Cardinal Müller's confusing comment about the four Cardinals' dubia: "Amoris Laetitia is very clear in its doctrine."
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was interviewed on the Italian channel Tgcom24 on Sunday January 8, 2017. In the interview he said that a “fraternal correction” of Pope Francis regarding his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is “not possible at this time because it is not a danger to the faith as St. Thomas [Aquinas] said.”
He was referring to the dubia of the four cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, and Joachim Meisner, who asked the Pope to clarify the “grave disorientation and great confusion” due to different readings of the teachings contained in Amoris Laetitia.
So far the Holy Father has not responded to the questions and has made it known to Cardinal Müller that he is not to respond to them on his behalf. Cardinal Müller:
Pope Francis asks to discern the situation of these people who live in irregular unions, that are not according to the Church's teaching on marriage, and to help these people find a way for a new integration into the Church according to the conditions of the sacraments, the Christian message about marriage.”
The Cardinal does not “see any opposition: on the one hand we have the clear teaching on marriage, on the other the obligation of the Church to be concerned about these people in difficulty.”
For Cardinal Müller, Amoris Laetitia is “very clear in its doctrine and we can interpret the whole doctrine of Jesus on marriage, the whole doctrine of the Church in 2,000 years of history."
Bewilderment in Rome
Edward Pentin reported that "the cardinal’s comments have been met with bewilderment in Rome, with some arguing that the cardinal has missed the point: the question, they say, is not whether Amoris Laetitia can be read in continuity with tradition but whether it is ambiguous enough that it can be read in a heterodox way.”
The Cardinal’s statements during this interview are odd considering his previous statements on the marriage and family. He was very clear last year in Oviedo, Spain affirming that Amoris Laetitia does not open the door to Holy Communion for civilly remarried divorcees, reaffirming Art. 84 of Pope John Paul’s apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio which states that remarried divorcees cannot be admitted to Eucharistic Communion unless they are able to live in “complete continence.”
Not Seeing Confusion is Confusing
How can the Cardinal ignore the contradictory interpretations of Amoris Laetitia expressed by bishops and episcopal conferences of Germany, Argentina, and Poland, along with the concerns raised by so many prelates and the famous letter of the 45 theologians which point out errors and ambiguities about faith and morals in the exhortation?
And if we can rely on the information of Jean-Marie Guenois in Le Figaro (April 7), what about the 20-page document of corrections of Amoris Laetitia written by his own Congregation?
The same journalist also reported about a letter that 30 cardinals, having seen in advance a draft of the apostolic exhortation, wrote to the Pope expressing their reservations, especially on the issue of communion for remarried divorcees. The letter warned that Amoris Laetitia would weaken the three essential sacraments of the Church: the Eucharist, marriage, and confession.
What Happened to Cardinal Müller?
Edward Pentin comments that critics say the Cardinal seems oblivious to the concerns about the divergent interpretations of the document and suspect that after the Pope recently removed three of the cardinal's collaborators, and with Cardinal Burke’s possible formal correction, he felt compelled, or was compelled, to show the Pope an unmistakable sign of loyalty. Others argue that the Italian the cardinal uses in the interview is more nuanced than the English translation, that he knows what he is doing, and is trying to defend orthodoxy and Church unity in his own way.