VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s “Manifesto of Faith” has been turned into a “catechetical documentary.” In the document, described as a four-page “public testimony of faith,” Cardinal Müller called on the faithful to resist error by educating themselves in the truths of the Catholic faith.
“In the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the faith, many bishops, priests, religious and laypeople of the Catholic Church have requested that I make a public testimony about the truth of revelation,” the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith writes in the introduction to his document, published in February. “It is the shepherds’ very own task to guide those entrusted to them on the path of salvation. This can only succeed if they know this way and follow it themselves.”
Considered the first of its kind, this documentary was produced to present the full content of Cardinal Müller’s document with a background of dynamic cinematography and sound.
Arcadia Films, the same studio that produced EWTN’s hugely popular A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, has dubbed the documentary a “faith opera.” The film made its debut online Oct. 1. According to Arcadia Films, “Manfesto of Faith” received a response of more than 40,000 views in its first week.
The Register interviewed Cardinal Müller by email shortly after the Oct. 1 debut to get his impressions of the cinematic production of his written work.
The interview has been edited for style.
Your Eminence, what were your reactions to seeing your written work “come alive”?
I am very impressed by this presentation. It speaks to people’s hearts and minds — a modern and sympathetic way to communicate the faith.
A recent poll in the United States suggests that 80% of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Another poll showed that only one in 10 Germans who identify as Catholic attend Mass once a year. Very few actionable solutions have been proposed to remedy this crisis. How do you intend to use this film in your apostolic mission for the salvation of souls — and how would you like to see other priests, bishops — even laymen — use it (and your manifesto)?
Only those who believe are also worthy of being believed. When we look at “Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), we overcome our fears and doubts. Rationalism must also be countered with correct theological argumentation. Today, high-ranking Church officials plant trees for the media. But it is much more important to sow in souls “the everlasting seed of the word of God that lives and remains” (1 Peter 1:23) so that the fruits of faith, hope and love flourish in them. Where instead of catechesis and pastoral work, there’s media work and politics being done, the Church goes evermore downhill — even when we are praised by Freemasons, the mainstream media, the abortion lobbyists and the “LGBT” propagandists.
When I interviewed the filmmakers, your eminence, they emphasized how current culture is dependent, influenced and informed by “audio/visual” mediums, today. They likened the use of film to how the art of the cathedrals catechized the simple, uneducated man in awe and wonder. Your manifesto is so profoundly simple and straightforward. How were you able to foster the profundity of the truths of the faith in such a simple, straightforward way (without losing its potency and watering down its beauty — keeping that “awe and wonder”)?
Catholic theology is a highly developed science. We are ready and able to answer every one who asks us about the reason for our hope in God (see 1 Peter 3:15).
Paul speaks of the spiritual weapons in our campaign for the truth of Christ: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty to God unto the pulling down of fortifications, destroying counsels and every height that exhalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Faith and reason form a unity under the guidance of God’s authority, which we unconditionally trust. But the faith does not depend on the theoretical intelligence of the hearer (Luke 10:21). Sometimes a spiritually gifted person can forget that his gift is from God and will pridefully feel himself superior to the word of God. But there is also the pride of the “simple people” and the “man in the street” who refuse to believe (Luke 23:21) and who despise God’s gift of reason which supports the faith (Hebrews 6:4-6).
To the little ones and the babes are revealed the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But all human beings can attain the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ only through creaturely humility. It is down to making our various talents and gifts humble and in sacrificial readiness for the building up of the Kingdom of God. In the faith, which opens the possibility of salvation with God, we are all equal before him. However, the gift of teaching is given to some, so that it can be used for the edification of others (Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:7). St. Thomas Aquinas has written both highly educated commentary on Aristotle and has also given us a deep and universal explanation of the Nicene Creed and the Our Father.
Leading up to the Synod of Bishops gathered to discuss pastoral care of those the Amazon region, some have lamented that too often clergy and even bishops have lost sight of the true goal of evangelization: conversion. What is Catholic evangelization, and why do you believe the Church is struggling in the apostolic mission — where Protestants (and even Islamists) are not? Do you believe this film of your manifesto is a work of evangelization?
Christ instructed the Church to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples. There are bishops who boast that they have not baptized a single native of the Amazon and that they even reject baptism as a symbol of colonialism and thus are ashamed of baptism. These men are living in union with our fallen, deified nature and do not deserve the salvation of Jesus Christ. In fact, it is Christ himself who gives us grace in baptism. These are the Pelagians often condemned by Pope Francis, those who deny the necessity of grace, and, hence, the sacraments, as critical for their salvation.
If the word “proselytism” is to have meaning, it can only mean the promotion of one’s religion by unjust means. In the Christian mission, the missionaries of Christ go to the people and proclaim to them the message of their redemption through the Son of God and the only Mediator of Salvation. And those who voluntarily and with conviction accept the faith and are baptized will be saved (Matthew 16:16). To all these pseudo-modern theologians, it seems that the doctrines of Vatican II pointing to the necessity of the Church for one’s salvation — providing the only possibility of salvation for people who have yet to come to Christ through no fault of their own — are either unknown to them or they intentionally position themselves in opposition to the magisterium of the Church (Lumen Gentium, 14, 17).
Your Eminence, it seems that many German bishops are eager to adopt a “synodal path” to introduce significant changes in the Church. It also seems that many Germans agree with these proposed changes. Will you use this film to engage in this “dialogue” in Germany, and if so, how?
The majority of German bishops rejected the request of the Pope to take the path of the New Evangelization. Instead, they promote positions regarding the sacrament of holy orders and sexual morality that contradict the Catholic faith. They allege that married priests, or even those outside marriage (whether active homosexual or heterosexual) or women in priestly service will offer an absolute guarantee that Church officials will not sexually assault underage boys and girls. (They believe) granting power to the laity and more permissive morality will restore the credibility of the Church. After all of this, the churches, the seminaries and monasteries would fill up again.
What else can one say about these delusions? You can always offer “dialogue.” But ideologues are trapped in their worldview. They reject any factual argument from the outset. They accuse their critics of a “conservative” or “reactionary” sentiment that disqualifies them, in their eyes.
They forget one thing: It was the 19th-century progressive liberals — along with both the right and leftist political ideologies of the 20th century — which disqualified the Christian faith as “outdated and reactionary.” Now their anti-clerical vocabulary is being used to discredit one’s own brothers and sisters in an inside-the-Church struggle for direction.
Any other thoughts, Your Eminence?
Yes. “Be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
Translation from German by Bree A. Dail.