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Vatican’s Former Doctrine Chief Sounds Alarm On Francis’ Plans To Reorder Curia

The Vatican’s former doctrine chief has strongly criticized a draft document containing Pope Francis’ plans for an overhaul of the curia — where “doctrine” is expected to take a backseat to “evangelization” — stating that the plans do not contain a “convincing concept of the origin, essence, and mission of the Church,” and, pointing out that one passage of the document even contains “shocking theological cluelessness.”

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made his comments about the draft document of the curia reform plan, set to be promulgated at the end of June on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, in a new interview with German regional newspaper Passauer Neue Presse. The draft has been prepared by the members of Pope Francis’ Council of Nine Cardinals, and it is titled “The Roman Curia and her service to the Church in the world today.”

One of the German cardinal’s objections to the current draft is that the Roman Curia “finds itself in a state of suspension [“ortlosen Schwebezustand”], because it is not anymore clearly oriented toward serving the Pope for the Universal Church.” For him, this “future ‘Apostolic Constitution’ is a conglomeration of subjective individual ideas, pious wishes, and moral pleas along with individual quotations from Council texts and statements of the current Pope.”

Most importantly, explains Müller, there is a lack of clear distinction “between the secular institutions of the Vatican as a sovereign state, the Holy See as a subject of International Law, and the ecclesiologically founded primacy of the Pope” who is, “as bishop of Rome, in the succession of the Apostle Peter, the visible principle and foundation of the unity.”

Here, Cardinal Müller sees that the “fatal mistake” Pope Paul VI’s own earlier curial reform – which made the “Secretary of State the center of the Curia” – is now being worsened. According to Müller, the Secretary of State serves the Pope in the “fulfillment of his mission,” however, “the highest mission is his [the Pope’s] Magisterium as a member and head of the College of Bishops.” “The secular duties,” the cardinal adds, “are only secondary and not at all fundamentally linked to the papacy.” On the contrary, sometimes the Secretary of State has even “darkened” the Pope’s “essential mission.”

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