I finally got around to reading Cardinal Müller’s “Manifesto of Faith” (can be read here, via the National Catholic Register) this morning, after seeing all the foofaraw it caused on Twitter and at other Catholic publications and sites. Depending on who you read, the manifesto was: a) a veiled attack on Pope Francis, because Müller didn’t mention the papacy; b) a swipe because the Holy Father still hasn’t answered the dubia over Amoris Laetitia; or c) a reprisal at having been removed from the CDF.
People either condemned the manifesto, or praised it, for those very reasons.
And not to be outdone, a couple days ago, Cardinal Kasper of Germany claimed that Müller’s manifesto’s contains half-truths and blanket statements, and went so far as to suggest Müller was following in the footsteps of Martin Luther.
Folks, it ain’t that complicated.
Does anyone recall this story in the Catholic News Agency from February 4?
In an open letter published Sunday by a German daily, nine German Catholics, including two prominent Jesuits, demand a break with the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.
The signatories call for a reworking of ecclesial structure, namely a “separation of powers”, the priestly ordination of women, an end to mandatory priestly celibacy, and other changes.
Published in the Feb. 3 edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the letter is addressed to Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the German bishops’ conference, and tells him that if he and other bishops were to decide to “spearhead the Reform movement”, they would be assured of the signatories’ full support.
This is what Müller was responding to, in my opinion. It wasn’t an attack on Pope Francis. It was a clear definition of the moral and sacramental life, as taught by the Church through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium. Period.
And let’s be honest: German Catholic theologians have always been kinda kooky, right? Their open letter is par for the course, and deserved to be addressed. By a German Cardinal.
The folks invested in either valiantly defending Pope Francis or actively opposing him interpreted the manifesto as an attack because nearly everything is evaluated through Francis-colored lenses. Long lost is the art of taking things at face value, at extending the benefit of the doubt. It’s about the “hot take”. And I say this as a Catholic who has given up on this pontificate.
Call me stupid, call me naive, call my analysis shallow and cursory. I don’t care. It may someday be proven that my opinion is completely wrong. I still don’t care. I’m not telling people what to say, argue, or debate, or what opinions they ought to have. Let them trade barbs and foist bad faith. Let them get angry. All I know is this: life is more peaceful, and faith is stronger, when other people’s bad intentions aren’t the first – and sometimes only – assumption.
If that’s the price of naivete, then please – take all my money.