New Papal Enforcer Appointed

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New Papal Enforcer Appointed

Pope Benedict has appointed a fellow Bavarian as his enforcer of clerical discipline.

Pope Benedict has appointed Gerhard Müller, bishop of Regensburg—seat of the university where a young Joseph Ratzinger taught theology 40 years ago—as the new prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This is the modern name for the old Vatican Office of the Holy Inquisition. It was the post that Benedict held for 20 years prior to his elevation as pope.

From all reports Müller is as doctrinaire as Benedict and will prove just as tenacious in enforcing Rome’s diktat as was the present pope when he held that crucial position as Cardinal Ratzinger. It was his performance in that office that earned Ratzinger the title of the “Vatican Rottweiler” as he worked to route liberalism from the clergy during John Paul ii’s tenure as pope.

As Benedict’s new right-hand man, Müller’s appointment comes at a time when Benedict needs a loyalist to watch his back in the wake of the Vatileaks and pedophilia scandals. It is a very deliberate choice by Benedict and one that should send signals that this pope is ready to fight back against the media campaign that has sought to create the impression that the job of vicar of Rome is proving to be beyond him.

Having authored over 400 theological treatises, Müller, akin to his boss, is already a high-profile German theologian and academic in his own right. “Müller sits in the Vatican on several committees and has been a member of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith since 2007. He is also president of Ecclesia Dei Commission, appointed by Pope John Paul ii, which is taking care of the ultra-conservative sspx and the Holocaust denier Richard Williamson” (Bild, July 2).

But perhaps Müller’s main strength in Pope Benedict’s eyes is his intransigence in the face of criticism when he takes a stand on a particular issue. “He is highly regarded among theologians, but also as a hardliner in the clergy. Church critics have often attacked his stance with sharp words” (ibid).

In response to such attacks, Bild quotes Müller as declaring, “I’m not addicted to conflict—but not too addicted to harmony. I’m just dedicated to the path that one must follow.” As a declared papal loyalist, Müller’s path will be dictated by the pope himself. Thus two Bavarian minds, two very Teutonic minds, will be working in tandem to enforce the papal will on Rome’s clergy and its global constituents.

In the face of his efforts to retrieve the moral credibility of the Church of Rome in the wake of its recent highly publicized scandals, Pope Benedict could do with such a demonstration of tenacity and stoicism at his right hand as Müller offers. Gerhard Müller could just prove to be as much of a loyal “Rottweiler,” enforcing the papal will for Benedict, as Ratzinger was to Pope John Paul ii.

For the moment, it is interesting to reflect that two sons of Bavaria hold the two most powerful positions within the Church of Rome. Should they be joined at a future time by a political son of Bavaria, one who has the charisma to lead a politically divided German nation to real unity using its Roman faith as the glue, then what a troika that would prove to be!

There would hardly be a better combination to instigate the final resurrection of the old Holy Roman Empire of the German nation!