Rorate Caeli

On Marriage and Bishops' Conferences, Cardinal Müller teaches Cardinal Marx the true Catholic lesson

Excerpt of interview granted by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, to French Catholic weekly Famille Chrétienne.

[FC:] In a book of conversations on the family [The Hope of the Family, Ignatius Press; La speranza della famiglia, Edizioni Ares], recently published in Italy and in the United States, you encourage Christians to, "choose the prophetic boldness of martyrdom." Why?

[Müller:] The Church is not a philanthopic organization. To say that we respect the opinions of all, that we wish for the good of all, is not enough. To present the Gospel as a simple therapeutic message is not very hard, but it does not respond to the demands of Jesus. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me," Jesus says. The first apostles, the Fathers of the Church, the great bishops in the History of the Church very often sailed against opposing winds. How could it be any different for us?

[FC:] Could certain doctrinal or disciplinary decisions on marriage and family be delegated to the episcopal conferences? 
[Müller:] It is an absolutely anti-Catholic idea that does not respect the Catholicity of the Church. Episcopal conferences have authority on certain matters, but they are not a magisterium beside the Magisterium, without the Pope and without communion with all bishops.

[FC:] Recently, a German bishop [Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Chairman of the German Bishops' Conference] said that the episcopal conference that he chairs is not a "branch of Rome." What do you think of this?

[Müller:] An episcopal conference is not a particular council, even less so an ecumenical council. The president of an episcopal conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and he does not have any particular magisterial authority due to this title. Hearing that an episcopal conference is not a "branch of Rome" gives me the occasion to recall that dioceses are not the branches of the secretariat of a bishops' conference either, nor of the diocese whose bishop presides over the episcopal conference. This kind of attitude risks in fact the reawakening of a certain polarization between the local Churches and the Church universal, out of date since the Vatican I and Vatican II councils. The Church is not a sum of national churches, whose presidents would vote to elect their chief on the universal level.

[Rorate translation. Tip: Luke Coppen on Twitter. Source, in French]