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The “guardian of orthodoxy” strikes again…

Vatican “Cardinal” Muller:
“Christ did not want to go to the Cross”

The Vatican’s heretical “enforcer of orthodoxy”, “Cardinal” Gerhard Ludwig Muller, has given an interview to Portugal’s online journal Observador. It is available in full at the following link (in Portuguese only):

The interview deals mostly with issues of Benedict XVI vs. Francis, Amoris Laetitia, Mr. Muller’s work in the Congregation for the Destruction of the Faith, and concerns regarding the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse claims. However, none of these topics will be of interest to us this time. Rather, we will focus on a comment Muller makes in passing about the Sacred Passion of our Most Holy Lord Jesus Christ.

Answering a question regarding how to treat those who are in an adulterous union but seek to be active in church life, the prefect of the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” responds:

It is not possible to have two kinds of Christianity: one for the elite, which respects the Word of God, and the other for the rest, to whom we grant only certain rights and sacraments, letting life runs its course. Jesus came to change the old sinful world, of which divorce was a part. Jesus explained this very clearly. It is not that easy to fulfill the will of God. Jesus did not want to go to the Cross. We can say that it was necessary for Jesus to die for our sins, but this does not depend on our personal will, on our own opinion. When people say yes to one person, for life, and God grants them the matrimonial bond, He establishes an alliance between these two people. We must respect the reality of the sacrament we receive. Surely for many in the world this is strange. Many people are unable to understand this and seek ways to escape this reality. But if we are baptized, we are baptized, we are Christians. We cannot say, “Ah, I live in a world of Muslims, I go to the mosque, because we can praise God everywhere.” If we are Christians, we are Christians. We must accept the consequences. If we marry as Christians, we have to bear the consequences. We cannot say, “First I got married, had two children, and then I married another person, I had other children and now I do not want to have anything to do with the first ones.” There are obligations that result from marriage and they must be acknowledged.

(Gerhard Ludwig Muller, in Rita Garcia, “Cardeal Müller: ‘As autoridades da Igreja são o único grupo que luta absolutamente contra o abuso de menores'”, Observador, May 9, 2017; translation by Novus Ordo Watch.)

Take a good look at the underlined sentence: “Jesus did not want to go to the Cross”! It will probably go unnoticed by most bloggers and journalists out there, who can be expected to focus on Muller’s “courageous defense of the marriage bond” instead.

But this is no small matter: To say that Christ did not want to go to the Cross, without further elaboration and drawing the necessary distinctions, is highly misleading. Muller is giving the impression that Christ’s human will did not really desire the Cross, thus making it appear as though our Lord’s human will were contrary to His divine will, which is heresy:

And so we proclaim two natural wills in Him [i.e. one according to His divine nature and one according to His human nature], and two natural operations indivisibly, inconvertibly, inseparably, unfusedly according to the doctrine of the holy Father, and two natural wills not contrary, God forbid, according as impious heretics have asserted, but the human will following and not resisting or hesitating, but rather even submitting to His divine and omnipotent will.

(Third Council of Constantinople; Denz. 291; underlining added.)

Granted, the subject matter is a bit complex, and we do not mean to be excessively harsh with regard to “Cardinal” Muller, but he really does not deserve the benefit of the doubt, as we demonstrate further below.

It is very important to understand the gratuitousness of our Blessed Lord’s Redemption because it demonstrates His great Love towards us, even while we were His enemies (cf. Rom 5:6-9). This is seen, for example, in the following passages:

He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth. (Isaias 53:7)

Therefore doth the Father love me: because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it away from me: but I lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:17-18)

He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names…. (Philippians 2:8-9)

Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who, having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

It is entirely clear that our Lord laid down His Life voluntarily, personally and freely choosing the death of the Cross, in loving and perfect yet free obedience to the Father’s will, for which He was glorified by Him.

Catholic teaching emphasizes that Christ was entirely free from necessity or compulsion even in His human will: “The human will of Christ, even in suffering death, was free from necessity; in fact it remained free even under the absolute and rigorous precept of dying” (Iesu Solano, S.J., and J. A. de Aldama, S.J., Sacrae Theologiae Summa IIIA: On the Incarnate Word, Thesis 18, p. 193).

The dogmatic theologian Fr. Ludwig Ott states the Catholic position thus: “God was not compelled to redeem mankind by either an internal or an external compulsion”; and he designates this teaching as theologically certain (see Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 178).

Some will object that our Blessed Lord desired to avoid His Passion when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done” (Lk 22:42; cf. Jn 6:38), and that this is what Mr. Muller was referring to.

To evaluate this objection, let’s have a look at two traditional Catholic Bible commentaries explaining Christ’s agony in the Garden of Olives:

An angel … strengthening him. Christ, our Redeemer, was truly God and truly man. And being made man by a real union of his divine person and nature, to our weak and infirm human nature, he likewise took upon him our infirmities, sin excepted. We must consider him as man, when we read of his being tempted in the wilderness, (Matthew iv.) when he wept at the raising of Lazarus out of the grave, (John xi.) as often as we read of his praying; and here, when we read of his praying, and redoubling his prayer in the garden, when we find him seized with fear, sadness, and grief: for though, as God, he could prevent and hinder these passions and affections natural to man, yet he could also permit them to affect his human nature; as he permitted himself to be seized with hunger, after fasting forty days; and so he permitted his human nature to be seized with fear and grief in this garden of Gethsemani. As angels came and ministered to him after his fast in the wilderness, so an angel came as it were to propose to him the divine decree, that he was to suffer and die for the redemption of mankind; and as man, he is said to be strengthened and comforted by the angel: he, who as God, was Lord and maker of the angels, and so needed not to be strengthened by his creatures. Besides what happened to Christ as man, were ordained as instructions for us. We are taught by angels appearing, that they were not only ready to assist and wait upon Christ, but that, by the order of divine Providence, they are also ready to assist us in our temptations and afflictions. — In an agony. This Greek word signifies, a strife, or combat; not that there could be any opposition or contrariety in the interior of Christ, whose human will was always perfectly subject to his divine will, and the sensitive part to reason: yet, inasmuch as he was truly man, his human nature dreaded all those sufferings which at that time were represented to his soul, and which in a few hours he was to undergo. (Witham)

(Haydock Commentary on Luke 22:43; underlining added.)

The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide also explains this quite eloquently in his explanation of the parallel passage in St. Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 26:39):

Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt. Here it is plain, as against the Monothelites, that there are two wills in Christ : not only the Divine, to supply the place of the human will, as they said, but the will He had as man, by which He obtained our redemption. The Sixth Synod (Acts 4 and 10) proves that there were in Him two wills, and that the human was by obedience subject to the Divine ; and this on the authority of SS. Athanasius, Augustine, Ambrose, and Leo. Nay, rather, though the human will was in itself one, yet in its power and action it was twofold, the one natural, with which it shrank from death ; the other rational and free, with which He subjected Himself to the will of God. “Nevertheless, not what I will” naturally, “but what Thou wilt.” By My reasonable will I subject My natural will to Thee, O Father, and only will what Thou willest. And, accordingly, the natural will of Christ was conditional and of no avail, because it wished to escape death only under the condition that it pleased God. But His rational will was absolute and effectual, because He embraced death for the same reason that God willed it, that is, for man’s redemption. But the natural will of Christ seemed materially contrary to the Divine will. But by the rule of subordination it was conformable to it, as suffering itself to be guided by the rational will, and thus by the Divine will ; and, on the other hand, the will of God, as well as the rational will of Christ, wishes on deliberate and just ground that His natural will should express this natural fear of death. In both aspects, therefore, was the will of Christ in all respects conformable to the Divine. Christ here teaches us, as a moral duty, that our sole remedy in affliction is submission to the Divine will, and that in every temptation we must betake ourselves to the aid of God, who alone can free us from them or strengthen us under them if we submit ourselves humbly, reverently, and lovingly to His will. “This voice of the Head,” says S. Leo, “is the salvation of the whole body. It taught the faithful, it inspired confessors, it crowned the martyrs. For who could overcome the hatred of the world, the whirlwinds of temptations, the terrors of persecution, had not Christ in all and for all said in submission to His Father, Thy will be done?”

(The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide, Vol. 3, trans. by Thomas W. Mossman, 5th ed. [London: John Hodges, 1908], pp. 208-209; underlining added.)

Thus Christ willed His sufferings, not in themselves, it is true, but insofar as they were going to be the instrument of our Redemption. For this reason, Catholic theology speaks of a diversity of wills in Christ but does not admit of an opposition of wills (cf. Denz. 291-292; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, q. 18, aa. 5-6).

A full theological treatment of this and the surrounding issues, which are rather complex, can be found in the pre-Vatican II theology manual Sacrae Theologiae Summa, which is now available in English (see vol. IIIA: On the Incarnate Word, nn. 408-489).

So, without drawing these important and necessary distinctions, it is dangerously misleading to simply say, “Christ did not want to go to the Cross”, especially for someone whose putative job is the guarding of sound doctrine. Why is it that these Novus Ordo clerics always manage to speak confusingly and ambiguously, expressing themselves in such wise that one can easily take heresy from what they say, even if in many cases their words can still be spun into an orthodox sense? Why do they not simply speak clearly, as Christ Himself commanded (see Mt 5:37)?

“Whenever it becomes necessary to expose statements that disguise some suspected error or danger under the veil of ambiguity, one must denounce the perverse meaning under which the error opposed to Catholic truth is camouflaged”, Pope Pius VI commanded (Bull Auctorem Fidei, intr.). Likewise, Pope Clement XIII warned that “diabolical error, when it has artfully colored its lies, easily clothes itself in the likeness of truth while very brief additions or changes corrupt the meaning of expressions; and confession, which usually works salvation, sometimes, with a slight change, inches toward death” (Encyclical In Dominico Agro, n. 2).

For this reason we must be very vigilant, especially with regard to “Cardinal” Muller, to whom the much-celebrated “benefit of the doubt” can hardly be extended. Why? Because he has a solid track record of disseminating heresy.

For example, he is on record denying the dogmas of Transubstantiation, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, and the Resurrection of Christ. In his book Die Messe – Quelle christlichen Lebens (“The Mass – Source of Christian Life”), he even denies that the Holy Eucharist is confected by the words of consecration, claiming that the issue of precisely when the bread and wine become “real signs [!] of the communication of salvation with God in Jesus Christ” — the Mullerite version of the Real Presence — is a question that “does not really make sense theologically” (pp. 141-142).

In other words, he is not the kind of guy you would give the benefit of the doubt when he flirts with heresy, any more than you would assume that your local abortionist has suddenly become pro-life simply because he advertises “women’s health services” without mentioning abortion.

But Muller is not only a heretic. Coming from the German carnival city of Mainz, he also has a great sense of humor: Earlier this year, the “guardian of orthodoxy” told Bp. Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X that Francis wanted them back in the fold in order to “help us fight the Modernists”.

If only it were funny.

14 Responses to ““Cardinal” Muller: “Christ did not want to go to the Cross””

  1. Opacus

    There is a difference between willing and wanting that is so obvious that it need not be elaborated on in the context of an informal interview. Cardinal Muller did not say ‘Christ did not will to go to the Cross’ but ‘Christ did not want to go to the Cross’. Wanting here is evidently intended to refer to Our Lord’s inclinations and not his decisions. One’s inclinations may influence one’s decisions but need not determine them and it is quite coherent to say that one is not inclined to do what one nonetheless decides to do. Hence one may not want to do what one wills to do in perfectly acceptable senses of the word ‘want’ and ‘will’. Nobody would bat an eyelid is someone were to say, for instance, that many people do not want to confess their sins but nevertheless do will to confess them as is seen from the fact that they end up going to confession against their inclinations. Now Our Lord was like us in all things but sin. While his human will was always in accord with his Divine will, he would not be like us if his inclination was to be crucified, and there is certainly no sin involved in shrinking from torture and death! What indicates his human will, however, and that his human will differed from his human wants is that he choose to act in accordance with the will of his Father and not in accordance with the inclinations of his human nature. There is no evidence from this interview that Cardinal Muller meant anything other than these obvious truths. By looking for something to criticise even when somebody is plainly trying to make a point against modern thinking with which you would no doubt agree, namely that those who contract marriage thereby oblige themselves to do things even when they are not inclined to do them, you do nothing but harm to your cause. If you interpret others through a lens of distortion you will hardly be able to complain when the same treatment is doled out to you.

          • Opacus

            The fact that you can’t tell is the very problem! Your article laboriously distinguishes what there is no reason to think that Cardinal Muller conflated. The fact that a word can bear more than one sense is no reason to think that someone who uses it without overtly distinguishing those senses is guilty of a dangerous ambiguity that you then need to point out. Frequently, which sense is meant will be entirely obvious by convention and context, which is exactly why, as in this case, other senses will ‘probably go unnoticed by most bloggers and journalists’. Certainly I have drawn attention briefly to distinctions that are brought out in your article but the purpose is different. You intend to show that Cardinal Muller has not made those distinctions. I do so in order to make it clear that the distinctions are so familiar that selection of the correct sense will be automatic except when one is determined to read obtusely. If you don’t see that saying that Our Lord did not want to go to the Cross is unlikely to mislead anyone into thinking that he did not will to go to the Cross, given the evident background of his Agony in the Garden, then your readings of others will typically be misreadings. If Cardinal Muller is a modernist then these particular remarks do not increase the evidence for it. Just because there are wolves in sheep’s clothing doesn’t mean one should spend one’s time slitting apart every sheep when it is all too evident that the gates of the sheepfold are open and wolves no longer need any disguise to get in amongst the flock.

          • Novus Ordo Watch

            “The declared enemies of God and His Church, heretics and schismatics, must be criticized as much as possible, as long as truth is not denied. It is a work of charity to shout: ‘Here is the wolf!’ when it enters the flock or anywhere else.”
            —St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part III, Chapter 29

          • Opacus

            I note the qualification ‘…as long as truth is not denied’, which is the very point at issue! Criticising as much as possible does not mean offering every criticism one can think up but criticising as much as can be justified. And those who offer unjustified criticism too often are no more likely to be believed when they tell the truth than are those who cry ‘wolf’ too often.

          • Novus Ordo Watch

            Of course as long as truth is not denied! Let me summarize this post for you:
            (1) “Cardinal” Muller said something that admits of more than one interpretation
            (2) “Cardinal” Muller is not entitled to the benefit of the doubt but in fact has a sordid track record of heresy
            (3) A refutation of the grave error that can easily be taken from the Mr. Muller’s words.
            (4) An explanation of the true Catholic teaching that must be adhered to.

            Be careful not to fall into the very thing you’re condemning me for, namely, offering unjustified criticism.

  2. Geremia16

    Jesus did not want to go to the Cross.

    Isn’t that essentially the common Catholic interpretation of Mt. 26:39 (“My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt.”), viz., that Jesus’s sensuality was repulsed by the Cross, yet he still subjected His human will to the divine will?

    • Novus Ordo Watch

      You didn’t read the post in its entirety, did you? 🙂
      It really is rather complicated, as I found out researching this subject. I think it’s all explained in this post, though. God bless.

  3. bartmaeus

    “And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized: and how am I straitened until it be accomplished?”

    :Lk 12:50, signifying the desire of Christ to undergo the Passion in order to liberate his people.

    Also, the Last Supper was the symbolic enactment of the atoning sacrifice of the Cross, as evident by the words which were spoken concerning the bread and wine; which Supper Christ declared that he had long desired to eat with his Apostles:

    “And he said to them: With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you, before I suffer.”
    :Lk 22:15.

    Finally, it is through the Cross, according to the Fourth Gospel, that the glory of God is manifested through Christ, by means of which he draws men to him who is the Truth, and so fulfills his mission, for which he was sent by the Father..

  4. Siobhan

    The Catholic definition of charity is not kindness nor gentility. as you know. Mostly when we think wrongly that it is, we’re trying to protect ourselves from a vile reaction from others. We also tend to forget that we most likely will never see the fruits of our labors vis a vie fraternal correction, but that does not mean that we ought to refrain from engaging in such correction. Think of it this way: Let’s say a person who has never known a certain Catholic Truth(s.) comments here & we do not make the move to calmly instruct. But then they move on & months or years later the same person encounters another sedevacantist who boldly gives the instruction. They will look back & perhaps think “wow, I wonder why those trads at NOWatch never bothered to tell me what I needed to know?” Think about it.

    • Is it I, Lord?

      Siobhan, delicately doesnt mean holding back any part of the Truth. My experience with novus ordo types has taught me that most are as well meaning as they are mislead. If they are even only slightly open to Catholicism, a different approach is necessary, is all i meant. I just dont think that either opacus or geremiah are open to Catholicism. I agree with everything youve said.

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