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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig MüllerElke Wetzig / Wikimedia Commons

(LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller revealed in a new interview that during the discussions at the recent 29–30 August meeting of the College of Cardinals in Rome, a newly appointed cardinal and key papal advisor suggested that the power of the Pope over the Church is “unlimited.”

Müller reported that Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J., a canon lawyer who helped the Pope with his curial reform, presented the “theory of the papacy as an unlimited power of divine right over the whole Church, as if the Pope were a Deus in terris [God on earth].”

The German cardinal explained further that the “new cardinal Ghirlanda, S.J, as the most important advisor to the Pope in the reform of the curia, holds the view that everything the popes have ever said or done in the history of the Church is a dogma or a law de jure divino [by divine right].”

But such a position, according to Cardinal Müller, “contradicts the entire Catholic tradition, and especially the Second Vatican Council, that the bishops and priests have only the authority to perform sacramental acts, while the Pope is in sole possession of all jurisdiction, which he can delegate at will to clerics or laymen.”

The former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith corrected Ghirlanda’s view in the new interview with the Spanish-language website Infovaticana, insisting that in the sacrament of ordination, “Christ confers on the bishop (or priest) the authority to preach, sanctify, and govern (including to administer justice). Thus, the Pope does not confer jurisdiction on a bishop, but only assigns the concrete diocese to a bishop, in which, however, he is not the representative of the papacy, but of Jesus Christ (Lumen gentium 27).”

With these words, Müller reminds us that the duty and charism to govern the Church is not merely delegated to the Pope alone. “At an ecumenical council, consecrated bishops exercise their share in the jurisdiction of the universal episcopate not as delegates of the Pope, but by virtue of their authority conferred on them by Christ,” he stated.

“The theory of the Pope as autocrat, retrieved from the Jesuit theology of the 19th century,” Müller added, “not only contradicts the Second Vatican Council, but undermines the credibility of the Church with this caricature of the Petrine ministry.” He even sees it as an undermining of the attempts at ecumenism with the Protestants.

Ghirlanda was elevated to the Sacred College at the August 27 Consistory preceeding the meeting of the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis, who decided to make him a cardinal even though he was not previously a bishop and is already 80 years of age. The Italian Ghirlanda was formerly the rector of the prestigious Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

According to Müller, Ghirlanda’s remarks about the papacy provoked “critical contributions” during the meeting of Cardinals.

LifeSiteNews has learned that some cardinals also criticized the Pope’s curial reform document Praedicate Evangelium and its idea to give laymen more authority in the Church’s hierarchical structure. Most discussions, however, took place in separate language groups (with subsequent summaries presented to the general audience), whereas in the full audience, only a handful of cardinals were able to speak. Both Cardinal Müller and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller later published interventions that they were not able to deliver in front of the Pope and the College of Cardinals. Brandmüller explicitly bemoaned the lack of discussion with the Pope at the meetings. The Pope had not convened such a discussion meeting of the cardinals since 2014 where he encountered much resistance from the cardinals about his proposal to discuss Holy Communion for “remarried” divorcees.

When asked about his response about the recent meeting of cardinals in general was, Müller said he was “grateful to the Holy Father” that “after a break of many years he had again convened a consistory so that the cardinals could discuss with him the situation of the Church in the world today.” However, he added, “the topic was limited to the discussion of the already published document Praedicate Evangelium on the reform of the curia and on the Holy Year 2025.”

Therefore, a deeper discussion between the Pope and his cardinals who are called to advise him could not take place.
“There was no opportunity for a discussion about the burning questions,” Müller went on to say, “for example, about the frontal attack on the Christian image of man on the part of the ideologies of posthumanism and gender mania, or about the crisis of the Church in Europe (no more priestly vocations, empty churches on Sunday, etc.).”

In another part of the new interview, Müller also touched on the fact – as raised by the interviewer – that in the Vatican, there is more and more talk “about topics like ecology, the planet, or other topics and less and less about Jesus Christ and his teachings”.

Here, the prelate responded by pointing out that in our world, materialism is dominating, and the goals of man point mostly to “temporal and transitory contents (such as acquisition of power, prestige, money, luxury, satisfaction of one’s pleasures).” In such a world, he continued, “it is easier to make oneself interesting as an agent of this program of a ‘New World Order without God’ (according to capitalist or communist readings).”

Müller countered such a materialistic and secular view with quotes from Holy Scripture: “But what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his life in the process?” (Mt 16:26). And “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness-and everything else (what we need to live) will be added to you.” (Lk 12:31).

These quotes also apply to the situation in Germany, where German bishops and laymen recently proposed that the Pope change the Church’s stance on homosexuality, female ordination, and sexuality in general. When asked about these developments, Müller explained that it is hard to decide whether one should call the German events a “tragedy” or a “comedy.”

“All the very abundant, but not profound, texts [of the fourth German Synodal Path assembly],” he continued, “are not about the renewal of Catholics in Christ, but about a surrender to a world without God.”

He went on to say that the main theme of all the topics “is sexuality.” But sexuality is “not understood as God’s gift to human beings as created persons (in our male and female nature), from which follows the responsibility to participate as father and mother in God’s work of creation and in His universal will of salvation towards one’s own descendants, but as a kind of drug to numb the nihilistic basic feeling with a maximum satisfaction of pleasure,” he added.

While both the former and the current head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx and Bishop Georg Bätzing, supported the texts that are asking the Pope to change the Church’s teaching, Müller made it clear that “the Pope has no authority to change the teaching of the Church.” That teaching, he expounded, is “anchored in the revelation of God.” “For in doing so, he would exalt himself as a man above God,” he added.

Here, the former head of doctrine in Rome laid out the fundamental principle with which to counter our current crisis:

The apostles can only teach and order what Jesus has instructed them to teach (Mt 28:19). It is precisely the bishops, as their near successors, who are bound by the ‘teaching of the apostles’ (Acts 2:42) in Sacred Scripture, Apostolic Tradition, and within the infallible doctrinal definitions of previous papal ex cathedra decisions or ecumenical councils. However, they (the Pope and bishops) do not receive a new public revelation as part of the divine deposit of faith (depositum fidei). (Lumen gentium 25; cf. Dei verbum 10)

But unlike this principle, the German bishops think they can make up a new teaching that is not loyal to the Church’s constant teaching. They do not only want to change the Church in Germany, the German prelate explained, but they want to carry their reforms to Rome.

“In their blind arrogance,” he stated, “they are not thinking of schism, but of taking over the Universal Church. Germany is much too small for them to exercise their ruling ideology. They claim the leading role in the Universal Church.”

The German bishops’ goal, according to Müller, is “to free the backward and uneducated Catholics and their bishops from the other countries including the Pope from the burden of the divine revelation and commandments.”

And here Cardinal Müller made a reference to the Antichrist:

Their [the German bishops’] goal is the transformation of the Church of the Triune God into a worldly welfare organization (NGO). Then we would finally have arrived at the ‘religion of universal brotherhood,’ i.e. a religion without the God of revelation in Christ, without a truth that reaches beyond finite reason, without dogmas and sacraments as means of grace necessary for salvation – just as the great Russian religious philosopher Vladimir Soloviev described it in his writing Short Narrative of the Antichrist (1899). The world ruler of the universal philanthropy without God is contradicted here by Pope Peter II by hurling the confession against the Antichrist, who has spread himself on the throne of God: ‘Our only Lord is Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.’

The German cardinal reminded Catholics of their duty, in light of this extreme Church crisis, to defy the commands of the Antichrist and his minions and to stay loyal to Jesus Christ and witness to Him. Here, we quote Müller’s important words at length:

Seeing the megalomania of our politicians and ideologues from Beijing to Moscow and from Brussels to Washington, one cannot expect much good for the future of humanity. We can only expect a true future for every human being in life and death from God alone, Who out of love gave His Son for the salvation of the world (cf. Jn 3:16).

In a world where people presume to be God, to recreate themselves and to redeem themselves (cf. the main advisor of the New World Order: Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus [Man is God]), for us Christians there remains only the testimony of the word and, if necessary, of blood, that only the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior, because He has overcome the world, its arrogance and its sin and death as the wages of sin.

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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,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.