Maike Hickson reports for LifeSiteNews — In a lengthy interview with the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost (published in full below), Cardinal Gerhard Müller responds in detail to the many accusations leveled at him in the last days for having signed Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó’s appeal concerning the corona crisis and the impending dangers of governmental control and abuse.
In light of accusations of fostering conspiracy theories, the cardinal invites people to respond to facts, instead of demeaning people who “think for themselves,” and he also points to the danger of “forced vaccinations.” Without mentioning Bill Gates’ name directly, Müller mentions that the “threat has been made publicly that 7 billion people will be forcibly vaccinated, even if the drugs have not yet been sufficiently tested, and that if people are not complying, fundamental rights will be withdrawn from them.”
Cardinal Müller further rejects the accusation of being a “conspiracy theorist” by referring to his own experience: “In Peru during the Fujimori era, I myself spoke to involuntarily sterilized men and women who had been cheated out of health and happiness with money and false promises,” he states and asks: “What does this have to do with a ‘conspiracy theory’?”
The May 7 Viganò Appeal – which was also signed by Cardinals Joseph Zen and Janis Pujats, as well as Bishops Athanasius Schneider and Joseph Strickland – had called into question the world-wide response of lockdowns and strong restrictions of freedoms of citizens as measures against the coronavirus outbreak.
The signatories of this appeal, among whom are also journalists, experts, and other clergy, are concerned for the Church and the world that the COVID-19 pandemic is being used as a “pretext” by world leaders to “control” people, strip them of their fundamental rights, while providing a “disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control.” They also reminded the public of the liberty of the Catholic Church who “firmly asserts her autonomy to govern, worship, and teach,” thus making clear that the state has not the authority to decide over church closures. So far, more than 38,000 people have signed this text.
Especially in Germany, Cardinal Müller had been singled out and targeted by numerous Catholic and secular media. The main tenor of the accusations even in major newspapers is that this appeal is filled with a set of crude conspiracy theories, going so far that it even purportedly fosters Anti-Semitism by speaking of the dangers of a world government and by spreading “myths about conspiracies.”
Bishop Schneider, in his own response as to why he has signed this May 7 Appeal written by Archbishop Viganò, stated that, in light of such strong reactions against this appeal, he feels reminded of the strategy of totalitarian regimes to silence the opponent instead of taking in the facts.
Bishop Schneider insists upon a fair and honest debate and also warns against the possible danger of forced vaccinations which do not permit any alternate paths.
Cardinal Müller, in another May 13 interview, has made it clear that to withdraw now his signature from this appeal would be “cowardly.”
In yet another article, he is being quoted as saying that he does not understand this indignation, since he did not consider the appeal to be a scientific analysis. He who has better ideas could easily “respond in a calm and relaxed manner with the help of objective arguments” and thus correct “purported or real errors” in the text. “Important for us,” he continues, “is the connection between Faith and reason in dealing with the consequences [of the corona crisis] with regard to physical, social, and spiritual aspects.”
In his new Tagespost interview, the German prelate also responds to the question as to whether he leaves his competence as a bishop when commenting on the current corona crisis, to include political and medical matters. Such had been the criticism of the Italian church historian Roberto de Mattei. Responds Müller: “It also has to do with theology that, despite the respect for the autonomy of the secular realms, we must also talk about an ethics of economics, politics, and medicine. Here I refer to the Second Vatican Council and its Constitution Gaudium et Spes 36.”
Full translation of Cardinal Müller’s new interview
with the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost:
Q: Your Eminence, are you really afraid that a world government is about to take over power by means of illiberal measures, as the appeal you signed states?
Cardinal Müller: Anyone who does not distinguish between the opportunities and the dangers associated with globalization is denying reality. Pope Francis is also opposed to the neo-colonialism of states and international organizations forcing abortion among poor peoples by withdrawing development aid if they refuse. In Peru during the Fujimori era, I myself spoke to involuntarily sterilized men and women who had been cheated out of health and happiness with money and false promises. What does this have to do with a “conspiracy theory”?
Cardinal Müller: The mantra with conspiracy theories is a cheap way of making headlines and a tactical game to denounce those who think for themselves. Who are we to believe when one conspiracist accuses the other of fake news?
Q: Then help us to understand. The appeal speaks of forces that are interested in creating panic among the population. No proofs are given. What are these forces?
Cardinal Müller: You have to ask the authors. I do not understand the text as meaning that the coronavirus was invented to create panic, but that the measures taken against it must be strictly related to the disease and that political and economic interests must not be mixed up with it. In any case, the threat has been made publicly that 7 billion people will be forcibly vaccinated, even if the drugs have not yet been sufficiently tested, and that if people are not complying, fundamental rights will be withdrawn from them. No one can be forced to believe that a few “philanthropic” super billionaires have the best programs for world improvement just because they have succeeded in accumulating a huge private fortune. Or another problem: a certain amount of public surveillance to prevent and solve crimes is ethically justified, but by no means a total control of privacy.
Q: Left-wing and right-wing governments around the world are looking for answers to an unprecedented pandemic challenge. Do you really believe that they want to use this crisis to permanently restrict or abolish freedom and civil rights?
Cardinal Müller: Should I now say, by naively and blindly believing the authorities, that everyone has only the best motives in mind? Do not see everything only from a German perspective! America and China are blaming each other and perhaps are taking questionable measures that have nothing to do with the pandemic. In some countries, unfortunately, party politics is still being pursued even in this crisis. So far, in some places, the primacy of ethics over party politics remains a pious hope.
Q: The German Bishops’ Conference has distanced itself from the appeal you signed. Your successor in the Regensburg episcopal chair has explicitly endorsed this verdict. Positions within the Church thus do not play any role in this criticism. Does that impress you?
Cardinal Müller: It would have been more urgent if the German bishops had agreed on the New Evangelization of their dioceses, as Pope Francis had wanted, or loudly stood up against the persecution of Christians in the world, instead of working themselves up over a three-page paper, which is certainly – as many a text from the DBK – not the final word in the matter, but which is an appeal for reflection. None of these fellow bishops have spoken to me, but they, instead, refer to headlines to which to refer or which to contradict means a loss of time.
Q: The paper makes judgments on political and spiritual issues. You have signed it in its entirety. By agreeing to these political theses, have you not exceeded your competence as a bishop?
Cardinal Müller: The paper — not a single line in it — was not written by me. But 30,000 people have so far supported it and the general direction of its aims with their signatures, without carefully examining every sentence individually. Many physicians and other scientists have also helped write it. But it also has to do with theology that, despite the respect for the autonomy of the secular realms, we must also talk about an ethics of economics, politics, and medicine. Here I refer to the Second Vatican Council and its Constitution Gaudium et Spes 36.
Q: The appeal insists on the autonomy of the Church. The state must not violate her right to celebrate public Masses. Now the German bishops, but also those in many other countries of the world, have expressly agreed to the temporary ban on public worship services to combat the pandemic. Where do you see the rights of the Church violated here?
Cardinal Müller: Religious freedom and the autonomy of the Church in her spiritual and sacramental life have constitutional status in Germany and elsewhere and are among the fundamental human rights. The Catholic Church respects the competence of the state for the common good and does not claim to be a state within a state. But the state only has the right to demand the necessary safety measures at worship gatherings, but not to prohibit the liturgy and the sacraments in and of themselves. In non-democratic states, public gatherings are currently allowed, but only worship services continue to be banned – if one can believe the media reports. If, despite all the dangers, the basic physical and medical care of the population is guaranteed, then care must also be taken that the dying, for example, do not remain without spiritual help. Or if a civil wedding is possible, no one understands why a church wedding is not possible, among other things, as well. Because everything is politicized, even the shepherds no longer notice the discordant tone in the brutal formulation “Baptisms, Confirmations, Masses, Marriages, that is, the sacramental mediation of grace, are forbidden.”
Q: Would you sign the document again?
Cardinal Müller: Whatever one answers, the indignant will feel confirmed again by the new headlines.
The media hype is not about a discussion about facts, but for some people it is what they have been waiting for in order to respond to their need for indignation with absurd accusations and insinuations and in order to confirm each other. Whoever accuses others of “a coalition of irrationality” and of worse and sillier things, should be able to refute coolly the document with a few rational arguments or to let it go down into the spiral of silence. The best thing would be to take Pope Francis as an example here, who has been constantly silent in the face of quite different accusations that he considers unjustified.