CDF Prefect on the Priesthood Crisis

The prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, has lamented a Protestantization of the image of the Catholic priest. Catholics are no longer aware that there is an “essential difference” between the ordained priest and, as Protestants call it, the priesthood of all believers. The Vatican daily “L‘Osservatore Romano” published the piece by Müller on Thursday, October 31, a day of historical importance for the Protestant Reformation. The text consists of excerpts from a speech the archbishop gave on Wednesday in Palermo for the introduction of the 12-volume collected writings of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI in Italian.

Müller gave as a reason for the current crisis in the priesthood the opening of Catholicism to Protestant scripture scholarship of the 1950s and 1960s, without recognizing the prejudices contained therein. This allowed the radical critique of cult and the priestly mediator role to enter into Catholicism. Furthermore, the biblical foundation of the priesthood was called into question.

According to Müller, the criticism of mandatory celibacy in the Catholic Church is a consequence of an insufficient understanding of the sacrament of ordination. Priestly celibacy is no longer seen as “an eschatalogical sign of the coming reign of God,” but as “the relic of a past history which is hostile to the body” and as the main reason for the priest shortage.

The archbishop sees the “radical disorientation of Christian identity” in the West as a further cause of the priesthood crisis. This is the result of a philosophy that no longer has a “transcendental horizon.”

Source: KathPress.



  1. LOL

    The blame game. Typical.

    It might be that there is little Biblical basis for the cultic priesthood as it is or was expressed in 20th century Europe. That’s not to say there’s not a biblical foundation for Holy Orders–not at all.

    I don’t think priests and their bishops (especially) have ever conducted a through and fearless (especially) self-examination after Vatican II. What does it mean to be a mediator between God and people? How does one avoid the pitfalls of narcissism/charismatic leadership? How does one address the tragic and numerous lapses in virtue in Holy Orders?

    Christians find identity in following Christ, and aligning more closely with the Gospel. How has this not been mediated in the past century? Why is it that there’s always someone else to blame?

  2. Reading this along with Archbishop Muller’s statements concerning holy communion for divorced Catholics, I can’t help but get the nagging feeling that we’re returning to the good cop, bad cop situation of JPII and Cardinal Ratzinger.

    1. @Stanisluas Kosala – comment #3:

      I tend to agree but I think there is a slightly different twist this time.
      When Muller was appointed by Benedict, Muller said that he saw his role as taking some pressure off the Pope by tackling issues while keeping the Pope informed,

      However, with Francis things are a little different:

      When someone quoted Muller’s approval of liberation theology, Francis is supposed to have shot back “It is his opinion.”

      He told the religious that when they receive a letter from the CDF, they should respond to the concerns but continue on about their good works.

      Francis has said that he likes differences of opinion, does not like “yes men” , and is very cautious about accepting his own first thoughts, although in the end after a process he often comes back to them.

      The bottom line is that if we are to have “real” synods, there is going to have to be a lot more open discussion and debate than in the past, and far less looking at which way the “papal wind” might be blowing.

      I suspect Francis sees Muller’s opinions as only one part of a larger process, not as a reflection of his own.

      In regard to the divorce issue, what better way to gain acceptance both inside and outside of the Church of the Orthodox position on divorce and remarriage than to have a synod make the recommendation to do so after everyone has had the opportunity to read and discuss Muller’s opinion, knowing that Muller was B16’s appointee and the editor of his collected works. It would increase the decision’s credibility both among the Orthodox and among traditional Catholics.

      Francis’s Rabbi co-author recently gave a talk in New York in which he was asked about how far Francis might change things; his response was there would be a lot of change if it was only Francis, but that Francis like Rabbis in the Jewish tradition knows that you have to bring a teaching community along.

  3. In my experience, Catholics have a strong sense of the distinction between the ordained priesthood and the priesthood of the baptized. While it’s true that many (most?) Catholics like being pals with their priest, calling him by his first name, and being able to enter the rectory kitchen and living room, not a one that I know would jump in to take his place should he not show for Mass the next morning. Even lay ministers who might be prevailed upon to lead the rite of holy communion outside of Mass in the absence of a priest do not imagine themselves as interchangeable functionaries. (Yes, some of the faithful may prefer “Sister’s Mass,” ie, the shorter communion service, to Mass with the priest, but it’s not because they are confused about what or who a priest is.) As a Jesuit pointed out in America magazine some years ago (and I regret I cannot find it), the priest at Mass is still the only one wearing the clothes of 3rd-century Roman nobility and doing most of the talking. No confusion about who is who or who does what there! When the weekend assistant failed to show for Sunday Mass one week in a very liberal parish I ministered in, no one suggested that someone else take his place and get things going–we sang hymns and prayed in silence and waited for him to arrive precisely because we honored the difference between his priesthood and ours, and held the leadership of an ordained priest to be essential absolutely. What is being lost today are the unhelpful distinctions and honors and trappings of a clericalism that has proven to be the very thing that allowed for the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by some members of the clergy. And good riddance, too! To suggest that this is somehow “Protestant” is a very unhelpful remark–insulting to Protestants. And to suggest that somehow contemporary biblical study is to “blame” is ludicrous.

  4. Patrick – good point but then compare this statement to the various homilies and themes of Francis over the last 9 months.

    Reminded of a few other quotes:

    – “And this, in turn, will require us to take far more seriously and far more rigorously into account that the Church whose inner nature we gratefully confess as God’s gift and whose historic mission we undertake as our task is a Church 99% of whose members are lay people. We need to explore more fully and more consistently the implications of this fact for the various levels of our discourse about the Church, that is, when we say what the Church is, what it believes, what it does, what it ought to be.” (Vatican II analysis on *what is the church*)

    – “Newman’s quip about the laity, that “the Church would look foolish without them,” has profound ecclesiological implications.”

    Pretty sure that folks such as Congar or Cozzens (today) would not agree with his conflating celibacy and ordination – folks critique celibacy for lots of reasons and to judge that they therefore don’t understand sacrament of ordination – that’s rich ; he appears to confuse a *charism* with a sacrament? And his comment about celibacy as eschatalogical vs. relic of the past – main reason for lack of vocations – really? He seems to focus on the accidental vs. the core of the sacrament of priesthood – mission, ministry, service.

  5. To state that Protestant biblical scholarship has biases doesn’t mean that Roman rite biblical scholarship doesn’t have its own – and that “Protestant scholarship” (by which, I’m assuming, is meant the historical-critical method and a fuller reading of more scripture pericopes at worship) was approved in 1942 by Divino Afflante Spiritu.
    And, once again, let’s recall that Protestant = pro (in favor of) testare (giving witness).

  6. His article reminds me of his recent one on marriage/divorce/communion in which he gave a vision of marriage that even most Catholics no longer support (like that victims of domestic violence shouldn’t divorce).

    Perhaps someone will send him Garry Wills’ book, “Why Priests?” 😉

  7. Like Jack, I hope that Müller’s recent comments on divorce provoke a vigorous and thoughtful response. They present the conventional Catholic thinking on on marriage and divorce, and that needs to be addressed by those who think differently.

    The same is true here on the priesthood. There are several ways to reply to these comments. Has the Catholic priesthood been Protestantized? A vigorous discussion on this is important, but probably not as important as whether there is anything wrong with that. The Catholic position is not correct just because he says so, but must be tested against the criticisms of the Reformation as well as the criticisms of today.

    Is the Catholic image of the priesthood undercut by historical criticism of the Bible? How does that differ from the traditional idea of the priesthood being questioned by the reflections of devout Catholic scripture scholars? If those who love and study scripture come to different conclusions than the traditional magisteria, shouldn’t we listen to them?

    Müller presents things as he needs to present them, as a part of Catholic tradition. Those who respond should do as they must, and help with the difficult task of discerning what is an accretion and what is the foundation of our faith.

  8. It is enlightening to hear “Vice Pope” Oscar’s actual more “off the cuff “ talk in Miami which Rocco has here:

    as well as the prepared talk which was referenced in #1 also given at a Ministry conference in Texas.

    In Miami, Oscar says that the priest does indeed consecrate the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ but the baptized consecrate the whole world (marriage, work, play, etc.) into Christ.

    The essential problem is that this is not what people often hear and understand, namely as Taft put it that the important thing is not that the bread and wine are transformed in Christ but that we are transformed in Christ in our lives.

    If we really practiced the priesthood of the baptized, Vatican II would have put into the hands of the laity a Divine Office that could easily be used by individuals and families at home, and by laity when praying in small groups with other Christians who are not necessarily Catholics.

    The real priesthood crisis is the crisis in the priesthood of the baptized!. I suspect both Oscar and Francis might agree with me, although they would likely not accept the Divine Office as an example of it.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #12:
      Well said! The more concerning crisis I think is that of the vocation of baptism. We struggle mightily with that, and if we were only able to “get” it, I think a lot of other “crises” would be cleared up.

    2. @Jack Rakosky – comment #12:
      Cardinal Maradiaga in Dallas unhelpfully, I think, blamed the media for presenting a negative image of the Church in recent years, especially during the papacy of Benedict XVI. This brought to mind his most unfortunate comments of some years ago on the US media’s role in reporting on clerical sex abuse of children. Did he ever apologize for that extremely insensitive characterization of the US media?

      Pope Francis recently told a group of newly-appointed bishops, in Rome for orientation sessions, not to be “airport bishops.” Cardinal Maradiaga in the past two weeks has been in Rome, New Zealand, the US (Dallas and Miami), and Spain.

      It used to be asked of a certain East Coast archbishop, “What is the difference between God and Archbishop X?” The answer, “God is everywhere, and Archbishop X is everywhere except [name of diocese].”

      1. @john Robert Francis – comment #14:

        John, did you read Maradiaga’s talk? It is somewhat amazing to hear a Cardinal say:

        “2º). Within the people, there is not a dual classification of Christians –laity and clergy, essentially different. The Church as a “society of unequals” disappears: “There is, therefore, in Christ and in the Church no inequality” (LG 12 32).

        No ministry can be placed above this dignity common to all. Neither the clergy are “the men of God,” nor are the laity “the men of the world.” That is a false dichotomy. To speak correctly, we should not speak of clergy and laity, but instead of community and ministry. All the baptized are consecrated as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood (LG 10). Therefore, not only we clergymen are “priests,” but also, side by side with the ordained ministry, there is the common priesthood of the faithful. This change in the concept of priesthood is a fundamental one: “In Christ the priesthood is changed” (Hebrews 7: 12). Indeed, the first trait of the priesthood of Jesus is that “he had to be made like his brothers in every respect.”

        It seems to be the consensus of Vatican reporters, that the Cardinal is not just running around giving talks on his own but in his role as the spokesperson of the group of 8 cardinals at the request of the Pope. And that he is giving the Pope’s views underlying the coming reforms of the curia and future direction of the church.

      2. @Patrick Logsdon – comment #16:
        In fact, Cardinal Maradiaga’s frequent travels pre-dated his role in the present papacy. There are 1, 619, 000 Catholics in the diocese of Tegucigalpa. And one auxiliary.

        It is said that the cardinal will soon be named to a position in Rome. That would make more sense.

        And hasn’t it been reported that Cardinal Maradiaga has said that since there are Congregations for bishops, for clergy, for religious, a Congregation for the Laity should now be established? That appears to me to contradict his words in Dallas. The idea seems a little condescending. In any case, thank you, Patrick. It’s still early days. We’ll see.

      3. @Patrick Logsdon – comment #16:

        “… the Cardinal is not just running around giving talks on his own but…at the request of the Pope.”

        I hope you are right, for I too wondered whether he was talking too much, too soon, as if too enthralled with his own limelight.

        Anyway, on a related note, Abp José Rodríguez Carballo, a recently appointed secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, also talked about “the crisis of religious vocations”:

        The causes…include “absence of spiritual life,” “loss of a sense of community,” and a “loss of sense of belonging to the Church” – a loss manifest in dissent from Catholic teaching on “women priests and sexual morality…”

        The world…is undergoing profound changes from modernity to postmodernity… “everything is measured and evaluated according to the utility and profitability, even people.” It is “a world where everything is soft,” where “there is no place for sacrifice, nor for renunciation.”

        In a culture of neo-individualism and subjectivism… “the individual is the measure of everything,” and people feel “unique in excellence.” “Modern man talks a lot” but “cannot communicate in depth.”

        The solution…is a renewed attention to the centrality the Triune God in religious life, which in turn “brings with it the gift of oneself to others.” There must be a clear emphasis on the “radical nature of the Gospel,” rather than the “number of members or the maintenance of works.”

        I thought his words made a lot of sense — or at least more sense than what Abp.Müller said.


      4. @john Robert Francis – comment #14:

        I agree that “Vice Pope Oscar “ has the habit of putting his foot in his mouth.

        In the Miami Ad lib he said that “Non practicing Catholics” were really “Non-Catholics.” While he later qualified that to say that to be a practicing Catholic you need to do more than go to Mass, He really was not following Francis and Jesus’s practice of affirming the good in the marginal, and questioning the self-satisfied. He was playing to the self-satisfied.

        An even greater gaffe is his description of the death of Jesus in the prepared text “He proclaimed his program –the Kingdom of God—and the great of this world (Roman Empire and Synagogue together) persecuted and eliminated Him.” Well, yes the high priest as Roman collaborator collaborated in the death of Jesus just the Herod did in the death of John. Neither of these collaborators were representative of their people or their religions and I suspect first century readers of the Gospels understood Roman collaborators very well since they were everywhere. While some members of the Synagogue may also have collaborated too so did one of the Apostles, and of course most of the Synagogue and the disciples abandoned Jesus, both of which likely created the conditions for his death. But I do not think many scholars (or Francis, or B16, or JP2) would say the Synagogue and even the religious authorities persecuted and eliminated Him!

  9. To add to JR and Todd:
    VANGELII NUNTIANDI (On Evangelization In The Modern World) Pope Paul VI
    Apostolic Exhortation promulgated on December 8, 1975.

    “The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself. She is the community of believers, the community of hope lived and communicated, the community of brotherly love, and she needs to listen unceasingly to what she must believe, to her reasons for hoping, to the new commandment of love. She is the People of God immersed in the world, and often tempted by idols, and she always needs to hear the proclamation of the “mighty works of God” which converted her to the Lord; she always needs to be called together afresh by Him and reunited. In brief, this means that she has a constant need of being evangelized, if she wishes to retain freshness, vigor and strength in order to proclaim the Gospel.”

    “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses…It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus—the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity.”

    From John Noonan as realyed by Prof. Kathleen Kaveny:
    – “The study of ethics, law, and theology is an historical enterprise because the persons who engage in these activities are historical beings. Moreover, because human nature is essentially social, and human society also moves within time, those of us who are living today stand in community and conversation with history. The shape of our minds and hearts is informed by the ideas and purposes of our forebears much as the shape of our bodies is informed by their genetic material. We manifest our fidelity to the persons of the past not in slavish repetition of old formulas, but in sensitively attempting to discern the core purposes of traditional doctrine, and creatively applying it to a new situation. Such a process requires us both to understand and to judge our predecessors. In sifting through their thought we must separate insights of perduring value from the rough bundle of time-bound presuppositions and failures of will and vision which trap them. This demythologizing exercise is by no means easy, nor untouched by ambiguity.
    The subsumption of persons into the inexorable impersonality of rules can be ruthless. A major culprit is the use of rules to construct masks, or “ways of classifying individual human beings so that their humanity is hidden and disavowed.” Playing on the ambiguity of the Latin term “persona,” Noonan explores several ways in which the American legal system has allowed masks (personae) to be used to conceal persons (personae). Morally, to mask another is also to mask oneself.
    (would suggest that an over-emphasis on celibacy is a mask; it dwells on a man made rule; and misses the core value of invitation, call, response through service and ministry with love)

  10. I do not believe there is a priesthood crisis. The crisis is understanding the role of the priest. If I understand the development of priesthood through the early centuries of our Church, the priest is the arm of the bishop in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles there is very little mention of leaders of Eucharist. All of Paul’s message and all of those he chose to administer his assemblies (ecclesia) were geared to proclaiming the gospel. It is uncertain from the New Testament who were the presiders at weekly Eucharists. By the time of Justin Martyr there is clearly a role of presider. It is only much later that we have a development of presider as priest more akin to the Old Testament as official of a sacrificial rite – and then as the Mass was emphasized as re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross that the priest became “alter Christus.”

    I suggest that we separate the roles of presider and evangelizer. In my opinion any chosen member of the community could be chosen as presider. The “ordained” representative of the bishop would be the priest of the parish coordinating sacramental activity. And given that there are fewer ordained priests, many of whom now have responsibilitiy for many parishes, the local community – perhaps a copy of the house churches of the early Christian communities – could choose their regular Eucharistic presider, whether married , male or female.

  11. I think it’s time for Francis to move out of the Martha and Mary Hotel and get moving on his reforms. Talk about reform will only go so far, time to get moving because regardless of what he says “others” are still running the church, playing the blame game and running the good ol boy network. Just look at the recent appointment of Bp Leonard Blair in Hartford… got to be kidding! Who’s running the place?

  12. Sorry, I thought the point was to discuss the ideas that are brought up.
    If the focus is on the personalities, (of the archbishop or cardinal) then the blog ends up more of a religious tabloid??

    The archbishop brought up the idea of the “protestanization” of the priesthood. The Cardinal brought up his thoughts on clergy (even to do away with the terms clergy and laity) which many would find a “protestant” spin to the priesthood….i think it could have been an interesting discussion.

  13. Archbishop Muller in this pope’s curia is not going to act independently of the pope when he publishes something in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. I don’t think Pope Francis is going to allow lose canons in this regard and Archbishop Muller knows it.

    Thus the corrective that he printed in a lenghty article about divorce and communion and consciences properly formed was, I believe, at the request of the pope who had been “spun” by progressives in terms of off-the-cuff remarks the Holy Father had made. It was certainly a clarification of those remarks.

    The same is true of this brief article, not as in depth, and as I read it I couldn’t help but think of Cardinal Maradiga’s Dallas talk which progressives have been spinning to indicate a complete collaspe of the nature of the Catholic Church according to Protestant lines which Cardinal Maradiga certainly did not intend. In fact his Miami talk is far more nuanced and omits the more controversial images of the Dallas talk. Did someone speak to the good Cardinal about it, like the Pope and did Pope Francis ask Archbishop Mueller to write this brief article. Or is it just coincidence?

    No! It is no coincidence that this article appeared and one can presume Archbishop Muller was doing the Holy Father’s work in this regard not his own damage control.

    And just as Pope Francis isn’t going to tolerate the lose canons in the curia, he certainly isn’t going to tolerate it in his hand picked cardinals to advise him or in any other bishop in union with him. The reforms of Pope Francis in this regard aren’t just for the curia!

    1. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #22:
      unless someone has an inside track to read the Pope’s mind, one could also conjecture that the Pope may be allowing real dialogue and discussion on these issues? something that the church is not comfortable with!

  14. This is bad news for ecumenical dialogue. If dialogue is merely each side saying, we are right, and your are wrong, might as well forget it all.

  15. L’Osservatore Romano ought not to have published such remarks on a day special to the Reformation. Let’s remember that they were not delivered on that day, and the decision to publish them when they would cause the most offense is the decision of the paper.

    That said, the paper is an official organ of the Vatican, isn’t it. One wonders whether Cardinal Koch from the ecumenical office was consulted, and/or if Pope Francis was–all unknown to us–in favor of such an inflammatory statement.

    Either Pope Francis is talking out of both sides of his mouth when he says he wants to further ecumenism (which I don’t like to think, but one has to be open to bad news) or there are powerful interests in the Vatican that wish to make such statements, and they are using the cloak of Pope Emeritus Benedict to make them, knowing that Pope Francis will not directly contradict Benedict.

  16. Rita #26

    The train of divorced & remarried has left the station with stops at the Extraordinary Synod in 2014 and the Ordinary Synod in 2015. Either we will end up with a practice very similar to the Orthodox (but perhaps in different language) or we will have another huge sociological train wreck like Humanae Vitae.

    Unlike Humanae Vitae which was taken off the Council’s agenda, the divorced and remarried is going to be processed much like a mini single issue Council (even though couched in terms of advice to the Pope and hence the possibility of a train wreck).

    As with the Council this is going to be processed in the full light of the media because of their focus upon Francis. The Archbishop in charge of the process has asked not only for the input of the bishops but also for the document to be shared at the deanery and parish levels, and for sociological data!!!

    Pew has already responded with a reminder that a lot of the data is already out there:

    A 2012 Pew Research poll showed that a plurality of U.S. Catholics (45%) said getting a divorce was not a moral issue; 32% of U.S. Catholics say it was morally acceptable, while 19% said it was morally wrong. There were not significant differences on this question between Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week and those who attend church less often.

    More U.S. Catholics favored allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally (54%) than opposed it (37%), according to aggregated 2013 Pew Research polls, although support for same-sex marriage was lower among those who say they attend Mass at least once a week (43% favored same-sex marriage and 49% opposed it). A third of U.S. Catholics (33%) said homosexual behavior is a sin, while 53% say it is not a sin.

    About four-in-ten U.S. Catholics (41%) said using contraceptives was morally acceptable, while 15% said it was morally wrong, and 36% said it was not a moral issue, according to the 2012 Pew Research poll. Weekly churchgoers were more likely than Catholics overall to view using contraceptives negatively; among weekly Mass attenders, 33% said using contraceptives was morally acceptable, 27% said it was morally wrong, and 30% say it was not a moral issue.

    Francis is a pastoral realist not an ideologist. The divorce remarriage issue is very much his initiative, perhaps even more so than the Synod issue in which he is taking up long dormant and simmering issues among the bishops and cardinals. Unlike the Synod issue this is an issue that has great interest among not only the laity but everyone in the world. In effect he is attempting to find a better solution than Paul VI who took both the Synod and the contraception issues off the table of the Council.

    A more Eastern Orthodox solution to both issues would move us much further toward reunion (although I suspect the Orthodox would like to see about a century of a changed West before saying the schism is over).

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #27:

      You create a false dichotomy — it need not be a “sociological train wreck” to reiterate the Church’s constant teaching about marriage as you suggest. One of the major factors contributing to the train wreck after Humanae Vitae was some clergy anticipating a change in the teaching before the release, and actively undermining it afterwards.

      The fact that many people disagree with some teachings can never be justification to change them. The pope and bishops are called to defend the Deposit of Faith, not change it to suit the whims of those who were poorly taught or who actively dissent. If anything, this is our sociological train wreck, and it is already in our midst.

      Additionally, we cannot act as though Orthodox “second marriage” would be an end-all-be-all. From my understanding, there are still numerous restrictions on who may have one and circumstances under which it would be possible. Also, I cannot think most people would be happy at the insistence that the “second marriage” be stripped of all of the joyful aspects and take on a penitential tone in its place.

      1. @Matthew Morelli – comment #28:
        Well if anyone ever dissents with the church teaching justifying slavery, or saying that error has no rights and the Catholic state is to be preferred, I sure hope no weak bishops try to change that teaching “to suit the whims of those who were poorly taught or who actively dissent.”
        Matthew, you sound like a fundamentalist in your belief that Church teach never changes, can’t change, and anyone promoting development of doctrine is simply giving in to whims of secular society.

      2. Dear Father,

        I believe that the teaching of the Church on slavery is not a core element of Catholic doctrine – whereas the teaching that error has no right is integral to Catholic doctrine – since we believe that the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ and that outside of the Church there is no salvation than any other views on faith are an error – an error which put souls in peril of eternal damnation.
        So this truth is not a matter of prudential judgment – it is a consequence of the rule of that there is only one means of salvation which was given to the Catholic Church.
        The same could be said about the teaching that a Catholic state is preferred – this is simply a logical consequence of the teaching on the Social Kingship of Jesus Chris t (as is was magnificently put in QUAS PRIMAS).
        So I would kindly recommend that you would not call Mr Morelli a fundamentalist – because then every professed Catholic, who is conscious about his faith, should be called a fundamentalist – and this is a clear distortion of the word.

        There is a wide spectrum of matters falling into the sphere of prudential judgment (like taxes for example) and non of those matters which Father has pointed out are things open to dissent.

        Deus te benedicat!

  17. One point of dialogue is to bring together different perspectives “force us to go more deeply into the subject of our investigations and to find better ways of expressing ourselves.” (Paul VI ES 83) This is the point of Müller’s recent comments, not to set out the Truth in a take it or leave way, but to promote dialogue that will lead to a deeper grasp of Truth.

    For example, one headline from Müller declared that a man and woman cannot decide by themselves if they are validly married. This has huge implications for ministry, since it is the man and woman who are the ministers of marriage. Who can know what is in the hearts of these people if not the people themselves? Can a bishop or the Pope decide? If the ministers of marriage cannot determine this is and that was not, what about the ministers of other sacraments? Can someone say to the Pope “you cannot receive communion because of the rupture with SSPX”?

    The object is not to have everyone judging others, but for all to examine their hearts. We need to preserve the teaching that a man and a woman commit themselves wholly to one another, which would be impossible if they could not discern that this a marriage. Others may differ with me in some way, and express the Church’s role in a more nuanced way than that headline. We may come to understand better the roles of priest and couple in a way that respects both sides of the current disagreement.

    Depth and understanding are the point of dialogue, of clear statements of the issues.

  18. “since we believe that the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ and that outside of the Church there is no salvation then any other views on faith are an error – an error which put souls in peril of eternal damnation.”

    The reality of doctrine is much more nuanced. Lumen Gentium paragraph 8 specifies that “the Church [of Christ] constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure.”

    In addition, note that it is the witness of Moslems living in faith, in prayer and in the constant presence of God, that brought Blessed Charles de Foucauld from agnosticism back to religious faith.

  19. If you intend to discuss the rights of error, you have to address what error is, and rights as well. For example, Dignitatis Humanae, a document of Vatican II, declares that every person has a right to practice religion freely, whether they are right or wrong. This means that a Catholic State, like every other state, has no authority to impose its religious ideas on its citizens. I’m not sure what would make a state Catholic in that context.

    IOW, a great deal of nuance is needed. Dialogue even.

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