Rorate Caeli

More confusion: is Abp. Müller supporting Peru's rebel "Catholic" university?

Another situation that cries out for a clarification.

For the background to this, see the following articles:

-Universidad Ni-Ni: ni Pontificia ni Católica - The non-Pontifical non-Catholic University of Peru.
-Updated: full text of the decree
-New episodes in the Peruvian telenovela "La universidad del diablo"- In historic move, Vatican slams Episcopal Conference

Abp. Müller, current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, receiving an Honorary Doctorate from the "Pontifical Catholic" University of Peru, already under investigation by Cardinal Cipriani Thorne, on Nov. 28, 2008. 

From Vatican Insider English version (with the translation slightly edited by Rorate):

Müller stands up for Peru’s “rebel” university

A letter from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to Cardinal Cipriani seems to support the University of Peru’s rebellion against the Pope and that of its rector, Marcial Rubio


Gerhard Ludwig Müller is a Doctor "Honoris Causa" at the former Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he had stayed out of the conflict between the institution’s authorities, the Archbishop of Lima and the Holy See. But a letter of his addressed to Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani was interpreted as an expression of support for the university’s rebellion against the Pope.

In the letter, Müller asks for an explanation regarding the decision not to renew the ecclesiastical permission to teach at the PUCP of some Professors from the university’s Theology Department. The decision to withhold permission was communicated by the archbishop last December and came as a result of the decree issued by the Vatican last June, forbidding the university to use the titles “Pontifical” and “Catholic”.

Although the content is meant to be confidential, Peruvian magazine Caretas revealed some parts of the text. The Prefect apparently wrote that the university can continue to give theology lectures until the Holy See has fully resolved the problem. If this is true, it would come as a huge blow to the archbishop of Lima who is fighting a legal and ecclesiastical battle to drive home the fact that the university belongs to the Church.

In Peru, the sheer fact that this letter exists was an encouragement to rector Marcial Rubio and his collaborators, who on several occasions refused to reform the university’s statutes to bring them in line with the Vatican’s regulations on Catholic universities, the Apostolic Constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae”.

According to the counsellor of the Vice Rectorate of the former PUCP, Marco Sifuentes, the letter put Cipriani in his place. He wrote this on Twitter, whilst other users were claiming Müller had allegedly told off the Peruvian cardinal.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith intervened after Rome received complaints from professors saying they had been forbidden to hold lectures. The professors in question claimed this measure was taken for “doctrinal reasons”.

This seems to be a common feeling among staff at the former PUCP, as is confirmed in an article written by the university’s former rector Salomón Lerner Febres for La República newspaper on 13 January. In the article, Febres calls the removal of professors’ permission to teach as “a decision that is not in line with the evangelical spirit” and is a way to put a stop to the spread of Liberation Theology which Gustavo Gutiérrez developed in the university.”

To demonstrate his theory, Lerner quoted Müller’s words pronounced at a conference in Lima in November 2008, in which he defended Gutiérrez’s Theology as “orthodox”.

But Cipriani decided to revoke professors’ canonical authorization to teach, officially at least, on the basis of one objective fact: a sanction the Holy See imposed on the university via a decree that was signed by order of the Pope. Such an action does not require justification and can be taken by the archbishop of the Peruvian capital.

Gerhard Müller and the PUCP are linked together by a common past. Rome will never forget Müller’s study trips to Lima, as Bishop of Regensburg. He went every year for 18 years, without giving the local bishop any warning. And his Degree “Honoris Causa” was approved without even taking into account Cipriani or other important figures’ recommendations.

In light of this past, suspicions about the potential exploitation of Müller’s intervention in the “rebel” university case may not be completely unfounded.  Fears of this have heightened ahead of the conference that will announce Müller as Doctor “Honoris Causa” at Notre Dame University. In 2009 this university was criticised by the traditionalists for awarding the Degree “Honoris Causa” to Barack Obama.