Müller Out and Ladaria In
By Terence McKiernan
July 1, 2017
Pope Francis has decided not to reconfirm Cardinal Gerhard Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Putting Cardinal Müller out to pasture is an excellent decision, and we applaud it.
Müller was exactly the wrong person for the job when Pope Benedict picked him. As Bishop of Regensburg, Müller had botched the abuse case of Fr. Peter Kramer and caused families untold suffering. Müller was clearly incapable or worse in the CDF prefect’s most important role, to be the arbiter of every Catholic church abuse case that came to the Vatican. In the church’s current emergency, with its third-ranking prelate soon to appear in an Australian court on child abuse charges, Pope Francis needs a CDF prefect who will work with Cardinal Seán O’Malley on the church’s abuse crisis, not against him.
The canning of Müller is a vindication for Marie Collins, who crossed swords with Müller, not to his advantage, as she departed the Commission. Collins lamented that the CDF under Müller had shown methodical disrespect to the very survivors it should have been devoted to helping.
We welcome Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer’s appointment, and we urge him to put the CDF’s abuse work front and center on his desk. Archbishop Ladaria’s arrival is already being parsed into the culture wars that we Catholics right, left, and center seem to love. But Ladaria’s first and most sacred trust is to protect children in the church, genuinely comfort the survivors, turn the offenders over to the police, and punish the enablers, starting with Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid of Osorno, Chile. If Ladaria Ferrer removes Barros, we will know that a new era is beginning at the supreme congregation.
Then, if Archbishop Ladaria brings transparency to the CDF’s important work on abuse, Pope Francis will finally be making the progress his words have often promised. We ask Archbishop Ladaria to open the CDF’s abuse data and docket, to institute punctual announcements of CDF decisions on laicization and orders to live a life of prayer and penance, and to release the documents after the conclusion of each case. We urge him to institute a global list of accused clergy.
Archbishop Ladaria is intimately familiar with the CDF’s abuse caseload, and in Cardinal O’Malley, he has an ally with experience in the listing of accused clergy.
Launched in 2003 by lay Catholics in Boston, BishopAccountability.org is a comprehensive archive and data center focused on the worldwide sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. It has compiled an online database of 3,600 publicly accused US priests, and its online library contains more than 100,000 pages of church records, legal documents, and media reports. Its mission is to give the public one-stop access to information about the crisis throughout the world. An independent non-profit, BishopAccountability.org is an educational archive; it is not a victim's group, does not advocate specific church reforms, and is not affiliated with any advocacy or religious group.
Terence McKiernan, President and Founder
Anne Barrett Doyle, Co-Director