CDF prefect says Latin American mindset key to understanding Pope

To truly understand Pope Francis, one must understand the Latin American mindset, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith says.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller spoke about the Pope during an interview with the Austrian Pontifical Missions magazine Alle Welt.

Cardinal Müller said the Western world would have to learn to see problems from the Pope’s point of view, which was very different from the European one.

It was very good for the world Church not always to see things through European eyes, the cardinal said, and to discover how other people saw Europe.

The CDF prefect has considerable experience of life in Peru over several decades and is a close friend of the Peruvian liberation theologian, Gustavo Gutierrez.

The Church criticises the one-sidedness of both capitalism and socialism and supports a social market economy, as a synthesis that avoided extremes, the CDF prefect said.

The main aim of Pope Francis’s pontificate is to draw the world’s attention to the poor and to change the global structures that lead to poverty, the cardinal noted.

Responding to his interviewer’s comment that many American’s, including US Catholics, see the European social market economy as “too socialist”, Cardinal Müller was blunt.

“A balance must be found between freedom and social responsibility. One cannot simply absolutise US individualism, which has had a formative influence on US culture.”

“When the United States acts as the world’s policeman, the world does not become more peaceful.

“One cannot compromise and say, ‘To be sure – I’m a Christian – but count me out as far as Christian social teaching is concerned’.”

Speaking about changing unjust structures, Cardinal Müller said history has shown that it wasn’t sufficient to treat slaves well; rather, the abolition of slavery was needed.

“Both the structures and the mentality [that leads to poverty] must be changed so that an awareness of solidarity can emerge,” he said.

Cardinal Muller said there had been a decline in “love of one’s neighbour” in the Western world.

“People are judged by their usefulness and their contribution to the GNP and when they’re old we don’t know what to do with them,” he said.


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