Cardinal Müller: the Faith first – if necessary, priests to disobey bishops…

Cardinal Müller: the Faith first – if necessary, priests to disobey bishops…

The German episcopate is divided on the question of granting Protestants access to Eucharistic Communion, and the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reminds priests that they are not obliged to obey their bishops when they order them to commit acts that  go against the doctrine and practice of the Church.

Priests are “not bound by Divine Law to administer Holy Communion to a non-Catholic, and in any case,they certainly cannot be bound by any episcopal order,” declared Cardinal Gerhard Müller on December 11, 2018, in an interview with the information website LifeSite.

This statement from the former prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith comes one month after the bishop of Münster, Bishop Felix Genn, declared on the contrary that no priest has the right to refuse Communion to a Protestant.

Ever since Pope Francis’ visit to the Lutheran church in Rome (November 15, 2015), when in answer to a Protestant woman’s question on the matter, he evasively responded, “I would never dare to give permission for this because it is not in my authority. Speak with the Lord and move forward,” many bishops have rushed headlong into what they believe to be a carte blanche for intercommunion.

Cardinal Müller recalls that there are cases in which a priest has to resist his bishop “just as St. Paul resisted St. Peter,” quoting the passage from the Epistle to the Galatians (2:11). We might add that St. Paul was not only a priest, but also a bishop, and even an apostle, and that he took the liberty of publicly rebuking the first pope “because he was not walking uprightly unto the truth of the Gospel.” Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre did exactly the same thing.

The Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten’s interview with Fr. Davide Pagliarani, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, on December 15, 2018, echoes this position, recalling that it is “inconceivable that the Church was mistaken for two millennia and that she found the truth about these questions only during the years of the Council, between 1962 and 1965.”   Source


Before our enemies – or even some well-meaning readers – come racing on to accuse me of posting a misleading headline, because the Cardinal is referring to Intercommunion when he says priests are under no obligation to obey their bishops, allow me to point out that, logically, if a priest may disobey his bishop in a situation where the Faith is being undermined or openly attacked, then it stands to reason that this same “disobedience” applies to each and every instance where the Faith and Catholic Morals are under attack.  Yes? No?  Not sure?  Let’s hear it!  

Comments (27)

  • Petrus

    Absolutely! It stands to reasons that the faith always CES first, regardless of the subject matter.

    As an aside, am I the only one who finds this crisis truly bizarre? When Cardinal Muller, himself guilty of Modernism in the past, is a leading figure against Pope Francis you know you are well and truly in the realm of the utterly bizarre!

    December 30, 2018 at 7:52 pm
    • editor


      The same thought struck me – I still remember our shock horror discussions on this blog when Cardinal Müller was appointed to the CDF, given his record of unorthodox statements. So, it is a measure of just how deep this crisis has become that he is now “a leading figure against Pope Francis”, as you, so aptly, put it…

      More to the point, though is this: if a modernist like Cardinal Müller can see the need for priests to dispense with what is, in fact, false obedience, in order to defend the Faith, why can’t your average diocesan priest see it? Or are they really so lacking in elementary knowledge of the Faith, Morals, Liturgy, that they actually don’t get it?

      December 30, 2018 at 9:25 pm
      • Petrus

        Yes, I think they ARE lacking! I had a two hour conversation with the former Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Glasgow a number of years ago and he really didnt have a clue. It was staggering!

        December 30, 2018 at 9:53 pm
      • Deacon Augustine


        Poor (in fact really, really crap) formation is part of it. Another reason is that living on job-seeker’s allowance is pretty miserable.

        December 31, 2018 at 1:57 pm
  • RCAVictor

    Cardinal Muller seems to have either had a change of heart – given his steady stream of defense of orthodoxy since the abrupt end of his CDF tenure – or he is positioning himself for the next conclave. Or both! More power to him….or should I say, more grace to him….

    This issue raises another question: if a priest can disobey an errant bishop, can’t he also disobey an errant Pope (if said Pope is undermining the Faith)? Esp. this Pope, who is slashing and burning his way through the Church like a crazed wildebeest.

    December 30, 2018 at 10:40 pm
  • RCAVictor

    To put it another way, Francis may be regretting his maltreatment of Muller, given that Muller is, in effect, still acting as if he were CDF Prefect with his speeches, and contradicting Francis, and Francis’ German string-pullers, at every step.

    Meanwhile, the actual Prefect, Cdl. Ladaria, one of Francis’ Compliant Castrati, is silent.

    December 30, 2018 at 10:51 pm
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      All very well said – I haven’t even given Cardinal Ladaria Ferrer a thought in all of this, so well has he kept a low profile. I’ll need to do some detective work on him to suss out his background. And I don’t just mean the colour of his office wallpaper – though that, too!

      December 30, 2018 at 11:11 pm
      • Petrus


        I imagine Ladaria is a puppet. Pope Francis , the anything BUT humble pontiff, is a narcissist and only appoints puppets to important positions.

        December 31, 2018 at 11:42 am
    • Deacon Augustine


      Ladaria isn’t silent when it comes to giving specious support to the pope’s attempted change of doctrine on the death penalty. He gave his word for it that it was not a contradiction of what the Church has always taught i.e. he is another 2+2=5 man.

      December 31, 2018 at 2:01 pm
      • editor

        Deacon Augustine

        I had completely forgotten about his supportive intervention on the death penalty. Your description of another 2+2=5 man is spot on.

        December 31, 2018 at 2:39 pm
      • Petrus

        I agree. I still think he’s told when to speak and what to say in an attempt to validate what this errant pope says. Terrible times!

        December 31, 2018 at 2:52 pm
  • Josephine

    Coincidentally, only recently I was in a conversation where nobody seemed sure if St Paul was a priest – nobody thought he was a bishop – so this sentence in the blog article was very helpful to me:

    “We might add that St. Paul was not only a priest, but also a bishop, and even an apostle,”

    I can go back and quote that to my friends now!

    December 31, 2018 at 11:23 am
  • RCAVictor

    Speaking of the CDF, I presume most of you have heard about this:

    December 31, 2018 at 3:45 pm
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      Yes, I saw that a while ago. Will watch that space!

      December 31, 2018 at 3:52 pm
      • Theresa Rose

        Editor, RCA,

        Have just found this article from Catholic Family News, also about the abolition of ecclesia-dei-commission

        December 31, 2018 at 8:41 pm
      • RCAVictor

        Theresa Rose,

        I came across an article the other day claiming that the reason Francis is eliminating Ecclesia Dei was because the SSPX wanted it – they prefer, according to this theory, to negotiate directly with the CDF. If this is true, it tends to support the theory that Francis wants all traditional groups under an SSPX umbrella.

        I wasn’t aware that there had been any new SSPX-Vatican negotiations, though.

        December 31, 2018 at 9:42 pm
    • Petrus

      RCA Victor,

      Francis seems to be tightening his grip and ensuring his men are in charge of everything. He’s a bully and a meglamaniac. I’m just amazed some people still think he’s a humble soul.

      December 31, 2018 at 8:19 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor/Petrus,

        More upheaval in the Vatican today…

        December 31, 2018 at 8:36 pm
  • Elizabeth

    I don’t quite get what model of hierarchy authority clergy operate under these days. I have had conversations with our two most recent curates who seem to be at least a bit traditionally minded but at the same time are completely unwilling to take a stance on what they privately acknowledge to be wrong. I refer to the indiscriminate use of so called Eucharistic ministers. We have only a small chapel in our village with a Sunday Mass attendance of less than 50 people. Yet week in week out up go these “ministers” to help Father! By no stretch of the imagination could one justify the use of extraordinary ministers. The clue is in the name. Yet both curates concur with this practiice because they say they don’t want to upset the lay people who are the ministers. They just don’t have the courage to make a stand. Even though it is clearly wrong. I wonder if they would go along with it if our local bishop sanctioned Communion for non Catholics? Who knows?

    December 31, 2018 at 4:44 pm
  • editor


    A word of warning about regarding those two priests as being “at least a bit traditionally minded” – because I made the same mistake about none other than the present Archbishop Tartaglia of Glasgow when he was “mere” Father Tartaglia.

    I was delighted to read a letter from him in the Scottish Catholic Observer, commenting on the Vatican instruction which prohibited the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion even in a packed church. He wrote that it was a dilemma for a priest to read this from the Vatican, while his (arch)bishop permitted/encouraged it. What, he asked, is a priest to do?

    I wrote to him at his parish, thanking him for his letter and saying that, in this case, the Vatican had to be obeyed not the bishop, since – in this case – it is the Vatican which is in conformity with Catholic Tradition.

    He replied by email and we corresponded for a bit. Appeared to be (as I told my then Vatican contact, cough, ahem) “the best of a bad bunch” – and so I was pleased when he was appointed to be the Bishop of Paisley. Aha, I thought – now we will see some cats set among some pigeons. Some hope.

    Quite the opposite, in fact. He told one woman, in correspondence, that by being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, she was doing great things for God (I paraphrase, but that was the sense of it). He encouraged her in her “ministry”.

    Sad to say, there are too many such priests who run with the hare and hunt with the hounds,, as the saying goes. I’ve come to see the truth of the saying “watch what (they) DO not what (they) say…”

    December 31, 2018 at 6:37 pm
    • Petrus


      Bishop Keenan of Paisley is exactly the same. He will say one thing in private, before saying the very opposite in public. They can’t be trusted.

      December 31, 2018 at 8:18 pm
  • Petrus

    RCA Victor,

    Francis seems to be tightening his grip and ensuring his men are in charge of everything. He’s a bully and a meglamaniac. I’m just amazed some people still think he’s a humble soul.

    December 31, 2018 at 8:50 pm
    • RCAVictor


      He seems to have adopted the playbook of Lenin and Stalin (except for the humble pretense), but instead of murdering his enemies he just replaces them and puts yes-men in power, like Cupich over here.

      There are a couple of articles on the blogs today about Francis’ “enemies list” too.

      December 31, 2018 at 9:34 pm
  • Lionel

    “The Faith first”
    That is obvious!

    December 31, 2018 at 10:10 pm
    • editor


      It’s obvious to any right-thinking Catholic but to the papolatrist it’s “obedience first”.

      The confused modernist mind is truly unfathomable…

      December 31, 2018 at 11:17 pm
  • Athanasius

    If things continue as they are under Francis, we can expect Kim Jong Un to succeed him in the not too distant future. Not quite sure how the wee fat man will look with a mitre on that “blind Jock” haircut, though.

    Of course, Cardinal Mueller is perfectly correct in his analysis of true and false obedience. The problem is he still can’t see that it has been precisely this wise discernment in accordance with Tradition that underlies the position of the SSPX, which he has castigated as disobedience to the Pope.

    January 1, 2019 at 8:37 pm
  • wendy walker

    TFP STUDENT ACTION tradition • family • property
    Urge Sacred Heart University to Cancel Lecture by Pro-LGBT Activist Priest Fr. James Martin, S.J.

    Click here to sign your peaceful protest
    Dear Wendy Walker,

    “… the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

    This quote of Pope Paul VI is so true. How do I know?

    Because some pastors act like wolves rather than shepherds.

    For example, Fr. James Martin, S.J.

    He’s slated to give a pro-homosexual talk titled “Showing Respect and Welcome in the Church to LGBT People” at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut on January 29, 2019.

    Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing:
    Fr. Martin supports transgenderism for children
    Fr. Martin promoted a sacrilegious “rainbow rosary”
    Fr. Martin said Catholics should “reverence” homosexual unions
    Fr. Martin favors homosexual kissing during Mass (sacrilege)
    Fr. Martin said homosexuals should be “invited” to be Eucharistic ministers

    Click here to urge Sacred Heart University — which has 8,958 students — to find a true Catholic speaker to replace Fr. Martin on Jan. 29, 2019.

    It’s particularly troubling that Fr. Martin’s talk is being sponsored by The Office of Mission & Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart.

    It’s also shocking to see Fr. Martin favor transgenderism for children.

    Especially now — as the homosexual movement pushes gender-bending “Drag Queen Story Hours” in public libraries across the nation for children as young as 3.

    In fact, Fr. Martin’s push to normalize unnatural vice inside the Church, prompted Catholic leaders to cancel some of his appearances.

    The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre disinvited Fr. Martin from speaking at its gala event in New York City. The Catholic University of America also canceled an appearance by the pro-homosexual priest.

    But your voice is needed right now to help young souls:

    Just click here to ask Sacred Heart University to cancel Fr. Martin’s speech on campus and find a true Catholic speaker who respects Catholic moral teaching and honors God’s law.

    Not only is Fr. Martin’s position at odds with the Bible, but also with natural law, Papal documents, the Fathers of the Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and countless saints.

    What can we do about this crisis?
    We must stand with God, His Church, and His saints. And stay faithful to 2,000 years of Catholic teaching.

    With prayerful discernment — you and I must help young souls reject the “smoke of Satan.” We must fortify our Faith and help others in the storm.

    Despite the crisis, we must always remember the promise of Our Divine Savior: The gates of Hell shall not prevail.
    Our Lord is the Good Shepherd, the One who will lead us to Heaven if we remain faithful.

    “The sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out… and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice” (John 10:4-5).

    After you sign your protest, please share it.

    Thank you for fighting the good fight.

    John Ritchie
    TFP Student Action, Director
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    January 4, 2019 at 9:35 am

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