Reactions to the change of Prefect at CDF – UPDATED

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:

Sycophantic?  I suspect he had a hand in the Walford Letter.  It has that same whiff of papolatry that this guys displays.

fainting couch 02Speaking 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.

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  1. Mike says:

    Papolatry would be bad enough. Ivereigh’s bilge is selective papolatry, Bergogliolatry.

  2. vetusta ecclesia says:

    Our church has a rich variety of spiritualities. It is impoverished by too narrow a concentration on the method of one, in this case the Ignation and its emphasis on discernment.

  3. Hidden One says:

    My prediction is that within a short period of time we’ll be seeing some “Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit” headlines, and all that will really vary from story to story is which one is which.

  4. Oxonian95 says:

    “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.”

    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “Isolated” on doctrine. Ahem.

  5. vox borealis says:

    I stopped reading the announcement at “S.J.” For now, I’ll take a wait and see approach and try to ignore all the noise.

    [Reminder: Benedict XVI appointed him as Secretary. That isn’t definitive, but it is not nothing.]

  6. I seem to remember many doubts about Cardinal Muller when he was appointed mainly due to his friendship with a liberation theologian. I hope and pray about the new Prefect of the CDF that the Lord will give him the grace of office to defend the Faith as Cardinal Muller did.

    The present Holy Father won’t be there for ever. I wonder where all the papolatrists will scurry to if he is replaced by Muller, Burke or Sarah? We can only pray that he does not leave the Church in a state of ruin. There have been dark days before and in the end Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph!

  7. Fallibilissimo says:

    A big heartfelt thank you to Cdl Muller and the service he offered the Church these years as head of the CDF. may God Bless him!

    And what in the world is wrong with MSW???? Is his version of bridge building just insulting and mean-spirited attacks on people he doesn’t even know? Time after time his material is truly cringeworthy to read with his below the belt punches on men of honor. I’m sorry, but it’s totally disgusting…I’m sick of it.
    God help him!

  8. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Interesting to see this term, “papolatry.” I know it originates in the 19th century, but where have I seen that word? Hmmm. St. John Bosco? St. Peter Caffasso? St. John Vianney? St. Peter Julian Eymard? Dom Prosper Guéranger? No, perhaps I heard that term “papolatry” from Blessed John Henry Newman?

    Now I remember! It was the rationalists, historical-critical scholars, and anti-Catholic professors at Oxford, England, who invented that term, in the mid-1800’s. They often threw that term, with vitriol, with sarcasm, and with disdain, at those who defended Blessed Piux IX, whom they considered something of a knuckle dragging, cave dweller.

    Cardinal Newman, the Brompton Oratory, and English Catholics were all the purveyors of “papolatry” according to the Oxford elite. They had the term “papolatry” hurled at them as a slur, for their defense of the Holy See during the reign of a so “autocratic, so despotic man,” as Bl. Pius IX .

    How interesting, that people who consider themselves devout Catholics, guarding the “memory” of the Church from theological and liturgical amnesia, should now bandy this term like a cute propaganda piece, aimed at Catholics guilty of wanting to show respect to Pope Francis, to speak well of his intentions, and to defend his person. And all this with such clueless, mindless thought as to where this slur originated, who invented it, and against what kind of Catholic was originally meant to be its recipient.

    So sad that we should live in such interesting times.

  9. Ignatius says:

    The book “Teología del Pecado Original y de la Gracia” (Theology of orginal sin and grace) by then Fr. Ladaria, published by Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos (Madrid, 1997) has passages regarding originating original sin (originale originans) which seem of dubious orthodoxy… just saying.

  10. Thomistica says:

    Fr. Sotelo,

    Concerning “papolatry”, assuming your etymology is correct, one could probably adduce many examples of words that have become detached from their original use and genesis.

    Regardless the term one uses to describe an unduly obsequious attitude toward actions and saying of a Pope, and questions about the appropriate use and etymology of “papolatry”, this papacy has helped remind many faithful that Popes are not above criticism.

    In this case, a Pope who seems to profess the value of dialog cannot even respond to simple questions posed to him that attempt to clarify a document that has led to profound differences in pastoral practice in various areas of the world.

    There is much intemperate stuff that goes on in criticizing the Pope within comboxes and elsewhere, but it is the responsibility of laity temperately to call out the Pope on this serious lapse in his teaching function. And to call out persons who don’t see this lapse as deeply problematic. Not to mention the strange material for youth that came out of the Vatican, the appointment of a pro-abortionists to the Pontifical Academy for Life, rumblings of a commission to revisit Humanae Vitae.

  11. Cantor says:

    Michael Sean Winters:
    I hope Cardinal Muller finds a job in which he can learn to cultivate the virtue of humility…

    I find with disturbing frequency that people who write such phrases are those most in need of said cultivation.

  12. mo7 says:

    Wouldn’t frequent change be a good thing in this role? This way no one could stay long enough to inflict too much damage, and discourage men from bringing along a agendas of radical change.

  13. mburn16 says:


    The Catholic Church is a hierarchical, semi-autocratic institution. The Pope’s word is, in most cases, law. And can be used to extreme good or extreme ill. By and large, whatever we get from Rome that doesn’t come from the mouth of Pope is only by his own good graces to allocate it to someone else. In the worst case scenarios, we are protected only from the direct propagation of error by the Holy Spirit. But that’s a far cry from a guarantee of stability and success.

    The next Pope could overturn the ban on married clergy, restore the Papal Tiara, propagate a new (or old) form of the Mass, tighten up the annulment process, and even decree the specific person who is to succeed him. All within the first 24 hours of his reign.

    Anyone who says we’re too Pope-centric doesn’t have an appreciation for how things are.

  14. pmullane says:

    Cardinal Muller has done a yeomans work at the CDF, being faithful to the Holy Father despite being undermined, all for the the Church. And yet look how he is treated by the heterodox Catholics as they spit their poison.

    Its instructive just how much they hate us just for being us.

  15. jhayes says:

    From the Allgemeine Zeitung interview with Cardinal Müller:

    It doesn’t bother me,” said the 69 year old, smiling. “Everyone has to retire at some point.” He will stay in the Vatican, that much he has decided. “I will do scholarly work, continue to exercise my function as cardinal, and do what I can in the care of souls. I have enough to do in Rome.”[Rorate]

  16. bobbird says:

    Cannot help but repeat a joke that first came out when it became apparent to many that there was Something Wrong with this pope: “Since the papacy once suppressed the Jesuits, it is only fitting that the Jesuits would suppress the papacy.”

  17. RonaldPinheiro says:

    Amen to that, Br. Force. Amen to that.

  18. mepoindexter says:

    Have we hit peak “tempest in a teapot” yet?

  19. jaykay says:

    Br. Tom Forde: “There have been dark days before and in the end Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph!”

    Largely, I think, that will come about through the sensus fidelium. 80,000 people marched through Dublin city centre today to defend the right to life of the unborn as established by the 8th amendment to our constitution, now under threat by a secularist government (won’t dignify them by a capital G). 80,000 people is a large number by any standards, but to put it in U.S. perspective, that’s 1.7% of our population – of yours: nearly 5 million. Yep, that was the sensus fidelium in participatione actuosa. There were possibly 500 pro-aborts, in all their weird and wonderful guises, at the mid-point where they usually are. You can guess about their slogans. They were standing, as per usual. Yet the establishment media are already out there with the lies, of course. “” reported (hah!) that “thousands of people took part in counter-demonstrations”. “Counter-demonstrations”, as though the 80,000 of us who walked 2 miles and held a massive rally at the end could be compared… aaahhh, the mind, it boggleth.

    Truly, he is the father of lies.

  20. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    Meanwhile, in the nearly 4 1/4 years that Francis has been Pope, not a single word or even a comma have been changed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    Did Winters accuse Mueller of being “venomous,” or did Catholicism’s Rocky Dennis finally get a thesarus?

  21. Charivari Rob says:

    Opened yahoo earlier this evening to a very distorting AP article that presented a set of generally true statements that emphasized proximity of events over context of events (ties Mueller ‘dismissal’ to Pell news).

    “Pope removes German cardinal as sex abuse crisis catches up”

    Not saying that Vatican doesn’t need to do a lot better on sex abuse cases, but no sign that whoever wrote/edited this has any idea of the role of CDF in abuse cases.

  22. rmichaelj says:

    I prefer the term papal posivitism myself- a better descriptor in my opinion.

    And if you believe that it is aimed at people who “merely want to defend and show respect for the Pope”- with respect, I would suggest that your naivety might be showing.

  23. Filipino Catholic says:

    Re papolatry, sometimes popes need to receive the metaphorical equivalent of a slap in the face to bring them to their senses (as opposed to the more heinous literal reading suggesting the treatment Boniface VIII got at the hands of the King of France). The very first one got scolded to his face *twice* in his ministry according to the Scriptures (once when he protested the Passion, once when he acted like a hypocrite).

  24. Simon_GNR says:

    From what I can gather, the new Prefect-designate of the CDF, Archbishop Ladaria, has been an academic theologian for his entire career, and has little or no pastoral experience at the parish level. I despair that it is still possible for men who have so little practical experience of the lives that the great majority of Catholics lead to rise to such high positions of responsibility in the Church. [That borders on rash judgement.] Academic expertise of course has its place in the Church, but, in my opinion, academic theologians should be on tap, not on top.
    Last week we celebrated the feast day of Ss. Peter and Paul, both of whom had plenty of experience of “real” life, and proper jobs/trades outside the world of academe, namely, fisherman and tent maker respectively, BEFORE they became apostles. If we had more men in positions of responsibility who had real life experience before training for the priesthood the Church would be better for it. [What is “real life”? Why is not spiritual or clerical or academic formation not “real life”? Who says that it’s always “better” to have done something else before? Lot’s of people with your so-called “real life” make real lousy priests and bishops. Others, without, make exceptionally good ones. What is needed is charity and prudential judgment. “Real life” can be a boon or a burden, depending on the person and what is “real” for one, is not for another.]

  25. Ave Crux says:

    Austen Ivereigh: “CDF now headed by a Jesuit, which means someone who understands discernment [Read “situation ethics”], which Müller did not.

    Why do faithful Catholics continue to let themselves be duped into putting the best face on treachery….?

    “….for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.”

    [Ivereigh doesn’t have a clue as to who Ladaria is. He’s talking out of his swollen hat.]

  26. hwriggles4 says:

    Okay, I’m lost. Has Cardinal Marc Ouellet (from Canada) been re-assigned?

    I like Ouellett. He has some similarities in his thinking to Raymond Cardinal Burke. Personally, I wouldn’t mind the next conclave (provided these two are living) selecting either Burke or Ouellet as Pope.

  27. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I’m genuinely surprised to read that the new Prefect (or pro-Prefect, since he’s not yet a Cardinal?) has only academic experience. Like which sheep does he smell?

  28. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    For taking vows to specifically avoid ambition and office holding as Jesuits, I find it odd that basically the two highest clerical positions in Roman Catholicism are held by two Jesuits.

  29. F-14_Dave says:

    I’ve heard the phrase “Where you stand depends upon where you sit” a lot this week to explain why the liberal Supreme Court Justices voted so thoroughly against their ideological counterparts in the lower courts in the latest round of rulings.

    Hopefully being appointed Prefect of the CDF will have the same effect, regardless of who it is or their orthodoxy prior to appointment.

  30. Vincent says:

    Personally, I don’t see the harm in this change. The poor cardinal’s position had been badly undermined – every time there has been a papal announcement about the SSPX, the cardinal has started rattling sabers, talking about how they have to accept VII etc. He was clearly out of sync with his manager and the current ‘corporate direction’, which is never a good position to be in!

    Based on his interviews, I do wonder if he has been a barrier to further reconciliation with SSPX, probably because he was very much in the mould of Pope Benedict, who expended so much effort on the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’.

    What I’m getting at is that a new head of the CDF may create some new opportunities…

  31. HeatherPA says:

    I snickered aloud at this truth.

    These people have not a speck of self awareness. In fact, high indignation would abound at the slightest suggestion that some self reflection in front of the Blessed Sacrament is in order.

  32. frdarryl says:

    I suppose some of us in the Anglicanorum Coetibus Ordinariates who’ve read, often as a Vademecum to our own conversion narrative, Blessed John Henry Newman’s demurral of his Tractarian-era ‘Prophetical Via Media’. Surely his own mea culpa that it resembled an ‘argumentum ad temperantiam’ should cause caution reading this prima facie phenomenological parley with the then Secretary-elect. Here is an ‘Interview with Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer by Gianni Cardinale’ (publ. 2008):

    There are also those who described you as a moderate conservative and theologically centrist. Do you recognize yourself in those descriptions?
    LADARIA FERRER: I must say that I don’t like extremisms, either progressive, or traditionalist ones. I believe that there is a via media, which is taken by the majority of professors of Theology in Rome and in the Church in general, which I think is the correct path to take, even if each of us has his own peculiarities, because, thanks be to God, we do not repeat, we are not clones.

    Non pace Newman, from his autobiographical ‘Apologia pro Vita Sua’ (publ. 1865):

    JOHN NEWMAN: A Via Media was but a receding from extremes,—therefore it needed to be drawn out into a definite shape and character: before it could have any claims on our respect, it must first be shown to be one, intelligible, and consistent. This was the first condition of any reasonable treatise on the Via Media. The second condition, and necessary too, was not in my power. I could only hope that it would one day be fulfilled. Even if the Via Media were ever so positive a religious system, it was not as yet objective and real; it had no original anywhere of which it was the representative. It was at present a paper religion. …

  33. The Masked Chicken says:

    The Via Media only works when both antipodes are acceptable. The opposite of love is apathy, but the Via Media would, then, be, “only a little bit apathetic,” which is, of course, wrong.

    The Chicken

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  35. G-Veg says:

    This is deeply unsettling.

    I am finding it harder and harder to stay silent about my views on the Papacy. I have only done so because there are folks who come to me for guidance as they discern their joining the Church or starting anew in their formation. It isn’t like I am terribly important in all of that but I do not want to introduce questions about Vatican politics when the focus should be on our personal relationship with God. It has just been more fruitful to discuss the Presence in the Eucharist and the role of the Catechism in personal decision-making than to dive into this mess.

    Ultimately, there is absolutely nothing that I can do but pray.

    Our priests and bishops need encouragement but they already know far more about this tension than I do. They need to hear “your sermon touched me” more than “I really don’t like what Pope Francis did…” My archbishop is Charles Chaput and a good man he is. He more deserves an e-mail thanking him for his fidelity than one challenging him to engage in a battle he is already fighting.

    So, we pray and we take our sacraments and we leave the rest to God. What else can I do?

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