Pope Appoints Bishop Müller of Regensburg to Lead Congregation for Doctrine of Faith
Contrary to what many think, the Pope is not the owner of the Church or absolute sovereign of her doctrine. He is only entrusted with safeguarding Revelation and its authentic interpretation
Efforts to parse the Archbishops "positions" on perceived hot button "issues" in some quarters reveal a propensity to examine ecclesial appointments with a misguided "liberal v conservative" political lens. That is not how we should approach such matters within the Church.There is no doubt that the Archbishop is faithful to the Magisterium. He is also greatly trusted by Pope Benedict XVI, who is a superb theologian and a man of profound prayer. That is what we should look to first, last and all in between. We need to trust that the Lord has His Hand on His Church and that the Spirit of God is at work.
The Pope chose a long time friend, ally and collaborator, the Bishop of Regensburg, Germany, Gerhard Ludwig Müller.
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On Tuesday, July 3, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI leaves for the summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. Prior to his departure he made an important appointment to fill the position he occupied for nearly 25 years, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Pope chose a long time friend, ally and collaborator, the Bishop of Regensburg, Germany, Gerhard Ludwig Müller. The Bishop had hosted the Holy Father back in 2006 when Benedict XVI delivered his extraordinary "Regensburg lecture" at the University there. By virtue of this appointment, Bishop Müller is now raised to the rank of Archbishop. The office of Prefect has been held by American Cardinal William Levada since 2005 and he has reached retirement age.
Along with holding the office of Prefect, the Archbishop will also lead the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission. His role as the prelate charged with ensuring the protection of both orthodoxy (right doctrine) and orthopraxy (right practice) within the global Catholic Church is extraordinarily significant at this historic moment.
The new Prefect certainly understands the important theological positions of Pope Benedict XVI. Archbishop Müller is the official editor of the "Collected Writings of Joseph Ratzinger", a sixteen volume set soon to be published. He is also a scholar and a theologian in his own right who has published over 400 articles on a variety of theological matters.
The new prefect's positions on some issues gave rise to speculation following this announcement. The most important thing we should all keep in mind is that the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI - who knows this Bishop better than any of those doing the speculating - has prayerfully made this appointment at a critical time in Church history. We need to trust that the Lord has His Hand on His Church and that the Spirit of God is at work.
Concerns expressed by some over the Archbishop's longstanding friendship with Father Gustavo Gutierrez, associated with what has come to be called 'liberation theology", were unfortunate; as were fears expressed by some within the SSPX based on some past experiences by some in Germany.
The aberrations which accompanied certain interpretations of "liberation theology" have been strongly dealt with by the Magisterium. The pastoral desire of this Pope to heal the wounds between the Society of St Pius X is evident in his words and his actions. Clearly, his friend and loyal servant in this office will keep that desire foremost.
Efforts to parse the Archbishops "positions" on perceived hot button "issues" in some quarters reveal a propensity to examine ecclesial appointments with a misguided "liberal v conservative" political lens. That is not how we should approach such matters within the Church.There is no doubt that the Archbishop is faithful to the Magisterium. He is also greatly trusted by Pope Benedict XVI, who is a superb theologian and a man of profound prayer. That is what we should look to first, last and all in between.
I believe the Archbishop is one more gift from the Lord to guard the deposit of faith at the beginning of a new missionary age. As a deacon of the Church, I found the Archbishop's position on the unity of the Sacrament of Holy Orders of great interest. It reveals his understanding of the nature and mission of the Church. It also demonstrates his keen theological sense and indicates how he will deal with other important matters.
In 2002, Zenit News Service published an excerpt from a lengthier interview given by the Bishop to a German Catholic Newspaper concerning an important meeting of the International Theological Commission concerning the Order of Deacon. I set it forth below:
Q: Is the diaconate a sacrament in its own right?
Müller: The Church teaches clearly that the sacrament of orders is one of the seven sacraments of the Church; as the full exercise in the Holy Spirit of the mission, unique in its origin, of the apostles of Christ, exercised in its fullness by the bishop. According to its degree of specificity, the differentiated participation in it is called presbyterate or diaconate.
Q: Is it possible to separate the diaconate of women from the priesthood of women?
Müller: No -- because of the unity of the sacrament of orders, which has been underlined in the deliberations of the Theological Commission; it cannot be measured with a different yardstick. Then it would be a real discrimination of woman if she is considered as apt for the diaconate, but not for the presbyterate or episcopacy.
The unity of the sacrament would be torn at its root if, the diaconate as ministry of service, was ...
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