Vatican reform plan is ‘absurd,’ says Pope’s former doctrine chief, asks if it’s ‘Marxist’
May 17, 2019 – A plan to restructure the Vatican recently approved by Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisers has come under fire from Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Francis’ former doctrine chief, who says that it is “absurd” for prioritizing the Secretariat of State and the practice of “evangelization” above the Catholic faith itself. Müller also wonders if the plan is not based on “Marxist” ideology.
“In this preparation of the so-called reform of the Curia they are lowering the priority of the faith,” Müller told the Spanish news service Infovaticana in a recent interview. “First comes the Secretariat of State, which says that the Secretariat of State, with its relations with States, diplomacy and Vatican bureaucracy, is more linked to the Pope's supreme mission than the doctrine of faith. This is absurd. Those are mundane, secular chores. The spiritual mission comes from Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has not constituted the Vatican State with its head, and this head with his state governs the Church. It's absurd.”
“The truth is the opposite. The Secretariat of State is only an aid to guarantee the independence, the freedom of the pope against the influence of politicians. But it is not the essence of the Petrine ministry. And how can it be said, among the dicasteries, that first comes that of evangelization and then faith and the doctrine of faith? Evangelization is praxis and faith is theory. What concept of theory and praxis do they have? The Marxist system?” said Müller.
“Faith is the origin, the root of justification. Only through faith in Jesus Christ are we saved. Without faith, no one can please God. Faith is an infused virtue. The first gift of the Holy Spirit to us is faith and hope, love. You can't say faith is just a theory,” he added.
Müller’s critique of the proposed curial reform not only takes Pope Francis and his Cardinal of Council Advisers to task, but also popes Paul VI and John Paul II, whose curial reforms also placed the Secretariat of State in a position of influence greater than the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), listing it first among the curial bodies and making the Secretary of State into the personal assistant of the pope. Prior to the reform of Paul VI, the CDF (then known as the Holy Office) was the most influential of all the dicasteries and was led by the Pope himself as prefect.
However, the new proposed reform will place the CDF, which Müller led until 2017, at an even lower position in the order of priority of the Holy See’s dicasteries, now below a new “super-dicastery” devoted to what will be called “evangelization.” Müller is blasting the plan for seeing “evangelization,” which is the practice of bringing the Catholic faith to non-Catholics, as a higher priority than the Catholic faith itself, whose integrity is protected by the CDF.
Müller’s concern about a “Marxist” foundation to the relationship between theory and “praxis” (Greek for “practice”) is a reference to the Marxist claim that ideological theory is created to justify the practice of revolution, which is an unquestionable premise that has primacy over any theory. Pope Francis, who appears to many to have been influenced by radical forms of Marxism, has been accused of embracing this view of theory and practice, which would reverse the order of priorities of the Church, placing the practice of “evangelization” above the integrity of the Catholic faith itself.
The curial reform proposal, which is now under review and is expected to be approved on June 29, was designed by Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisers, formally known as the “C9”, led by the scandal-plagued Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
In the interview, Cardinal Müller also referred to the German bishops’ approach to the sex abuse crisis as “crazy,” and “absolutely false” for blaming the problem on priestly celibacy and lack of women priests, and defended Pope Emeritus Benedict’s analysis of the crisis, calling its critics “ideologues” who indicate they haven’t read the text in full. He also rejected proposals to ordain married men, which will be discussed at the upcoming Amazon Synod later this year, blaming the shortage of priests on a lack of proper preparation for the priestly vocation.
The full interview can be found here.