Gerhard Ludwig Müller

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His Eminence
Gerhard Ludwig Müller
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Cardinal Müller
Church Sant'Agnese in Agone
Appointed 2 July 2012
Predecessor William Joseph Cardinal Levada
Other posts
Ordination 11 February 1978
by Hermann Volk
Consecration 24 November 2002
by Friedrich Wetter
Created Cardinal 22 February 2014
by Pope Francis
Rank Cardinal-Deacon
Personal details
Born (1947-12-31) 31 December 1947 (age 68)
Mainz, Germany
Nationality German
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post Bishop of Regensburg (2002-2012)
Motto Dominus Jesus (Jesus Is Lord)[1]
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
Gerhard Ludwig Müller
Coat of arms of Gerhard Ludwig Müller.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Gerhard Ludwig Müller[pronunciation?] (born 31 December 1947) is a Catholic Cardinal and prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 2 July 2012. He was elevated to the Cardinalate in a consistory on 22 February 2014.[2]

Early life[edit]

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

Priestly ministry[edit]

He was ordained a priest for the diocese of Mainz on 11 February 1978, just after his 30th birthday, by Cardinal Hermann Volk.[3] After his presbyteral ordination, he worked as a chaplain in three parishes.

In 1986, Father Müller received a call to become the chair in dogmatic theology at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he is still an Honorary professor.[4]


Pope John Paul II on 1 October 2002 appointed him Bishop of Regensburg.[3] He was consecrated on 24 November 2002, with Cardinal Friedrich Wetter serving as Principal Consecrator. Among the Principal Co-Consecrators were Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Bishop Vinzenz Guggenberger, and Bishop Emeritus of Regensburg Manfred Müller. For his episcopal motto, Müller chose "Dominus Iesus" (Jesus is Lord, Romans 10:9).

On 20 December 2007, Bishop Müller was reappointed by Pope Benedict XVI for another five years as a Member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. On 17 January 2009, he was also appointed to serve as a Member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.[5] On 12 June 2012 Bishop Müller was appointed a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education for a five-year renewable term.[6] On the same day he was also appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

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

As a personal friend of Pope Benedict XVI, he was charged with preparing the publication of the “Opera Omnia”: a series of books that will collect, in a single edition, all Benedict's writings.[7] Müller has written more than 400 works on dogmatic theology, ecumenism, revelation, hermeneutics, the priesthood and the diaconate.[citation needed]

Roman Curia[edit]

On 2 July 2012 Bishop Müller was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope Benedict XVI. At the same time he was appointed Archbishop ad personam. As a result of his new role, he is also ex officio president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the International Theological Commission, and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.[citation needed]

Archbishop Müller succeeds Cardinal Levada who was appointed in May 2005 by the newly elected Pope Benedict. Archbishop Muller was informed of the decision of Pope Benedict on 16 May at the Vatican. He stressed the need for Church unity and aims to halt the "growing polarization between traditionalists and progressives [which] is threatening the unity of the Church and generating strong tensions among its members".[8] He went on to say "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". He was received for the first time for the usual Friday meeting on 21 September 2012. On 24 November 2012 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.[9] In November 2012 Archbishop Muller said 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 aims, Muller said. What Pope Benedict XVI has termed "the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity" is the "only possible interpretation according to the principles of Catholic theology," Archbishop Muller said.[10] On 6 December 2012 Pope Benedict named Rudolf Voderholzer as bishop of Regensburg, filling the vacancy left by Muller.[11]

On 19 February 2014 he was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.[citation needed]

July 2012 interview[edit]

On 25 July 2012 in an interview[12] with L'Osservatore Romano Archbishop Muller was asked for his initial impressions in working in the Curia, he said that "As a member [of the CDF] I studied the documents prepared by the Congregation and participated in the consultations. Now, instead, I must carry out and guide the work every day with those who work in the dicastery, preparing and acting on the decisions correctly. I am grateful to the Holy Father for having given me his trust and for having entrusted this task to me". Speaking on his upbringing he said that "For almost 40 years my father was a simple worker of Opel at Russelsheim. We lived close by, at Mainz-Finthen, a small locality founded by the Romans and still today there are ruins of an aqueduct built by them. From this point of view, our fundamental stamp is Roman". On his role at the CDF Muller said, "The Church is first of all a community of faith; hence the revealed faith is the most important good, which we must transmit, proclaim and protect. Jesus entrusted to Peter and to his Successors the universal magisterium, and it is this that the dicastery must serve. Hence the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has the responsibility for what concerns the whole Church in profundity: the faith that leads us to salvation and to communion with God and among ourselves".[13]

Archbishop Muller when questioned about liberation theology noted that "I believe that every good theology has to do with the freedom and glory of the children of God. However, certainly a mixture of the doctrine of Marxist self-redemption with the salvation given by God must be rejected. On the other hand we must ask ourselves sincerely: 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, where human dignity is truly lacking, where human rights are ignored by the powerful? In the last analysis 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".[13]

2013 Interview[edit]

In an interview with Die Welt, Müller addressed the growing criticism the Catholic Church has been facing both in Europe and America for its mishandling of sexual abuse cases by clerics, and its continued condemnation of contraception, same-sex marriage and women's ordination. Müller was quoted as saying the attacks on the Church copy arguments used by Communists and Nazis against Christianity. He likened their attacks to pogroms against Jews.[14]


On 22 February 2014 he was created Cardinal-Deacon of Sant'Agnese in Agone by Pope Francis.

Müller has been considered to be papabile, that is, a likely candidate for election as pope.[15][16][17]

2014 interview[edit]

In an interview in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Cardinal Müller said 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 a visit to Peru in 1988, when the then professor Müller met Fr Gustavo Gutiérrez OP, regarded as the father of the movement, convinced him of its orthodoxy. “Liberation theology wants to make God’s liberating actions visible in the Church’s religious and social practice... It would stop being genuine theology if it were to confuse the Christian message with Marxist or other social analysis,” he explained. Asked by FAZ if liberation theology was meanwhile recognised as a form of thought on an equal footing with the other traditional forms of theology, Cardinal Müller explained that liberation theology’s basic concern was congruent with the Gospel for the Poor – “for those on the periphery”, as Pope Francis never tired of emphasising, he said.[18]


In November 2014 Cardinal Müller says that bishops have been "blinded by secularized society" and are being pulled away from the teachings of the Catholic 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 organisations, and various governments for the growing crisis in the Catholic faith, saying they had been "sowing confusion in people's minds." Müller said, "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."[19]

Papal theological architecture[edit]

In an interview with La Croix in 2015 (English translation here), Cardinal Müller suggested a new area of work for the CDF: theological architecture. The cardinal was asked how he viewed his role under Pope Francis, especially given that Benedict XVI was a theologian. "The arrival of a theologian like Benedict XVI in the chair of St. Peter was no doubt an exception," Müller replied. "But John XXIII was not a professional theologian. 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."[20]

Changing teaching[edit]

Cardinal Müller has spoken out firmly against trying to adapt the Church’s teaching to today’s often pagan lifestyles, saying such an approach introduces subjectivism and arbitrariness. In an interview with the Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost on June 6, he warned that placing “any so-called 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 widely seen as a criticism of a recent “shadow council” when bishops and experts from Germany, France and Switzerland met May 25 in Rome to discuss how the Church could adapt its pastoral approach to today’s current lived experiences, especially regarding sexual ethics. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, a participant at the meeting and one of the German episcopate’s representatives at the upcoming Synod on the Family, has gone on record saying that the “lived realities” of people should be a source of information for dogmatic and moral truths, the Austrian site reported. [21]

Awards and honours[edit]

While a professor, Archbishop Müller was awarded the Grand Cross of Merit of the branch of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George headed by Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria.[22]

In September 2004, the Catholic University of Lublin awarded Archbishop Müller an honorary doctorate, in recognition of his outstanding scientific and didactic activities. And on 24 September 2008 the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú awarded him another honorary doctorate in view of his scientific work.

The Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer gave him on 28 May 2009, the Federal Cross of Merit (First Class).

Peter Kramer controversy[edit]

Main article: Peter Kramer (priest)

Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests has criticized Mueller for having reinstated a priest, Peter Kramer, in parish work after he had been convicted in 2000 for child sexual abuse crimes. Mueller has apologized for his mishandling of the case.[23]

Doctrinal views[edit]

Status of Protestant communities[edit]

In a speech he gave in October 2011, while quoting the Second Vatican Council's document on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, he said 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".[24]

Liberation theology[edit]

He was also a pupil and friend of Gustavo Gutiérrez, the “father” of Latin-American liberation theology. Commenting on Gutierrez, Archbishop Müller stated: "The theology of Gustavo Gutiérrez, independently of how you look at it, is orthodox because it is orthopractic and it teaches us the correct way of acting in a Christian fashion since it comes from true faith." Gutiérrez was not censored by the Holy See although he was asked to modify some of his writings.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Profile of Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller". Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  2. ^ "List of New Cardinals Named by Pope Francis". 2014-01-12. Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  3. ^ a b "Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Gerhard Ludwig Müller on the pages of the Diocese of Regensburg
  5. ^ RINUNCE E NOMINE , 17.01.2009
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ a b Vatican Insider: "A liberation theologian in the Holy Office?" 15 October 2011
  8. ^ "Vatican Radio Vatican Radio". Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  9. ^ [2][dead link]
  10. ^ "CNS STORY: Reading Vatican II as break with tradition is heresy, prefect says". Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  12. ^ "New Vatican doctrinal chief talks about SSPX, LCWR discussions". Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  13. ^ a b "Archbishop Müller on Faith, the Curia and His Own Upbringing". 2012-07-25. Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  14. ^ Archbishop Gerhard Mueller: Critics Waging 'Pogrom' Against Church The Huffington Post, 2 February 2013
  15. ^ Filip Mazurczak (2014-08-31). "Cardinal Müller: A Great Catholic Leader — The Catholic ThingThe Catholic Thing". Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  16. ^ "L’integerrimo cardinale Müller sarà il prossimo papa? | Cristianesimo Cattolico". Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  17. ^ "The Next Pope – Twelve Cardinals to Watch". 2015-01-21. Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  18. ^ "CDF head: Pope Francis has close ties with Liberation theology movement called into question by John Paul II", The Tablet (UK) 
  19. ^ "Vatican's Müller: Bishops Being 'Blinded' by Secularism". Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  20. ^ "Cardinal Müller discovers new role for CDF under Francis.". Commonweal Magazine. 2015-03-29. Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  21. ^ [3]
  22. ^ Gerhard Ludwig Müller[dead link]
  23. ^ Gerhard Ludwig Mueller Tapped By Pope To Head Congregation for the Doctrine of The Faith The Huffington Post, 2 July 2012
  24. ^ "Speech by bishop Müller (in German)" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Manfred Müller
Bishop of Regensburg
1 October 2002 – 2 July 2012
Succeeded by
Rudolf Voderholzer
Preceded by
William Cardinal Levada
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
2 July 2012 – present
President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
2 July 2012–present