Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Diane Montagna/LifeSiteNews
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Cdl. Müller: Church leaders are exploiting abuse crisis to undermine celibacy

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ROME, January 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Church leaders who reduce clergy sex abuse to “clericalism,” while failing to acknowledge how active homosexuality has contributed to the crisis, “don’t want to confront the true reasons” why “minors, boys and young men” are abused, Cardinal Gerhard Müller has said.

In a new interview with the National Catholic Register ahead of the February 21-24 Vatican summit on the protection of minors, the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also said he believes these same Church leaders are “against celibacy” and “the sixth commandment,” and are exploiting the sex abuse crisis to push “their own agenda.” 

It is widely expected that efforts will be made at the Vatican’s Pan-Amazonian Synod next October to relax the Latin Rite’s discipline of priestly celibacy, by way of an “exception” that will then open the door to married clergy in other regions of the world. 

The right diagnosis  

In the Jan. 23 interview, Cardinal Müller said that blaming the sexual abuse crisis on “clericalism” is “very unjust [to] Jesus.” 

The Lord “gave spiritual power and authority to the apostles,” he said, adding that such abuse is “not due to the sacrament of holy orders, but to sexual incontinence, a false understanding of sexuality, [and] not respecting the Sixth Commandment.”

“If you are a priest, you must preach the Decalogue and respect it. Where is it written in the Holy Bible or a book about the priesthood, or the Church Fathers, that because you are a priest, you are outside morality? On the contrary, you must set a good example,” he said.

Asked about his hopes for the February Vatican meeting on “the protection of minors in the Church,” Müller said what’s needed is a “diagnosis of the true reasons of the crisis.”   

“You cannot give the right treatment with the wrong diagnosis,” he said. “We must confront reality in the light of the Gospel, the Church’s doctrine and discipline, and the spirituality of the priesthood.”

He said Pope Francis was “absolutely right” when he said in a recent interview that priests who practice homosexuality should consider leaving the priesthood.

“Practiced homosexuality is against the plan of God,” he said.

“Homosexual practice is not acceptable, not with adults and absolutely not with minors. More than 80% of the victims of sexual abuse are young boys, adolescent male minors, over 14 years. This is a homosexual act,” he added. “The abuse of females is just as terrible.”

The cardinal distinguished between “same-sex attraction” and “homosexual practice,” but noted that “same-sex attraction in no way justifies homosexual contact.”

“We don’t need a new interpretation of this doctrine but, rather, more obedience to the word of God. ‘For God did not call us to impurity, but to holiness … who [also] gives his Holy Spirit to you’ (1Thessalonians 4,7-8),” 

Since the McCarrick scandal broke last June, high-ranking prelates including deceased Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, have said the sexual abuse crisis will not be solved until the causes are denounced and measures are taken to eliminate them. And they agree that chief among these causes is a “homosexual subculture” within the hierarchy. 

Asked about Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich’s downplaying of consensual homosexual acts between clergy, Müller said: “Where is that written in Holy Scripture?” and called his position “secularized.” 

“If two men steal something consensually, is this any more acceptable because they’ve consented to do that together? That is a sin in a double sense. In no way does consensuality relativize a sin.” 

A consensual homosexual act between a bishop or priest and a seminarian is “more than grave,” he said. 

Cardinal Cupich is one of two cardinals whom Pope Francis appointed to organize the Vatican summit on clergy sex abuse in February.

Cupich, who featured prominently in Archbishop Viganò’s initial 11-page testimony, dismissed the former nuncio’s testimony on the McCarrick abuse cover-up as a mere “rabbit hole” distracting the Church. He has also said he believes that homosexuality is not a significant contributing factor in the abuse of minors (despite statistics showing otherwise: watch video here at 42:33), and defended the Vatican postponing U.S. bishops from voting at their November assembly on measures to prevent abuse cover-up.

The limited title of the February meeting (“the protection of minors in the Church”), and the Pope’s choice of Cardinal Cupich to organize it, support Cardinal Müller’s position that at least some Church leaders are not facing the elephant in the room. 

A theological meltdown

Cardinal Müller’s Jan. 23 interview with the Register also touched on the current crisis in theology. 

He said there is a“breakdown” not only of “academic theology” but in the faith from which all true theology flourishes. “We need more qualified theologians” who are grounded in “Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium,” he said.

Turning to the Pope’s change to the Catechism on the death penalty, the prefect emeritus of the CDF said that “theoretically” we cannot deny the admissibility of capital punishment, even when we are “against executions” in practice. 

“If there are capital crimes, the question is if the secular state has the right to perform an execution. But Jesus was condemned to death, he was innocent, and this belongs to soteriology,” he said, adding that “these questions weren’t reflected on” before the change was made to the Catechism.

“The impression is not good that the Pope, if he wants to do, can simply change the Catechism,” he added. “Where are the limits? The magisterium is not above the word of God, but under it and serves it (Dei Verbum, 10),” he said.

Müller noted that the change was “justified” as a “development of dogma,” but he said “the death penalty has nothing directly to do with dogma,” but is rather based in natural law and the “natural ethics of the state.”  

Asked if he thinks theology and dogma will make a comeback, Müller said that “many liberal Catholics are very content with the relativizing of moral dogma.”

“They always want to be on the side of the majority, the collective, but belonging to Christ is a cross, requiring penitence and change of life, obedience to the commandments, the fellowship of Christ,” he said, adding: “Some want a soft God.”

The Cardinal also noted that “some Church leaders don’t realize the deep crisis the Church is in. But he insisted that we must “learn from the mistakes of history” and “learn from the great reform movements.”

Müller concluded, saying the right understanding of reform is best summed up in the words of St. Paul: “Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

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