VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican's former doctrine chief has delivered a sharp rebuke to the German hierarchy.
In a Catholic World Report exclusive published Tuesday, Cdl. Gerhard Müller excoriated his brother bishops for their loss of supernatural faith, their worldliness and their relentless push to de-Catholicize the Church.
"One group of German bishops, with their president in the lead, see themselves as trendsetters of the Catholic Church on the march into modernity," Müller said, pointing to German Bishops' Conference head Cdl. Reinhard Marx and his allies.
"They consider the secularization and de-Christianization of Europe as an irreversible development. For this reason the New Evangelization — the program of John Paul II and Benedict XVI — is in their view a battle against the objective course of history," he observed.
"They are seeking for the Church a niche where it can survive in peace," Müller continued. "Therefore all the doctrines of the faith that are opposed to the 'mainstream,' the societal consensus, must be reformed."
"One consequence of this is the demand for Holy Communion even for people without the Catholic faith and also for those Catholics who are not in a state of sanctifying grace," the cardinal observed.
But, he added, "No bishop has the authority to administer Holy Communion to Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church."
Diving deeper, Müller detailed specific goals of the bishops' agenda: "[A] blessing for homosexual couples, intercommunion with Protestants, relativizing the indissolubility of sacramental marriage, the introduction of viri probati and with it the abolition of priestly celibacy, approval for sexual relations before and outside of marriage."
"These are their goals," he warned, "and to reach them they are willing to accept even the division of the bishops' conference."
Meanwhile, "The faithful who take Catholic doctrine seriously are branded as conservative and pushed out of the Church, and exposed to the defamation campaign of the liberal and anti-Catholic media." These, the cardinal lamented, "feel abandoned and betrayed by their shepherds."
Müller's remarkably frank assessment coincided with a report published on the official website of the German Church, noting Pope Francis' most recent remarks on intercommunion. While returning from a meeting of the World Council of Churches in Geneva last week, the Pope told reporters the question of allowing Protestants to receive the Eucharist is up to each individual bishop to decide — have done nothing to solve the impasse.
The report described leaders on both sides of the issue believe the grinding debate is hurting the Church, specifically naming Cdl. Müller — a defender of Eucharistic and ecclesiastical orthodoxy — as well as former Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity head Cdl. Walter Kasper, a key proponent of Protestant intercommunion.
But Müller seemed to suggest some German prelates may be shedding crocodile tears to camouflage political maneuvering:
To many bishops, the truth of revelation and of the Catholic profession of faith is just one more variable in intra-ecclesial power politics. Some of them cite individual agreements with Pope Francis and think that his statements in interviews with journalists and public figures who are far from Catholic offer justification even for "watering down" defined, infallible truths of the Faith.
Many bishops, he warned, "justify their infidelity to the Catholic faith with allegedly pastoral concern or with theological explanations, which, however, contradict the principles of the Catholic faith."
"All told, we are dealing with a blatant process of Protestantizing," said the cardinal.
Müller pointed out the folly of this approach.
"The worldliness of the episcopate and clergy in the 16th century was the cause of the division of Christianity, which is diametrically opposed to the will of Christ, the founder of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church," he said.
"The disease of that era is now supposedly the medicine with which the division is to be overcome," Müller added.
The cardinal went on to indict the German bishops for making an idol of public esteem.
"Being popular in public opinion is nowadays the criterion for a supposedly good bishop or priest," he lamented. "We are experiencing conversion to the world, instead of to God."
"Today, for many people, being accepted by the media is more important than the truth," Müller continued. But, he said, bishops are called to suffer for the truth.
"Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom for Christ in Rome, the center of power in their day," he reflected. "They were not celebrated by the rulers of this world as heroes, but rather mocked like Christ on the cross. We must never forget the martyrological dimension of the Petrine ministry and of the episcopal office."
"We need Christians with a missionary spirit," Müller declared. "We need priests and bishops who are filled with zeal for God's house, who dedicate themselves entirely to the salvation of human beings on the pilgrimage of faith to our eternal home. There is no future at all for 'Christianity Lite.'"