Originally Published on: Jul 1, 2017
There will be quite a few reaction to the change of Prefects at CDF. Hereunder I hope to catalog some of them for easy reference.
Here is something predictably tasteless from the start:
CDF now headed by a Jesuit, which means someone who understands discernment, which Müller did not. Key to #AmorisLaetitia.
— Austen Ivereigh (@austeni) July 1, 2017
Sycophantic? I suspect he had a hand in the Walford Letter. It has that same whiff of papolatry that this guys displays.
Speaking of tasteless and adding a dash of hysteria, here is the Wile E. Coyote of the catholic Left at the Fishwrap (aka National Sodomitic Reporter), the bloodthirsty Michael Sean Winters:
I hope Cardinal Muller finds a job in which he can learn to cultivate the virtue of humility… I hope Cardinal Robert Sarah read this morning’s Bollettino with care. Ditto for Cardinal Marc Ouellet.
Perhaps a little spirit of hartshorn along with that “spirit of Vatican II” will do the trick.
LifeSite has provided a little summary of the not well-hidden differences of view between Card. Müller and His Holiness over, especially, matters of Amoris laetitia and a widening conflict in the Church over doctrine and praxis. It is interesting, though painful reading. That we should live to see these times. LifeSite concludes:
While Cardinal Muller may now lose his exalted post as guardian of the doctrine of the faith in the Catholic Church, he went down trying his best to maintain the faith despite personal attack. His calculated moves to retain his position were, we learn from those close to him, not made out of any desire for power, but only out of concern that a successor in his post less given to maintaining orthodoxy may do harm to the Church.
Ed Pentin at the National Catholic Register concludes:
News of the German cardinal’s departure also comes at a time when the CDF has been increasingly isolated during this pontificate on doctrinal matters. In February, it emerged that despite lodging a large number of corrections of Amoris Laetitia before its publication last April, none was accepted.
Having a Jesuit in charge may help bring it in from the cold, but some will feel uneasy about having two members of the Society of Jesus holding the two most senior positions in the Church.
Asked in 2008 what he thought about being the first Jesuit to be appointed Secretary to the CDF, he said he didn’t think it was a problem but that Benedict XVI chose him because he “seemed to him to be the best person.”
UPDATE 2 July:
At Corrispondenza Romana has Roberto de Mattei’s reaction in Il Tempo (my rapid trans):
The removal of Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller represents a crucial moment in the history of Pope Francis’ pontificate. In fact, Müller, who was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 2 July 2012 by Benedict XVI, is only 69 years old. It has never happened that a cardinal far beyond five years from the canonical retirement age (75 years) has not been renewed for a second quinquennium (five year term).
Suffice it to think that there are prelates who, even though being ten years older than Cardinal Müller, still occupy important positions, such as Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the same cardinal whose secretary has recently been captured in flagrante by the Pontifical Gendarmes (Vatican Police), during a homosexual orgy with drugs within building belonging to the Vatican. Coccopalmerio, however, showed his appreciation for Amoris laetitia, explaining that “the Church has always been the refuge of sinners,” while Müller had not hidden his perplexities toward the things opened up by the papal Exhortation, even with statements of a vacillating nature.
From this angle, the sacking of Cardinal Müller is an authoritarian act which constitutes Pope Bergoglio’s open challenge to the area of conservative cardinals with whom the Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith was notoriously close. Francesco moved with force, but also with skill. He started a scorched earth campaign around Müller, requiring him to fire three of his most trusted collaborators. He then aired up to the last moment the possibility of renewal, without ever giving him explicit assurances. In the end, he replaced him, but not with an exponent of radical progressivism, as would have been the rector of the Catholic University of Buenos Aires, Víctor Manuel Fernández, or the Special Secretary of the Synod, Bruno Forte. The chosen one is Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, a Jesuit, until today Secretary of the Congregation. His choice reassures and puzzles conservatives. What some of them do not understand is that what matters to Pope Francis is not the ideology of his collaborators, but their fidelity to his plan of “irreversible reform” of the Church.
One really ought to speak more of eradication of conservatives more than Pope Francis’ victory. Cardinal Müller did not share Pope Francis’s line, and he was tempted publicly to assume a contrary position, but the current thesis in the conservative group was that it would be have been better if he had kept his post by being silent rather than losing it by speaking. The Prefect had chosen a “low profile” approach. In an interview with Il Timone, he said that, “Amoris laetitia clearly must be interpreted in the light of the whole doctrine of the Church. […] I’m not pleased, it isn’t right that many bishops are interpreting Amoris laetitia according to their own way of understanding the Pope’s teaching”, but in another statement he also expressed his opposition to “publicizing” the dubia of the four cardinals. This did not prevent his being fired.
The “low profile”, in the strategy of some conservatives, represents evil less than the worse evil of the loss of a post, won by their opponents. This “containment” strategy does not work with Pope Francis. What was the final outcome of this affair? Cardinal Müller lost a precious opportunity to criticize Amoris laetitia publicly and, in the end, he was eventually dismissed, without even having been forewarned. It is true, as Marco Tosatti observes, that he is now more free to express himself. But even if he did, it would be the voice of a retired cardinal and not that of the Prefect of the Church’s most important Dicastery. The support of the Congregation of Faith to the four cardinals who are going forward on their way would have been be ruinous for those who today lead the Revolution in the Church, and Pope Francis managed to avoid it. The lesson of the story is that those who do not fight in order not to lose, know defeat after they surrender.