The formerly nearly ubiquitous John L. Allen, Jr. has an outstanding interview with the great Francis Card. Arinze, 82 year old Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni and quondam Prefect of Divine Worship. Allen dubs His Eminence as Africa’s Lion in Winter.
You should read the whole thing, but here are a couple samples. Note the Cardinal’s unhesitating clarity.
You are convinced it’s not possible to invite divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to Communion?
That is correct, in the sense that Christ has said, “What God has joined, let no man put asunder,” and the Catholic Church traditionally has interpreted it to mean that a consummated marriage sanctified by the sacrament cannot be broken by any authority.
Including the authority of the Church?
Yes, not even the authority of the Church can break it. That being so, if a man leaves a woman or asks her to go away, or she does the same, and they get a fresh partner, that can’t be approved. Christ has one word for a person who does that: “Adultery.” We cannot improve on what Christ has said. We cannot be wiser than him, or say that “there is a circumstance he did not foresee.” We cannot be more merciful than Christ.
We must look for a way to help the divorced who are remarried, [but] we don’t help them by saying, “Come and receive Holy Communion.”
The Eucharist is not something we possess, and we can give to our friends and those with whom we sympathize …. The idea of sin is not something new invented by modern conservative people in the Church. It is Christ himself who called it a sin, and he used that word “adultery.” He knows what he’s talking about. Without departing from Christ, how can we backpedal?
Remember, only God will conduct the last judgment, not us, not even half a dozen cardinals from the Vatican. God will judge each person’s circumstances, but objectively we cannot approve [divorce and remarriage].
There has been conversation in the synod about a finding a “new language,” especially on homosexuality, meaning something that’s more inclusive and welcoming. How does that look from the African perspective?
I would be suspicious, because I would wonder what type of new language you want. Shouldn’t we call things by their name, calling good “good” and evil “evil”? We don’t condemn the person, but we don’t approve the action.
One of the duties of bishops is to teach, and it is very important that the Gospel be undiluted, without adding salt or pepper, but without subtracting them, either. The message is not ours. Christ’s message must shine clearly on what marriage is. If two men come together for business purposes, we’re not worried about that. But if they begin to call it marriage, don’t you see that it’s not all right anymore?
[NB: And now what I think is out Nightmare Scenario, one of the worst of possible products of this Synod…] Some at the synod have talked about allowing decisions on the divorced and remarried or on homosexuality to be decentralized, made at the level of regional or national bishops’ conferences or by individual bishops. How do you feel about that?
Are you going to tell me that we can have a national bishops’ conference in one country that would approve something which, in another conference, would be seen as sin? Is sin going to change according to national borders? We’d become national churches. Have there not been other religious affiliations in the world that came dangerously near to that?
National bishops’ conferences are important and should have a clear role, [a very limited role, perhaps] but I don’t think it should include these areas. It looks dangerously like nationalizing right and wrong.
There’s quite a bit more.