Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, when addressing questions about whether he signed The Letter, also had this to say:
He took umbrage at “those who sustain that in the Roman Curia there is opposition to the Pope. Those who say and write that there are wolves, that Francis is surrounded by wolves. This is an offensive expression, and criminal. I am not a wolf against the Pope.”
“I know who is the Pope and what is meant by his primacy a thousand times better than those who say these things. As prefect of the Congregation, I am the first collaborator of the Holy Father; not only myself but all those who are part of it. I will let no one put in doubt my obedience and my service to the Pope and the Church.”
(Emphasis supplied.) We acknowledge, sadly, that we missed these remarks in the initial round of reporting on Cardinal Müller’s response to lo scandalo della lettera.
It occurs to us that—oh, what—not that long ago, there was talk of another pope, considerably less beloved in bien pensant circles in northern Europe, surrounded by wolves, being wrapped up in embarrassing leaks. It would be interesting to know what the cloistered monk of Mater Ecclesiae makes of all this, though it is supremely unlikely that he’ll say.
At any rate, as some commentators have suggested, it is clear that Cardinal Müller wants to disassociate himself from potential interpretations of The Letter, even if he does not want to deny signing it. Of course, Cardinal Müller is always in a tricky situation. On one hand, it is far from clear that the Holy Father takes the Holy Office into account before issuing his decrees. There were reports from Edward Pentin, usually a reliable source, that the Congregation was dealt out of the preparation of Mitis iudex. (We admit that we are not sure what to make of those, since Archbishop Luis Ladaria, secretary of the Congregation, was on the Mitis iudex drafting commission.) Pentin went on to say,
The Register has learned via other sources that this decision and others are effectively isolating the CDF and that the Pope is steadily making their work superfluous.
(Emphasis added.) On the other hand, it was rumored that Laudato si’ got a big rewrite after Cardinal Müller (or his people) raised theological objections to the draft.
At the same time, we are prepared to believe that the Congregation has been marginalized under the Holy Father. In addition to the Mitis iudex working group, a story has broken that there are informal meetings at Casa Santa Marta regarding the Synod. (This, in addition to the Jesuit-backed meetings under Father Spadaro at Villa Malta before the Synod.)
Who says what, how much the two fronts clash against each other – and nobody so far denied that these fronts exist – what happens substantially in the Synod Hall – all these things are not getting into the public. […] Only in the coming days, will it come out how many Synod Fathers wish which changes to the Church’s practice. As Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, one of the four delegate presidents of the Synod, said a few days ago in front of journalists: the three hundred bishops did not come together in order not to decide upon anything. The uncertainty about how the outcome will be of these three-week long negotiations is being heightened by the fact that in the guest house of the Vatican, Santa Marta, there takes place a kind of ‘Shadow Synod’: Pope Francis meets with participants of the Synod and with outside guests in order to speak with them individually. In the end, it is up to the pope to make a decision about the still open questions and to communicate his decision to the whole Church in a concluding text. That, however, is up to now the greatest riddle which underlies the whole Synod.
(Emphasis in source.) In other words, we can see that it would be very simple, given the parallel structures emerging, outside the ordinary dicasterial structures of the Curia, to marginalize the “hardliners” at CDF—if one wanted to do so. And if one were in the process of doing so, we could see that Cardinal Müller would have to be very precise about where he stood, lest he join other prelates in limbo.
Of course, Malta can only have one patron at a time. Right?