The ideological efforts to change Catholic doctrine after the Second Vatican Council were deeply misguided, said Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a leading interpreter of Benedict XVI.
“Ideology,” he said, “is always a proud attempt to subject the Word
of God and the doctrine of the Church to the prejudice of one’s own
thoughts, with the aim to obtain a manipulative power over the faithful
and their lives.”
Theology is different, the cardinal explained, because “theology is the
humble reflection on faith that rises up from listening to the Word of
For this reason, “any fear that the Council might provoke a breach with
the tradition of the Church is not only heretical: it would dismantle
the meaning of supernatural mediation.”
Cardinal Mueller spoke at the Pontifical Gregorian University for the
Dec. 14 presentation of the Italian edition of the seventh book in a
series of Joseph Ratzinger’s complete works.
The seventh volume contains
all the writings the man who served as Benedict XVI wrote about the
Second Vatican Council, including writings when he was an expert advisor
to Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne.
The complete works are curated by Cardinal Mueller himself.
In his remarks, the cardinal said the Second Vatican Council’s wake
included a conflict between theology and ideology: “the expected
Pentecostal renewal was replaced by the perspective of a ‘Babylonic’
confession of faith and by the attempt to contradict the thought of the
All of this was “not a work of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit always listens to the Church in love and truth.”
“Defecting from faith and counterfeiting faith, and the division from
the Church that follows, are fruits of another spirit that is not the
Spirit of God,” he explained.
Cardinal Mueller cited a famous expression of Benedict XVI: his Dec.
22, 2005 Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia, in which he spoke of a
“hermeneutic of continuity” to interpret the Catholic faith.
Cardinal Mueller emphasized: “without a hermeneutic of continuity and
of reform, the Church would secularize itself, and would turn into
something more similar to a humanitarian organization.”
If this would happen, he said, “there would be no reason to be part of the Church.”
Cardinal Mueller underscored that “the hermeneutic of reform and
continuity is nothing more than the hermeneutic of faith as it is
testified by the Holy Scripture, that lives in the apostolic tradition
interpreted in the authentic way of the magisterium. Certainly, the
Church is founded on revelation, and not on the magisterium.”
Cardinal Mueller further reflected on the nature of ideology. In light
of 20th century developments, “we noted that ideology is nothing more
that the claim of some human being to dominate the moral conscience of
He added that “renewal” and “mainstream” are secular terms. He suggested
their use are “the signs of ideological strongholds raised against the
consciousness of God.”
These ideas, he added, “can be glimpsed in the philosophical roots of
the Enlightenment, idealism and materialism, that is, in the
ideological turn Europe lived through in the last centuries.”
Cardinal Mueller said these ideologies may fall short.
“The question is whether man can really find his foundation and his
self-fulfillment without recognizing his constitutive bond with the
sovereign Creator and Reconciler,” he said.