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Is the Pope's new Prefect too liberal or too conservative?

Bishop Müller, newly appointed to the Prefecture that the Pope himself once held, has voluble critics from both sides.

Is the Pope's new Prefect too liberal or too conservative?

August 3, 2012

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Before switching to the evocative setting of the pontifical villas of Castel Gandolfo for the customary summer break, Benedict XVI has given approval to a small but significant round of appointments in the Vatican curia. The main move concerns the change at the top of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. Pope Benedict XVI has selected as his second successor after the American William J. Levada the Bavarian bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, 65 years old next December 31, since 2002 the bishop of Regensburg. The new head of what used to be called the Holy Office has a reputation as a double-faced Janus. On the one hand, above all in his country, he is considered one of the most conservative prelates on the field. It is no coincidence that the Swiss-German theologian and priest Hans Küng has called this decision "catastrophic." In 2005, for example, Müller reformed "in spite of the contrary wind whipped up by the media" the system of pastoral councils in his diocese, prompting numerous criticisms among the progressives, who complained of a reduction of the role of the laity, and provoking a canonical recourse against the decision, which he won in a definitive manner with a decree of the apostolic signatura in 2007. In an interview in "Mittelbayerische Zeitung" on July 6, Müller reiterated the official stance of the Church on pastoral care for the divorced, without venturing into hypothetical changes. He explained that "the office of the bishop also implies conflict." And he remarked that "the understandable human desire to be recognized by all as the good uncle is not the best basis for a good appointment" of a bishop. In short, Müller cannot be numbered among the bishops who seek easy applause. And this applies to the left, but also to the right of the ecclesial ranks. Moreover, in fact, above all in circles of the Roman curia and in the traditionalist world, some of Müller's theological affirmations are looked upon with the greatest suspicion, and above all his decades-long friendship, never repudiated, with the honorary father of liberation theology, the Peruvian Gustavo Gutierrez (who entered the Dominican order in the province of France based in Paris – more progressive than that of Toulouse – in 2001, at the age of 73, after in 1999 Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Opus Dei was appointed archbishop of the archdiocese of Lima, where he had been incardinated since 1959). To the accusations of being a "liberal" theologian, also raised by the fact of having had Karl Lehmann as a guest lecturer in his academic courses, Müller replied – again in ""Mittelbayerische"  – by declaring himself to be such, but in the sense given to the word by Saint Thomas Aquinas, when he wrote that "Deus maxime liberalis est." Full Story: Vatican Diary / At the Holy Office, a double-faced Janus Source: ChiesaEspresso/La Repubblica
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