Thursday, February 02, 2017

Cardinal Müller: It is impossible for mortal sin to coexist with sanctifying grace.

Image result for cardinal mullerI hope everyone has read the interview with Cardinal Müller, amidst the toppling heads of the lawless and ambiguous Rome he speaks with Magisterial clarity.

Q: Can there be a contradiction between doctrine and personal conscience?
A: No, that is impossible. For example, it cannot be said that there are circumstances according to which an act of adultery does not constitute a mortal sin. For Catholic doctrine, it is impossible for mortal sin to coexist with sanctifying grace. In order to overcome this absurd contradiction, Christ has instituted for the faithful the Sacrament of penance and reconciliation with God and with the Church.
A: “Amoris Laetitia” must clearly be interpreted in the light of the whole doctrine of the Church. [...] 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. The magisterium of the pope is interpreted only by him or through the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. The pope interprets the bishops, it is not the bishops who interpret the pope, this would constitute an inversion of the structure of the Catholic Church. To all these who are talking too much, I urge them to study first the doctrine [of the councils] on the papacy and the episcopate. The bishop, as teacher of the Word, must himself be the first to be well-formed so as not to fall into the risk of the blind leading the blind.
Q: The exhortation of Saint John Paul II, “Familiaris Consortio,” stipulates that divorced and remarried couples that cannot separate, in order to receive the sacraments must commit to live in continence. Is this requirement still valid?
A: 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. The confusion on this point also concerns the failure to accept the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor,” with the clear doctrine of the “intrinsece malum.” [...] For us marriage is the expression of participation in the unity between Christ the bridegroom and the Church his bride. This is not, as some said during the Synod, a simple vague analogy. No! This is the substance of the sacrament, and no power in heaven or on earth, neither an angel, nor the pope, nor a council, nor a law of the bishops, has the faculty to change it.
Q: How can one resolve the chaos that is being generated on account of the different interpretations that are given of this passage of Amoris Laetitia?
A: I urge everyone to reflect, studying the doctrine of the Church first, starting from the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, which is very clear on marriage. I would also advise not entering into any casuistry that can easily generate misunderstandings, above all that according to which if love dies, then the marriage bond is dead. These are sophistries: the Word of God is very clear and the Church does not accept the secularization of marriage. The task of priests and bishops is not that of creating confusion, but of bringing clarity. One cannot refer only to little passages present in “Amoris Laetitia,” but it has to be read as a whole, with the purpose of making the Gospel of marriage and the family more attractive for persons. It is not “Amoris Laetitia” that has provoked a confused interpretation, but some confused interpreters of it. All of us must understand and accept the doctrine of Christ and of his Church, and at the same time be ready to help others to understand it and put it into practice even in difficult situations.
And do see the erudite Fr Hunwicke on the interview.


Nicolas Bellord said...

I have read the entire interview and anyone interested can see my precis and comments at:

There is one essential thing that Cardinal Muller has overlooked and I have commented as follows:

The Cardinal says that it is for the Pope to interpret AL to the Bishops; not for the Bishops to interpret the Pope.

Surely this is interesting saying effectively that it is for the Pope alone to interpret AL. Supposing this to be correct the Pope can either interpret it himself or he can ask the CDF to do so and endorse what the CDF says. In fact he has not asked the CDF to interpret AL and Cardinal Muller is only speaking in his personal capacity. However the Pope has endorsed the interpretation of the Buenos Aires Bishops which allows communion for the divorced and remarried in certain circumstances. He has said that is the only possible interpretation. It is to be noted that the BA Bishops claim to rely upon a letter by St John Paul II to say that a firm purpose of amendment is not required in confession. In fact JPII said nothing of the kind in that letter. What he did say was that the knowledge that one will probably sin again does not invalidate a firm purpose of amendment. If however you do not have a firm purpose of amendment then, according to Cardinal Muller, confession is defective in lacking one of the four requirements and therefore there is no sacrament. The implication of this indorsement of the BA Bishops is that we are into heresy.

Cosmos said...

That's nice, but its silly to pretend that document has not caused confusion. With contentious issues, clarity is necessary to prevent confusion. That document is just not clear.

It's no excuse to say it clear most of the time, or you have to read the document as a whole. That sounds good, but it only makes sense if another part of the document actually clarifies the confusing part. The footnote and other key passage are at odds with Catholic teaching. Other parts of the document say that it does not contradict or change Catholic teaching. That is a contradiction, either intentional or based on poor writing, not a matter of proper contextualization.

To use an analogy, you are either faithful or not. You can't be faithful 99% of the time, and then say that you have to interpret the unfaithfulness in the total context of a faithful marriage. That's nonsense.

I'm glad he insists that the bishops are just misinterpreting the Pope, but this just smells to me like more of the same Vatican nonsense, where truth gets lost in the process.

Unknown said...

Father Ray, glad you are back. I must say every time I click on your home blog page, the photo of Francis is worth a thousand words if not more. There is an anxious expression on his face and in his eyes, a sideward glance as though his mind is not on what is going on behind him but rather on where is the nearest facility and can I make it in time?
It occurs to me that his various pronouncements are perhaps directly related to the above.

Cassandra said...

OK. "It is impossible for mortal sin to co-exist with sanctifying grace".

I have been married for 51 years, we have 4 adult children, largely brought up in the Catholic faith, and have 10 grandchildren. I decided to convert to Catholicism as I thought it would be interesting and novel to become a Catholic as a gimmick in my circle of non believing friends. However, my husband and I slept together before marriage, we married because I was pregnant, I was very young, 17, and pressured by my parents to marry and we went into the marriage with the thought "we can always get a divorce if it doesn't work out". I was not reared as a Catholic but my husband was a nominal Catholic in name only. His family did not practice. It was the middle 1960's, when conventions were thrown out of the window.

It has been very difficult at times to remain married. We have had good times and bad, like most couples. We reared our children, at my instigation, even as a convert, in the Catholic faith. My husband did not care whether or not they were raised Catholic. We did contracept artificially, as opposed to contracepting the Catholic way by periodic abstinence. I did raise the matter of following Humane Vitae, which I have read, and my husband said "absolutely not" as 4 children were as many as he could cope with.

Today, we practice the Catholic faith. We go to mass and receive communion. We appear as "good Catholics" who have had a single,long marriage. We try to live good lives and help others. I'm in the St Vincent de Paul. Our grandchildren go to Catholic schools and receive the sacraments.

I believe our marriage and faith grew and survived due to sanctifying grace alone. Despite being in mortal sin according the the Catholic Church. We did not see marriage as until "death us do part", but were prepared to divorce and remarry. We broke all the rules of the Catholic teaching on marriage, we contracepted, and there were years when we did not go to mass at all.

I know that we could get an annulment quite easily, and therefore remarry others and remain in good standing, due to the above factors regarding whether it was a true marriage or not.

So mortal sin and sanctifying grace can co-exist. Otherwise, Jesus came in vain. That is why Jesus became God incarnate and gave himself for us. God gave us his grace and love. Do not limit God. He is bigger and wiser than we are and our rules. We cannot judge others. All we have is unmerited. "There but for the grace of God, go I".

neilmac said...

Great to see you posting again, Father.

Neil Mackenzie

Sebastian said...

I don't understand why Müller uses the term "mortal sin" here, because for a sin to be mortal it has to be grave, committed in free will and with full understanding. The last condition has been rendered moot given the current unclear teaching of the church and freedom of will might also be absent in certain circumstances. (The ban on communion for adulterers doesn't hinge on being free from mortal sin, but simply free from sin.)

Nicolas Bellord said...

@Sebastian: I think he is using it in the objective sense that it is an intrinsic evil. Subjectively the person may not be guilty of mortal sin because of ignorance or lack of consent but it is still objectively a mortal sin and cannot coexist with grace. In these discussions there is a lack of agreement on the basic terms to be used. Some would talk about formal and actual sins. I am not quite clear about what you say in brackets. It surely has to be a formal sin/intrinsically evil sin/mortal sin to prevent going to communion. One can go to communion if one is only guilty of venial sins.

However you make an interesting point about unclear teaching. This illustrates just how far the rot can go as a result of AL.

Cosmos said...


It's an interesting idea that mortal sin has to be committed with "full" understanding. Who has that? And what do we need to understand? Is it that (1) the Church says it's wrong, or (2) God condemns it in the Bible, or (3) society considers it wrong? If it is (1) or (2), does it matter that you doubt God's existence or the authority of the Church, even if you know what they teach?

In the end, under this line of thinking, it seems like we can count on many, many more men to be saved by ignorance then conversion. In fact, it seems like conversion--and the catechesis that it implies--would be the only way to approach the full knowledge needed to mortally sin!

Nicolas Bellord said...

Cosmos: Is not the requirement full knowledge rather than understanding? I can know for instance that artificial contraception is forbidden by the Church without understanding why. But if there is a process of discernment then I cannot see how someone can claim they do not understand that their continuing adultery is wrong. But this assumes the discernment is done with a reasonably competent priest faithful to the teaching of the Church - which might be asking rather a lot in some places. But looking at the statement by the German Bishops there seems to be some doubt as to whether the discernment has to be with a priest - perhaps it might be with a parish assistant or even perhaps with the new person in somebody's life?

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...