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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Cardinal Müller’s ‘Manifesto of Faith’: Sign of a Papal Defection?

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Cardinal Gerhard Müller has clearly had enough of the man from Argentina and his out-of-control papal bulldozer.  The Cardinal’s Manifesto of Faith appeared in the immediate aftermath, and appears to have been triggered by Francis’ joint declaration with Ahmed el-Tayeb, “Grand Imam of al-Azhar,” in which Bergoglio declares: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.”

I will leave it to John Lamont, in this article, to destroy the desperate argument by Bergoglio’s last remaining defenders that he was referring only to God’s permissive will, meaning His toleration of evil in the world—as if el-Tayeb would sign a document declaring that God tolerates the evil of Islam.

The Müller Manifesto can only be seen as a correction of the errors that Bergoglio himself is propagating in the form of a degenerate Jesuit progressivism, even if he is not identified by name. To wit:

  • religious indifferentism;
  • a systematic omission of any clear reference to Christ’s divinity and His authority over men and nations;
  • the constant denigration of staunch orthodoxy as Pharisaic rigidity;
  • the subversion of adherence to the Sixth Commandment by its reduction to an “ideal” not always achievable in “the concrete complexity of one’s limits” and the admission of public adulterers in “second marriages” to Holy Communion where it is deemed “not feasible” to practice continence;
  • denial of the extreme gravity of sins of impurity, reduced to “the lightest of sins” and trivialized as a fastidious “morality below the belt” obsessed over by priests who need a psychiatrist—even though the Mother of God has warned that “more souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason”;
  • the practical abandonment of the concept of mortal sin in general and downplaying to the point of non-existence the threat of hell (“no one can be condemned forever”);
  • the suggestion that priestly celibacy could be abandoned in certain places such as the Amazon — meaning, of course, eventually everywhere;
  • the proposal (complete with a semi-secret “study”) that women might be made “deacons” even though they are ontologically incapable of receiving any degree of Holy Orders.

Contra Bergoglio, Müller’s manifesto affirms the following truths of the Faith:

  • the divinity and peremptory authority of Christ;
  • the necessity of the Church and her sacraments for salvation;
  • the Church’s unique role in teaching with “the authority of Christ the divine revelation, which extends to all the elements of doctrine, including the moral teaching”—which Bergoglio has been undermining for more than five years;
  • the necessity of obedience to the divine and natural law for salvation;
  • that eternal damnation to Hell of one who “dies in mortal sin without repentance”;
  • the inadmissibility “civilly remarried divorcees” to Holy Communion;
  • the defense of priestly celibacy as “a sign of new life” and “self-giving in the service of Christ”;
  • the impossibility of admitting women to any of “the three stages of this ministry [the priesthood]—a i.e., the diaconate.

pope creepMüller concludes on the apocalyptic note that in the midst of this pontificate and the general silence among the bishops concerning the truths of revelation we are witnessing “the greatest deception,”  “the last trial of the Church,” “a religious delusion” and  “the fraud of Antichrist.”

In the face of which Bergoglio’s favorite theologian, Walter Kasper, angrily leapt to the fore to defend the Pope who rehabilitated him and his Modernist nonsense concerning “mercy” and advanced them both relentlessly. With shameless hypocrisy, Kasper condemned Müller as “a Luther redivivus [reborn], one who rightly works for reforms in the Church, but then wishes to impose them while bypassing the Pope and working against him.” This from the foremost promoter of heresy in Germany, whom even Luther would denounce for corrupting what he considered the essentials of the Catholic religion.

At this point in the Bergoglian Debacle, it has probably entered into the mind of practically every serious, tradition-minded Catholic that Bergoglio is acting like an anti-Pope, one who attacks the Church and the teachings he is supposed to be conserving and defending.  Many are wondering privately how this strange and rather vulgar man, with his subversive ideas and obvious contempt for staunch Catholics and for Tradition even in matters of basic morality, could possibly be the Vicar of Christ.  Not even John Paul II and Paul VI went this far, but rather repeatedly affirmed orthodoxy at critical junctures despite the confusion and ecclesial decay their own reckless pursuit of novelty had provoked.

I have long maintained that bickering with sedevacantists is a complete of waste of time. Whether a Pope has fallen from office on account of heresy—certainly a possibility that theologians recognize, as even Cardinal Burke has noted—is and always will be an academic question.  No mechanism exists for a definitive judgment of the matter, and the hypothetical but never tried “imperfect council” to declare that a Pope has deposed himself on account of heresy (a proposed remedy I myself have viewed sympathetically on these pages) would still provide no definitive solution for the universal Church. Rather, it would only provoke something like the Great Western Schism as some faction of the faithful, perhaps even a majority, would continue to recognize the “fallen” Pope and reject any successor elected by a conclave whose very convocation would be endlessly contested unless and until some future Pope—assuming his validity would not in turn be questioned!—were to declare that his predecessor had fallen from office.  That outcome would involve something akin to the anathematization of Honorius I (r. 625-638) by Pope Saint Leo II (r. 682-683) on account of Honorius’ endorsement of the Monothelite heresy. Even in that case, however, Honorius was never declared to have fallen from office and is included in the canon of valid Popes.

But what if a validly elected Pope were to defect from the Petrine office without actually abdicating or falling from it, thus retaining the office and its authority while casting off its duties and limitations? Such a Pope would have no regard for traditional teaching and praxis, even when affirmed by his immediate predecessors. He would think himself entitled to propose any novelty he deemed appropriate according to his own “vision” of the Church.  He would, in a categorical abuse of the papacy, propose to remake the Church from top to bottom according to his own thinking as if she were his personal possession by virtue of his being Pope.

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Such a Pope would declare an intention such as that Bergoglio uttered in his own manifesto, Evangelii Gaudium: “I dream of a ‘missionary option, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.” The Church’s self-preservation would be less important to such a Pope than the pursuit of his own ideas about what the Church should be and do. And therein would lie his defection from the office he would still retain. For such a Pope would exercise a “ministry” that would not be the Petrine ministry of conservation and preservation of what is handed down, nor an exercise of the authentic Magisterium, but rather an ultra vires enterprise of innovation untethered from Tradition.

Here I have in mind what the always insightful Father John Hunwicke has just written on the subject of “the suspense of the functions of the Magisterium.”  In praise of the Müller Manifesto he surmises that “consciously or unconsciously, Gerhard Mueller has in mind the teaching of Blessed John Henry Newman about the situation during the Arian crisis,” when  “the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission,” the Pope, the great episcopal sees and even general councils “said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth” and “spoke variously, one against another… for nearly sixty years ...”

“It seems to me,” Father Hunwicke continues, “that the moment when PF decided not to answer the Dubia of the four Cardinals was the formal, official moment ... the starting gun ... when the Petrine Ministry entered into its current ‘temporary suspense’. When, likewise, he ignored the Filial Correction which some of us had sent him, he confirmed that Suspense. Thus we are officially in a period in which the functions of the Papal Magisterium are in a vacatio which will be ended at the moment when the same Petrine Magisterial organ formally returns from dogmatic silence to the audible exercise of the functions rightly attributed to it in Catholic Tradition…”

Upping the ante, Fr. Hunwicke cites the historic Open Letter to Bergoglio from Fr Tom Weinandy, wherein he warned that “a bishop who espoused heretical teaching ‘would no longer bear within himself as a bishop the four defining marks of the Church and, therefore, he could no longer justifiably act as an ecclesial member within the Church. He may continue to act outside the Church, or even within the Church, but his actions would lack a genuine ecclesial character, for the essential and indispensable four marks of the Church would be absent within his specious ministry.”

“If this pontificate lasts much longer,” says Fr. Hunwicke, “perhaps we shall need to unpick some of the implications of that last sentence.”  Meanwhile, the rank religious indifferentism evident Bergoglio’s joint declaration with el-Tayeb suggests precisely the prospect of Pope who, he concludes, has:

...consciously stopped even bothering to remain within the parameters set by the Magisterium to which he is as much under an obligation to submit as is anybody else. Fas est et ab hostibus doceri: never forget the chilling words of Fr Rosica, that this pope is free from the constraints of Scripture and Tradition. I can see no present grounds plausibly to speculate that PF's divagations from orthodoxy will in future tolerate any restraints. It is as if, having discovered himself at the bottom of a hole, he has decided that the only thing to do is to keep digging with redoubled energy until he gets to Tasmania.

To which Fr. Hunwicke adds, and I hasten to add here, the following caveat: “I do not, of course, in any way suggest that [Francis] and the silent or heterodox bishops have lost the right or capacity to use the Magisterium of his and their offices. On the contrary. Precisely as Newman did, I am simply observing that, as a matter of fact, he is not and they are not at this moment using it.” Indeed, the Arian bishops were never deemed by the Church to have fallen from office, nor Pope Liberius, whose “fall” consisted of subscribing to a Semi-Arian formula while in captivity. Rather, they defected temporarily from the same offices whose proper exercise they resumed once Arianism was defeated and orthodoxy restored throughout the Church (with the aid of the Holy Roman Emperor, Theodosius I).

I would suggest, then, that today we are witness to a defector Pope who has not lost the right or capacity to be Pope, for he has not abdicated, but who has decided to be something other than the Vicar of Christ while wearing the papal garb and sitting in the papal chair. Like a father who abandons his duties to wife and children yet remains head of the family, Bergoglio, who has abandoned his duties to the Church, to Tradition and to souls, remains the earthly head of the great ecclesial family. And like a wayward father who returns home and takes up the burdens of his fatherhood once again, Bergoglio can return to—or more precisely begin—a right exercise of his papacy. Which is why, despite any weak and fleshly inclinations to the contrary, we pray that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, will assume not only the mantle but the substance of the pontificate that bears the name of Francis.



As reported by Gloria TV, in an interview with Der Spiegel, Cardinal Gerhard Müller has just blamed Bergoglio’s advisers, who have “base motives,” for the torrent of heterodoxy in Bergoglio’s words and deeds. As to Francis, he declared: “This Pope is orthodox.”

So, according to Müller, every heterodox thing Francis has said and done over nearly six years of bizarre pronouncements and disastrous decisions is the fault of his bad advisers.

Good grief. It is time to give up on Cardinal Müller.


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Last modified on Friday, February 15, 2019
Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.