Gerhard Ludwig Müller is a Doctor Honoris Causa at the former Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP).
As a Prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he had stayed out of the
conflict between the institution’s authorities, the Archbishop of Lima
and the Holy See.
But a letter of his addressed to Cardinal Juan Luis
Cipriani was interpreted as an expression of support for the
university’s rebellion against the Pope.
In the letter, Müller asks some Professors from the university’s
Theology Department for an explanation regarding the decision not to
renew the Church’s permission for him to teach at the PUCP.
to withhold permission was communicated by the archbishop last December
and came as a result of the decree issued by the Vatican last June,
forbidding the university to use the titles “Pontifical” and “Catholic”.
Although the content is meant to be confidential, Peruvian magazine Caretas revealed
some parts of the text. The Prefect apparently wrote that the
university can continue to give theology lectures until the Holy See has
fully resolved the problem.
If this is true, it would come as a huge
blow to the archbishop of Lima who is fighting a legal and
ecclesiastical battle to drive home the fact that the university belongs
to the Church.
In Peru, the sheer fact that this letter exists was an encouragement
to rector Marcial Rubio and his collaborators, who on several occasions
refused to reform the university’s statutes to bring them in line with
the Vatican’s regulations on Catholic universities, the Apostolic
Constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae”.
According to the counsellor of the Vice Rectorate of the former PUCP,
Marco Sifuentes, the letter put Cipriani in his place. He wrote this on
Twitter, whilst other users were claiming Müller had allegedly told off
the Peruvian cardinal.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
intervened after Rome received complaints from professors saying they
had been forbidden to hold lectures. The professors in question claimed
this measure was taken for “doctrinal reasons”.
This seems to be a common feeling among staff at the former PUCP, as
is confirmed in an article written by the university’s former rector
Salomón Lerner Febres for La República newspaper on 13 January.
In the article, Febres calls the removal of professors’ permission to
teach as “a decision that is not in line with the evangelical spirit”
and is a way to put a stop to the spread of Liberation Theology which
Gustavo Gutiérrez developed in the university.”
To demonstrate his theory, Lerner quoted Müller’s words pronounced at
a conference in Lima in November 2008, in which he defended Gutiérrez’s
Theology as “orthodox”.
But Cipriani decided to revoke professors’ canonical authorization to
teach, officially at least, on the basis of one objective fact: a
sanction the Holy See imposed on the university via a decree that was
signed by order of the Pope.
Such an action does not require
justification and can be taken by the archbishop of the Peruvian
Gerhard Müller and the PUCP are linked together by a common past.
Rome will never forget Müller’s study trips to Lima, as Archbishop of
Regensburg. He went every year for 18 years, without giving the local
bishop any warning.
And his Degree “Honoris Causa” was approved without
even taking into account Cipriani or other important figures’
In light of this past, suspicions about the potential exploitation of
Müller’s intervention in the “rebel” university case may not be
Fears of this have heightened ahead of the
conference that will announce Müller as Doctor “Honoris Causa” at Notre
In 2009 this university was criticised by the
traditionalists for awarding the Degree “Honoris Causa” to Barack Obama.