While visiting Spain to pay tribute to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for his 95th birthday, Cardinal Gerhard Müller spoke with El Debate.
Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller ( Mainz, 1947 ) was the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith between 2012 and 2017. He was also in charge of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei – until Pope Francis dissolved it in 2019.
Your Eminence has come to Madrid for separate acts of tribute to John Paul II and Benedict XVI. What have John Paul II and Benedict XVI meant for the Church?
They are the two popes after the Second Vatican Council. Obviously, there were also Paul VI, and John Paul I, although only a few days. So really, these are the two post-Council popes. There were problems with the fundamental and real interpretation of the Council, and both popes had participated; one as a bishop, and one as a theologian. Therefore, they are the appropriate characters for the interpretation of the Council. John Paul II had collaborated in the writing of Gaudium et spes, was an expert in the Social Doctrine of the Church and its political repercussions. He came from the experiences that had been lived under communism and the dictatorship of the Soviet Union in Europe. He had seen the disastrous consequences of an atheistic anthropology because it is an anthropology that goes against the freedom and dignity of man. Man is not only matter, but is the subject of his own existence. For his part, Ratzinger, in his youth, had observed the consequences of another form of totalitarianism, German national socialism. Therefore, they are the appropriate interpreters of the Second Vatican Council and of the problems that exist in the world today.
For example, trans-humanism, or post-humanism, these are the children of totalitarianism and its experimentation with human beings. Today post-humanism denies people’s sexual identity; its promoters are « anti-sexualists », and Catholics are the « sexualists », because we Catholics affirm the value of male and female sexuality as an element of personal identity and community identity. Catholics today are the lawyers of humanity.
Today issues that have always been clear are discussed: from the Eucharist or divorce to homosexuality and the Virgin Mary. What is it so?
It is a success of the Devil because the Devil is the prince of confusion and also of rebellion against God. Besides, in the Church today we are tempted to want to be « the modern ones ». Some bishops are of the opinion that the Church is not at the level of the modern world. Cardinal Martini said that, after the Enlightenment, « we are two hundred years behind ». But, if we reflect in-depth, we will see that the values of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution are secularized values whose origin is Christianity. The motto « Freedom, equality, fraternity » has already been formulated in Fénelon, and, in a way, also before, in the School of Salamanca, with Francisco de Vitoria. All the modern doctrines of politics, democracy and natural law – according to which everyone has the same rights –, and all these values of modernity are exclusively Christian, or come from Greek philosophy or Roman law. This is the basis of European culture, and also the basis of all humanity. Therefore, we need to understand that Catholics are not behind. We are always the vanguard of humanity, of humanism. Classical humanism is Christianity.
In this confusion, are certain new or controversial appointments, such as the recent ones at the Pontifical Academy for Life, more difficult to understand?
The Pope’s words – of all the popes, including the current Pope – are clear against abortion. They are very clear, but you also have to act clearly. No one can understand these appointments of pro-abortion activists. It is not something that can be justified by appealing to dialogue. Killing a human being goes against Him – The Logos. The life of each one of us begins from the existence of the embryo in the womb. Catholics in Jesus Christ, who has overcome death, are fully in favour of the culture of life. And against the « culture » – rather, the « anti-culture » – of death. Yes we can enter into dialogue, discussions, controversy with those who are in favour of abortion, but these people cannot enter the Academy For Life. You cannot be both for and against life.
What is your opinion on the German synod?
The German Synod has to end. Because this contradiction to Revelation and human reason is absolutely harmful to the Catholic Church.
Recently, Your Eminence has come out against certain voices that assure that the pope is a kind of autocrat with full powers.
Clearly, Vatican Councils I and II never spoke of papal autocracy. There are some who were great enemies of the previous popes, and who have now become super papists, not because they accept the authority of the Pope, but because they try to instrumentalize the prestige of the Pope, as Pope of the Catholic Church, for their own interests. I defend the infallibility of the Pope and the centrality of the papacy in the Church. And now I am forced, forced to defend the papacy against those who want to instrumentalize the Pope’s authority for purposes that are not Catholic.
– Raju Hasmukh with files from El Debate