Rorate Caeli

Mgr. Bux on Müller: these complainers are just being "Capernaists"!
SSPX German District on Müller

1. Mgr. Nicola Bux says it is incorrect to extrapolate from a few excerpts of Abp. Müller's works.

Traditionalists on the attack on Müller

Don Nicola Bux analyzes the complaints about the new prefect:  "if one extrapolates from the context, it is easy to condemn anyone."


The naming of the Bishop of Regensburg Gerhard Müller as new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was preceded and was followed by the spread – first through anonymous emails and then in articles on the web, including the Italian site of the Society of St. Pius X – of small extrapolations from his writings that show questionable positions in matters of faith.  Are things truly thus? Vatican Insider interviewed on this matter theologian Nicola Bux, Consultant of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In his book on Dogmatics, Müller writes that the doctrine of the Virginity of Mary "not so much concerned with specific physiological proprieties in the natural process of birth"

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the physical aspect of virginity is due entirely to the fact that Jesus was conceived without human seed, but by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a divine work that exceeds all understanding and human possibility. The Church professes the real and perpetual Virginity of Mary but does not enter into physical details; neither does it seem that the Councils and the Fathers stated otherwise.

In this line, it seems to me, along which what Müller wrote should be understood, [Müller] does not support a "doctrine" that denies the dogma of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, but warns against a certain, as it were, "Capernaism", i.e. a way of reasoning "according to the flesh" and not "according to the spirit", that already appeared at Capernaum among the Jews at the end of Jesus ' discourse on the bread of life. [Jn vi]

In 2002, Müller, in his book "Die Messe - Quelle des christlichen Lebens" [The Mass - Source of the Christian Life], speaking of the Eucharistic Sacrament, writes that, "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." 

It was precisely in Capernaum that the terms used by Jesus, flesh and blood, were misunderstood as anthropomorphic and the Lord had to reiterate their spiritual sense, which does not mean that its presence is less real, true, and substantial. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding this. Saint Ambrose says that it is not the the element formed by nature, but the substance produced by the formula of consecration: its very nature is transformed, so body and blood are the being of Jesus. The Tridentine Council says that in the Eucharist Our Lord, true God and true man, is "substantially" present. He is sacramentally present with his substance, a mysterious mode of being,admissible on faith and possible from God.

St. Thomas [Aquinas] had said that the mode of "substance" and not the "quantity", characterizes the presence of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The bread and wine as a species or appearances mediate our access to the "substance", something that happens especially in communion. All the same, the Tridentine Council sees no contradiction between the natural way of the presence of Christ in heaven and his sacramental being in many other places. All this was reaffirmed by Pope Paul VI in his Encyclical Mysterium Fidei, unfortunately forgotten. The senses are not enough, but faith is required from us. It is a mystery of the faith.

On Protestantism and the salvific unicity of Jesus, Müller said, in October 2011: "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."

St. Augustine defended against the Donatists the truth that baptism is an indestructible bond, which does not abolish fraternity among Christians, even when they are schismatics or heretics. 

Unfortunately today debate is feared in the Church, but moves on theses and ostracism of those who think differently. I refer to theology, of course, in which different opinions may be acceptable.

However, doctrinal development benefits from debate: who has more arguments, convinces. In the charges against Bishop Müller, there is extrapolation from the context: it is easy to condemn anyone like this. A true Catholic must trust the authority of the Pope, always. In particular, I believe that Benedict XVI know that he does. And I would like to renew to the Society of St. Pius X the invitation to trust the Pope. "

It has been said that the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would not have been up to now very favorable to the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

I am certain that he understands the reasons that have led the Pope to promulgate it and that he will act in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the Motu proprio. As for the extrapolations of which we spoke, those things written by Abp. Müller belong to his time as a theologian, and a theologian produces no doctrine, at least immediately. As a Bishop, he must instead defend and disseminate the doctrine that is not his, but of the Church, and I think that he has done this. As Prefect, he will continue to do so, under the guidance of Pope.

2. Father Matthias Gaudron, FSSPX (famous for his Catechism of the Crisis in the Church, published in English by Angelus Press), writes a general note in the name of the German District of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX). He is also open to clarifications and hopes for a more positive attitude from the Prefect concerning the SSPX. On a sidenote, the text remarkably includes two notes from the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church and a passage from Lumen Gentium loved by many converts.

The Church has always considered it to be one of her most important tasks to faithfully keep the Deposit of the Faith, confided to her by Christ and the Apostles, and to defend it against errors in order to pass it on intactly to the coming generations. And thus, rightly so, the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is one of the highest offices in the Church.

The SSPX in Germany has therefore with astonishment taken notice of the fact that the Bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, has been appointed to this office. The SSPX asks what suitability for this office can be found in a man that has gone against the Catholic doctrine on a number of occasions, both in his writings as well as in his public speeches.

The following things should be mentioned:

* Bishop Müller denies in his book "Die Messe - Quelle christlichen Lebens" [The Mass - Source of Christian life] the real transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Bread and wine remain, according to him, what they are; however, they become tools for integrating the faithful into the living community with the Father and the Son. This resembles the Calvinistic teaching, according to which bread and wine do not transform, but become tools of grace. [1]

* Contrary to Catholic doctrine, according to which the transformation of the gifts occurs with the pronounciation of the words of institution, "This is my body... This is the chalice of my blood" [2], Bishop Müller asserts that the question of the moment of transformation "doesn't make sense". [3]

* Bishop Müller denies in his "Dogmatik" [currently a standard work in Germany about Dogmatics] the dogma of the Virginity of Mary while giving birth [4], and, therefore, the teaching that Mary gave birth to her son without violating her physical integrity. [5]

* In a eulogy for the Protestant bishop Dr. Johannes Friedrich, Bishop Müller said on 11 October 2011: "Also the Christians that are not in full community with the Catholic Church regarding teaching, means of salvation and the apostolic episcopacy, are justified by faith and baptism and they are fully (!) incorporated/ integrated into Church of God, being the Body of Christ." This contradicts the integral Catholic tradition and especially the teaching of Pius XII in Mystici corporis.

* Against the Catholic doctrine of the necessity of a conversion to the Catholic Church, as is still proclaimed in the teaching of Vatican II [6], Bishop Müller characterizes in the same speech the so-called "ecumenism of return" as being "erroneous".

The Fraternity urgently appeals to Bishop Müller to comment on these controversial statements, or to correct them. The motivation for this attitude of the Fraternity is not one of personal aversion, but only the wish for unadulterated proclamation of the doctrine.

Since Bishop Müller has, in the past, not made a secret of his negative attitude towards the Society, the Society does not at first see in this a positive sign for the readiness to discuss its canonical recognition. Nevertheless, it hopes that the new Prefect - regarding discussions in the universal church - may achieve a more positive attitude towards the SSPX.

Fr. Matthias Gaudron, dogmatic theologian of the Society of Saint Pius X
[1] "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." ... We have "now 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".(Die Messe – Quelle christlichen Lebens, Augsburg: St. Ulrich Verlag: 2002, p. 139).

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1375, n.1377

[3] Die Messe – Quelle christlichen Lebens, p. 142.

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 499, n. 510

[5] "It is not so much about 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, that had been wounded by Original Sin. ... it is not so much about physiologically and empirically verifiable somatic Details." (Katholische Dogmatik für Studium und Praxis, Freiburg 52003, p. 498) In fact, traditional doctrine is concerned precisely with such physiological details.

[6] "Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved." (Lumen gentium, 14)