Rome, Italy (CNA/EWTN News)—Cardinal Gerhard Müller said in a recent interview that the problem of clerical sex abuse must be countered primarily by spiritual renewal, prayer, and penance.
The prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in a November 28 interview with Vatican Insider that “We need spiritual renewal, prayer and penance, drawing on the grace of the sacraments, reading and meditating on the Bible, entering into the spirit of Jesus Christ. We must be priests according to the heart of Jesus…. The priest is an alter Christus, not because of his skill or ability, but because he gives his heart for humankind. We must bear witness to this and in so doing restore the credibility of the Church so that people may encounter faith.”
He called canon law “a necessary aid to the Church,” in which “we have norms of divine law that we cannot change, but also norms of human, ecclesiastical law that we can change and update to better respond to the needs and circumstances to be faced. But, we, the Church, are a sacramental and spiritual reality and more important we are the dimensions of morality and faith: rules, norms, external discipline are not enough.”
Acknowledging that procedures “have been established to combat the [abuse] phenomenon,” he said, “spiritual renewal and conversion are more important. There are priests who never go to spiritual exercises, never approach the confessional, never pray the breviary. And when the spiritual life is empty, how can a priest act according to Christ? He risks becoming a ‘mercenary’, as we read in the Gospel of John.”
Cardinal Müller called for the “parties” in the Church to “work together to overcome this crisis that is hurting the credibility of the Church…. We are all united in the revealed faith, and not by the prejudices of political ideologies. We are not a political entity; the Church was instituted by Jesus Christ.”