Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has a forthcoming book-length interview with the Spanish publisher Carlos Granados. For now, the book will be in Spanish, but translations are apparently forthcoming. Sandro Magister has several lengthy excerpts at his website. One passage, translated for Magister by Matthew Sherry, touches upon the reformation festivities forthcoming, no doubt, next year:
Strictly speaking, we Catholics have no reason to celebrate October 31, 1517, the date that is considered the beginning of the Reformation that would lead to the rupture of Western Christianity.
If we are convinced that divine revelation is preserved whole and unchanged through Scripture and Tradition, in the doctrine of the faith, in the sacraments, in the hierarchical constitution of the Church by divine right, founded on the sacrament of holy orders, we cannot accept that there exist sufficient reasons to separate from the Church.
The members of the Protestant ecclesial communities look at this event from a different perspective, because they think that it is the opportune moment to celebrate the rediscovery of the “pure Word of God,” which they presume to have been disfigured throughout history by merely human traditions. The Protestant reformers arrived at the conclusion, five hundred years ago, that some Church hierarchs were not only morally corrupt, but had also distorted the Gospel and, as a result, had blocked the path of salvation for believers toward Jesus Christ. To justify the separation they accused the pope, the presumed head of this system, of being the Antichrist.
How can the ecumenical dialogue with the evangelical communities be carried forward today in a realistic way? The theologian Karl-Heinz Menke is speaking the truth when he asserts that the relativization of the truth and the acritical adoption of modern ideologies are the principal obstacle toward union in the truth.
In this sense, a Protestantization of the Catholic Church on the basis of a secular vision without reference to transcendence not only cannot reconcile us with the Protestants, but also cannot allow an encounter with the mystery of Christ, because in Him we are repositories of a supernatural revelation to which all of us owe total obedience of intellect and will (cf. “Dei Verbum,” 5).
I think that the Catholic principles of ecumenism, as they were proposed and developed by the decree of Vatican Council II, are still entirely valid (cf. “Unitatis Redintegratio,” 2-4). On the other hand, I am convinced that the document of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith “Dominus Iesus,” of the holy year of 2000, not understood by many and unjustly rejected by others, is without a doubt the magna carta against the Christological and ecclesiological relativism of this time of such confusion.
(Emphases added.) Good medicine. And there’s more of it in the post, touching upon some of the other flashpoint issues of the present day. Some sources have already picked up on Cardinal Müller’s comments about the forthcoming celebration of the reformation.
It remains to be seen, of course, what the Holy Father says in Sweden when he attends an ecumenical service commemorating the reformation. However, it seems to us that Cardinal Müller is fundamentally right, not merely that there are not valid reasons for separating from communion with Christ’s Church, though that is certainly true, but also that western Christianity and, indeed, the west as a whole has been injured by the reformation. There has been an impoverishment of western Christianity in the intervening 500 years that was scarcely conceivable with the first protestants struck out very much on their own. And one even wonders whether the complete inversion of man’s relationship to God, which Pope Emeritus Benedict has discussed fairly recently, would have happened in the absence of the wounds in the Body of Christ caused by the reformation. But such speculation is probably not entirely helpful at the moment. So we will say this: we look forward very much to reading Cardinal Müller’s thoughts on these matters.
For our part, we imagine that, on October 31, 1517, we will remember in a special way the souls of those who departed this life outside of full communion with Christ’s Church and his vicar, the Roman Pontiff.