ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Gerhard Müller is speaking out against bishops who order their priests to admit Protestants to Holy Communion.
Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stressed that clerics are duty-bound to refuse such orders, saying they "rightly disobey" bishops who mandate such action.
The cardinal's statements come in the wake of an erroneous pronouncement by German Bp. Felix Genn, head of the diocese of Münster. On Nov. 20, Genn published a pastoral guide featuring new directives, introduced by the German bishops earlier this year, that open the door to Communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics. In the Münster guide, Bp. Genn endorsed the new directives, claiming, "As pastoral caretakers, we do not have the right to allow or deny access to the Eucharist. It is irreconcilable, strictly, to deny Holy Communion."
In a statement provided to LifeSiteNews, Cdl. Müller warned that any prelate propagating heresy subverts his own authority: "Bishops would undermine their authority, were they to demand obedience to violations against the natural moral law and false teachings in doctrinal and moral questions," said Müller. In such cases, he added, "each Catholic, and especially each pastor, is duty-bound — as St. Paul toward St. Peter — to openly 'withstand him to the face, because he was to be blamed.'"
Cardinal Müller reiterated that no priest is bound to obey an order to admit Protestants, or any other non-Catholic, to Holy Communion. Instead, Müller said, his duty is to avoid violating "the sacramentality of the Church."
"Obviously, the former Archbishop of Washington, McCarrick, demanded from seminarians and priests immoral acts by abusing his power in order to reward or punish people," observed Müller. "It would be just as bad if a bishop, by appealing to 'religious obedience,' which the priests and faithful of his diocese owe him, were to demand from them a proclamation and pastoral care that deviates from the 'truth of the Gospels.'"
"Some bishops are liberal," the cardinal noted, "that is to say, lenient and indifferent in the doctrine, yes, nearly relativistic, while they at the same time act in a hyper-authoritarian manner toward orthodox Catholics and can only implement threats and punishments."
Cardinal Müller attributed this doctrinal drift to "the secularization of the Church" — a process, he said, that blinds victims to the encroachment of heresy and undercuts their ability to defend the Faith. He went on to reaffirm that "Holy Communion may only be worthily received by a baptized Christian who stands in full communion with the Catholic Church in her Creed (= doctrine), her Sacraments, and the Pope and bishops."
"The German bishops," Müller continued, "with their handout concerning Communion for Protestant spouses — which has been worked up in a theologically defective manner — clearly overstepped their magisterial competence, as the Congregation for the Faith with the approval of Pope Francis has stated."
"It cannot be left up to the conscience of the Catholic faithful or non-Catholic Christian whether he wishes to receive Holy Communion in the Catholic sense," he added, "or whether, rather, he gives Holy Communion a Lutheran meaning or a humanistic (that is to say that which fosters a sense of community) meaning."
A priest, the cardinal stressed, "is not bound by Divine Law to administer Holy Communion to a non-Catholic, and in any case, he certainly cannot be bound by any episcopal order — purely according to Church law — to commit an act which violates and obfuscates the sacramentality of the Church."
"A bishop who imposes penalties against priests who rightly disobey him in this case," he added, "thereby abuses his apostolic authority in a grave manner and has to answer for it before a higher ecclesial court of the Pope."