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Today we take a break from our post-Modernist theme and our Nietzschean/Marxist analytical framework to address a situation that surfaced yesterday on account of an article based on an interview given by Cardinal Gerhard Muller. As you know, Cardinal Muller gave an interview in which he had some very interesting things to say. Today we will delve into his statements since your humble blogger sees them as being of very significant importance. (see here)
So today we begin by taking a closer look at the text of the Cardinal Muller interview, as it appeared on Rorate Caeli website and provide some background information about Cardinal Muller and the SIGNAL that he has sent out into the Catholic Universal Church.
And as has been noted earlier and often, CONTEXT is key, so let’s try and put a proper (most likely) FRAMING in place so that we can better “judge” the SIGNALS that Cardinal Muller was (most likely) emanating through the interview.
First, the KNOWN KNOWNS.
Cardinal Muller is by no means your typical Catholic Cardinal, nor is he even your typical German Cardinal. It would be a fair to say that Cardinal Muller isn’t intelligent enough to be known for his intellectual prowess, like a Cardinal Ratzinger. Yet Card. Muller is intelligent enough not to need to conform to any given “views” or even “zeitgeist” that may be reigning at any given time behind the Sacred Vatican Walls. Case in point, he is intelligent enough, not to mention confident enough, to rebuke a German Cardinal, one senior to himself and a Friend of Francis, such as a Cardinal Kasper or a Cardinal Schönborn without the slightest hesitation. He can even go as far as to label them as “flatters”. (see here)
On the one hand, Cardinal Muller has made a name for himself by going ROGUE. (see here) Cardinal Muller is so confident that he can be a friend of heretics and dissenters at one time (see here) while on the other hand, being a friend of Tradition at other times. (see here)
So what it appears that Cardinal Muller is attempting to do, is to cover all this bases, while simultaneously threading the needle so to speak.
What Cardinal Muller sees as his “target audience” is the supposed vast JPII “The Great” part of the Catholic Church, and especially those Cardinals who will be voting at the next conclave who have a sentimental view of the JPII years. These will be Cardinals who just what peace and quite after the upheaval of the Francis bishopric of Rome.
This part of the electors will constitute the largest sub-set at the next conclave and Card. Muller is angling for their vote. One such example of this sort of “masterful” attempt at just this, was writing an “orthodox” introduction to the JPII apologist turned Francis “Joy of Sex” proponent Rocco Buttiglione’s materially heretical book. (see here)
But just in case Tradition reasserts itself by the time of the next conclave, which it is doing quite dramatically at present, Cardinal Muller is also making friendly with this part of the electoral base. To understand this, we first need to understand that Cardinal Muller used to be the direct superior of Archbishop Pozzo, the head of the Ecclesia Dei Commission.
Now Archbishop Pozzo during Card. Muller’s tenure at the CDF, became known for making “heretical – against the spirit of the new springtime” statement about Vatican II documents needing to be read in light of Tradition. He also made claims that the VII documents were not magisterial in their entirety. And Cardinal Muller did nothing to correct Archbishop Pozzo. (see here)
Now everyone knows that Cardinal Muller is competent, and he surrounds himself with competent people. He is even known to “go to bat” for competent people, (see here) so with respect to Archbishop Pozzo and his statements, competence was not an issue. And it was tolerated by Cardinal Muller, hence it can be interpreted as a “softening” of his position toward Tradition, i.e. Catholicism.
What is even more relevant to this “softening” of Cardinal Muller’s position with respect to Tradition and specifically toward the SSPX is the following anecdote relayed by Bishop Fellay, the Superior General of the SSPX of a conversation he had with the good Cardinal. We transcribed this passage in our post titled The Satanic Council and it reads as follows:
The Congregation for the Faith has to deal with these problems and they give the impression to put aside our problem. When in fact, already three years ago, Cardinal Muller told us in a meeting ‘ Your are occupying the Congregation of the Faith, you are obliging us to dedicate (?) to you such precious time while there are enormous problems in the Church’ So he was very unhappy to be dealing with us while there were enormous problems in the Church. At the time, I was not very happy about these things but with the time, with reflecting, yes they are facing enormous problems and suddenly what appeared to be the problem that is us, maybe it looks like a solution. And here you have to understand something, which is very, very interesting. The excesses of the present pope have caused a startled reaction. It’s open now. It’s no longer hidden, or let’s say for people like were hiding themselves, no you have cardinals, you have bishops who have openly contradicted these new tendency, this new tendency of hitting the morals and even the doctrine. We have counted that there are between 26 and 30 cardinals who have openly attacked these modern positions. And numerous bishops. They say that to the point that we have lost the monopoly on the contestation of the protest, til just a few years ago we were the only ones to state publicly these (to be) wrong. Now as they say, we have lost the monopoly of these attacks.
We’ve been told that at the last meeting of the Congregation of the Faith, where they all meet together, all the cardinals and bishops which are members, we call that a plenaria, this is the full meeting, there was only one cardinal who said, ‘no, no. no, the Society must absolutely accept the whole council’. And other voices who said ‘these people do only one thing, (that is) to repeat what the Church has always taught’. So you see, there is something on the move…
What the above passage demonstrates is that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during the tenure of the competent Prefect Muller was a hot bed of Traditionalist activism.
And even if we assume it was Cardinal Muller who was the lone voice insisting that the SSPX “accept the whole council”, this was most likely a tactical position rather than an ideological or “theological” position on the part of Cardinal Muller. This would be in keeping with Cardinal Muller’s history of being a “friend” to all sides. He maintained the “majority” position, while allowing the rest of his subordinates to argue for the “minority” position.
Given this information above, one can now see in a better, more accurate light the last act of defiance of Cardinal Muller’s as the Prefect of the CDF. That last act of defiance was to issue a statement that the SSPX still must “accept the whole council”. This statement was made during the height of the Francis “siren call” to the SSPX to “reconcile” first and clarify doctrinal questions later. (see this great summary of the details here)
In retrospect, this move on the part of the good Cardinal effectively, and one can say with German precision, short-circuited any reconciliation agreement that might have been on the table and saved the SSPX from a fate worse than death. (see here) As we know now, this Francis swan song, along with other hastily promulgated Moto Proprios were designed to create a “Traditionalist ghetto” (see here) where Catholicism could have been isolated and eventually extinguished. (see here)
So when history will be written, it could be argued with a high degree of confidence that Card. Muller was the person instrumental for saving the SSPX and the Restoration of Tradition in the wider Catholic Church.
With respect to the current subject matter though, it would not be a stretch to think that a pre-conclave NARRATIVE could arise wherein Cardinal Muller could be framed as the savior of the Traditional Latin Mass and protector of Tradition in the wider church due to his “strategic initiatives”. He can easily let it be known that if he were pope for example, he could easily unleash the dogs of Tradition that are presently being pent up in the CDF and unleash the Restoration in the entire Universal Church.
But if those dissenting priest still want to give the “breakfast wafer” to the serial adulterers and the intrinsically disordered and don’t want to adore the “Cupichian cookie”, well there’s the Buttiglione book, you know. But I digress…
Concluding, when looking at the totality of Cardinal Muller’s career, it is quite evident that the good Cardinal want’s to be pope.
This latest interview, when looking at it critically through this framework, can be seen as an attempt to promote just that. In that article, he in effect can be seen as trying to “eliminate his competition”. By using a straw man of “traditionalist groups” and the TeamFrancis dissidents as “progressivists”, the good Cardinal has framed his position squarely outside of these two “extremist” groups.
Further, he has harshly criticized equally these two groups. The charge against the Traditionalists, aka Catholics is that they are “disloyal” and their actions could cause a schism. A schism which Francis is knowingly actively pursuing. Therefore by extension, he has undermined such competitors as Cardinals Sarah and Burke.
Against the dissidents, the charge is that they are “unmerciful” and “flatters”. Here he has in mind Cardinals Tagle, Schonborn, and the poll position sitter, our DavosPope, Cardinal Parolin.
What is also interesting is that the harshest criticism was leveled at Francis though. Even if the Traditionalists are “disloyal”, them the height of disloyalty is the example of Luther, according to the Cardinal. And who is the largest promoter of the rehabilitation of Luther in the post-conciliar church? Well this doesn’t really need to be addressed, let alone answered, since it’s the 800 pound gorilla in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
What even more interesting is that with the criticism of the Traditionalists, Card. Muller placates this charge by observing that even though their actions might be questionable, their position is a correct one. Their concerns need to be addressed by the Church authorities, but especially by the successor of Peter.
As for the dissenters, there are no extenuating circumstances for their actions given. These folks are cast as unmerciful toward the Catholics, i.e. “ignoring them, or worse, humiliating them”. The motivation behind the actions of the dissenters is given as: an equally exaggerated progressive front which today seeks to credit themselves as super-papists”.
Furthermore, in the above assessment by Card. Muller, these dissenters are as “equally exaggerated” as the “bloggers”. And the “bloggers” according to TeamFrancis and Francis himself, are presently being presented as the bane of the Catholic world, and the cause of all the problems that poor Francis is having in his steering of the post-conciliar Barque toward the newly rehabilitated Theihardian omega point.
And finally, if all this criticism of the extremes was not enough to sway the future electors, Card. Muller provides his Curriculum Vitae, written as with a particular focus on his history of as a “peace-maker” and reconciler of opposing, even “extreme” positions. Further, the good Cardinal stresses his intellectual credentials (16 years as professor of theology) as well as his pastoral acumen (40 years as priest). He further nods to Tradition by citing a 16th century theologian, while demonstrating his modern, contemporary “sociological” prowess by suggesting that “prattlers” are in need of a “shrink”. As to his humble person, he returns to his theme of “theological structurer” and sees his role as being a Cardinal “who help(s) him (Francis) with the truth and theological, human competence”.
Notice that word? (COMPETENCE)
All in all, it would appear that Cardinal Muller has thrown his hat into the ring at the upcoming conclave. What is apparent is that Cardinal Muller is a very ambitious man. He is exactly the sort of “careerist bishop” and “climber” as was the former Cardinal Bergoglio, except that he is much, much more intelligent.
He is a threat to the Bergoglian “bishorpric of Rome” line of succession, which is why Francis removed him from the CDF. He also appears to be an immediate threat to Francis, which explains why Francis is baiting him with the “Some have told me anonymously that you are my enemy’” lines. Here Cardinal Muller relays this heart-wrenching story to most likely highlight this “victim-hood” status, which Francis handed the good Cardinal on a silver platter.
What ultimately motivates Card. Muller is ambition. Card. Muller wants to be pope. So he is laying out a path that would put him in a position whereby if the “god of surprises”, i.e. fate would present an opportunity at the next conclave, he would be ready to grab her by the skirt as she walks by, as the old German expression goes.
And at the next conclave, Cardinal Muller is positioning himself under a campaign theme that can best be described as follows:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called… the bishop of Rome...