Benedict XVI penned a letter for Card. Müller’s 70th birthday.

Pope Benedict has written a longish letter to Card. Müller, once Prefect of the CDF and now… Card. Müller, on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

The German text is HERE.

The letter was written for a “Festschrift”, a commemorative collection of essays on the some important occasion or anniversary for an honoree.

I’m not in mood to work real hard tonight, but the thrust of Benedict’s letter, is that, even though Müller does not present have an office, he remains a role in the Church as a cardinal.  (Benedict knows something about not having an office, but retaining a “role”.)

A cardinal isn’t really ever “retired”.

Benedict praised Müller for defending the Faith but also for accepting the spirit of Pope Francis.  He praises Müller’s work as a theologian.

I am sure that the English translation will soon appear.


A reader sent this:

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: Cardinal Müller will continue to serve the Faith.
Even though His Eminence Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller is no longer the Prefect of the Holy Office, “A Cardinal never simply retires”. So says his friend and patron Benedict XVI very convincingly.
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller will continue to “serve the faith publicly”. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI shows this in the introduction to a series of writings to celebrate the 70th birthday of the former Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith. Although Cardinal Müller, after the end of his five-year term as Prefect, “no longer holds a specific office, he is still a Priest and certainly a Bishop and Cardinal, and he cannot simply retire.”
In his welcoming address, the Pope Emeritus honoured the work of Cardinal Müller in Rome, first as a member of the International Theological Commission, where he was especially struck by the wealth of his knowledge and the fidelity to the Catholic Faith. After the retirement of Cardinal William Levada as Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, Cardinal Müller was “the most suitable Bishop” to succeed the American. As Prefect, the former Bishop of Regensburg endeavoured to work “not only as a scholar, but as a sage, as a father in the Church.”
“You defended the clear traditions of the Faith, and in the spirit of Pope Francis sought an understanding, of how these can be lived today.”
In the four-page letter Pope Emeritus Benedict recalls how Cardinal Müller gave him an edition of his “Catholic Dogmatics for the Study and Practice of Theology” in 1995. In the Cardinal’s Dogmatics, the Pope Emeritus sees the project of a compact compilation of the Faith of the Church in a single volume. Benedict himself had not been able to realise a plan of his own accord because of his manifold duties as a theologian at Vatican II, as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and finally as the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. He pays particular tribute to Cardinal Müller’s account of the Faith of the Church “as unity and wholeness,” so that “the ultimate simplicity of faith becomes visible through all complicated theological reflections.”
This is the mark of a good theologian, says Pope Benedict: “In my opinion, a great theologian will not be treated by handling clever and difficult details, but by representing the ultimate unity and simplicity of the Faith.”
The greeting is preceded by the commemorative publication “The Triune
God: Christian Faith in the Secular Age”, which commemorates the 70th birthday of Gerhard Ludwig Müller on 31 December. It is published by Christian Schaller, director of the Benedict XVI Foundation in Ratisbon, and by George Augustine, lecturer in Dogmatic Theology in Vallendar, Germany. The authors include His Eminence Reinhard Cardinal Marx, recent Ratzinger Prize award-winner Bonn dogmatist Karl -Heinz Menke, and Karl Wallner, former Rector of the Holy Cross Philosophical-Theological College. Benedict XVI himself regrets in his greeting that he himself was “no longer able” to write a “proper scientific contribution”.

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  1. David Willis says:

    I have a real, personal affection for the Pope-Emeritus. However, he confuses me so much with his limited public comments. How can a theologian known for precision and clarity, laud Card. Mueller’s acceptance of the spirit of Francis? I’m just a dude in the pews of a small town, but the spirit of Francis seems to me to be vagueness and disregard for dogma and tradition.

  2. TonyO says:

    And the “spirit of Francis” … in the person of Francis himself, pushed Mueller out with neither a proper thanks nor an explanation. Apparently HE didn’t think that Mueller was quite fully in step with the spirit of Francis.

    Why will none of the cardinals admit that the ROT in the Church extends even to the elevation of many of the cardinals? Why can they not admit that the Mahoneys, the Kaspers, etc were terrible mistakes by the popes? Do they fear being pinned under the same spotlight glare? Is there no sufficient humility for that?

  3. David says:

    I would be extremely surprised if Benedict were not distraught over the state of the Church under his successor. I would be equally surprised if he ever said as much. To preserve the unity of the Church is one of the major tasks imposed on a Pope, reigning or emeritus. Benedict would never ignite an ecclesiastical civil war.

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