a conclave in which the Tegucigalpan no longer has a vote
    Which means that by 2038 Joseph Ratzinger will have enjoyed a 76-year stretch as Pre-Pope, Shadow-Pope, Pope, Pope Emeritus and Post-Pope-by-Proxy. Not a bad career for that young liberal on the frings of Vatican 2 in 1962.
    Always best to view the Circus Romanus Maximus sub specie aeternitatis, I find.

  4. Lee Cahill

    “Rather than tackling his positions head on he seems to caricature Archbishop Müller and his views. Surely that doesn’t help anyone. Shouldn’t he speak to the man and find out his opinions, from the horses mouth as it were, and tackle him on the points he puts forward rather than criticise him…”

    Diffal, I go along with you, without reservation in regard to your point of principle. I am happy to apply that same principle…maybe even these same words you used… to Archbishop Mueller himself, in the context of his (Archb.Mueller’s) handling of Tony Flannery.
    Lee Cahill SMA

  5. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Paul Vallely, in a talk in St. Mary’s, Haddington Road, had some very interesting things to say about the past and present complexity of Pope Francis. I have just started into his book which promises to be an interesting and revealing read.

    Meanwhile, some crumbs from St. Mary’s:
    http://dominusvobiscuit.blogspot.ie/2014/02/untying-knots.html


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