April 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The question about Communion for civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics can only be approached from the “perspective of the fullness of the teaching of the Church” and the Pope “cannot” change that teaching, Cardinal Gerhard Müller says in a new interview.
“The pope has not, will not, and cannot change Revelation. Some claim that the pope has changed the foundations of Church morality and has relativized the sacrament of holy matrimony. This he would not and cannot do,” he said during an interview in Poland with Aleteia that was published today.
When asked if the debate caused by the Pope’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia was fruitful or hazardous, Müller said that debate is “good” when it helps people to discover the right path.
“The true intention of the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, was to place at the center the full, complete biblical message concerning marriage as a sacrament and a way of life. In addition, it aimed to take into consideration those who, on account of various circumstances, have failed or have run into trouble, so that we would not say: ‘Here are those who do everything right, whereas the others do not belong to us,’” he said.
“We want everyone to walk along the path of Christ’s followers, and we wish to be of assistance so that this path might be understood and put into practice,” he added.
Since the exhortation's release last year, various bishops, including those in Malta and Germany, have issued pastoral guidelines based on their reading of the document that allows Communion to be given to civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics living in adultery. But other bishops, such as some in Canada, have issued guidelines based on their reading of the same document that forbids such couples to receive Communion.
Müller, who is the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said debate has a “negative aspect,” namely when it “boils down to only one issue, while other major and vital subjects raised are brushed aside.”
“It generates small division and concern when one hears the question: ‘What do you think about Holy Communion for divorcees who are living in non-sacramental unions?’” he said.
Late last year four Cardinals asked the Pope to clarify his teaching in the exhortation, asking him five questions (dubia) that they hoped would clear up the ambiguity.
Specifically, they asked: 1) whether adulterers can receive Holy Communion; 2) whether there are absolute moral norms that must be followed “without exceptions”; 3) whether habitual adultery is an “objective situation of grave habitual sin”; 4) whether an intrinsically evil act can be turned into a “‘subjectively’ good” act based on “circumstances or intentions”; and 5) whether one can act contrary to known “absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts” based on “conscience.”
The four Cardinals said at that time that Amoris “implies different, contrasting approaches to the Christian way of life,” and thus their questions touch “on fundamental issues of the Christian life.”
So far, the pope continues to not respond to their questions. Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the four, has said that should the Pope fail to answer the questions, the four will issue a correction of the document.
In the past year Cardinal Müller has given a number of hard hitting interviews in what appears to be an attempt to put out fires caused by some of Francis’ more incendiary comments and writings on marriage and family.
Earlier this year Müller warned bishops across the world to stop interpreting Francis’ exhortation on marriage in ways that contradict unchangeable Catholic doctrine.
In an interview given last year but published only this month in a book titled The Cardinal Muller Report, he made clear that the Church under Francis has not changed her teaching on the immorality of cohabitation, adultery, divorce, or homosexuality, and she has not opened the door for civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion.