Cardinal Müller defies synod confidentiality and speaks to media

synod confidentiality

Maintaining synod confidentiality was one of Pope Francis’s particular requests of delegates during this month’s synod on synodality in Rome.

But one delegate, German cardinal Gerhard Müller, immediately defied the pontiff’s request.

Müller, a former head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, is known as a vocal critic of Francis’s synod on synodality.

During an Eternal Word Television Network’s (EWTN) nightly news programme, the German cardinal presented a more positive attitude, however.

When the interviewer asked him if he was still concerned about the synod being a “hostile takeover” of the Church as he had previously commented, Müller spoke of “a certain form of optimism” and good conversation.

“… but at the end we must wait in what direction it will go and what will be the decisions behind the scenery. That is always the problem,” he said.

Müller went on to criticise a fellow delegate – his successor in the Vatican’s doctrinal office, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández.

Müller said Fernández had erred when speaking in a recent interview about Francis’s “magisterium”.

“That doesn’t exist,” Müller said. “The pope does not have his own doctrine.

“Surely the pope has a special authority in the church according to our Catholic Church, but he is not a person who receives a new revelation.”

Vatican media caution

Müller’s EWTN interview came one day after the Vatican published its formal set of conduct rules (regolamento) for synod members.

These stated that delegates are bound by “confidentiality and discretion regarding both their own interventions and the interventions of other participants.”

In an October 5 press briefing, the head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications said synod delegates were encouraged to “take time to discern, take time to listen to each other” rather than speaking to the press about the proceedings.

During his opening remarks on October 4, the Pope also told the 450-plus synod participants to abstain from media interviews.

Past synods have been reduced to one or two hot button issues, he said.

He noted that in anticipation of this synod he had seen press coverage focus on the possibility that the Catholic Church might ordain women as priests.

This synod’s rules mark a departure from procedures used at four synods Francis has hosted in the past.

During those gatherings, participants were largely free to give interviews to members of the press.

They were also frequently invited to take part in daily press briefings the synod office had organised. This enabled delegates to give interviews from firsthand experience about their experiences of the synod process.

NCR newspaper claims “multiple sources” say Müller did not attend the September 30 – October 3 spiritual retreat for synod delegates.




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