Thursday, November 28, 2013

Oh to be proved wrong

When Gerhard Müller was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Mgr Basil Loftus was on cloud nine. Archbishop Müller was criticised by some conservatives for things he had written in a work of speculative theology only available in German. Such criticisms were ambrosia to our good Monsignor.

On the 8 July 2012, he gave his assessment of where the critics were going wrong. ‘Quite simply, he [Archbishop Müller] is profoundly scholarly and spiritual, and they [his critics] are not.’

If only life were so simple. A year and a week later, after Archbishop Müller came out strongly against changing the Church's discipline to allow divorced and re-married Catholics (unrepentant ones, that is) to receive Holy Communion, Loftus changed his tune.

He wrote, on 14 July 2013: ‘Quite honestly, if the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, of which he is Prefect, sees its roles as setting limits to God’s Mercy, then it is not fit for purpose.’

Loftus doesn't burden his readers with the fact that this represents a complete turnaround. But there are a couple of things we can learn from this debacle.

I don't mean that Loftus is fallible. We knew that already.

Müller was never like Loftus. His views on the Virgin Birth may be controversial, but - as far as I know - they were contributions to a theological debate, not published in a newspaper available to the Faithful at the back of church. Part of the picture we had of Müller from the start was his opposition to radical dissident groups like 'We Are Church'. Loftus' euphoria blinded him to this.

Müller is now going to be tarred and feathered, like so many of his predecessors in his office, by extreme progressives, as a stick-in-the-mud. His nuanced view of the Virgin Birth is going to be irrelevant. With the burning of Pope Francis in effigy by feminists in Argentina, we are beginning to see the same thing happening to him.

Sadly for the likes of Mgr Loftus, Müller is, fundamentally, a Catholic. And so is Pope Francis. He shouldn't be surprised. But he will be.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. On the other side of course you have the hotheads who regard Pope Francis and Archbishop Muller as creeping liberals undermining the Church from within. I think something G K Chesterton said in "Orthodoxy" is relevant: "Suppose we heard an unkown man spoken of by many men. Suppose we were puzzled to hear that some men said he was too tall and some too short...One explanation... would be that he might be an odd shape. But there is another explanation. He might be the right shape."

  3. “the Church's discipline to allow divorced and re-married Catholics (unrepentant ones, that is) to receive Holy Communion”

    I get increasingly concerned at the presentation of this problem as one of consent to receive Holy Communion. The Catholic Church cannot allow that. End of story.

    The real issue is whether such people, living a sinful life, are in a state of Mortal Sin. And, were they to die suddenly in a car crash, or whatever, are they then in danger of hell. The answer is, yes.

    They may obtain a degree of social respectability by being ”allowed” by their local, schismatic bishops, as seems possible in Germany, to do so, but that does not alter that fact that they are in a state of sin.

    It is God, who is Truth, who sets limits to mercy, not the Church. Sin, of course, requires consent. Such people, living as they are, would appear objectively speaking, to be consenting in sin.

    As you say, Mueller is not a stick-in-the- mud. He is just a Catholic, whatever that irrelevant little man Loftus, (in intellectual terms, I stress, since I don’t know how tall he is), thinks.

  4. I don't think God does set limits to His mercy. It's just that people don't want it or ask for it, because asking for it involves repentance.

  5. Yes! You put it better than I did!

  6. How are you 'fundamentally' a Catholic? And how do Muller's previously expressed views on the Virgin Birth count as 'nuanced', rather than in contradiction with the faith? Of course it is good that the Prefect of the CDF holds some teachings of the faith. But he has to hold all of them. If he does not, he has no basis for condemning or disciplining the likes of Mgr. Loftus.

    1. He is, on my view, in a muddle about the Virgin Birth. That doesn't mean he doesn't have the Faith. He hasn't resisted corection by a superior.