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Cardinal Müller Tightens His Blindfold

by Christopher A. Ferrara
February 20, 2017

It would be humorous if it were not so annoyingly disingenuous. Cardinal Müller continues to insist that Amoris Laetitia (AL) is perfectly orthodox even after publication by the Vatican's publishing house of Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio's pamphlet on Chapter VIII of AL, declaring that people living in "irregular situations" — i.e. divorced and "remarried" or cohabiting — should be granted absolution and admitted to Holy Communion if they "sincerely seek" the sacraments following a "period of discernment." And Müller continues to criticize bishops for giving AL the same interpretation endorsed by the Pope himself in his letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires.

Tightening his blindfold as the bimillennial Eucharistic discipline of the Church fractures along the fault lines Francis himself has opened up, Müller, as reported by LifeSiteNews, declared in a February 15 interview with the German publication Rheinische Post that "It cannot be that the universally binding doctrine of the Church, formulated by the Pope, is given different and even contradictory regional interpretations."

It cannot be! And yet it is. Only one solution to the dilemma is possible, but Müller steadfastly ignores it: AL is not "the universally binding doctrine of the Church" insofar as it contains propositions that lend themselves — indeed were written to lend themselves — precisely to the interpretation that Francis and his episcopal collaborators, including Coccopalmerio, have given them.

Quite ludicrously, Müller complains: "I do not think it is particularly beneficial for each individual bishop to comment on papal documents to explain how he subjectively understands the document." I say ludicrously, because as Müller well knows, the bishops' dueling interpretations have resulted directly from Francis' refusal to answer the four cardinals' dubia concerning the meaning of AL so as to rule out the liberal interpretation Francis himself approved "privately" in his "confidential" letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires, which (as he surely knew) would immediately be leaked to the world press.

Müller further insists that "Amoris Laetitia must clearly be interpreted in the light of the whole doctrine of the Church" and that "It is not right that so many bishops are interpreting Amoris Laetitia according to their way of understanding the pope's teaching." Oh, come on! By "their way of understanding the pope's teaching," Müller means the Pope's way of understanding the Pope's teaching.

It is painful and infuriating to read the next assertion: "The Magisterium of the Pope is interpreted only by him or through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. … It is not the bishops who interpret the Pope."

How much more of this nonsense are we supposed to accept? Francis refuses to give AL a traditional interpretation or indeed any official interpretation at all, while Müller likewise refuses to provide the CDF's official — and orthodox — interpretation because, as he earlier admitted, Francis has not authorized him to do so. So neither of the only two parties who could remedy the chaos AL has provoked — the Pope and Müller — will do so. Instead, Müller confines himself to newspaper and magazine interviews of no magisterial weight whatsoever.

Müller's interview with Rheinische Post concludes, however, with the faintest intimation that Francis might have erred, at the same time he maintains the pretense that Francis could not possibly have erred:

"Everyone is weak and mortal. Jesus did not choose the wisest, the richest, and the most prominent among his apostles, but simple people, craftsmen, fishermen. That is why it is important not to look for supermen in the pope, the bishops, or priests, and, if they cannot fulfill these exaggerated expectations, turn away disappointed in the Gospel and the Church…."

So, the Pope promulgates a document that has fractured the Church's Eucharistic discipline — a development without precedent in 2000 years. The Pope himself then "privately" approves the liberal reading that has caused the facture while the head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, ignoring the Pope's own stated intention, declares that nothing is amiss with the document and blames the bishops for misreading it.

What an embarrassment for the Church. The Bride of Christ is being humiliated by double-talk from her leadership at the highest level, not excluding the Holy See. The apostasy that begins at the top, as foretold in the Third Secret of Fatima, worsens by the day. But that can only mean that the resolution of this disaster will not be long in coming.