Sunday 31st May 2020

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Cardinal Müller . . . Comes To The Defense Of The Sacrament Of Marriage

October 5, 2014 Frontpage No Comments


(Editor’s Note: Maike Hickson holds a doctorate in French literature from the University of Hannover.)

+ + +

Ignatius Press has just published two books, The Hope of the Family and Remaining in the Truth of Christ, which are very important in relation to the upcoming Synod of Bishops, taking place October 5-19 in Rome. Both books are important because they are written by influential cardinals in the Church who try thereby to resist proposed novelties of Walter Cardinal Kasper concerning the admission of remarried couples to Holy Communion and concerning an increased leniency of the Church toward those who break God’s marriage laws.
(For information on ordering these books, please visit www. or call 1-800-651-1531.)
The first book, entitled The Hope of the Family, is an interview with Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In the following, we shall distill some important arguments from this 86-page-long book.
The German cardinal, who was known when a bishop for his close friendship with liberation theologian Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, discusses the theme of marriage and divorce from many vantage points. Led by the questions of the interviewer, Fr. Carlos Granados, he points out that the marriage crisis within the Church is mostly and importantly a crisis of faith. There are so many Catholic marriages contracted in our time where the persons involved often do not hold the Catholic faith loyally and entirely, and do not even know much about the substance and effect of the Holy Sacrament of Marriage.
Cardinal Müller shows how our modern world revolves around material things and does not even have an idea what the supernatural institution of marriage, as founded by Christ, means.
The cardinal indeed points out that children are the ones who suffer most from the divorce of their parents. He even claims that they are “the poorest of the poor,” because they have to grow up “without their own parents,” and as the “orphans of divorce.” They are the abandoned children who “lack the most basic thing: the solicitous love of parents who renounce themselves for their sake.”
Cardinal Müller reminds us that the indissolubility of marriage protects the most vulnerable ones, the children. Herewith, he stresses an aspect of divorce that should be placed more at the center of this discussion. Inasmuch as marriage as a sacrament has as its first aim the procreation of children and their formative education unto eternal life, any discussion about this topic has to have the children at the center of concern and care. “Let the Little Ones come to me,” said our Lord.
Müller stresses that matrimony is an act of self-giving that imitates Christ’s own sacrifice for us. Marriage is intrinsically selfless, in an act of self-giving to another person, but then also and immediately an opening of oneself to the Gift of Life as God bestows it. Therewith, such a marriage stands obstructively “in the way” in a complete secular society that is largely centered on the individual and his material desires for success and wealth and temporal comfort.
As Cardinal Müller shows, members of the younger generation are thereby — and also by the fact that many of their parents are divorced — badly equipped to commit themselves responsibly and loyally to a marriage that lasts for life and that will entail many joys and challenges.
He then beautifully tells the reader that one can only live the higher demands of God in living a lifelong commitment to a spouse, as well as to one’s children, if one receives the graces from God. When God demands something that challenges us in our weak human nature, He will — if we ask Him — help us with it.
“God grants us his mercy so that we can be faithful,” the cardinal says. Müller reminds us of the teaching of the Church on marriage. Marriage “reflects Christ’s covenant with his Church, by which marriage comes to be an efficacious sign that communicates sanctifying grace.” And: “The grace received in the Sacrament of Matrimony transforms us interiorly.”
Müller thereby encourages and reminds all married couples of the treasure of graces that they can rely on (and do rely on) for a happy marriage. He says: “Every married couple who places God at the center of their conjugal love discovers with joy and amazement that their love is nourished every day and grows.” God, we may add, wants us to have an abundant life!
While Cardinal Müller gives the reader thereby much encouragement and beauty and sound doctrine, he very strongly and clearly refutes any attempt to weaken the indissolubility of the sacramental marriage bond: “Not even an ecumenical council can change the doctrine of the Church.”
And: “the Church cannot allow divorce in the case of a sacramental marriage that has been contracted and consummated. This is the dogma of the Church. I insist: the absolute indissolubility of a valid marriage is no mere doctrine; rather, it is a divine dogma defined by the Church. In the case of a de facto breakup of a valid marriage, another civil marriage is not permissible.”
The Church cannot dissolve such a bond, because this reality “belongs to God.” “The grace received in the sacrament of Matrimony transform us interiorly” and thereby becomes a supernatural reality.
Müller also stresses in this context that one may not use a false concept of mercy to undermine the laws of God: Mercy “should never be used as a justification to suspend or invalidate the commandments and the sacraments. To do that would be a crude manipulation of genuine mercy and, therefore, a vain attempt to justify our own indifference toward God and man.”
On the contrary: “God grants us his grace so that we can be faithful.” The Sacrament of Matrimony expresses God’s own faithfulness, which shows His own divine mercy. Müller reminds us that God is not only mercy, but also holiness and justice, and that there is a danger of transforming mercy into the “one and only valid theological-sacramental argument.” We would thereby trivialize the image of God. God’s mercy cannot dispense us from His Commandments and the teaching of the Church. “Quite the contrary: God, by his infinite mercy, grants us the grace and strength to obey his commandments fully.”
Cardinal Müller also very clearly refutes the argument (proposed by Cardinal Kasper) that there is a difference between doctrine and (natural) life, as if one can live practically in opposition to the doctrine. This would mean practically that one can remarry civilly outside the Church yet at the same time receive Holy Communion, thereby contradicting a clearly stated dogma of the Church.
Müller responds to this claim, once again, and with force: “No. Doctrine in addition to the Word of God gives us life and the most authentic truth about it. We cannot profess doctrinally that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ and then not do his will. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life: separating life from doctrine is like trying to separate Christ as Son of God from Christ as Savior. The split between life and doctrine is part of the Gnostic dichotomy. As is separating justice and mercy and Christ, Christ himself as God and as Shepherd, or separating Christ from the Church.”
And we could add, may we also not fall into the danger of a false dichotomy between doctrine and pastoral care. Church doctrine is intimately bound up with the supernatural life of the soul.

Carry Your Cross

Müller warns us Catholics to take heed about the demands of the world, and invites us to follow the courageous path of the martyrs. Christ called us to convert and to follow Him, not the world. If we were to separate our concrete lives from Christ, we would turn our faith “into a new, politically correct civil religion, reduced to a few values that are tolerated by the rest of society. This would achieve the disgraceful goal of some people: to sideline the Word of God so as to be able to manage all of society ideologically.”
The German cardinal invites us to follow Christ and not the Devil: “Living as a Christian, therefore, is living according to faith in God. To falsify this pattern is to make a foolhardy compromise between God and devil,” which is, of course, impermissible and a subversive self-contradiction.
The claim that dogma is living and changeable (as the other German cardinal proposes) is also refuted by Müller with strong conviction. After a proclamation of a dogma, says Müller, “there can be no development that would conclude or affirm the contrary.” There is not such a thing as “continual development of dogma.”
Unlike many modern authors who claim that human nature is changing and that thereby, along with the changing historical conditions, the dogmas have to change and to be adapted — or re-conceptualized — Müller restates the clear irreformable truths of the Church.
Thereby, he reminds us of the sanctity and the sacramentality of marriage, which needs to be guarded, protected, and defended with full strength, especially because we thereby defend Christ Himself and His teaching and because we show our loyalty to Him.
In reminding us of our Christian duty to carry our cross on earth as Christ Himself did, Müller also puts the topic of the divorce and marriage struggle in another, and more supernatural, light. Instead of covering the wounds involved in divorce and even marriage troubles with an easy solution of remarrying, Müller proposes to embrace these wounds and to carry them, knowing that this world is not a paradise, but that, rather, only in the afterlife will God wipe away all tears.
The cardinal invites us to live “a life of grace” and to follow the supernatural vocation God sends us. If we do so, we will please God either by enduring marriage difficulties or the separation of a marriage without looking for an immediate remedy. Then we “can cope with sickness, old age, loneliness, rejection, widowhood, moments of discouragement or anger with one’s spouse, or the challenge of having children.”
With this, Müller invites us all to live the true life of a Christian and not to live the life of the world. He thereby gives us many good reasons and hopes in defense of the indissolubility of the marriage bond. He gives us supernatural arguments to refute a proposal to solve the marriage crisis in the Church with earthly means.

A Pro-Marriage Initiative

In this context, it might be worth noting that there is an initiative launched by several organizations, among them Human Life International and LifeSiteNews, which also publishes material providing us with sound arguments for the defense of the Sacrament of Matrimony in light of the upcoming synod.
It is called Voice of the Family ( and it recently published an article by Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro, director of HLI in Rome, entitled “Reflections on the Instrumentum Laboris [Working Document] for the Synod of Bishops.” In it, Barreiro points out the danger of losing sight of the concept and reality of natural law and of the stability of human nature.
Like Cardinal Müller, Barreiro warns that the concept of the mutability of human nature will attack the stability of any dogma of the Church. It is a very slippery slope, so to speak, which could undermine the teaching of Christ about marriage in the current context.
Barreiro says that couples who are not married with approval of the Church should be counseled in light of the teaching of the Church, and with true mercy:
“Faced with this question of the faithful, the Church with pastoral zeal, love, and patience, should try to get a true conversion of these faithful, making them take the path of penance and help to get rid of the irregular situation in which they find themselves.”
And, he adds, “a mercy that hides the truth is not merciful, it would only be a caricature.” Such an approach is oriented toward the true good of these couples which is the salvation of their souls.
In a similar way, Carlo Cardinal Caffarra points out in the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ — a collection of essays which contains also a contribution by Raymond Cardinal Burke, and which shall be more deeply discussed in a sequential article — that to allow remarried couples to receive Holy Communion would also give the wrong impression to the children of those couples, as well as to the rest of the faithful, namely that “at its heart, there exists no marriage that is absolutely indissoluble, and that the ‘forever’ to which every true love cannot but aspire is an illusion.”
It is encouraging to see that there are many strong, intelligent, and full-hearted responses to the challenge of Cardinal Kasper in the preparation for the important Synod of Bishops. May we all pray and do our utmost to help defend Christ and His teaching in this difficult time of history. And may God bless the authors of both books, especially Cardinal Müller and Cardinal Burke, being both in high places in the Church, for their courageous and sacrificial witness to the faith.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed


Supreme Court rules 5-4 AGAINST a California church that challenged Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional public gathering restrictions

Why is it “legal” to burn our cities but officially illegal to go to church in CA?

John Roberts disappoints again

What a disgrace.


Minneapolis Mayor Frey, the poster boy of liberal progressive Democrat leadership literally gave one of his police stations to the looters last night.

Load More...

US bishop reverses plan to ban Communion on tongue as churches reopen

LAFAYETTE, Louisiana, May 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Douglas Deshotel has revised his decision to allow only reception of the Eucharist in the hand amid the coronavirus pandemic. He credited guidelines issued by the Thomistic Institute for correcting his previous…Continue Reading

Sainthood causes open for St John Paul II’s parents

A ceremony launching the causes of the Wojtyłas took place at the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wadowice, John Paul II’s birthplace. At the ceremony, the Kraków Archdiocese officially formed the tribunals that will seek…Continue Reading

President Trump on National Day of Prayer: “Never Forget That All Things are Possible With God”

On this National Day of Prayer, Americans reaffirm that prayer guides and strengthens our Nation, and we express, with humility and gratitude, our “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”  As one Nation under God, we share a legacy…Continue Reading

Coronavirus In Minnesota: Archbishop Hebda Gives Guidelines For Reopening Catholic Churches

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Archbishop Bernard Hebda, head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, says he anticipates reopening churches on May 18, which is when the state’s current stay-at-home order expires. In a letter to Catholics, he outlined strict guidelines…Continue Reading

Joe Biden Calls Killing Babies in Abortions “Essential Health Care That Cannot be Delayed”

Today, presumed Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden stated that abortions are “essential health care that cannot be delayed” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden’s statement was in response to a question during a virtual town hall in which pro-abortion…Continue Reading

Archbishop Viganò: Third Secret of Fatima has not yet been fully published

April 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In a stunning new interview, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal nuncio in Washington, D.C. and the prelate who accused Pope Francis of covering up the crimes of Theodore McCarrick, has now publicly stated…Continue Reading

George Pell: In the suffering, we find redemption

Every person suffers. None escapes all the time. Everyone is confronted with a couple of questions. What should I do in this situation? Why is there so much evil and suffering? And why did this happen to me? Why the…Continue Reading

Covid-19: First Catholic bishop dies of coronavirus

Ethiopia’s Apostolic Vicar, Bishop Angelo Moreschi, has died. He is the first Catholic Bishop to succumb to the coronavirus pandemic. By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ Italian missionary and Apostolic Vicar to Ethiopia’s Gambella Vicariate, Bishop Angelo Moreschi, SDB, died on…Continue Reading

Catholic church offers curbside confessions during coronavirus outbreak

STILLWATER, Minn. — Drive-thrus, curbside pick-up, contactless methods. We’re becoming best buds with terms like these as we try our best to stay home, and flatten the curve of the coronavirus outbreak. However, today, we’re not talking about food or…Continue Reading

All priests, half of seminarians at traditional Catholic order infected by coronavirus

OPFENBACH, Germany, March 20, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Almost all priests and roughly half of the seminarians currently at a German seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), a traditionalist community of priests and seminarians, have been infected by…Continue Reading

Catholic Herald US to shut down offices

The Catholic Herald’s U.S. edition is shutting down its offices in Washington, D.C., after less than two years of publication, people familiar with the matter told the Washington Examiner. The magazine, which claims to be “America’s only national Catholic weekly…Continue Reading

Middle school hangs LGBT flag in cafeteria, bans flag of traditional family

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, March 6, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A small town Minnesota school has become a center of controversy because of a LGBT pride flag hanging in its cafeteria. Following several weeks of parental and community concern, packed school board meetings, and…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Supreme Court rejects challenge to limits on church services; Roberts sides with liberals

WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court on Friday rejected an emergency appeal by a California church that challenged state limits on attendance at worship services that have been imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Over the dissent of the four more conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in turning away a request from the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California, in the San Diego area.

Twitter censors Trump hours after he signs executive order combatting social media censorship

UNITED STATES, May 29, 2020  (LifeSiteNews) — Twitter has censored a new post by President Donald Trump within 24 hours of him signing an executive order to combat social media censorship. The social media giant covered a tweet published by Trump earlier today with the words: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

Catholic Bishops Pander To Washington State Politics Rather Than Defend Their Faith

Washington state Catholic leaders would rather stick it to the president than let him defend their right to celebrate Mass. Following President Donald Trump’s direction on Friday for states to allow houses of worship to reopened and to declare public worship as essential, Gov. Jay Inslee immediately thumbed his nose, and Washington bishops quickly follow suit. In a disappointing response, the bishops demonstrated that rather than stand up for their flock and acknowledge the president’s commitment to religious…Continue Reading

Book calling for Catholic blessing of homosexual couples was requested by Austrian bishops’ conference

CNA Staff, May 26, 2020 / 11:02 am MT (CNA).- A book considering how homosexual couples might receive a formal, liturgical blessing of their union in the Catholic Church was written in response to a request from the liturgical committee of the Austrian bishops’ conference, according to the book’s principal author. The work includes contributions by a number of German speaking theologians and a liturgical section, including a suggestion for how such a Church blessing…Continue Reading

Trump announces that houses of worship are ‘essential,’ calls on governors to open them up

President Trump on Friday announced that new Centers for Disease Control guidance will classify houses of worship as “essential,” as he called on governors to allow them to open “right now” after being closed during the coronavirus lockdowns. Trump announced the policy for churches, synagogues and mosques, during a short briefing at the White House. BALTIMORE PASTOR RIPS UP CEASE-AND-DESIST LETTER MID-SERMON: ‘WE’RE GONNA DO IT GOD’S WAY!’ “The governors need to do the right thing and allow…Continue Reading


Does Life Have Any Meaning?

By DONALD DeMARCO W. Somerset Maugham was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest-paid author during the 1930-40s. His most popular novel, The Razor’s Edge (1944), which was made into a most successful movie two years later, is about the search for meaning. It takes as its theme the Zen…Continue Reading

Jinping Takes Up The U.S. Challenge

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Is the U.S. up for a second Cold War — this time with China? What makes the question newly relevant is that Xi Jinping’s China suddenly appears eager for a showdown with the United States for long-term supremacy in the Asia-Pacific and the world. With the U.S. consumed by the coronavirus…Continue Reading

Man Who Smeared Wartime Pope Dies

By RONALD RYCHLAK (Editor’s Note: Ronald Rychlak is a distinguished professor of law at the University of Mississippi Law School. He also serves on the Board of Advisors of the Catholic League, which distributed this article on May 15.) + + + Rolf Hochhuth has passed away in Germany at the age of 89. He…Continue Reading

Pope Francis . . . Merges Two Alaska Dioceses Into New Archdiocese

(CNA) — Pope Francis merged two dioceses in Alaska on May 19, creating the new Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau which will cover a territory larger than Montana. The Pope appointed Bishop Andrew E. Bellisario as the metropolitan archbishop of the newly formed archdiocese in southern Alaska. The Diocese of Juneau, located on the Alaska’s southeastern panhandle,…Continue Reading

Does Pelosi Believe A Baby Has A Right To A Mother?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of Creators Syndicate distributes his column.) + + + When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared on CNN with Anderson Cooper on Monday, May 18, she started the interview with an effusive statement about Cooper’s “new baby.” “Well, first let me…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. You recently wrote about Reiki as something not in accord with Church teachings. What about yoga? — L.S., via email. A. In his book Catholics and the New Age, Fr. Mitch Pacwa said that the word “yoga” is Sanskrit for “yoke” or “union” and, in Hinduism, it describes “the general category of various kinds of disciplines meant to unite…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . Pandemic Brings Unseen Into View

By FR KEVIN M. CUSICK The Church and her work for souls, unseen and unknown so often by so many in a world which has made God so invisible, has in some ways become more tangible in these months when so much of “normal” life has ground to a halt. Many of our physical activities and concerns, our business and…Continue Reading

Manifest The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Solemnity Of Pentecost (YR A) Readings: Acts 2:1-11 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13 John 20:19-23 In the second reading, St. Paul tells us: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God.” In these verses, St. Paul…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. While I’ve read letters in religious publications from prisoners begging for Catholic materials, I have never had any success making contact with Catholic chaplains who might have requests for certain items. I’ve tried both prison and diocesan addresses, and no one responds. Any suggestions? — N.D., Illinois. A. Perhaps readers who are involved in prison ministry can recommend places…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… A Pope Francis Primer

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK We are immersed in cultural and political wars, with opposing parties engaged in perpetual bickering and posing for effect. On the political front we are faced daily with the spectacle of elected officials who don’t want to work. Instead, they go on the attack and attempt to impeach the reputations of others. False criminal accusations…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Titus Zeman

By DEB PIROCH “Even if I lost my life, I would not consider it wasted, knowing that at least one of those that I helped has become a priest in my place” — Slovak priest, Blessed Titus Zeman. + + + Czech Communists attempted to eliminate the Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia, beginning in 1945, Prime Minister Klement Gottwald working hand-in-hand…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Louis Marie Grignion De Montfort

By DEB PIROCH During the month of Mary, we turn to St. Louis Marie de Montfort (1673-1716), a saint inseparable in devotion to Christ’s Blessed Mother. His feast falls on the anniversary of his death, April 28, as if he is joyfully pointing us to the Marian month ahead. Many are familiar with Pope St. John Paul’s personal motto, “Totus…Continue Reading