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Cardinal Müller rejects idea of ‘paradigm shift’ in Catholic doctrine

February 20, 2018

Cardinal Gerhard Müller rejects the notion of a “paradigm shift” in Church teaching, in an essay for First Things.

In an unusual public disagreement among prominent cardinals, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith takes issue with the use of a term (“paradigm shift”) that was used by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, with reference to Amoris Laetitia. Cardinal Müller says that term “seems to be a relapse into a modernist and subjectivist way of interpreting the Catholic faith.”

In his First Things essay the German cardinal reflects on Cardinal Newman’s teaching regarding the development of Catholic doctrine. He explains that the organic development of Church teaching precludes a dramatic change. A “paradigm shift” in Church teaching suggests a break from fidelity to the sources of apostolic teaching, such as occurred with the Protestant Reformation, he writes. Thus he argues against those who interpret Amoris Laetitia to “advance positions contrary to the constant teaching of the Catholic Church, by effectively denying that adultery is always a grave objective sin…”

Cardinal Müller explains his insistence on the continuity of Church teaching:

When “pastoral change” becomes a term by which some express their agenda to sweep aside the Church’s teaching as if doctrine were an obstacle to pastoral care, then speaking up in opposition is a duty of conscience.


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  • Posted by: rghatt6599 - Feb. 21, 2018 4:05 PM ET USA

    I am confused and frustrated by so many faithful Catholics claiming there is a lack of clarity from the current papacy. There are no other interpretations of current events within the Church than that the pope and the prelates he favors are intent on subverting Catholic doctrine and traditional pastoral practice. What the cardinal says is sound and consoling but we know that his defense of traditional Catholic teaching is not appreciated in the Vatican as otherwise he would still head the CDF.

  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Feb. 21, 2018 3:18 PM ET USA

    The lead in email posed the question, is fighting among Cardinals bad? To which I say, Bad?!! Bad?!!!! Bad?!!!!!! Given the horrible state of the Church, given that the Church has been reduced to compromising its witness in defense of unborn life and has therefore aided and abetted the slaughter, I say it is long overdue for a loyal cardinal to smack a heretical cardinal with a fist to the nose!!!!

  • Posted by: bruno - Feb. 21, 2018 5:35 AM ET USA

    Unusual clarity in a period of great confusion.

  • Posted by: Rose of Lima - Feb. 20, 2018 7:00 PM ET USA

    A true Bishop of the Church!

  • Posted by: DanS - Feb. 20, 2018 6:41 PM ET USA

    Confusion over LA?! What confusion?