The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is doing his job. His Eminence Gerhard Ludwig Card. Müller, has given a long interview to the Italian Catholic monthly Il Timone. Title: “You don’t negotiate Truth.” He comments on the relationship of personal conscience, ecumenism and the interpretation of the controversial, confusing Amoris laetitia.
Card. Müller doesn’t explicitly respond to the Five Dubia submitted by the Four Cardinals. Not explicitly. But he does happen to respond to the points raised in the Five Dubia.
Here is a solid gold quote, in my translation:
Amoris laetitia “must be read as a whole, in any case an act of adultery is always a mortal sin and the bishops who cause confusion on this point ought to study the Church’s doctrine.”
That is directed, of course, at the ludicrous statement of the Bishops of Malta, guidelines on the implementation of chapter 8 of Amoris (aka The Maltese Disaster).
I see that Sandro Magister has already provided translations of some of the interview. HERE Let’s have a look at these “key passages of the interview” with my emphases and comments:
Q: Can there be a contradiction between doctrine and personal conscience?
A [Müller]: No, that is impossible. For example, it cannot be said that there are circumstances according to which an act of adultery does not constitute a mortal sin. For Catholic doctrine, it is impossible for mortal sin to coexist with sanctifying grace. In order to overcome this absurd contradiction, Christ has instituted for the faithful the Sacrament of penance and reconciliation with God and with the Church.
Q: This is a question that is being extensively discussed with regard to the debate surrounding the post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.”
A: “Amoris Laetitia” must clearly be interpreted in the light of the whole doctrine of the Church. […] I don’t like it, it is not right that so many bishops are interpreting “Amoris Laetitia” according to their way of understanding the pope’s teaching. This does not keep to the line of Catholic doctrine. The magisterium of the pope is interpreted only by him or through the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. The pope interprets the bishops, it is not the bishops who interpret the pope, this would constitute an inversion of the structure of the Catholic Church. To all these who are talking too much, [Maltese, et al.] I urge them to study first the doctrine [of the councils] on the papacy and the episcopate. The bishop, as teacher of the Word, must himself be the first to be well-formed so as not to fall into the risk of the blind leading the blind. […]
Q: The exhortation of Saint John Paul II, “Familiaris Consortio,” stipulates that divorced and remarried couples that cannot separate, in order to receive the sacraments must strive to live in continence. Is this requirement still valid?
A: Of course, it is not dispensable, because it is not only a positive law of John Paul II, but he expressed an essential element of Christian moral theology and the theology of the sacraments. The confusion on this point also concerns the failure to accept the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor,” with the clear doctrine of the “intrinsece malum.” […] For us marriage is the expression of participation in the unity between Christ the bridegroom and the Church his bride. This is not, as some said during the Synod, a simple vague analogy. No! This is the substance of the sacrament, and no power in heaven or on earth, neither an angel, nor the pope, nor a council, nor a law of the bishops, has the faculty to change it. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]
Q: How can one resolve the chaos that is being generated on account of the different interpretations that are given of this passage of Amoris Laetitia?
A: I urge everyone to reflect, studying the doctrine of the Church first, starting from the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, which is very clear on marriage. I would also advise not entering into any casuistry that can easily generate misunderstandings, above all that according to which if love dies, then the marriage bond is dead. These are sophistries: the Word of God is very clear and the Church does not accept the secularization of marriage. The task of priests and bishops is not that of creating confusion, but of bringing clarity. One cannot refer only to little passages present in “Amoris Laetitia,” but it has to be read as a whole, with the purpose of making the Gospel of marriage and the family more attractive for persons. It is not “Amoris Laetitia” that has provoked a confused interpretation, but some confused interpretations of it. [Wellll…okay… Amoris, alas, is less than perfectly clear, which has allowed some to go to the zoo.] All of us must understand and accept the doctrine of Christ and of his Church, and at the same time be ready to help others to understand it and put it into practice even in difficult situations.
CP&S update: Cardinal Müller’s German confrères beg to differ