Cardinal Müller: Amazon Synod a ‘Pretext to Change the Church’

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by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 16, 2019   

Former doctrine chief warns of 'radical U-turn' in Catholic theology

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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Gerhard Müller is sounding alarm over the working document (Instrumentum Laboris) of the upcoming Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region.

On Tuesday, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Müller issued a statement slamming the document's "false teaching," saying it represents "a radical U-turn in the hermeneutics of Catholic theology."

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Cdl. Gerhard Müller

Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was especially critical of the document for tying divine revelation to geography — for asserting that the Amazon is a "particular source of God's Revelation."

"[O]ne has to to state that this is a false teaching," the cardinal declared, "inasmuch as for 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has infallibly taught that Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition are the only sources of Revelation and that no further Revelation can be added in the course of history."

Müller also denounced the Instrumentum Laboris for promoting a "cosmovision" tantamount to neo-pagan nature worship:

A cosmovision with its myths and the ritual magic of Mother "Nature," or its sacrifices to "gods" and spirits which scare the wits out of us, or lure us on with false promises, cannot be an adequate approach for the coming of the Triune God in His Word and His Holy Spirit. ... [In] the formation of future pastors and theologians, shall the knowledge of classical and modern philosophy, of the Church Fathers, of modern theology, of the Councils now be replaced with the Amazonian cosmovision and the wisdom of the ancestors with their myths and rituals? ... The cosmos ... is not to be adored like God, but only the Creator Himself.

"Instead of presenting an ambiguous approach with a vague religiosity and the futile attempt to turn Christianity into a science of salvation by sacralizing the cosmos and the biodiverse nature and ecology, it is important to look to the center and origin of our Faith," said Müller.

Quoting Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, the cardinal added: "In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature."

It is one thing to have respect for all the elements of this world, another to idealize or deify them.

Müller's July 16 statement builds on criticisms he leveled at the Amazon Synod's design last week.

In a July 11 interview with La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Cdl. Müller warned that the synod "is a pretext to change the Church," asserting that Rome was selected as the site for the October gathering in order to "emphasize the beginning of a new Church."

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Amazon Synod logo

Müller told the Italian daily that synod architects "want to save the world according to their idea," which he characterized as "profane" and having "nothing to do with Revelation."

They make "no mention of the root of human dignity, of the universality of salvation, of the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation for the world," he continued. "They treat our Creed as if it were our European opinion, but the Creed is the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ, who lives in the Church. There are no other beliefs."

The cardinal observed that the Instrumentum Laboris is a blueprint for revolution, one rooted in "an ideological vision that has nothing to do with Catholicism."

"It is a document that presents an idyllic picture of the Amazon," he noted, "including indigenous religions, so much so as to render Christianity useless, if not for the 'political' support it can give to keep these peoples unspoiled and defend them from predators that want to bring development and 'steal' resources."

Cardinal Müller also condemned the working document's reverence for the environment, which he veered perilously close to pantheism:

We must absolutely reject expressions such as "ecological conversion." There is only conversion to the Lord, and as a consequence there is also the good of nature. We cannot make ecologism a new religion, here we are in a pantheistic conception, which must be rejected. Pantheism is not just a theory about God but also contempt for man. God who identifies himself with nature is not a person. God the creator instead created us in His image and likeness. In prayer we have a relationship with a God who listens to us, who understands what we mean, not a mysticism in which we can dissolve personal identity.

"Our mother is a person, not the Earth," Müller added. "And our mother in faith is Mary."

"It is one thing to have respect for all the elements of this world, another to idealize or deify them," he said. "This identification of God with nature is a form of atheism, because God is independent of nature."

"In fact all these mistakes are born from the confusion between Creator and creature, from the identification of nature with God, which among other things generates polytheism, because each natural element is associated with a deity," the cardinal observed.

They do not see that ... they destroy the Church; they are like blind men who fall into the pit.

The theological perspective underlying the synod, Müller noted, reverences the wisdom of the ancients, but is bent on "disqualifying other Catholic believers and theologically morally stamping them as Pharisees, doctors of the law, rigid, conservative."

This perspective "despises the long tradition of the Church, and treats the popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI" as "outdated," he said.

Those holding this perspective, Müller observed, "want to adapt to the world: indissoluble marriage, celibacy, women priests, apostolic authority as if it were a political problem: everything must be changed." 

"They do not see that ... they destroy the Church; they are like blind men who fall into the pit," he warned. "The Church must develop according to the principles of Catholic theology and not of sociology or naturalism and positivism."

Some observers are noting that just days after this analysis, Müller specifically chided synod organizers, slamming them as "a closed group of absolutely like-minded people" — one that "includes a disproportionately large number of mostly German-speaking Europeans."


"This group is immune to serious objections, because such objections could only be based on monolithic doctrinalism and dogmatism, or ritualism, as well as on clericalism incapable of dialogue, and on the rigid way of thinking of the Pharisees and on the pride of reason of the scribes," he lamented Tuesday, adding: "To argue with such people would just be a loss of time and a wasted effort."

The cardinal noted that many have no direct experience with South America, saying they were invited only because "they toe the official line and determine the agenda at the synodal process of the German bishops' conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics currently underway."

This agenda, he pointed out, includes "abolishing celibacy, [ordaining] women to the priesthood and promoting them to key positions of power so as to tackle clericalism and fundamentalism, conforming Catholic sexual morality to gender ideology and an appreciation for homosexual practices."

For many faithful Catholics, Müller's observations affirm their deepest concern about the Amazon Synod: that synod architects — steeped in the heterodoxy of German-speaking Europe and aiming to steer the Barque of Peter onto a new, leftist course — intend for the Oct. 6–27 gathering to serve as the point of departure from 2,000 years of Church teaching.

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