Gerhard Ludwig Müller

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Gerhard Ludwig Müller

Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
ChurchSant'Agnese in Agone
Appointed2 July 2012
Term ended1 July 2017
PredecessorWilliam Levada
SuccessorLuis Ladaria Ferrer
Other postsCardinal-Deacon of Sant’Agnese in Agone
Ordination11 February 1978
by Hermann Volk
Consecration24 November 2002
by Friedrich Wetter
Created cardinal22 February 2014
by Pope Francis
Personal details
Born (1947-12-31) 31 December 1947 (age 73)
Mainz, Germany
Previous postBishop of Regensburg (2002-12)
MottoDominus Jesus
(English: Jesus the Lord, Romans 10:9)
Coat of armsGerhard Ludwig Müller's coat of arms
Ordination history of
Gerhard Ludwig Müller
Priestly ordination
Date11 February 1978
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorFriedrich Wetter
Date24 November 2002
Elevated byPope Francis
Date22 February 2014
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Gerhard Ludwig Müller as principal consecrator
Reinhard Pappenberger25 March 2007
Steven J. Lopes2 February 2016
Styles of
Gerhard Ludwig Müller
Coat of arms of Gerhard Ludwig Müller.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Gerhard Ludwig Müller KGCHS (pronounced [ˈɡeːɐ̯haʁt ˈluːtvɪç ˈmʏlɐ]; born 31 December 1947) is a German cardinal of the Catholic Church. He served as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) from his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 until 2017. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2014.

On 1 July 2017, Pope Francis named Luis Ladaria Ferrer to succeed Müller as Prefect of the CDF.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Finthen, a borough of Mainz, then in West Germany. After graduating from Willigis Episcopal High School in Mainz, he studied philosophy and theology in Mainz, Munich and Freiburg, Germany. In 1977, he received his Doctorate of Divinity under Cardinal Karl Lehmann for his thesis on the Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Priestly ministry[edit]

Müller was ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Mainz, Germany, on 11 February 1978 by Cardinal Hermann Volk. He then served as a pastor of three parishes. In 1986, Müller was appointed to the chair of dogmatic theology of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he remains an honorary professor.[1]


Pope John Paul II appointed him as Bishop of Regensburg, Germany, on 1 October 2002. He was ordained to the episcopacy on 24 November 2002, with Friedrich Wetter serving as the principal consecrator; his principal co-consecrators included Karl Lehmann, Vinzenz Guggenberger, and Manfred Müller. Gerhard Ludwig Müller elected "Dominus Iesus" ("Jesus is Lord") as his episcopal motto, which is derived from Romans 10:9.[2]

On 20 December 2007, Pope Benedict XVI reappointed Müller for another five years as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). On 17 January 2009, he was also appointed as a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.[3] On 12 June 2012, Müller was appointed as a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education for a renewable term of five years[4] and was also appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

In the Conference of German Bishops, Müller was Chairman of the Ecumenical Commission, Deputy Chairman of the Commission of the Doctrine of the Faith, and a member of the World Church Commission. He was also Vice Chairman of the Association of Christian Churches in Germany (ACK) and the first President of the Society for the Promotion of Eastern Church Institute in Regensburg, Germany.

As a personal friend of Pope Benedict XVI, he was mandated to prepare the publication of the Opera Omnia, i.e., a series of books that will collect in a single edition all of Pope Benedict's writings.[5] Müller has written more than 400 works on dogmatic theology, ecumenism, revelation, hermeneutics, the presbytery, and the diaconate.[6]

Curial service[edit]

On 2 July 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Müller to a five-year term as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and made him an archbishop as well.[7] He became ex officio the President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the International Theological Commission, and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.[8]

Müller said he hoped to halt the "growing polarization between traditionalists and progressives [which] is threatening the unity of the Church and generating strong tensions among its members".[9] He continued by commenting on "traditionalists against progressives or whatever you would call them. This must be overcome[;] we need to find a new and fundamental unity in the Church and individual countries. Unity in Christ, not a unity produced according to a program and later invoked by a partisan speaker. We are not a community of people aligned to a party program, or a community of scientific research[;] our unity is gifted to us. We believe in the one Church united in Christ."

In an interview published on 1 February 2015, Müller objected to the criticism of the Church for its mishandling of clerical sexual abuse cases and for its continued condemnation of contraception, same-sex marriage, and declared incapacity to ordain women. He said "Targeted discreditation campaigns against the Catholic Church in North America and also here in Europe have led to clerics in some areas being insulted in public. An artificially created fury is growing here which sometimes reminds one of a pogrom sentiment." His remarks were denounced by a variety of German politicians.[10]

On 24 November 2012 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.[11] In November 2012, Müller said that traditionalist and progressive camps that see the Second Vatican Council as breaking with the truth both espouse a "heretical interpretation" of the council and its objectives. What Pope Benedict XVI had described as "the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity" is, for Müller, the "only possible interpretation according to the principles of Catholic theology."[12]

On 19 February 2014, Müller was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.[13]

In 2015, Müller described how he viewed the role of the CDF when the pope was not a theologian as Pope Benedict XVI had been. He said: "The arrival of a theologian like Benedict XVI in the chair of St. Peter was no doubt an exception. ...Pope Francis is also more pastoral and our mission at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to provide the theological structure of a pontificate."[14] Andrea Tornielli of Vatican Insider criticized Muller for inventing a new role not found in the statutes defining the CDF's role, adding that Muller was making far more public pronouncements than his predecessors were accustomed to.[15][16]

On 1 July 2017, Pope Francis named Luis Ladaria Ferrer to succeed Müller as Prefect of the CDF.[17][18] Müller chose to retire rather than accept another Curial position.[19][20]

Müller criticised the way Pope Francis dismissed him as head of the CDF, calling it "unacceptable". He said that on the last working day of his five-year term, Pope Francis informed him "within a minute" that he would not be reappointed to another term. "He did not give a reason. Just as he gave no reason for dismissing three highly competent members of the CDF a few months earlier."[21] Later that month a report commissioned by the Diocese of Regensburg sharply criticized Müller's handling while bishop there of cases of sexual abuse by priests.[22][23]

In the context of Pope Francis' encyclical Amoris laetitia and its allowance of divorced Catholics receiving Communion, Müller criticized Francis' papacy, and Latin American theology in general, for lacking theological rigour.[24]


On 22 February 2014, Pope Francis made him Cardinal-Deacon of Sant'Agnese in Agone.[25]

Before the public criticism of his handling while bishop of cases of sexual abuse by priests, Müller was mentioned as papabile, that is, a possible candidate for the papacy.[26][27][28]


Protestant churches[edit]

In a speech in October 2011, while quoting Unitatis Redintegratio of the Second Vatican Council regarding ecumenism, Müller stated that "the Catholic Magisterium is far from denying an ecclesial character or an ecclesial existence to 'the separated Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West'."[29]

US Leadership Conference of Women Religious[edit]

In 2012, Müller and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith initiated an investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The member congregations of the Conference were ordered to review their statutes and reassess their plans and programs.[30][31] The investigation was controversial, and was terminated by Pope Francis in April 2015, who "shrewdly let the nuns' case fade from his agenda".[32][33] The investigation embittered many American Catholics "against what they perceive[d] as heavy-handed tactics by Rome against U.S. sisters who provide critical health care, education and other services for the poor."[34]

Liberation theology[edit]

In an interview by the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Müller said that Pope Francis "is not so much a liberation theologian in the academic sense but, as far as pastoral work is concerned, he has close ties with liberation theology's concerns. What we can learn from him is the insight that there is no pastoral work without profound theology and vice versa." In the 1980s, the CDF under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger attacked liberation theology as borrowing "from various currents of Marxist thought." But during a visit to Peru in 1988, then-professor Müller discussed it with his friend and teacher Gustavo Gutiérrez, regarded as the "father" of Latin American liberation theology, who convinced him of its orthodoxy. Müller explained that liberation theology focused on orthopractice, "the correct way of acting in a Christian fashion since it comes from true faith,"[5] congruent with the Gospel for the Poor, i. e., "for those on the periphery", to borrow the terminology that Pope Francis has repeatedly used.[35] Müller said: "How can we speak of the love and mercy of God in face of the suffering of so many people who don't have food, water, health care, who don't know how to offer a future to their children. ...This is possible only if we are also willing to be with the people, to accept them as brothers and sisters, without paternalism from on high."[36]


In November 2014, Müller stated that bishops have been "blinded by secularized society" and are being pulled away from the doctrine of the church. He said that "unfortunately, representatives of the Church, including bishops", have been so influenced by secular society that they have been "pulled far from the central question of the faith and the teachings of the Church." He blamed the media, international organizations, and various governments for the growing crisis in the church, claiming that they had been "sowing confusion in people's minds." Müller said that "in many countries, relationships are destroyed, and this also applies to the Christian model of marriage and family. The truth of marriage and the family is relativized."[37]

Doctrinal immutability[edit]

Müller has defended the immutability of Catholic doctrine from the attempt to adapt it to contemporary lifestyles, which attempt might be described as aggiornamento. He stated that such an approach introduces subjectivism and arbitrariness. In an interview with Die Tagespost, he claimed that placing "lived realities" on the same level as scripture and tradition is "nothing more than the introduction of subjectivism and arbitrariness, wrapped up in sentimental and smug religious terminology." His comments have been interpreted as criticism of the "shadow council" when bishops and experts from Germany, France, and Switzerland met in Rome to discuss how the church could adapt its pastoral approach to contemporary culture, especially contemporary opinions of human sexuality.[38]

Amoris laetitia[edit]

Following the publication of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia of Pope Francis, Müller stated that the Pope did not need to be corrected for false doctrine. Interviewed on 9 January 2017, Müller said that Amoris laetitia was "very clear" in its teaching. Müller said that Pope Francis asks priests

to discern the situation of these persons living in an irregular union – that is, not in accordance with the doctrine of the church on marriage – and asks for help for these people to find a path for a new integration into the church according to the condition of the sacraments [and] the Christian message on matrimony.

He said that in Amoris laetitia he "do[es] not see any opposition: On one side we have the clear doctrine on matrimony, and on the other the obligation of the church to care for these people in difficulty."[39] However, in a second interview, Müller was asked whether the teaching reaffirmed in Familiaris consortio of Pope John Paul II, which linked the Eucharist to marriage, remains valid. Pope John Paul II stated that the divorced and civilly remarried were proscribed from the reception of Holy Communion, except possibly when they determine to live "in complete continence". Müller said of this condition that, "Of course, it is not dispensable, because it is not only a positive law of John Paul II, but he expressed an essential element of Christian moral theology and the theology of the sacraments." Müller also stated that "Amoris Laetitia must clearly be interpreted in the light of the whole doctrine of the Church." He has further stated that "I don’t like it[;] it is not right that so many bishops are interpreting Amoris Laetitia according to their way of understanding the Pope's teaching. This does not keep to the line of Catholic doctrine."[40]

Manifesto of Faith[edit]

In February 2019, Müller issued a "Manifesto of Faith" to conservative Catholic media outlets. It is viewed as an attack on Pope Francis, who removed Mueller from his role in a senior Vatican post. For the most part the manifesto represents a re-stating of the Church teachings, such as celibacy for priests and the ban on women's ordination. One section appeared to be a repudiation of Pope Francis and his effort to reach out to divorced and remarried Catholics, an effort deplored by more conservative Catholics.[41]

Clerical sexual abuse[edit]

In 2012, Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests criticized Müller's appointment to the CDF because he had reinstated Peter Kramer in parish ministry after Kramer was convicted in 2000 of sexually abusing children. Kramer had completed court-ordered therapy. Müller did not inform those in Kramer's new parish of his past history.[42] Müller had apologized in 2007 for mishandling the case.[43]

In 2016, Fritz Wallner, a former chair of the lay diocesan council in Regensburg, Germany, alleged that Müller as Bishop of Regensburg had "systematically" thwarted the investigation of abuse in the "Regensburger Domspatzen" boys' choir. Georg Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI's brother, led the choir from 1964 to 1994. Müller insisted that neither the church nor its bishops were responsible for abusers. In February 2012, he said that "if a schoolteacher abuses a child, it is not the school nor the Ministry of Education that are to blame." He maintained that only the perpetrator is guilty.[44] In 2016, a commission of 12 members was instituted to address the history of abuse and its cover-up in the boys' choir, a move critics viewed as long overdue. Wallner called for the church to purge any person associated with Müller, who had overseen the church's response to the allegations.[45] In July 2017, a comprehensive report commissioned by the Diocese of Regensburg on abuse at the boys choirs said that Müller had "clear responsibility for the strategic, organizational and communicative weaknesses" of the church's response when the abuses were first reported.[22][23]

Müller was included in a suit in France for his handling of the case of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon.[46] Barbarin, but not Müller, was convicted by the court.[47]





See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gerhard Ludwig Müller Archived 29 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine on the site of the Diocese of Regensburg.
  2. ^ "Profile of Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller". Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  3. ^ RINUNCE E NOMINE, 17 January 2009[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Vatican Insider: "A Liberation Theologian in the Holy Office?" 15 October 2011. Archived 28 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Biography of Cardinal Gerhard Müller". Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  7. ^ Donadio, Rachel (2 July 2012). "Pope Names German Bishop as Leader of Doctrinal Office". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 02.07.2012" (Press release) (in Italian). Press Office of the Holy See. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Vatican: CDF head on importance of Church unity". Vatican Radio. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Top Vatican Cleric Criticized for 'Pogrom' Remark". Der Spiegel. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "'Reading Vatican II as Break with Tradition Is Heresy', Prefect says". Archived from the original on 8 June 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  13. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 19.02.2014" (Press release) (in Italian). Press Office of the Holy See. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  14. ^ Lieven, Samuel; Seneze, Nicolas (31 March 2015). "Cardinal Muller says no to second marriage without annulment". La Croix International. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  15. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (7 April 2015). "Müller suggests new task for Congregation for Doctrine of Faith". La Stampa. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  16. ^ Gallicho, Grant (29 March 2015). "Cardinal Müller discovers new role for CDF under Francis". Commonweal Magazine. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  17. ^ O'Connell, Gerard (1 July 2017). "Pope Francis appoints Spanish Jesuit Ladaria to replace Müller at CDF". America. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  18. ^ "Rinunce e nomine" (Press release) (in Italian). Press Office of the Holy See. 1 July 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Pope names Jesuit prelate to succeed Müller at doctrine office". Crux. Catholic News Service. 1 July 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  20. ^ Richert, Scott P. (12 July 2017). "Rome roiled by recent scandals, conflicts". Our Sunday Visitor. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  21. ^ "Cardinal Müller criticises the way Pope Francis dismissed him". Catholic Herald. 8 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  22. ^ a b Moulson, Geir (18 July 2017). "Hundreds of boys abused in choir once run by Georg Ratzinger". CRUX. Associated Press. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  23. ^ a b Palmer, Daniele (19 July 2017). "Report Confirms over 500 Boys Abused at Top German Catholic School". The Tablet. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  24. ^ "Müller criticises Francis papacy for lacking theological rigour, and hints at comeback". The Tablet.
  25. ^ "List of New Cardinals Named by Pope Francis". 12 January 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  26. ^ Filip Mazurczak (31 August 2014). "Cardinal Müller: A Great Catholic Leader". Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  27. ^ "L'integerrimo cardinale Müller sarà il prossimo papa? | Cristianesimo Cattolico". Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  28. ^ "The Next Pope – Twelve Cardinals to Watch". 21 January 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  29. ^ "Speech by Bishop Müller (in German)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  30. ^ "US Catholic Nuns Criticised in Vatican Report on LCWR", BBC News, 15 April 2013.
  31. ^ "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Concludes Mandate Regarding LCWR". Silver Spring, Maryland, USA: Leadership Conference of Women Religious. 13 April 2015. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  32. ^ The Editorial Board (17 April 2015). "Opinion | Pope Stops Investigating the Good Sisters". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  33. ^ "Archbishop Sartain stresses dedication to addressing religious sisters' issues".
  34. ^ Gerhard Ludwig Mueller Tapped by Pope to Head Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archived 18 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine The Huffington Post, 2 July 2015
  35. ^ "CDF Head: Pope Francis Has Close Ties with Liberation Theology Movement Called into Question by John Paul II", The Tablet, UK
  36. ^ "Archbishop Müller on Faith, the Curia and His Own Upbringing". Zenit. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  37. ^ "Vatican's Müller: Bishops Being 'Blinded' by Secularism". Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  38. ^ "Cardinal Müller Warns Against Adapting the Church to Today's Often Pagan Lifestyles".
  39. ^ "Vatican doctrinal chief: 'No need to correct Pope Francis on divorce' -". 9 January 2017.
  40. ^ "Cardinal Müller: Communion for the remarried is against God's law -". 1 February 2017.
  41. ^ Pullella, Philip (10 February 2019). "Sacked cardinal issues manifesto in thinly veiled attack on Pope Francis". Reuters. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  42. ^ Latza Nadeau, Barbie (4 July 2012). "Pope Benedict XVI Appoints Catholic Church's New Top Cop". Daily Beast. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  43. ^ "German bishop apologises over paedophile priest". Reuters. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  44. ^ Pongratz-Lippitt, Christa (29 January 2016). "Former Diocesan Leader Alleges Muller Thwarted Investigation of Choir Boy Abuse". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  45. ^ Eddy, Melissa (6 February 2016). "Church Confronts Abuse Scandal at a Famed German Choir". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  46. ^ Sauvaget, Bernadette (4 March 2016). "Une plainte contre le cardinal Barbarin et le Vatican" (in French). Libération. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  47. ^ Breeden, Aurelien (7 March 2019). "French Cardinal Offers to Resign After Conviction for Covering Up Priest's Sexual Abuse". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  48. ^ "His Excellency the Most Reverend Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Bishop of Regensburg". 18 July 2011. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011.

External links[edit]

Media related to Gerhard Ludwig Müller at Wikimedia Commons

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Manfred Müller
Bishop of Regensburg
Succeeded by
Rudolf Voderholzer
Preceded by
William Levada
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Succeeded by
Luis Ladaria Ferrer
President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission
President of the International Theological Commission
Preceded by
Lorenzo Antonetti
Cardinal Deacon of Sant'Agnese in Agone