Ukraine, Cardinal Müller: “Putin an even more serious example than Hitler and Stalin”

In the book-interview ‘In good faith’: “Catholic pacifists against arming them? They can move to Siberia if they want”

“In my opinion, President Putin, precisely because he is an observant Orthodox Christian, sets an even more serious example than figures like Hitler and Stalin, considering that both were atheists. An attitude consistent with the principles of Christianity is expected from a Christian who presents himself in public using Christian symbols, for example the rosary or the crucifix”. So Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect emeritus of the former Holy Office in the book interview with Vatican correspondent Franca Giansoldati ‘In good faith’ , out with Solferino on 27 January.

The cardinal, in the book-interview, also responds to the criticisms leveled at the Pope regarding the war in Ukraine. “The Pope – observes Müller – used very strong words to reach a ceasefire, launched appeals and tried to do everything possible for the refugees, even if he never openly condemned Putin at the beginning of the conflict. Probably because there was the fear that the Kremlin could take revenge on the life of the Catholic communities present on Russian territory: they are a small minority, but very lively and active. Perhaps at the outbreak of war he could have addressed the Russian president publicly, relying on the fact that Putin is a practicing Christian and emphasizing that going to kiss the icons and light the candles in the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer should have led him to reflect on the Gospel , preventing the deliberate killing of tens of thousands of Ukrainians and the destruction of cities, in a pounding propaganda tainted with lies. How can a Christian who goes to church arrive at so much violence, and how can this contradiction be explained?”.

Is war morally acceptable when it comes to fighting to defend one’s territory from the aggressor? “No war is ‘just’. Any kind of war is an opprobrium. Defense warfare exists to the extent that it is necessary to guarantee the life of one’s own people and of one’s own territory being invaded in an unjustified way. Killing a man in self-defense remains execrable, but it is morally permissible. However, it is legitimate – observes the cardinal – to arm a country that is defending itself and it cannot be a theoretical exercise. After all, how could the attacked person defend himself against an aggressor country without weapons? Think of the case of Kiev and Moscow. Catholic pacifists don’t approve of arms being given to Ukrainians, there has been a lot of controversy, but we should point out to them that if they don’t agree with Church Doctrine they can always choose to submit to President Putin. They can also move to Siberia if they want, and work unpaid for Moscow. Sometimes the lack of knowledge of Catholic doctrine is abysmal. What are Russians doing in Ukraine? They kill thousands of people, destroy infrastructure and the Church certainly cannot accept what is happening. It is another thing to bless the soldiers at the front with a gesture devoid of sacredness, perhaps done out of affection with the wish that the soldiers save their lives. However, it gives rise to ambiguity. The Catechism speaks of the right of defense of peoples but the aspect remains unresolved regarding atomic weapons, which are so destructive as to develop enormous unknowns and doubts”.