Maike Hickson

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Cardinal Müller: Pope Benedict’s letter ‘more intelligent than all’ contributions at Rome Abuse Summit

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April 17, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller has given several interviews in recent days defending Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's April 10 letter on the roots of the abuse crisis.

The former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told the German newspaper Die Welt that “in his letter, Benedict has pierced the boil,” and his text “is more intelligent than all the contributions at the Roman 'Abuse Summit' and the know-it-all moral experts at the German Bishops' Conference.”

In a new interview with LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Müller further explains his thoughts and returns to his strong rebuke of the Sex Abuse Summit in Rome. “The nebulous concept of clericalism is the wrong approach,” he explained. “With a false diagnosis, one can never find the right therapy, but, rather, one will only worsen the illness.”

It is about “grave sins against the Sixth Commandment,” Müller points out. He mentions two prelates in Rome who know about the empirical facts: “Cardinal O'Malley and Cardinal Ladaria both know the most concretely about the causes and the conditions of clerical sexual crimes committed against adolescents.”

Cardinal Müller is also looking at the role of the recent Popes with regard to the moral corruption in the Church, but especially the intellectual corruption among moral theologians. He says that, although these Popes did defend the moral teaching in different magisterial texts, when then seeing the large effects of the “sexual revolution, one did not also dare to take disciplinary actions. One restrained oneself because one does not want to play the bogeyman in public opinion.”

Cardinal Müller further called out the German Bishops' Conference for publishing vitriolic articles against Benedict and his sex abuse letter. As LifeSiteNews reported, several moral theologians were indignant about Benedict's pointing to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the laxity among moral theologians. Katholisch.de, the German bishops' news website, published these rebukes which called Benedict's text “absurd,” “demeaning,” and which claimed that Benedict was causing a “schism.”

“It is brutal,” comments the German cardinal, “when in the name of the bishops – and on a website funded by them – such obscene articles are being commissioned which demean personalities like Benedict XVI.” He calls upon the German bishops to take action and to change Katholisch.de or remove its funding: “I hope that bishops will exercise their responsibility, in order to implement a change of course of this platform or otherwise to end the abusive use of Church taxes.”

 

Please see here the full text of the interview with Cardinal Gerhard Müller:

LifeSiteNews: You say that we have today the abuse crisis because the moral decay has not been sufficiently combated in the Church. Now, so to speak, we reap the fruits of a laxity in the face of dissent and moral misconduct. Would you think that here, finally, also the last four Popes (since and including Paul VI) did not succeed in having the courage to take decisive action? Pope Benedict himself mentions the ineffective visitation of U.S. seminaries which did not clean up the problem.

Cardinal Müller: Indeed, sexual misconduct always existed – also toward adolescents. But through the Christian Faith, there came a new viewpoint into the world. Man has been created in God's Image and Likeness. The sexual difference between man and woman corresponds to the Will of the Creator. They are bodily and mentally ordered toward one another. When a man and a woman have bound themselves together in love and trust and for their whole life, then the purpose of male and female sexuality is being fulfilled in the children whom God sends and entrusts to them.

In marital love, man and woman partake in God's Love for His people and they are being sacramentally introduced – if they belong to Christ by Baptism – into the inseparable unity of Christ and His Church, and they represent that unity.

This Christian view was regarded and combated in the old paganism as revolutionary. In the process of the West's de-Christianization for 300 years, there came to be another anthropology which tends again more toward paganism. In a man with a materialistic world-view, sexuality is a source of selfish lust. Everything which does not damage the body of the other is permitted. The evangelical counsels – abstinence before marriage and the indissolubility of marriage – are being regarded by these people as a hostility against the body, as an unworldly idealism, and as a pleasure-hating self-torture which was caused by an unworldly clergy which anyway only leads a double life. Nietzsche said: “Christianity has given Eros poison to drink.” “Chastity” became a word of insult and mockery. In the 1960s, this view also more and more entered the Church. There was the idea of an “autonomous morality” beyond the natural law and Revelation.

But in morality, it is primarily not about autonomy or heteronomy, but about doing the Good, with the help of which the acts and thoughts of man are oriented toward his goal, that is to say toward the fulfillment of love in the Goodness of God.

Chastity before marriage, the fidelity to one's spouse also in sacrifices, and celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom are good in the Christian image of man. They are linked to the experience of God's Grace. Popes and bishops have presented the Christian doctrine on sexuality and marriage, on chastity and loyalty in the light of the personalism of the Second Vatican Council's Gaudium et Spes, for example, in Veritatis Splendor and Deus Caritas, to name only a few.

But, as Benedict XVI now says in his letter, this was not done with sufficient success. And in the moral climate catastrophe of the sexual revolution, one did not also dare to take disciplinary actions. One restrained oneself because one does not want to play the bogeyman in public opinion.

Look at what Paul VI had to go through within and outside the Church after Humanae Vitae.

But illnesses that have not been properly healed come back for bitter vengeance. A good pastoral care can only work for the salvation of man on a firm dogmatic and moral-theological foundation. Only there, where God is the origin and the destination, the natural moral law and the motivations of our actions out of Christ's Love are being perceived not as a burden, but as the Gospel.

LifeSiteNews: You criticize the fact that the German bishops, on their website, have published undifferentiated and unobjective articles on the Benedict letter. In light of these different theologians who now raise their voice in Germany and who are now so indignant about Pope Benedict's simple references to the Church's moral law, could one say that we have already a de facto schism in Germany? It is, after all, so that many German theologians (and also some bishops) now openly refuse to follow the Church's teaching.   

Cardinal Müller: It is brutal when in the name of the bishops – and on a website funded by them – such obscene articles are being commissioned which demean personalities like Benedict XVI as not even the most ignorant enemies of the Church would venture to do it, for, they still have more respect and decency. Our progressivists have, after throwing overboard the sexual morality, also lost the Commandment to love one's neighbor. It is naked hatred that is here given a platform. I hope that bishops will exercise their responsibility, in order to implement a change of course of this platform or otherwise to end the abusive use of Church taxes.

A schism is the product of selfish people who obviously do not care about the unity of the Church in the revealed Faith. They are driven by their ideologies and a narrow-minded power trip.

LifeSiteNews: You also criticize the recent Sex Abuse Summit in Rome when saying that the Benedict letter has contributed more to the handling of this problem than the Summit in Rome. Could you explain to us what you think was missing at the Summit?

Cardinal Müller: The nebulous concept of clericalism is the wrong approach. With a false diagnosis, one can never find the right therapy, but, rather, one will only worsen the illness. Cardinal O'Malley and Cardinal Ladaria both know the most concretely about the causes and the conditions of clerical sexual crimes committed against adolescents.

It is here not about lofty theories, in order to implement a progressivist agenda, but about empirical facts. The cause for these grave sins against the Sixth Commandment lies in the personal failures of the offenders who in their conscience cannot differentiate between good and evil and who are also victims of the sexualized public, for example of the omnipresent pornography.

LifeSiteNews: What do you think about how the Vatican should have acted during the last decades so that it would not have come to this grave moral and doctrinal crisis in the Church? How could one have stopped the theoretical and practical dissidents?

Cardinal Müller: After the horse has bolted, the emergency measures are more important than the quest for the causes. We need to place ourselves on the foundation of the Faith. Only he who is convinced of God's higher logic can see through the evil spirit of a godless anthropology.

I can only think of St. Paul and his call upon the Christians of Rome, which has become through Peter and Paul the principle and foundation of the unity of the Catholic Church: “And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2)

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Maike Hickson

Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.