Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller
1. Curriculum Vitae and Academic Career
Gerhard Ludwig Müller was born in Mainz-Finthen on 31.12.1947. As the son of labourer Martin Müller and his wife Lioba, née Straub, he grew up with his three siblings Hildegard, Antonia and Günter. Having completed his school-leaving examination at the Willigis Gymnasium in Mainz he studied philosophy and theology in Mainz, Munich and Freiburg im Breisgau. He earned his doctorate in 1977 under Professor Karl Lehmann on the subject of “The Church and Sacraments in Religionless Christendom. Bonhoeffer’s Contribution to an Ecumenical Sacrament Theology” (“Kirche und Sakramente im religionslosen Christentum. Bonhoeffers Beitrag zu einer ökumenischen Sakramententheologie”). He was ordained as a priest in Mainz-Finthen in 1978 by Cardinal Volk. He was then active in three parishes as chaplain (Klein-Krotzenburg, Bürstadt-St. Michael, Offenbach-St. Josef) and as religious education teacher at secondary schools in Büdingen and Nidda. He qualified as professor in 1985 in Freiburg im Breisgau, again under Professor Karl Lehmann, on the subject of “Community and Veneration of the Saints. The Historical and Systematic Basis of Hagiography” (“Gemeinschaft und Verehrung der Heiligen. Geschichtlich-systematische Grundlegung der Hagiologie”). Just a year later he was appointed Professor of Catholic Dogmatics at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich where he remains honorary professor today. At the age of 38 in 1986 he was one of the youngest professors at Munich’s university.
Gerhard Ludwig Müller has also been visiting professor at a number of other universities: in Cusco (Peru), Madrid (San Damaso), Philadelphia (USA), Kerala (India), Santiago de Compostela, Salamanca (Spain), The Lateran University (Rome), Lugano and Sao Paulo (Brazil). While Professor of Dogmatics (1986- 2002) he provided pastoral help to the Parish of Leiden Christi in Munich where he officiated at the daily mass as well as at marriages and funerals. He has been active in the spread and preservation of the Catholic faith as a member of the Commission for Doctrine and Faith of the German Bishops’ Conference since 1990, and was also a member of the International Theological Commission from 1998 to 2002. In 1999 he was appointed as peritus (theological consultant) to the Vatican’s Synod of European Bishops. In 2001 he was active as theological consultant to the International Bishops’ Synod in Rome on the subject of “The Bishop as Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for World Hope” (“Der Bischof als Diener des Evangeliums Jesu Christi für die Hoffnung der Welt”). In 2005 he participated in the International Bishops’ Synod as synod father on the subject of “The Eucharist, Source and Culmination of the Life and Mission of the Church” (“Eucharistie, Quelle und Höhepunkt von Leben und Sendung der Kirche”).
The best-known of his academic publications, now numbering over 400, is his “Catholic Dogmatics. For the Study and Practice of Theology” (“Katholische Dogmatik. Für Studium und Praxis der Theologie”). Müller’s 900-page Dogmatics, first published by Herder Verlag in 1995 and now already in its seventh edition, has been translated into Spanish, Italian and Hungarian to date, while a Czech translation is currently in progress (for details of further publications see Section 4.)
His research work focuses on ecumenism, modern age theology, the Christian understanding of the revelation, theological hermeneutics and ecclesiology (the priesthood and the deaconry). As an academic teacher his concern remains the support of young academics as is evidenced by his large, international circle of students which has continued to grow even after his appointment as Bishop. He has also provided support for many of his students with his own resources and numerous professorships both at home and abroad are held by academics of his school. The honorary doctorates he has been awarded are also testimony to his international recognition.
The Catholic University of Lublin awarded Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller an honorary doctorate on 14 September 2004, as did the Catholic Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw on 9 January 2007. The senate decision of 24 September 2008 also saw the Pontifical University of Lima (Peru) honour Bishop Müller’s academic work with the award of an honorary doctorate (blog of the Peru trip). Bishop Müller had previously written a book together with the liberationist theologist Gustavo Gutiérrez, thus making an important contribution to South American theology (“On the Side of the Poor. The Theology of Liberation” (An der Seite der Armen. Theologie der Befreiung), Augsburg 2004).
In addition, Bishop Müller was appointed honorary member of the Pontificia Academia Sancti Thomae Aquinatis in Rome in 2001 and as corresponding member of the Theology Section of the Real Academia de Doctores de Espana in Madrid in 2002. As Bishop he is also Lord High Chancellor of the Academy for Catholic Church Music and Music Education in Regensburg.
The founding of the Pope Benedict XVI Institute is certainly one of the highlights of his academic career. The diocesan institute set up in 2008 and based in Regensburg provides support for the Bishop of Regensburg in the publication of the 16 volume “Collected Writings of Joseph Ratzinger” (“Joseph Ratzinger.Gesammelte Schriften: JRGS”), Bishop Müller having been personally commissioned with the publication of the work by Pope Benedict XVI.
The first volume (“Theology of the Liturgy”-“Theologie der Liturgie”) was published in October 2008. (Further details on the institute are to be found under Section 3g.)
2. Consecration as Bishop
Following his appointment by Pope John Paul II as diocesan bishop on 1 October 2002, Professor Gerhard Ludwig Müller was consecrated as Bishop of Regensburg in the Regensburg Cathedral on 24.11.2002, the Feast of Christ the King. The principal consecrator was the then Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter. The fellow consecrators were the Bishop of Mainz, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Müller’s predecessor Bishop Manfred Müller from Regensburg, in the presence of the current pope, then the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Bishop Müller chose “Dominus Jesus” as the motto for his episcopate: “Jesus is Lord” (from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans 10, 9).
3. Activities as Bishop
b) Pastoral Visit to Regensburg by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006
Spiritual support also played a key role in the preparations for the visit to Regensburg by the Holy Father (11.–14.09.2006) and there was close cooperation with the authorities and secular bodies during the organisational planning. The highlights of the Holy Father’s visit to the diocese of Regensburg were Holy Mass on the Islinger Feld with around 250,000 believers, an ecumenical celebration of Vespers in the Regensburg Cathedral and a lecture at the university which has since found a larger audience as the “Regensburg Speech” (“Regensburger Rede”).
c) Advancement of Learning and Culture
Bishop Müller founded a church school trust in November 2003 which has taken on the sponsorship of nine church schools to date. This ensures the long term survival of financially stricken church schools in the diocese and fulfils the Church’s educational function within society more intensively.
Bishop Müller has had the Sailer Chapel converted for use by pilgrim groups as a contribution to the spiritual revival of the cathedral. In addition to new lighting and new pews, the Regensburg Cathedral is also to receive a new main organ (November 2009). The Bishop’s increased liturgical presence in the cathedral has refocused attention on the Church as a place of prayer and as the house of God. Bishop Müller has again elevated the 600 year old Kötzting Pentecostal Ride (Kötztinger Pfingstritt) to a Eucharistic procession, one in which he himself participates on horseback together with 40,000 people every year.
d) Activities in the Three Commissions of the German Bishops’ Conference
Bishop Gerhard Ludwig is President of the Commission for Ecumenical Relations of the German Bishops’ Conference where the text of the “Agreement on Reciprocal Recognition of Baptism (“Vereinbarung zur wechselseitigen Anerkennung der Taufe“) was drawn up.
A detailed handout on the subject of the “Belief in God as a Trinity” (“Der Glaube an den dreieinen Gott”) was drafted during the last session of the Commission for Doctrine and Faith of the German Bishops’ Conference, headed by Bishop Müller as Deputy Chairman, and was published in 2006 as No. 83 in the series “The German Bishops” (“Die Deutschen Bischöfe”).
Bishop Müller is also the Catholic head of the Joint Commission of Orthodox Churches of the German Bishops’ Conference. A comprehensive text has been drafted here too, entitled “The Sacraments (Mysteries) of the Church and the Community of Saints” (“Die Sakramente (Mysterien) der Kirche und die Gemeinschaft der Heiligen”).
Bishop Müller is also active within the Commission for International Church Affairs as a member of the Sub-Commission for Development Issues (particularly MISEREOR) and President of the Regensburg Association for the Promotion of the Institute of the Eastern Church.
e) Work with the International Church
Gerhard Ludwig Müller was a member of the International Theological Commission at the Vatican from 1998 to 2003.
As President of the Commission for Ecumenical Relations of the German Bishops’ Conference Bishop Müller initiated the resumption of theological discussions between the German Bishops’ Conference and the Moscow Patriarchy and this is one of the important cornerstones of his ecumenical activities. Bishop Müller represented the German Bishops’ Conference at the funeral of the late Patriarch Alexius II in December and at the enthronement of the new Patriarch Cyrill (2009).
In December 2008 he was appointed as Catholic head to the International Lutheran/Roman Catholic Commission on Unity for the fourth dialogue phase by the President of the Council for Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper. The dialogue phase of the international commission beginning in 2009 is concerned with the issue of “Baptism and the Growing Church Community” (“Taufe und wachsende Kirchengemeinschaft”).
f) Reform of the Lay Councils
In 2005 Bishop Müller carried out a reform of the diocesan lay apostolates from both a canon law and a pastoral perspective. The objective was increased structural efficiency as well as the comprehensive adaptation to current canon law (CIC 1983), enabling the development and promotion of the lay apostolates in the diocese in full accordance with the II Vatican Council. Following numerous discussions with representatives at different levels and from the diocese bodies, the reform came into effect in November 2005, despite the opposition in the media. The Decree of the Apostolic Signature (Dekret der Apostolischen Signatur) of 9 February 2007 by the highest court in Rome then declared the reform by the Bishop of Regensburg to be lawful. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also expressed thanks for his “bringing the diocesan regulations fully into line with the requirements of the II Vatican Council and the conditions of the Codex Iuris Canonici of 1983.”
The reform is intended to strengthen the position of the parish community councils who work closely together with the priest as shepherd of the community. Project- and topic-related working groups will be implemented at deanery level in the future, thus avoiding overlaps. At diocese level the Diocese Council has been split into two diocese bodies, the Diocese Pastoral Council and the Diocese Committee. The Diocese Pastoral Council for the whole diocese now replaces the 33 deanery councillors. The disproportionate ratio of lay representatives affords recognition to the lay apostolate. The church associations and bodies are able to join forces in the diocese committee in order to be able to represent the Christian position within society more effectively. A reform of this nature after 30 years is expedient given experiences to date and corresponds to the Vaticanum II and the new documents of the Church’s Magisterium.
g) Founding of the Pope Benedict XVI Institute
The Pope Benedict XVI Institute established by the Bishop began work on 1 September 2008. Headed by Professor Rudolf Voderholzer, Professor for Catholic Dogmatics in Trier, the institute supports Bishop Müller in the publication of the collected works of Joseph Ratzinger. The institute elucidates the academic and contemporary context of the person and the work of Joseph Ratzinger/ Benedict XVI, making them available to the academic world. A comprehensive text, image and sound archive is also to be built up. The first volume of “Collected Writings” by Joseph Ratzinger was published on 16 October. The book, entitled “Theology of the Liturgy” (“Theologie der Liturgie“) was presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2008 by the editor, Bishop Müller, and the publisher, Manuel Herder, in a public discussion.
Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller presented the book to the Pope in person in a private audience on 22 October. Translations into Italian, Spanish, French and English are currently planned.
The initial volume was presented to the Apostolic Nuntius in Germany, Archbishop Jean-Claude Périsset, at the official opening of the institute on 30 October 2008.
A yearbook has also been produced to accompany the institute’s publication work entitled “Notes from the Pope Benedict XVI Institute” (“Mitteilungen des Institut-Papst-Benedikt XVI.”), providing insights into the work of the Institute and the scope for an academic discussion of the theology of Joseph Ratzinger. The “Notes” (“Mitteilungen”) are published by Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg (ISBN 978-3-7954-2159-5).
Bishop Müller has published more than 400 academic publications to date, the majority of which date from his 16 years as Professor of Dogmatics at the LMU in Munich. Bishop Müller continues his work in the academic sphere even as bishop, however, and has been able to produce numerous books and contributions since his appointment as Bishop of Regensburg, as is evidenced by his bibliography.
A short selection of his publications:
1. Bonhoeffers Theologie der Sakramente (= FTS 28), Frankfurt 1979
2. Für andere da. Christus - Kirche - Gott in Bonhoeffers Sicht der mündig gewordenen Welt (= KKTS 44), Paderborn 1980
3. Gemeinschaft und Verehrung der Heiligen. Geschichtlich-systematische Grundlegung der Hagiologie, Freiburg 1986
4. Was heißt: Geboren von der Jungfrau Maria? Eine theologische Deutung (= QD 119), Freiburg 1989
5. Laßt uns mit ihm gehen. Eucharistiefeier als Weggemeinschaft, Freiburg 1990
6. Was bedeutet Maria uns Christen? Die Antwort des Konzils. Überlegungen zum Marienkapitel der Kirchenkonstitution des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils, Vienna 1994
7. Christologie - Die Lehre von Jesus Christus, in: Beinert, W. (Hg.), Glaubenszugänge. Lehrbuch der Katholischen Dogmatik 2, Paderborn 1995, 1-297
8. Katholische Dogmatik. Für Studium und Praxis der Theologie, Freiburg 1995, 21996, 31998, 42001, 52003, 62005, 72007
9. John Henry Newman begegnen (= Zeugen des Glaubens), Augsburg 2000
10. Priestertum und Diakonat. Der Empfänger des Weihesakramentes in schöpfungstheologischer und christologischer Perspektive (= Sammlung Horizonte NF 33), Freiburg 2000 (Priesthood and the Diaconate: The Recipient of the Sacrament of Holy Orders from the Perspective of Creation Theology and Christology)
11. Mit der Kirche denken. Bausteine und Skizzen zu einer Ekklesiologie der Gegenwart, Würzburg 2001, 32007
12. Maria - die Frau im Heilsplan Gottes (= Mariologische Studien XV), Regensburg 2002
13. Die Messe. Quelle christlichen Lebens, Augsburg 2002
14. Gustavo Gutiérrez/Gerhard Ludwig Müller, An der Seite der Armen. Theologie der Befreiung, Augsburg 2004
15. Vom Vater gesandt. Impulse einer inkarnatorischen Christologie für Gottesfrage und Menschenbild, Regensburg 2005
16. Gott und seine Geschichte. Ein Gespräch über die Bibel, Freiburg 2005