On Monday, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, an influential aide to Pope Francisco Bergoglio, criticised Vatican doctrinal watchdog Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller and urged the conservative prelate to be more flexible about reforms being discussed in the Catholic Church. Rodríguez, the head of a “kitchen cabinet” the pope created to draw up reform proposals, said that Müller… who opposes any loosening of church rules on divorce… was a classic German theology professor who thought too much in rigid black-and-white terms. In a rare public criticism amongst senior church figures, Rodríguez rhetorically addressed Müller in an interview with the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, saying, “The world isn’t like that, my brother. You should be more flexible when you hear other voices, so you don’t just listen and say, ‘Here’s the wall’”. Rodríguez, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa in Honduras, didn’t cite any possible reforms in particular, but said the pope’s critics, such as those upset by his attacks on capitalism, were “people who don’t understand reality”.
Former Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger picked Müller in 2012 to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the successor office to the Inquisition. Benedict ran that office as the powerful and feared guardian of Church orthodoxy for 24 years as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, until his election as pope in 2005. However, its influence waned under Francisco, who soon after his March 2013 election reportedly told visiting Latin American priests and nuns not to worry if the CDF wrote to them criticising what they were doing.
In an article in the Vatican daily last October, Müller firmly rejected growing demands for the Catholic Church to reinstate divorced and remarried Catholics as full members of the Church. At present, the Catholic Church excludes Catholics who divorce and remarry in a civil ceremony from communion because the Catholic Church teaches that Christ declared marriage an indissoluble bond. With divorce on the rise, more Catholics are asking Rome to show mercy for them. German bishops have been in the forefront of reform thinking and one archdiocese even published guidelines on how to readmit them, which prompted Müller’s article. The Vatican is due to consider reforming its rules on divorce at a worldwide synod of bishops next October.
Müller also strongly defended Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who reaped stiff criticism from German Catholics, earning the title “luxury bishop” in the media after it came out that he spent at least 30 million Euros (1.38 billion Roubles. 40.7 million USD. 45 million CAD. 46 million AUD. 24.5 million UK Pounds) on a new residential complex. Tebartz-van Elst’s grand plans were so far from the modest approach favoured by the Argentine-born pontiff that Rome sent an envoy to inspect his diocese and later sent him off to a monastery for a leave of absence pending a final decision. Rodríguez didn’t think Tebartz-van Elst would return as Bishop of Limburg and said that Latin Americans like himself and the pope found it hard to understand spending so much money for opulent features such as a 15,000-Euro (690,000 Roubles. 20,350 USD. 22,500 CAD. 23,000 AUD. 12,250 UK Pounds) free-standing bathtub, dryly observing, “For most people, a shower and a toilet are enough. They’re enough for the pope in his three-room apartment, too”.
20 January 2014
George Weigel is having conniptions, isn’t he? Boo-hoo! He and all the other righties are shown up to be “cafeteria Catholics” (they’re going to pick n’ choose what they’re going to believe… what a scream! They truly don’t like it when we turn their own wacko verbiage against them… watch ‘em squirm!). Francisco is turning out to be a real Albino Luciani (Pope John Paul I). Only this time, he didn’t die after a VERY short reign. As for me, I believe that Luciani died a very natural death, as his health wasn’t the best. I don’t favour conspiracy theories… sometimes, shit just happens, and there’s no cabal behind it (although the Curia IS a snake-pit full of ambitious and unscrupulous SOBs, to be sure… just as our First Families are, to be frank). Conspiracy theorists bore me… they should get lives… that’d take up their time, wouldn’t it?