Rorate Caeli

In charge of the henhouse?

Gerhard Müller, Bishop of Regensburg, once again has his name mentioned as a possible successor to Cardinal Levada as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Marco Tosatti reports for La Stampa:

After Easter, and after his trip to Cuba, Benedict XVI will address one of the problems that are dearest to him: namely, the choice of a successor to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, William Levada. It is one of the most important positions in the the Curia and the Church and Benedict XVI knows this, having been at the helm of the congregation for a quarter of a century. Some sources close to the Vatican say the Pope’s choice seems almost certain: Levada's successor should be Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, the Archbishop of Regensburg. If this Is true, we will be witnessing a revival, high up in the Church, of a form of theology which for decades has been more a cause of problems for the Church, than it has been a resource: Liberation Theology.

Honestly... Gutiérrez-mania seems to be the smallest of worries. Tosatti helpfully catalogues some of his opinions, which we present below in more complete and accurate quotes (in a darker color) which the Italian article mentioned only in passing:

On the Perpetual Virginity of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary:

In his 900-page work "Katholische Dogmatik. Für Studium und Praxis der Theologie" (Freiburg. 5th Edition, 2003), Müller would have denied the dogma of the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary claiming that the doctrine is "not so much concerned with specific physiological proprieties in the natural process of birth (such as the birth canal not having been opened, the hymen not being broken, or the absence of birth pangs), but with the healing and saving influence of the grace of the Savior on human nature."

On the Real Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Lord in the transubstantiated Eucharistic species:

In 2002, bishop Müller published the book "Die Messe - Quelle des christlichen Lebens" (St. Ulrich Verlag, Augsburg). In this book, he speaks of the Sacrament of the Altar and warns against using the terms "body and blood" in this context. These terms would cause "misunderstandings", "when flesh and blood are considered to mean the physical and biological components of the human Jesus. Neither is it simply the transfigured body of the resurrected Lord that is being designated."

Bishop Müller continues: "In reality, the body and blood of Christ do not mean the material components of the human person of Jesus during his lifetime or in his transfigured corporality. Here, body and blood mean the presence of Christ in the signs of the medium of bread and wine."

Holy Communion transmits according to Müller a "community with Jesus Christ, mediated by eating and drinking the bread and the wine. Even in the merely personal human sphere, something like a letter may represent the friendship between people and, that is to say, show and embody the sympathy of the sender for the receiver." Bread and wine thus only become "symbols of his salvific presence".

That is how Mgr Müller explains a "change of being" in the Eucharistic gifts:

"The essential definition of bread and wine has to be conceived in an anthropological way. The natural essence of these offerings [bread and wine] as the fruit of the earth and the work of human hands, as the unity of natural and cultural products consists in clarifying the nourishment and sustenance of man and the communion of the people in the sign of a common meal [...]. This natural essence of bread and wine is transfigured by God in the sense that the essence of bread and wine is made to consist exclusively in showing and realizing the salvific communion with God."

On Protestantism and the unicity and salvific universality of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as recalled in the Declaration Dominus Iesus:

Bp. Müller revealed a very vague ecclesiastical conception on October 11, 2011, during an honorific speech for Johannes Friedrich, regional "bishop" of the ‘Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Bavaria’. The occasion was the bestowal of the ecumenical award of the ‘Catholic Academy of Bavaria’.
On this occasion Mgr Müller said the following:

"Baptism is the fundamental sign that sacramentally unites us in Christ, and which presents us as the one Church in front of the world. Thus, we as Catholic and Evangelical Christians are already united even in what we call the visible Church. Strictly speaking, there are not several Churches one beside the other -- these are rather divisions and separations within the one people and house of God."

For Bishop Müller opposition against "Dominus Iesus" was merely based on "misunderstanding":

"The assertion that the Ecclesial Communities that have not upheld valid episcopacy ... are not Churches (plural) in a proper sense is not translated theologically correctly by the bold statement that 'the Evangelical Church is not actually a Church'. That is because the plural designates the Churches as local Churches with a bishop. The question here is not whether the confessional Churches of reformed character are actual Churches -- it is rather whether sacramental episcopacy is a constitutive element of a local Church or of a diocese. The difference between an Evangelical local Church and a Catholic diocese is being described -- not evaluated. The Catholic Magisterium is far from denying an ecclesial character or an ecclesial existence to ‘the separated Churches and ecclesial Communities of the West’ (UR 19)."

Bishop Müller describes the heart of ecumenism as follows:

"We no longer define the relations among us on the basis of existing differences in doctrine, life or in the constitution of the Church, but rather based on what we have in common, that is, on the very foundation on which we stand."

Tosatti adds the following:

Americans, who in recent weeks have been making their ad limina visits to Rome, believe that the successor to William Levada should be an English speaking figure, since the "front" of the Church's doctrinal battle is taking place mainly in the U.S. and in the Anglo-Saxon world in general. In Rome, among those people who enjoy the Pope’s esteem and whom he listens to, is the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, Raymond Leo Burke. Overseas, Allen Henry Vigneron’s name has cropped up as a possible ideal candidate. He is Archbishop of Detroit and a leading expert on philosophy and theology.