Cardinal Müller on Synod on Synodality: ‘A Hostile Takeover of the Church of Jesus Christ … We Must Resist’
Cardinal Gerhard Müller spoke about the papal silence surrounding the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen and the Synod on Synodality, saying the Catholic Church is facing ‘a hostile takeover’ by people who ‘think that doctrine is like the program of a political party’ that can be changed by votes.
Editor’s Note: Cardinal Gerhard Müller appeared on EWTN’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo on Oct. 6. Please find the interview transcript below, edited for length and clarity.
Your Eminence, thank you for being here. The last two years, the Church has been polling Catholics all over the world, and non-Catholics we might add, about their desires in the Church and from the Church. Now, these national reports have been sent to Rome. Internationally, an average of 1% to 10% of baptized Catholics have really taken part in these synodal discussion groups, for such a small representative group. Do these national surveys mean very much? Do they actually reflect what Catholics are most concerned about?
I think the approach is wrong. ... We have to listen to the word of God. And then to put it into practice. ...
The concerns of these reports are curious. In England, Ireland, France and others, they cite the need for a more welcoming Church, your Eminence. In particular, the synthesis identifies the “LGBTQ” community, divorced Catholics, women in the Church. Regarding the “LGBTQ“ community, the U.S. report states the following: “The hope for a welcoming Church expressed itself clearly with the desire to accompany, with authenticity, LGBTQ+ persons in their families. In order to be a more welcoming Church, there’s a deep need for ongoing discernment of the whole Church on how to best accompany our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters.” What do you make of this focus on the “LGBTQ” community? And how do you see the evolving synod taking up those concerns?
The aim of this ideology ... was to instrumentalize Catholic Church on the face, for promoting their own ideas. But, in reality, everybody is welcome in the Church; but first he must repent his sins and change his life according to the commandments of God. It’s best for us, human beings, to follow the way of Jesus Christ and to change our life according to his commandments and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
These reports, they all seem to tend in a direction of stronger leadership and more presence in decision-making for women. The Australians specifically request an ongoing discussion about the ordination of women and deacons. Now, hasn’t this question of female ordination been settled by the last several pontificates, including Pope Francis?
... In the Church, we have nothing to do with political power, and to self-representation, but we have to follow the will of God and to be responsible for the salvation of all mankind; and we have to cooperate with the will of God. We have the mission of Jesus Christ, to lead everybody towards a salvation, to Jesus Christ, who is the only Redeemer, not to self-creation, to self-redemption. It’s all manipulated [these ideas], of ideology, and that has nothing to do with the Gospel and the doctrine of the Catholic Church
You were head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. What must you think as you watch a system being created, where all of that doctrine seems to be up for grabs?
The basis of the Church is the word of God as a revelation ... not our strange reflections. ... This [agenda] is a system of self-revelation. This occupation of the Catholic Church is a hostile takeover of the Church of Jesus Christ. ... And if you look at only one page, or read one page of the Gospel, you'll see that it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ ... and [in this agenda] they think that doctrine is only like a program of a political party, who can change it according to their votes.
Your Eminence, Cardinal Mario Grech, who is the secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, spoke to 200 U.S. Catholic leaders last month in Rome. He talked of “complicated issues” — that’s what he called them, such as divorced-and-remarried people receiving Communion, blessing same-sex couples — and he said the following: “These are not to be understood simply in terms of doctrine, but in terms of God’s ongoing encounter with human beings. What has the Church to fear if these two groups within the faithful are given the opportunity to express their intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience? Might this be an opportunity for the Church, to listen to the Holy Spirit, speaking through them also.” Your thoughts, when you hear that? Setting up doctrine against God’s ongoing experience with mankind.
That is a hermeneutic of the old cultural Protestantism; and observe modernism: That is the individual experience, as the same level as objective revelation of God. And God is only a wall to you, which you can project your proper ideas, and to make certain populism in the Church; and surely everybody outside of the Church who want to destroy the Catholic Church, and the fundaments, they are very glad about these declarations. But it is obvious that is absolutely against the Catholic doctrine. We have Revelation of God in Jesus Christ. And it is definitely closed and finished in Jesus Christ. ... This is absolutely clear: that Jesus has spoken about the indissolubility of matrimony. And how is it possible that Cardinal Grech is more intelligent than Jesus Christ, where he takes his authority to relativize, to subvert of God?
I have to say, I am, I am shaken when I hear you say, and you were just at a consistory, which we'll talk about in a moment, that you believe the synodal process is ... shaping up into a hostile takeover of the Church, of an attempt to destroy the Church. Is that what you see here?
If they succeed, it will be the end of the Catholic Church. And we must resist it like the old heretics of the Arianism. When Arias thought, according to his ideas, what can God do and what can God not do? And it is irrationalism: human, the intellect to decide what is true and what is wrong.
All these national reports are being synthesized into a working document, known in Rome, as the instrumentum laborious. This document continues to be refined, but, ultimately, it will guide all these discussions for the synod in Rome. This is being drafted by the synod leadership and advisory committee and a group of approximately 20 so-called experts. These are laypeople, religious sisters, Catholic priests, an archbishop. Who are these people, and why have they been chosen to put this working document together? Why not a group of cardinals to do this?
They are dreaming of another church that has nothing to do with the Catholic faith ... and they want to abuse this process, for shifting the Catholic Church — and not only in other direction, but in the destruction of the Catholic Church. ... Nobody can make an absolute shift and substitute the revealed doctrine of the Church, but they have these strange ideas, as doctrine as only a theory of some theologians.
The doctrine of the apostles is a reflection and manifestation of the Revelation of the word of God. We have to listen to the word of God in the authority of the Holy Bible, of apostolic tradition, and of the magisterium. And all the Council said before: that it is not possible to substitute Revelation, given once and forever in Jesus Christ, by another revelation.
Why do you believe the Pope is allowing this?
That is a difficult question. But I cannot understand it. I must say it openly, because the definition of the pope is, and [based in] the Vatican Council and also the history of Catholic theology, he has to guarantee the truth of the Gospel and the unity of all the bishops, and in the Church, in the revealed truth. And Peter was asked, and all the apostles asked: “Who is Jesus Christ? Is he a prophet or is he a new Elijah, another religious man?” And Peter said, “You are Christ, the Son of the living God.” And in this confession, there are included all the other truths of mysteries of the Catholic or Christian faith: The Trinity, the incarnation, grace and the sacraments. All is here included.
Your Eminence, I hear from Protestant pastors, Jewish rabbis every day, about the importance, the way they consider the importance of the Catholic Church, because it is the center. And they said that we we have to pray for the Church, that it holds, because if the Church falls apart, we all fall apart in some ways. I want to show you something: This week, the official Twitter account of the Vatican synod tweeted out the following from Cardinal Grech regarding the synod and the Second Vatican Council. He said: “A correct reception of the council’s ecclesiology is activating such fruitful processes as to open up scenarios that not even the council had imagined, and in which the actions of the Spirit that guides the church is made manifest.” What does that mean to you?
That is coming from the authority of Cardinal Grech, his own revelation for him. And not only this: It is a theory about so-called processes, which are overcoming Revelation. And everybody knows who studied the first semester of sociology: The Church and the authorities in the Church cannot change the Revelation ...to found a new church according to things and then use all the offices speaking about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a way of Presbyterianism, or all these pneumatic movements outside of the Catholic Church ... substituting Jesus Christ. It is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit that will introduce us into full truths, but once said forever, revealed in Jesus Christ, and therefore not an impulse only for one process which leads us in the end against the Revelation; and, therefore, we have a clear Apostolic Creed. I am wondering that, as Cardinal Grech here presents himself as a super authority, he is not a recognized theologian, he has no importance in the academic theology, and how he is presenting a new hermeneutic of the Catholic faith only because he is the secretary of the synod, which has no authority about the doctrine of the Church; and all these Synods of Bishops and the process has no authority, in no way an magisterial authority.
I want to show you something from last week, various photos were uploaded to the Vatican synod Facebook page, illustrating the Synod on Synodality. One depicted a female priest prominently featured, along with a young man in a “pride” shirt, made its way all over social media. The illustration reads: “We are the young people of the future. And the future is now animating this blossoming mission that is larger than any one of us. We desire to be on advisory councils and make decisions.” Now, this illustration had the watermark of the Synod of Bishops in the upper corner. What is the message here, Your Eminence, and how is this viewed in Rome?
This is a desire to take over, a power which doesn't exist, a want to be more intelligent than God himself. It is like the Marxistic form of creating the truth by presenting of his own power. ... They have the intention to substitute their own subjective ideas, against a revealed reality of Jesus Christ, as is the [path to the] destruction of the Catholic Church.
Is this a play for Vatican III? Is that what they are attempting here, to kind of create a pop-culture Vatican III?
Yes, it cetainly is. It is very astonishing, that it is allowed under the authority, in this context, of the Vatican. And it gives the impression that it is really possible that the Church [can change] ... [that the synod organizers] are authorized to be the audience of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is only a function for them. ... It has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit, who reveals himself as the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit ... and this is a way to undermine the Catholic faith and Catholic Church.
You were disturbed that, at this consistory, there was no mention of Cardinal Joseph Zen, who is undergoing trial right now, arrested under false charges by the Chinese Communists. His name was not evoked at the consistory. There was no prayer initiative. In fact, the Pope has said, when asked if he thought it was a violation of religious freedom, to arrest Cardinal Zen, he said the following: “To characterize China as anti-democratic, I don’t feel like it. Because it’s such a complex country with its own rhythms. Yes, it’s true that there are things that seem to us not to be democratic. That is true. Cardinal Zen, who is elderly, will go to trial in a few days, I believe. He says what he feels; one feels that there are limitations there.” Your reaction: Why is the Vatican so determined?
China is not a democratic system; they don’t respect the basic human rights of life and freedom. And the other side: Nobody needs 100 years for understanding China, this culture, because all the Chinese are human beings like us. And we are convinced that all human beings are equal in dignity. And everybody is called by God, to become a son and daughter of God. ... The Church is a universal Church everywhere in the world. We have to defend the basic human rights and our absolute right to preach the Gospel to everybody; and therefore, we think all are brothers and sisters, and in Jesus Christ, and especially we have to defend, also, our own brothers and sisters in Christ, especially high representatives of the Church. Cardinal Zen is not only a representative of the Church, but also a representative of the freedom and the liberty of the Chinese people and the dignity of the human being. ... And we cannot expect these politicians, from Peking to Moscow to Brussels, and to Washington, they cannot redeem the world [to fix things]; these politicians are responsible for the situation in which we are now ... for a possible atomic war. And therefore, our Redeemer, our helper, is God, and these politicians are responsible for the chaos in which we are in.