Cardinal Gerhard Müller has warned that ideological efforts to change doctrine since Vatican II were deeply misguided because they attempted to subject the Word of God to the pride and prejudice of individuals. Cardinal Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made his remarks in an address at the presentation of the latest volume of Joseph Ratzinger's complete works at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.
Ideology is always a proud attempt to subject the Word of God and the doctrine of the Church to the prejudice of one's own thoughts, with the aim to obtain a manipulative power over the faithful and their lives. Theology is the humble reflection on faith that rises up from listening to the Word of God. Any fear that the Council might provoke a breach with the tradition of the Church is not only heretical: It would dismantle the meaning of supernatural mediation.
Cardinal Müller characterized the period following the Second Vatican Council as a "conflict between theology and ideology":
The expected Pentecostal renewal was replaced by the perspective of a "Babylonic" confession of faith and by the attempt to contradict the thought of the theological school. All of this was not a work of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit always listens to the Church in love and truth. Defecting from faith and counterfeiting faith, and the division from the Church that follows, are fruits of another spirit that is not the Spirit of God.
Cardinal Müller went on to reflect on the importance of Pope Benedict XVII's reference to the "hermeneutic of continuity" to interpret the Faith:
Without a hermeneutic of continuity and of reform, the Church would secularize itself and would turn into something more similar to a humanitarian organization. If this would happen there would be no reason to be part of the Church. The hermeneutic of reform and continuity is nothing more than the hermeneutic of faith as it is testified by the Holy Scripture, that lives in the apostolic tradition interpreted in the authentic way of the magisterium. Certainly, the Church is founded on revelation, and not on the magisterium.
In opposition to this hermeneutic of continuity, the history of the 20th century shows that "ideology is nothing more that the claim of some human being to dominate the moral conscience of other people." The use of secular terms such as "renewal" and "mainstream" are "signs of ideological strongholds raised against the consciousness of God." Cardinal Cardinal Müller traces their philosophical roots back to "the Enlightenment, idealism and materialism, that is, in the ideological turn Europe lived through in the last centuries.”
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concluded that these ideologies fall short because "The question is whether man can really find his foundation and his self-fulfillment without recognizing his constitutive bond with the sovereign Creator and Reconciler."
Cardinal Müller has previously warned that the danger of ideological imposition in the wake of Vatican II comes from both the "left" and the "right," going on to highlight the importance of upholding divine Revelation to safeguard the Church:
We also have the problem of groups — of the right and the left, as is usually said — which take up much of our time and our attention. Here the danger easily arises of losing sight of our main task, which is to proclaim the Gospel and to explain concretely the doctrine of the Church. We are convinced that there is no alternative to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Revelation responds to the great questions of men of all times. What is the meaning of my life? How can I face suffering? Is there hope that goes beyond death, given that life is brief and difficult?
Originally published at EWTN-Great Britain.