An introduction to Abp. Müller

There has been much talk about the new prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, but we haven’t heard much from him. Hence, as a sort of introduction, my translation of this interview, courtesy of Johannes Schidelko of

KNA: My Lord Archbishop, what do you feel in the face of your appointment?

Müller: Gratitude for the confidence that the pope gives me. It is not an easy task, considering the entirety of the World Church; but it is a beautiful assignment to be able to serve the pope in his teaching. The office has a universal ecclesiastic dimention – and has nothing to do with centralisation.

KNA: When did you know that you would be going to Rome?

Müller: For a while already. But the change of office needs to run its ordered course.

KNA: Do you know why the pope has appointed you? Did he want a German, a theologian, someone he trusted?

Müller: It certainly wasn’t about the nationality, and as Catholics we all belong to the world Church. But the Holy Father knows me and my theological work, not only as an author, but also as an expert of the Synod of Bishops in Rome and in the committees of Ecumenism and Faith of the German Bishops’ Conference.

KNA: When do you begin in your office?

Müller: I have already begun, on July 2nd.

KNA: You are now one of the most important people in the Vatican, and one of the closest collaborators of the pope. What are your first steps?

Müller: I have already met with the leaders of the Congregation, to get an overview of the daily procedures and responsibilities. The scope is very broad: the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith consists of three departments: the doctrinal, disciplinary and marriage departmentd. The prefect is at also president of the Bible Commission and the International Theological Commission. We have about fifty immediate employees. Then there are the “Feria quarta”, the meetings of cardinals, which takes place every four weeks.

KNA: What are your substantive priorities?

Müller: The Congregation is responsible for the promotion of the doctrine of the faith, and not only for its protection. The 1965 reorganisation of the agency has placed this positive aspect in its heart. It is about the promotion of theology and its basis in Revelation, to ensure its quality, and to consider the important intellectual developments on a global scale. We can’t simply and mechanically repeat the doctrine of the faith. It must always be associated with the intellectual developments of the time, the sociological changes, the thinking of people.

KNA: What do you want to emphasise especially? What do you want to especially deal with in the near future?

Müller: The Congregation has the task of supporting the pope in his Magisterium. We must orient ourselves on the emphases he makes in his proclamations. During his journey to Germany, Benedict XVI put the question of God at the centre. He also spoke of the ‘worldliness’ of the Church – a topic not only intended for Germany. It is about a right understanding of the nature and mission of the Church; about finding the right balance between shutting out the world and adapting to it – so that we can truly serve the world in the name of Jesus Christ. In particular, we have to counter a widespread apathy in matters of faith. The ‘Year of Faith’, with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Council and twenty years of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, will be an essential contribution to this.

KNA: You begin your service in a turbulent time for the Vatican. Or is the Vatican currently back on its feet again?

Müller: I don’t know much about this concretely. It remains to be seen what the investigations reveal. What seems important to me is that the good works of the many hundreds of employees in the Curia are not overlooked. They are unfairly associated with these individual actions; the impression is created that everyone is involved. That is totally out of the question.

KNA: Another major topic in Rome is the anniversary of the Council. What do you expect from looking back?

Müller: We do not need a hermeneutic that is imposed upon the Council from outside. It is important to explore the hermeneutic that is included in the Council itself: the hermeneutic of reform in continuity, as the Holy Father has repeatedly underlined. A Council is the execution of the highest magisterium of the Church in the communion of the bishops with the Pope.

In this sense, the Second Vatican Council was a wonderful event, albeit from a somewhat different type than some previous councils. It was its legitimate intention to respond not only to certain errors and correct them, but to provide an overall view of the Catholic faith. It wanted not many individual elements, but the big picture, the great architecture of the present church with large rooms where you can feel at home and gladly live.

KNA: The Council, however, also created problems, for example for the SSPX.

Müller: Everyone who calls himself Catholic, will also have to keep the principles of the Catholic faith. These are not pre-formulated by the CDF or anyone else, but given to us in the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ, which has been entrusted to the Church. One can therefore not simply pick from it what fits in a given structure.

Rather, one must be open to the whole of the Christian faith, the whole profession of faith, the Church’s history and development of her teaching. One must be open to the living Tradition which does not end somewhere – say in 1950 – but goes on. Inasmuch as we appreciate history with her great achievements, we must also see that every era is also directly related to God. Every era has its own challenges. We can not explain a historical era according to the classical pattern, but we walk from one summit to the next.

Photo credit: Armin Weigel dpa/lby

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I'm a 36-year-old lay Catholic from the diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden. I write about the Catholic Church in the Netherlands. I not only enjoy bringing selected developments to the attention of readers, but I also think that it is sometimes important to allow a wider audience to read about the state of the Church in the Netherlands. That's why a fair number of posts about that topic will be translations of Dutch articles, episcopal writings and whatever else.

6 thoughts on “An introduction to Abp. Müller”

  1. Thanks for translating this interesting interview. And thanks, too, for maintaining such a positive and informative website.

  2. The SSPX has accepted Vatican Council II according to the doctrinal preamble-they must ask Di Noia and Muller to accept the Council with implicit, known only to God LG 8 and LG 16

    I have been asked in a comment by I Am Not Spartacus on the website The Bellarmine Report (Cardinal Levada Muffs Pope’s Agreement with SSPX ) to explain an earlier comment of mine.

    I Am Not Spartacus
    I am sorry, but I do not understand what is being claimed here.

    Dear Mr Andrades. In plain and simple language can you write what you think the SSPX is accepting in Vatican Two and what it is objecting to in Vatican Two?

    What is the SSPX accepting in Vatican Council II?

    The SSPX accepts Ad Gentes 7 which says all need Catholic Faith and the baptism of water for salvation.

    What is the SSPX objecting to?
    The SSPX is really objecting to Lumen Gentium 8 and Lumen Gentium 16 being considered exceptions to AG 7 and to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. The SSPX assumes that LG 8 and LG 16 contradict the SSPX position on other religions and ecumenism.

    I am not Spartacus
    Are you claiming that Vatican Two essentially teaches Feenyism?

    Yes. Vatican Council II is in agreement with the literal interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. In this sense it is in agreement with Fr. Leonard Feeney.

    If LG 8 ‘elements of sanctification’ and LG 16 (invincible ignorance and a good conscience) are considered implicit and known only to God, they do not contradict the literal interpretation of Fr. Leonard Feeney.

    There is nothing in Vatican Council II to contradict the literal interpretation of Fr.Leonard Feeney on outside the church there is no salvation.

    For Archbishop Di Noia LG 8 contradicts the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. He mentioned this to Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register when asked about extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    The SSPX has accepted Vatican Council II according to the doctrinal preamble-they must ask Di Noia and Muller to accept the Council with implicit, known only to God LG 8 and LG 16.
    -Lionel Andrades

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