Fr. Hans Kung, the brilliant German Catholic theologian who has long been a voice independent of the hierarchy, warns that as welcome as are the initiatives of Pope Francis, he still hasn't broken decisively with conservatives. The attitude of the clerical conservatives, like the Pope Emeritus Benedict, toward Vatican II reforms has been "forget it". The bastion of the old guard - the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Inquisition), long led by Cardinal (now Pope Emeritus) Ratzinger is still in the hands of the reactionaries. Pope Francis confirmed Ratzinger's choice - Fr. Gerhard Muller - early in his papacy. Kung details Muller's regressive stance which will - unless he is removed - block needed reforms - GWC
by Father Hans Kung // National Catholic Reporter
All this will meet with wide approval far beyond the Catholic church. [Francis's] undifferentiated rejection of abortion and women's ordination will, however, probably provoke criticism. This is where the dogmatic limits of this pope become apparent. Or is he perhaps under pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and its Prefect, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller? In a long guest contribution in Osservatore Romano (Oct. 23), Müller demonstrated his ultra-conservative stance by corroborating the exclusion of remarried divorcees from the sacraments who, unless they live together as brother and sister (!), are ostensibly in a state of mortal sin on account of the sexual character of their relationship.
As Bishop of Regensburg, Müller, as a clerical hard-liner who provoked numerous conflicts with parish priests and theologians, lay bodies and the Central Committee of German Catholics, was as controversial and unpopular as his brother bishop at Limburg. That Müller, as a loyal supporter and publisher of his collected works, was nevertheless appointed CDF prefect by Papa Ratzinger, surprised people less than the fact that Francis confirmed him in office quite so soon.And worried observers are already asking whether Pope Emeritus Ratzinger is in fact operating as a kind of "shadow Pope" behind the scenes through Müller and Georg Gänswein, [Benedict's] secretary and Prefect of the Papal Household, whom he also promoted to archbishop. One remembers how in 1993 Ratzinger as cardinal whistled back the then-bishops of Freiburg (Oskar Saier), Rottenburg-Stuttgart (Walter Kasper) and Mainz (Karl Lehmann) when they suggested a pragmatic solution for the problem of remarried divorcees. It is revealing that the present debate 20 years later was again triggered by the Archbishop of Freiburg, namely Robert Zollitsch, the president of the German bishops' conference. It was Zollitsch who ventured a fresh attempt to rethink pastoral practice as far as remarried divorcees are concerned. And Francis?