Catholic World News

New CDF prefect discusses liberation theology, SSPX, LCWR

July 26, 2012

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the newly-appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith discussed the centrality of faith and divine revelation and briefly addressed controversial issues.

The son of an automobile factory worker and a homemaker, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller said that “the problems that are foreseen are very great if we look at the universal Church, with many challenges that must be addressed and in face of a certain downheartedness that is spreading in some environments but which we must overcome. We also have the problem of groups -- of the right and the left, as is usually said -- which take up much of our time and our attention. Here the danger easily arises of losing sight of our main task, which is to proclaim the Gospel and to explain concretely the doctrine of the Church.”

“We are convinced that there is no alternative to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ,” he continued. “Revelation responds to the great questions of men of all times. What is the meaning of my life? How can I face suffering? Is there hope that goes beyond death, given that life is brief and difficult? “

“We are fundamentally convinced that the secular and immanentistic vision is not enough,” he added. We cannot find a convincing answer on our own. Because of this, Revelation is a relief, given that we must not seek answers at all costs … The infinite God has manifested himself to us in Christ. Christ is the answer to our most profound questions. Because of this we are willing to face the future with joy and strength.”

Archbishop Müller added:

The Church is first of all a community of faith; hence the revealed faith is the most important good, which we must transmit, proclaim and protect. Jesus entrusted to Peter and to his successors the universal Magisterium, and it is this that the dicastery must serve. Hence the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has the responsibility for what concerns the whole Church in profundity: the faith that leads us to salvation and to communion with God and among ourselves …

The Congregation must first of all promote the faith and render it comprehensible, and this is the decisive factor. To this is added the fact that the faith must be defended against errors and devaluations. In fact at present we are in need of hope and signs to begin again. If we look at the world, especially at our European countries, which, naturally, are the ones I know best, we see many politicians and economists who do extraordinary things; but they are not the first to be looked at when it is a question of transmitting hope and trust … Atheists and enemies of the Church should ask themselves, perhaps, with a spirit of self-criticism if they themselves have means of salvation to offer the men of today.

“For those who proclaim [the faith] is important to be on the terrain of faith, to access its sources, holy Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, documents of Councils and of pontiffs, the great theologians and spiritual writers,” he added. “Where this doesn't happen, everything is arid and empty. When, instead, the faith is accepted with joy and determination, life is born.”

Turning to the topic of liberation theology, Archbishop Müller said:

In 1988 I was invited to take part in a seminar with Gustavo Gutierrez. I went with a certain reservation as a German theologian, also because I knew well the two statements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on liberation theology published in 1984 and in 1986. However, I was able to see that it is necessary to distinguish between a mistaken liberation theology and a correct one. I believe that every good theology has to do with the freedom and glory of the children of God. However, certainly a mixture of the doctrine of Marxist self-redemption with the salvation given by God must be rejected.

On the other hand we must ask ourselves sincerely: How can we speak of the love and mercy of God in face of the suffering of so many people who don't have food, water, health care, who don't know how to offer a future to their children, where human dignity is truly lacking, where human rights are ignored by the powerful? In the last analysis this is possible only if we are also willing to be with the people, to accept them as brothers and sisters, without paternalism from on high.

Asked, “What do you think of the discussions with the Lefebvrists and with the religious sisters of the United States?”, he replied:

It is important for the future of the Church to overcome ideological clashes no matter where they come from. There is only one revelation of God in Jesus Christ which was entrusted to the whole Church. This is why there are no negotiations on the Word of God and one cannot believe and not believe at the same time. One cannot pronounce the three religious vows and then not take them seriously. I cannot make reference to the tradition of the Church and then accept it only in some of its parts. The path of the Church leads ahead and all are invited not to enclose themselves in a self-referential way of thinking, but rather to accept the full life and the full faith of the Church.


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  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 27, 2012 7:26 AM ET USA

    "We also have the problem of groups -- of the right and the left, as is usually said -- which take up much of our time and our attention. Here the danger easily arises of losing sight of our main task, which is to proclaim the Gospel and to explain concretely the doctrine of the Church.” I would add that must we proclainm the gospel by living it because what we do speaks so loud the world cannot hear what we say.