Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top ally of Pope Francis urges Roman Doctrinal Chief to loosen up

Vatican Watchdog Rebuffed
Archbishop Gerhard Mueller:
This Vatican Watchdog is Rebuffed
A “Rare Public Criticism” Among Senior Church Officials

One of the eight cardinals named by Bishop of Rome Bergoglio to be part of his inner circle of advisors has criticized the head of the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”, or CDF (the successor of the Inquisition and the Holy Office). This “Group of Eight” is influential precisely because it is going to handle Bergoglio’s light work – it has been tasked with “being responsible for drawing up a plan to revise the Curia’s constitution.

Now, keep in mind that in Rome-speak, “being responsible for drawing up a plan” doesn’t mean you actually accomplish anything, nor that you even draw up that plan. You’re merely “responsible” for it. But it looks good on a résumé, as they say.

Will they or won’t they ease the rules on divorce and remarriage?

PARIS (Reuters) - An influential aide to Pope Francis criticized the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog on Monday and urged the conservative prelate to be more flexible about reforms being discussed in the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the head of a "kitchen cabinet" the pope created to draw up reform proposals, said that Archbishop Gerhard Mueller - who has opposed any loosening of Church rules on divorce - was a classic German theology professor who thought too much in rigid black-and-white terms.

"The world isn't like that, my brother," Rodriguez said in a German newspaper interview, rhetorically addressing Mueller in a rare public criticism among senior Church figures.

"You should be a bit flexible when you hear other voices, so you don't just listen and say, 'here is the wall'," Rodriguez said in an interview with the daily Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger.

Rodriguez, archbishop of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, did not cite any possible reforms in particular but said the pope's critics, such as those upset by his attacks on capitalism, were "people who don't understand reality."

Former Pope Benedict picked Mueller in 2012 to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the successor office to the Inquisition. Benedict ran that office as a powerful and feared guardian of Church orthodoxy for 24 years as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, until he was elected pope in 2005.

But its influence has waned under Francis, who soon after his March 2013 election was reported as telling visiting South American priests and nuns not to worry if the CDF wrote to them criticizing what they were doing.


In an article in the Vatican daily last October, Mueller firmly rejected growing demands for divorced and remarried Catholics to be reinstated as full members of the Church.

Catholics who divorce and remarry in a civil ceremony are excluded from communion because the Church teaches that Jesus declared marriage an indissoluble bond.

With divorce on the rise, more Catholics are asking Rome to show mercy for them. German bishops have been in the forefront of reform thinking and one archdiocese even published guidelines on how to readmit them, which prompted Mueller's article.

The Vatican is due to consider reforming its rules on divorce at a worldwide synod of bishops next October.

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