An Interview with the New Prefect

The Dutch blog In Caelo et in Terra has translated this interview with the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller.

Here are some excerpts.  Go on over to read the whole thing.

Müller: The Congregation is responsible for the promotion of the doctrine of the faith, and not only for its protection. The 1965 reorganisation of the agency has placed this positive aspect in its heart. It is about the promotion of theology and its basis in Revelation, to ensure its quality, and to consider the important intellectual developments on a global scale. We can’t simply and mechanically repeat the doctrine of the faith. It must always be associated with the intellectual developments of the time, the sociological changes, the thinking of people.


It is about a right understanding of the nature and mission of the Church; about finding the right balance between shutting out the world and adapting to it – so that we can truly serve the world in the name of Jesus Christ. -snip-

KNA: Another major topic in Rome is the anniversary of the Council. What do you expect from looking back?

Müller: We do not need a hermeneutic that is imposed upon the Council from outside. It is important to explore the hermeneutic that is included in the Council itself: the hermeneutic of reform in continuity, as the Holy Father has repeatedly underlined. A Council is the execution of the highest magisterium of the Church in the communion of the bishops with the Pope.

In this sense, the Second Vatican Council was a wonderful event, albeit from a somewhat different type than some previous councils. It was its legitimate intention to respond not only to certain errors and correct them, but to provide an overall view of the Catholic faith. It wanted not many individual elements, but the big picture, the great architecture of the present church with large rooms where you can feel at home and gladly live.

KNA: The Council, however, also created problems, for example for the SSPX.

Müller: Everyone who calls himself Catholic, will also have to keep the principles of the Catholic faith. These are not pre-formulated by the CDF or anyone else, but given to us in the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ, which has been entrusted to the Church. One can therefore not simply pick from it what fits in a given structure.

Rather, one must be open to the whole of the Christian faith, the whole profession of faith, the Church’s history and development of her teaching. One must be open to the living Tradition which does not end somewhere – say in 1950 – but goes on.

And another perspective on the new Prefect from Andrea Tornielli at Vatican Insider:

Some have noticed similarities with the thinking of Karl Rahner in Müller’s theological work (Lehmann had worked with Rahner). In the months when the Pope was considering Müller ‘s candidacy the latter’s link with one of the fathers of the Theology of Freedom, Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, whose texts were closely examined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (which at the time was headed by cardinal Ratzinger) with no sentence or sanction being imposed.The new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith experienced Church life first hand, by going to Latin America and spending some time living with the farmers in a parish near Lake Titicaca, on the border with Bolivia.
Those who met him insist that Müller was never showed any excessive support for new movements. However, he did not express any particular fondness for the Society of St. Pius X. The new Prefect, formerly a member of the Congregation, kept track of developments in the dialogue with the Lefebvrians, which has now reached a critical point: Now that Müller is President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, he will be directly involved in negotiations with the Fraternity. The Bishop of Regensburg is also an expert on ecumenical matters: up until now he was President of the German Bishops Conference’s Ecumenism Commission. He is also the editor of Ratzinger’s Opera Omnia.
The new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is quite a timid man, a personality trait which is sometimes mistaken for abruptness in his relations with collaborators. Müller chose “Dominus Jesus” (Jesus is the Lord) as the motto for his bishop’s coat of arms. The phrase comes from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans, which is also the title of the declaration on the saving unity of Christ promoted by John Paul II and fostered by the then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, back in 2000.


Author: Deborah Gyapong

Deborah Gyapong is a member of the Sodality of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary ( in Ottawa, a former parish of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (Traditional Anglican Communion) whose members were received individually and corporately into the Roman Catholic Church on April 15, 2012 by Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast at St. Patrick’s Basilica. Under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the community will celebrate an approved Anglican Use liturgy and hopes to soon join with other sodalities across Canada to form the Canadian Deanery of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary. As we wait for our priest(s) to be ordained as Catholic priests, God willing, Archbishop Prendergast will provide priests to celebrate our Sunday Eucharist according to the Anglican Use. Deborah is a journalist who covers religion and politics in Canada’s national capital, writing primarily for Roman Catholic newspapers since 2004. Her novel The Defilers, published in 2006, was not a best seller, alas. She spent 17 years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in news and current affairs, including 12 years as a television producer.

2 thoughts on “An Interview with the New Prefect”

  1. This week's Tablet greets Archbishop Muller as an inflexible conservative who is likely to adopt a hard line. Extreme traddies dislike him not so much for the depth of his intelligence as an orthodox, if speculative, theologian but because of his severe attitude to the SSPX which he has unsuccessfully sought to discipline in his diocese.
    The fact that Bishop Fellay has recently turned down an invitation to turn the Society into a Personal Prelature demonstrates what an impossible body it is to deal with. It no longer, if it ever has, any desire to be part of the Catholic Church and has merely turned it into a self-authenticating tradition bound for eventual heresy.

  2. The dogs are barking!!
    “Yes, the faithful are permitted and even commanded to give a reason for their faith, to draw out its consequences, to make applications of it, to deduce parallels and analogies from it. It is thus by use of their reason that the faithful are enabled to suspect and measure the orthodoxy of any new doctrine presented to them, by comparing it with a doctrine already defined. If it be not in accord, they can combat it as bad, and justly stigmatize as bad the book or journal which sustains it. They cannot of course define it ex cathedra, but they can lawfully hold it as perverse and declare it such, warn others against it, raise the cry of alarm and strike the first blow against it. The faithful layman can do all this, and has done it at all times with the applause of the Church. Nor in so doing does he make himself the pastor of the flock, nor even its humblest attendant; he simply serves it as a watchdog who gives the alarm. Opportet allatrare canes — “It behooves watchdogs to bark,” very opportunely said a great Spanish Bishop in reference to such occasions.”
    (Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany, Liberalism is a Sin, 151-153 – this book was endorsed in 1899 by the Holy See)

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