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Cardinal Müller says CDF cannot answer cardinals’ dubia without Pope’s approval

December 01, 2016

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has said that he will not respond to the dubia submitted by four cardinals about the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, unless Pope Francis instructs him to do so.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller explained, in an interview with the Kathpress news service, that the CDF speaks for the Roman Pontiff, and issues judgments “with the authority of the Pope.” The office could respond to the four cardinals if Pope Francis authorized it, he said. But it would be inappropriate for the CDF to intervene in a controversy without the Pope’s approval, he said.

The four cardinals had submitted their dubia to the CDF. But their letter was addressed to the Pontiff.

Cardinal Müller said that reports about a battle inside the Vatican about the interpretation of the papal document were overblown, and reflected the tendency of reporters who see Church affairs in terms of power politics. At the same time, he said that it is important for the faithful to “remain objective and not be drawn into polarization.”

Regarding the most controversial question about Amoris Laetitia—the question of whether divorced and remarried Catholics could be admitted to Communion—Cardinal Müller did not answer directly. However, he referred to a 1993 directive from the CDF, in which then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger rejected a plan by German bishops to allow divorced couples to receive Communion in some cases.

Cardinal Müller said that Amoris Laetitia should be read in the light of previous papal documents, and that the permanence of the marriage bond should be the “unshakeable foundation” of every pastoral strategy. He said that Pope Francis was seeking to help couples “find a way that is in accordance with God’s gracious will.”


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  • Posted by: [email protected] - Dec. 03, 2016 3:44 PM ET USA

    More confusion continues. The lack of response appears to be purposeful on part of the Pope. This is causing more confusion. Look at what the Bishop for the diocese of San Diego is doing. It is a free for all of what each thinks their conscience is telling them in conjunction with some liberal priests. Remember the 60s and 70s on contraceptives. Here we go again if this Pope doesn't clarify his errors.

  • Posted by: stpetric - Dec. 02, 2016 10:10 PM ET USA

    I don't envy Cardinal Müller the tightrope he has to walk. He understands what's at stake.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Dec. 02, 2016 6:57 PM ET USA

    Oh, come on ! The Pope has made an awful mistake. Let's pray he doesn't try to make believe he is promulgating authentic morals. He is causing terrible damage to the teaching authority of the Church.

  • Posted by: fwhermann3492 - Dec. 01, 2016 5:57 PM ET USA

    Yet more confusion. Many bishops are not interpreting AL the way that Cardinal Muller seems to be. And quite frankly, the few circuitous comments that Pope Francis has uttered about it suggest that he doesn't, either. It seems scandalous, but one gets the impression that there is a conscious attempt at the Vatican to keep the meaning of AL vague so that each bishop can interpret it as he will.