(Vatican Radio) – A growing polarization between traditionalists and progressives
is threatening the unity of the Church and generating strong tensions among its members.
As he takes over the helm of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF),
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller says that he sees this as one of the most important
challenges that the Church must overcome. In an interview with Vatican Radio’s
Fr. Bernd Hagenkord S.J. Archbishop Müller speaks about this and the year
that lies ahead. Emer McCarthy reports:
Q: - Archbishop, you are not entirely new to the CDF, having already served as an official and collaborator, but it has now been a little over 80 days since you were appointed Prefect [July 2nd –ed]. Have you settled in to your new office and Rome?
A: - Mentally, yes, but I still have to wait for some books and furnishings. In essence it is a question of a job that has to be done and a deeper commitment to the Church. We know that there are many prejudices against this Congregation. But often they have little to do with reality.
Q: - The congregation also has difficult situations to address, most recently with the women religious in the USA and other issues, are you already well acquainted with them or will it still take some time for these issues arrive on your desk ?
A: -In the case of the post I have been appointed do, I do not have the luxury of taking my time to get acquainted with these issues. You have to have to know how to swim before being thrown into the water. In reality, it is not a completely new start for me, already as a bishop you find yourself having to tackle these issues, even before that as a theologian. Moreover I was also a member of the CDF for five years, inasmuch I am not completely unfamiliar with the issues that arrive here".
Q: - There are also horrible issues that arrive on your desk: such as the processing of the abuse cases which is under the remit of the CDF. In your opinion, what point is the Vatican at with this issue?
A:- As always, the issue is right at the top, because always and in every case, our first priority must be the people who suffered these terrible attacks. However it is also important to deal with the perpetrators in order to be proactive in prevention; at the same time the dignity of the offender must be respected... In this area, both the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the individual dioceses are proceeding to act on this issue in a very coherent manner.
Q: - You first year in the job begins with a bang, the Synod of bishops. But on a personal level what are your hopes for your first year?
A: - Naturally, I have thought of how I would fill this role. I do not believe I was summoned by the Holy Father to fill a bureaucratic post and carry out – so to speak – a bureaucratic task, but as a theologian. So above all, I asked myself; what ails the life of the Church?
In many countries, there is a strong polarization: Traditionalists against progressives or whatever you would call them. This must be overcome, we need to find a new and fundamental unity in the Church and individual countries. Unity in Christ, not a unity produced according to a program and later invoked by a partisan speaker. We are not a community of people aligned to a party program, or a community of scientific research, our unity is gifted to us. We believe in the one Church united in Christ. And if you believe in Christ, really believe - not manipulating the teachings of the Church, or singling out individual points to support your own personal ideology, but rather unconditionally entrusting yourself to Christ - then the unity of the Church is also important. Then the Church will not be – as it is sometimes described in Scripture – torn apart by jealousy and ambition. This is my underlying aim: To reduce the tensions within the Church "
Translation of interview from original German.