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Prefect of Vatican doctrinal congregation explains, defends Pope's approach

Catholic World News - October 01, 2013

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith praised the pastoral approach taken by Pope Francis—particularly in his provocative interview with Jesuit magazines—in an exchange with the German Catholic news agency KNA.

“Pope Francis has that special charism of being able to translate the Church’s doctrine of faith—which he adheres to unconditionally, as he never tires of emphasizing—into a personal encounter with people,” said Archbishop Gerhard Müller. “As Pope he behaves like a local pastor.”

In the KNA interview—which was published in an English translation by The Tablet-- Archbishop Müller strongly defend the Pope’s statement that the Church should not speak constantly about controversial public issues. “It’s not as if other bishops or Pope Benedict had constantly spoken about abortion, sexual morals, or euthanasia,” the German prelate observed. He said that teaching fundamental doctrines must take priority, because: “If Jesus Christ is not the Son of God who became Man, then He cannot be the Good Shepherd.

Archbishop Müller also took issue with critics who have complained about the Pope’s interest in liberation theology. “Contrary to widespread popular opinion, the two instructions of 1984 and 1986 were not a big ‘No’ to liberation theology,” he said. The Vatican instructions, the archbishop explained, cautioned against certain doctrinal problems in the work of some liberation theologians, while recognizing the contributions of others.

Looking forward to the prospect of changes in the governing structure of the Church, Archbishop Müller said that he did not expect to see “a sort of federal reform” in which national episcopal conferences would have greater authority. “That is not how the Church is constituted,” he said. “According to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the Church consists in and of the local churches.”

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