Former doctrine chief denies false account of papal meeting

| Junno Arocho Esteves | July 13, 2017 | 2 Comments

The former head of the Vatican’s doctrine office denied reports claiming he was dismissed by Pope Francis due to differences in doctrinal matters.

In a story in the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost, journalist Guido Horst said Cardinal Gerhard Muller “could not believe his eyes” upon reading the claims written by Maike Hickson on the online journal OnePeterFive.

“‘This is not true; the conversation had been quite different,'” Horst reported that Cardinal Muller said.

OnePeterFive cited a “trustworthy German source” who quoted an eyewitness “who recently sat with Cardinal Muller at lunch in Mainz, Germany” and allegedly heard the cardinal’s account of the meeting with Pope Francis.

The article claims the pope asked the cardinal’s stance on women’s ordination to the diaconate and priesthood, the repeal of celibacy, the exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia” and the dismissal of three employees of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

It goes on to allege that, following the cardinal’s responses, the pope said he would not renew his mandate and left the room “without any farewell or explanation.”

Die Tagespost reported that Cardinal Muller said the account of the meeting by the alleged German source “was false.”

The claims made in OnePeterFive were reprinted in Italian by journalist Marco Tosatti who received a message denying the claims from Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman.

In the message, shown to Catholic News Service July 13, Burke told Tosatti that the reconstruction of the meeting “is totally false. I ask that you publish what I have written.”

Following the announcement that Cardinal Muller’s five-year term would not be renewed, two blogs presented the pope’s move as a dismissal of the German cardinal.

However, Cardinal Muller told the German daily, Allgemeine Zeitung, that “there were no disagreements between Pope Francis and me” and that there had been no dispute over “Amoris Laetitia,” the newspaper reported July 2.

The cardinal also said the pope’s decision had been unexpected since such terms were usually renewed, but that he was not bothered by it.

“I do not mind,” he said, adding that “everyone has to stop” at some point.

“The five-year term had now expired,” he said. The cardinal told the newspaper that Pope Francis wanted, in general, to limit the term of office to five years and he just happened to be the first person to which the new standard applied.

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  • Charles C.

    I’m always glad when things have been cleared up. But, have they been? From
    This is what Cardinal Muller said in clarification.

    ““The five year term was over,” Cardinal Müller said. Although it is customary to renew the term, in his case Francis decided not to do so. Francis told him that it was his plan from now in general not to extend such terms, “and I was the first one for
    whom the plan was implemented,” said Müller. The pope did not give any further reason. And Müller himself says that he does not know of any further reason why the pope would not want him to continue. “There were no differences between me and Pope Francis,” said Cardinal Müller… He insisted that there was no quarrel about Amoris Laetitia, the Apostolic Exhortation in which Pope Francis allowed more flexibility in the pastoral care of the divorced and remarried, and which in some
    points he did not find complete agreement with Cardinal Müller. It was regrettable, however, Müller said, that the pope fired three of his officials a few weeks previously. “There were competent people,” he said. At 12 o’clock on Friday, he learned from Pope Francis himself that he wanted a new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

    So there was no reason for the removal, custom dictated that he remain, they were not in complete agreement over Amoris Laetitia, and the Pope fired three workers under Muller who were otherwise competent.

    Do you see why I believe the issue hasn’t been cleared up?

  • Charles C.

    Here’s a bit more information from another point of view.

    ” ‘A number of cardinals’ asked Pope Francis to fire Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the head of the Vatican’s doctrine office, ‘because he had on several occasions publicly disagreed with or distanced himself from the pope’s positions,’ particularly as related to the exhortation Amoris Laetitia. This information comes from America, a Jesuit magazine.”

    Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter writes:

    ” ‘I hope Cardinal Robert Sarah read this morning’s Bollettino with care. Ditto for Cardinal Marc Ouellet,’ wrote Winters, referencing the respective heads of the Vatican liturgy and bishop appointment offices. ‘They need to make sure their dicasteries are not loci of obstruction to the Holy Father but function as intended, as adjuncts to his office. ‘ ”

    I suppose that is not what he means, but Winters sounds like the Pope should be surrounded by “Yes men.”

    “Müller’s sacking ‘signifies a critical moment in the history of Pope Francis’ pontificate,’ Professor Robert de Mattei wrote in Corrispondenza Romana on July 2.
    ‘It has never happened that a cardinal with more than 5 years to the canonical age of retirement (75) has not had his position renewed for a further five years. ‘”

    At any rate, it seemed interesting to me.