Cardinal Gerhard Müller is crying persecution after receiving blowback from a COVID-19 conspiracy theory he signed.

– “Everyone now calls everybody who thinks differently a conspiracy theorist”

“Of course, interested circles within the Church have used this… text to capitalise on indignation about their alleged opponents”, Müller, the former Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, complained to Die Tagespost May 10.

“Everyone now calls everybody who thinks differently a conspiracy theorist”, the cardinal grumbled, adding saracastically: “for example, it was sinister conservative forces that thwarted the Pope at the Amazon Synod“.

The May 7 “appeal” the German prelate co-signed with fellow cardinals Joseph Zen of Hong Kong and Janis Pujats of Latvia – along with an assortment of other conservative bishops and lay Catholics – denounced that “fundamental freedoms” of citizens such as those of worship, expression and movement had been “disproportionately and unjustifiably restricted” under the “pretext” of COVID-19.

The “appeal” furthermore warned that politicians’ response to the pandemic to date was shaping up as a “disturbing prelude to the realisation of a world government beyond all control”.

But in his comments to Die Tagespost, Müller denounced that the “appeal” had been deliberately misunderstood.

The text “is interpreted as claiming that the pandemic itself was invented to cause panic, which is absurd”, the cardinal explained, protesting that his focus had been on the “partly inadequate Church reaction” to the crisis, and not on the medical or scientific aspects of the pandemic.

“Because I, as a cardinal, was somehow seen as the most prominent person of this text, the perception was focused on me”, Müller also objected as to why he personally has found himself in the eye of the storm after the publication of the petition.

“It is wrong to always polarise everything”, the cardinal complained.

“Those who know better can use objective arguments to calmly and serenely correct real or alleged errors.

“What is important for us is the connection of faith and reason for coping with the consequences in bodily, social and spiritual regard”.

– “Dangerous theories” of “pseudo-scientists, anti-vaxxers and esoterics”: the firestorm of criticism from the German Church

Müller’s fightback on the COVID-19 “appeal” came after an intense weekend in which he and his fellow conspiracy theorists were harshly criticised by the vicar general of Essen, Klaus Pfeffer, and by the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing.

Müller’s successor as bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, also said he was “adopting as his own” Bätzing’s statement explaining that the German Bishops had a “fundamentally different” view of politicians’ responses to the pandemic than did the “appeal” subscribers.

Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart Gebhard Fürst, meanwhile, said he “strongly dissociate[d]” himself “from the dangerous theories of the group around Archbishop Viganò”, in a reference to the instigator of the “appeal”.

“Whoever reinterprets the efforts of politics to protect human life from the [coronavirus] into a dubious world conspiracy is playing with fire!”, Fürst alerted.

Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg for his part hit out at “extremist Church representatives” who behaved as “pseudo-scientists, anti-vaxxers and esoterics”.

“I don’t understand these voices in society and in the church”, lamented too the Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Hesse, who added that he saw COVID-19 containment measures to be correct and responsible.

“The fact that these measures are supported by large sections of the population is an expression of the solidarity that is really necessary”, Hesse insisted.

Next on Novena:

German Bishops take down Cardinal Müller over coronavirus conspiracy rant

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.