Cardinal Gerhard Müller at a penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica on March 29, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Rome, Italy, Aug 2, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has sharply criticized the Synodal Way in Germany. 

In an interview with EWTN Vatican / CNA Deutsch, the 74-year-old cardinal said that the Synodal Way, declared a “reform process” by its initiators, is “over” and was on an “anti-Catholic, wrong track.”

The Holy See issued a statement June 21 noting that the Synodal Way was “not authorized” to “oblige the bishops and the faithful to adopt new forms of governance and new orientations of doctrine and morals.” It was “necessary” to clarify this in order to “safeguard the freedom of the people of God and the exercise of the episcopal ministry.”

The Synodal Presidium — consisting of the German Bishops’ Conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) — then accused the Vatican of a lack of willingness to communicate. It stated: “Unfortunately, the synodal presidium has not been invited to a conversation until today. That this direct communication does not take place so far, we regret irritated. Synodal church goes after our understanding differently! This also applies to the way of today’s communication, which astonishes us. It does not testify to a good style of communication within the Church when statements are published that are not signed by name.”

Cardinal Müller called these statements “intolerable,” and added that this “really has nothing to do with synodality and collegiality, nor with respect for the episcopal office.” He said the Holy See’s statement expressed nothing but the “simple principle of Catholic ecclesiology.”

When asked whether the Synodal Way in Germany was now at an end after the declaration from Rome, as the Münster canon lawyer Thomas Schüller wrote on Twitter, Cardinal Müller replied: “I think the Synodal Way was doomed from the start, it’s just that its initiators haven’t realized it yet.”

Müller said that the Synodal Way in Germany has nothing to do with “synodality,” nor with “way”. Rather, the construct is reminiscent of a “political organization” that considers itself the “vanguard of the universal Church.”

The cardinal said: “Revelation is entrusted to the Church for faithful preservation, and not, as the Synodal Way meant at the beginning, that this virtually randomly assembled body somehow has the right and authority to override the Church’s sacramental constitution and reinterpret Revelation according to its meaning.”

It was the “birth defect of this body” to set itself up as a vanguard of the Church, he said. 

“What is being pursued here is nothing other than division,” Cardinal Müller lamented. “It is a so-called reform with a crowbar.”

Among supporters of the Synodal Way there was an “intransigence,” the cardinal said, resulting from “a lack of knowledge of Catholic ecclesiology.”

Müller reflected on the president of the ZdK, Irme Stetter-Karp, who had emphasized in an article for the Hamburg weekly “Die Zeit” that it should be “ensured that the medical intervention of an abortion is made possible across the board.” 

Cardinal Müller said, “Whoever wants to guarantee these crimes, area-wide for the entire population, cannot pose as a reformer of the Church.”

“After all, the Church is not the object of our reform. The Church is founded by Christ, cannot be reformed, is unsurpassable; only we can go the way and must go the way of repentance and renewal,” he added. “We must reform and renew ourselves in Jesus Christ and thus give the answer to the challenges of today.”

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