Card. Sarah on marriage, mercy and the incomprehension of doctrine by priests

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I saw at Sandro Magister’s Chiesa that Robert Card. Sarah (cheer here), Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and author of God Or Nothing, [UK HERE] has some strong words for the Church (and churchmen) in the recent L’Homme Nouveau.

Magister has a preview.

Here is a preview of his preview. “Overrated Synod. Before All Else in the Church There Is a Crisis of Faith”.

Card. Sarah responds to critics.  My emphases.

Four objections, four responses, and one conclusion

by Robert Sarah

1. DOCTRINE, LET’S VOTE ON IT BY MAJORITY

[…]

2. COMMUNION FOR ALL, WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION

[…]

3. REMARRIED AND ACTIVE IN THE PARISH. WHY NO COMMUNION?

[…]

4. THE AFRICAN FAMILY IS NOT WHAT YOU TELL US IT IS

[…]

CONCLUSION. THE MAGISTERIUM OF THE CHURCH, THIS UNKNOWN TERRAIN

To conclude, I feel wounded in my heart as a bishop in witnessing such incomprehension of the Church’s definitive teaching on the part of my brother priests.

I cannot allow myself to imagine as the cause of such confusion anything but the insufficiency of the formation of my confreres. And insofar as I am responsible for the discipline of the sacraments in the whole Latin Church, I am bound in conscience to recall that Christ has reestablished the Creator’s original plan of a monogamous, indissoluble marriage ordered to the good of the spouses, as also to the generation and education of children. He has also elevated marriage between baptized persons to the rank of a sacrament, signifying God’s covenant with his people, just like the Eucharist.

In spite of this, there also exists a marriage that the Church calls “legitimate.” The sacred dimension of this “natural” dimension makes it an element awaiting the sacrament, on the condition that it respect heterosexuality and the parity of the two spouses when it comes to their specific rights and duties, and that the consent not exclude monogamy, indissolubility, permanence, and openness to life.

Conversely, the Church stigmatizes the deformations introduced into human love: homosexuality, polygamy, chauvinism, free love, divorce, contraception, etc. In any case, it never condemns persons. But it does not leave them in their sin. Like its Master, it has the courage and the charity to say to them: go and from now on sin no more.

The Church does not only welcome with mercy, respect, and delicacy. It firmly invites to conversion. As its follower, I promote mercy for sinners – which all of us are – but also firmness toward sins incompatible with the love for God that is professed with sacramental communion. What is this if not the imitation of the attitude of the Son of God who addresses the adulterous woman: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on sin no more” (Jn 8:11)?

Read the whole thing there.

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31 Responses to Card. Sarah on marriage, mercy and the incomprehension of doctrine by priests

  1. JARay says:

    The Church is really blest in Cardinal Sarah.

  2. Clemens Romanus says:

    Couldn’t be more spot on!

  3. rwj says:

    How great would it be to see His Eminence emerge someday on a certain balcony wearing a certain ermine mozzetta!

  4. Ferde Rombola says:

    Finally! A faithful bishop who is willing, in charity, to criticize his brother bishops. Where are the others??

  5. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Stunning. Of course, these days, pretty much any reasonably clear expression of a basic truth is stunning, but, hey, Sarah is stunning.

  6. Robbie says:

    The more I learn about Cardinal Sarah, the more I like him. In this day and age, I truly appreciate his directness. Some things are black and white and need to be stated as such. That said, I found it very interesting what John Allen wrote about him the other day. In a piece listing who Allen thought would be papabile, he was almost totally dismissive of Sarah’s chances. As is often the case, I hope Allen is wrong.

  7. tominrichmond says:

    Truth packed into such a succinct package. It reminds me of the encyclicals of old, not verbose, not obscure, not interminable, but sparse, Roman, direct.

    Please God, grant us a Pontiff like this man.

  8. scotus says:

    How long before Cardinal Sarah gets the Burke treatment? With words like this he is likely to get shifted to some obscure, minor position where he can no longer do any “harm”. You can almost feel the Kasper mafia swarming round the Pope, telling him, “This chap’s got to go.”

  9. Adaquano says:

    Let us pray for Cardinal Sarah, that he continues to have the courage to preach Christ’s truth. Also that his fellows bishops and priests hear his words, and that young priests in seminarians hear his voice and let his words take root in their minds, spirits, and hearts to continue speaking the Truth to their flocks.

  10. LarryW2LJ says:

    “Psssh ….. he’s from Africa. He doesn’t know any better.”

    You know that’s what they’re all thinking, even if they won’t say it.

  11. Benedict Joseph says:

    Would this be said by a Pope.
    Ah, not up for that surprise…
    The counter-intuitive reigns supreme.

  12. Patti Day says:

    Cardinal Sarah is dangerous. He is orthodox, intelligent, outspoken, courageous, attributes the Vatican mafia despise. I pray he continues to be supported by his faithful brethren. I hope he knows how much respect he enjoys among faithful Catholics. If he were to be demoted, it would be a sad thing for our hurting church. I once believed that Francis was manipulated by those around him, but no longer. If it happens it will be because Francis wants him eliminated.

  13. jaykay says:

    Robbie says: “In a piece listing who Allen thought would be papabile, he was almost totally dismissive of Sarah’s chances”.

    Well, and John A. knows this well, as ’tis said: “Chi entra Papa esce Cardinale”.

    We can but hope. After all, who 11 short years ago would have even dared to hope about what came to pass in April… 11 short years ago.

  14. jaykay says:

    Oops, 10 short years ago. ?

  15. donato2 says:

    Magister quotes Cardinal Sarah as saying:
    “The entire Church has always firmly held that one may not receive communion with the knowledge of being in a state of mortal sin, a principle recalled as definitive by John Paul II in his 2003 encyclical ‘Ecclesia de Eucharistia,’” on the basis of what was decreed by the Council of Trent.

    According to Magister, Cardinal Sarah immediately afterward adds:

    “Not even a pope can dispense from such a divine law.”

    Sounds to me like a line in the sand.

  16. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    Jaykay, you are right, no one expected the Spanish Inqui…, I mean, Ratzinger. In 2005 John Allen had a list of 20 papabile and guess who wasn’t on it. Also, on the Sunday before the conclave Cardinal Ratzinger gave his sermon on the “dictatorship of relativism,” on Monday the Washington Post editorialized that he had just lost any chance of being pope, and on Tuesday he was elected. Just pray.

  17. frjim4321 says:

    It seems intellectually disingenuous to ignore that fact that the prelate is from a continent with considerable cultural undercurrents which facilitate a particularly rigid anthropology which would in turn drive an equally rigid morality.

  18. wolskerj says:

    @frjim4321 – In other words: “them darkies ain’t as suphistacated as we is.” Got it.

  19. frjim4321 says:

    Not hardly, woskerj.

    It’s a matter of culture and not, as you crudely insinuate, race.

  20. The Cobbler says:

    How did we get to the point where literate men can call it intellectually disingenuous to give a wide berth to ad hominem fallacy?

  21. WYMiriam says:

    Frjim4321: “…from a continent with considerable cultural undercurrents which facilitate a particularly rigid anthropology which would in turn drive an equally rigid morality.”

    Would you rather have a papabile from a continent [North America] with considerable overcurrents that are right-in-your-face (not below the surface) which facilitate a particularly flaccid anthropology which in turn drives an equally flaccid, nay, totally depraved, morality?

  22. frjim4321 says:

    “Would you rather have a papabile from a continent [North America] with considerable overcurrents that are right-in-your-face (not below the surface) which facilitate a particularly flaccid anthropology which in turn drives an equally flaccid, nay, totally depraved, morality?” WYMiriam

    (1) Nobody really know who is a “papabile.”
    (2) I’d be surprised to see a North American pope in the next 20 years.
    (3) We’d most likely have a pope from Central/South America who would be realistic regarding the most neuralgic issues of our time.

  23. Mike says:

    I am curious, frjim4321: Have you read Cardinal Sarah’s book and, if so, what is your take on His Eminence’s observations — particularly those upon the culture in which he was raised?

  24. robtbrown says:

    FrJim4321,

    I tend to agree with you about papabili. There are two divisions: the first is who is publicly said (e.g., media) to be in that category; the second is who are thought to be serious candidates by the Cardinals themselves, who seldom tip their hands. The two aren’t necessarily mutally exclusive–but rather often a Venn diagram. Most of us, however, don’t know which Cardinals are actually in the shared area until after the conclave.

    I doubt, however, that the next pope will come from Latin America. There has been too much dissatisfaction among Asians, Africans, and Italians about the way the Synod was run for another S/C American to be elected. NB: The Asians and Africans currently have 28 Cardinals, and the Italians 48 (27 voting), easily. a bloc strong enough to prevent another Latin American pope.

    I agree with what you say about the possibility of a N American pope–if N America only refers to the US, which of course it doesn’t.

    One pattern we’ve seen is elections alternating between the Curia and Curial outsiders:

    Pius XII: Curia
    John XXIII: Outsider
    Paul VI: Curia (came from Milan but spent most years in the Curia)
    JPII: Outsider
    BXVI: Curia
    Francis: Outsider

    If that pattern holds, it would mean the next conclave will look to the Curia.

  25. frjim4321 says:

    “Pius XII: Curia
    John XXIII: Outsider
    Paul VI: Curia (came from Milan but spent most years in the Curia)
    JPII: Outsider
    BXVI: Curia
    Francis: Outsider”

    Fascinating!

    There is also the old/young/old/young/old/young theory …

    [You forgot the Pope everyone forgets to remember. Also, John XXIII was secretary to his bishop… seminary instructor… papal diplomat.. only a diocesan bishop in 1952. He, too, was an insider and now what people these days claim is “pastoral”. They claim that service other than parochial is not “pastoral” (or “pastohreal”). However, Roncalli served into the military after having been drafted. What other Pope in that list was drafted? Ratzinger! John Paul II had to do training but he didn’t bear arms.]

  26. Imrahil says:

    And of course the zelanti/politicanti theory. (Under which, Pope St. John Paul II counts as zelante, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI as politicante, and the present Holy Father as zelante again – which i.m.h.o. surprisingly would be accurate, personality-wise, after certain first-impressions and reactions from the non-Catholic world are set aside.)

    That said, Pope St. John XXIII, though he was, as has been observed, in manners and personality pretty much your pious and amiable countryside pastor or local bishop, actually came from the Diplomatic Corps (does that count as Curia?) before he was installed in Venice.

  27. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil,

    Disagree (and I prefer politico/religioso). JPII: Papa Politico; BXVI: Religioso.

    JXXIII didn’t come up in the Curia, so he was an Outsider. That notwithstanding, Italian Cardinals running dioceses have one eye on the Curia, whether or not they have worked there.

  28. robtbrown says:

    [You forgot the Pope everyone forgets to remember. Also, John XXIII was secretary to his bishop… seminary instructor… papal diplomat.. only a diocesan bishop in 1952. He, too, was an insider and now what people these days claim is “pastoral”.

    I didn’t forget JPI. Because he was pope only one month, I folded his election into JPII’s.

    The distinction was Curia/non Curia (Outsider). Papa Roncalli didn’t come up in the Curia .

  29. WYMiriam says:

    Since you insist on being obtuse, Fr. Jim, allow me to reword my question.

    Would it be just as “intellectually disingenuous to ignore th[e] fact that [Card. Sarah] is from a continent with considerable cultural undercurrents which facilitate a particularly rigid anthropology which would in turn drive an equally rigid morality” as it would be to ignore the Cardinal’s country of origin had he been from, say, the U.S.A., a country which is drowning in “considerable cultural undercurrents* which facilitate a particularly rigid anthropology** which would in turn drive an equally rigid morality***”?

    * “considerable cultural undercurrents” — e.g., of hedonism and libertinism (abortion and homosexual faux “marriage” being the two most in-your-face examples)

    ** an understanding, that is, of man as being hardly better than brute beasts, so . . .

    *** . . . so they might as well live like brute beasts, and practice all sorts of things that the beasts are allowed (e.g., stealing, murder, polygamy) under the laws of nature but that human beings are forbidden because of the laws of nature’s GOD?

    What you appear to have really said was, “It’s intellectually dishonest to ignore that Cardinal Sarah is from Africa, where the culture is so stifling that no one can escape horrible intellectual deformation from it, and who will inevitably wind up being a rigid, frigid moral tyrant.”

    Well, I think that is intellectually dishonest. Do you realize that you are painting everybody in Africa with the same brush?

    Your point #3: “We’d most likely have a pope from Central/South America who would be realistic regarding the most neuralgic issues of our time.”

    I need to apologize for bringing “papabile” into the conversation; I was too irritated at your assumption to think straight. However, this particular item of yours in response to my post makes me wonder whether or not you think Pope Francis is “realistic regarding the most [sharply painful] issues of our time.” Also, I wonder whether you think his two immediate predecessors were realistic about the burning issues of our time? What say you? Were/are any of this trio of popes realistic about the “neuralgic” issues of their/our time?

    I wonder just what you think would be a “realistic [response to] the most neuralgic issues of our time.” Well, shucks, just what do you think are the “most neuralgic issues of our time”, anyway?

  30. Mike says:

    Curiously, the supposed “rigid anthropology” spoken of with such disparagement is the one that obtained until the past few centuries. The dawn of the 20th century arguably is when material comfort — fueled increasingly over succeeding decades by fiat money and an ever-less-supportable welfare state based on ever-less-serviceable debt — began seriously to eclipse virtue as the lodestar of human society.

    Wise observers inside and outside of Africa note with alarm the parallels between Western economic colonization of recent centuries and Western cultural colonization of the present day. Both have left swaths of destruction, and absymal voids of virtue, in the wake of their “progress,” which no amount of progressive anthropologizing will ever reconcile with the Divine plan for the human family.

    We in the “progressive” West need to pray that we may learn from our own failures before we go trying to impose them on others. Studying Scripture, Tradition, and the timeless doctrines of the Church (as they have been handed down, not as museum pieces) and the teaching and examples of the saints (as they resonate down to the present day) would be good places to start. If that be “fundamentalism,” make the most of it.

  31. Gerhard says:

    So often we wonder why priests deviate from their priesthood so badly. Saying Mass has (or should have) set rubrics. It can be read from a book, in a prescribed form. How is that so hard to learn and follow in 6+ years of seminary formation? Is it that seminarians are not taught to love Our Lord? Have they not sinned, and been saved from the pit of Hell through his grace and mercy? Don’t seminaries have teachers who help the seminarians discern that? Clearly not! Enough of the mawkish, embarrassing, self caressing, infantile, happy clappy, hip swaying, toddlers’ party gloop that passes for sacred liturgy but exalts the “celebrant”. Our Blessed Mother and the other Maries were not bopping and dancing, grinning and greeting around the Cross at Calvary. Priests and seminarians should “man-up”, just like the BVM. Don’t you know there’s a war on, and we lay-men in our fox-holes look to you to lead us? (Thank you Fr Z – may God continue to protect you!!!)