The sense of relief must be overwhelming when a storm-tossed sailor finally sees land creep into view. Reading Cardinal Müller’s topical and timely book, ‘The Power of Truth: The Challenges to Catholic Doctrine and Morals Today’, provides something similar to a Catholic unsettled by intractable and seemingly interminable controversies raging in the global Church.
Actually a compilation of essays and addresses, rather than a single composition, the former head of the CDF applies his perspicacious intellect to diverse questions that have ignited debates, sometimes rancorous, in recent years, including papal authority, reception of communion, ‘paradigm shifts’, dialogue in the Church, amongst others. Perhaps unsurprisingly given his former position at the chief doctrinal office of the Church, but nonetheless refreshingly given how much wasted ideological ink has been spilt by other commentators on these topics, the Cardinal’s contribution to these debates is to bring them into direct, substantial contact with the rich authoritative Tradition of Mother Church.
Indeed, his ability to adequately summarise current controversies, so as to identify the crux of the issue and then illuminate it with the light of faith, reminded me at times of the sermons and writings of his compatriot and predecessor in office, Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict. This might not be all that surprising since the Cardinal is in charge of current efforts to produce the Opera Omnia, a single collection of all Pope Benedict’s writings.
Half of the essays originally appeared as a monthly series of articles in the journal ‘First Things’ between December 2017 and April 2018. Perhaps with an eye to the wider general readership of such a publication, the Cardinal’s style is readily accessible. Only one essay, a university lecture delivered on being awarded the title Doctor Honoris Causa, was somewhat heavier going. Overall however, one puts down the book equipped to respond to current questioning of aspects of the Catholic faith. Amid a general crisis of hope, it is encouraging material, which is appropriate given that in his Manifesto of Faith appended to the book, Cardinal Müller chose as his title, “Let not your hearts be troubled” (Jn 14:1).