Cardinal Sarah: ambiguities on doctrine can lead to dangerous opinions.
June 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – This is a good news report in that it presents some clear, exceptionally well-informed teaching excerpts from a book interview with a holy Cardinal of the Catholic Church. The excerpts are especially timely considering the massive confusion generated by the two synods on the family.
Cardinal Robert Sarah came from a very simple life in one of the smallest villages in Guinea, Africa, endured great hardships and the persecutions and violence of a Marxist dictatorship, was appointed as a bishop of the Catholic Church at the unusually young age of 34, and rose to be an influential and still humble and spiritual-focused Cardinal in the Vatican.
Sarah's early years of formation left him especially aware of corruption and manipulations and the need to courageously speak necessary truth with simplicity.
In the midst of the swirling storm of confusion shaking the Church in 2015, Sarah’s book, God or Nothing, A Conversation on Faith, was released. The 284-page published interview with the cardinal, currently Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and formerly the head of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which oversaw all the Church’s aid agencies in the world, is a treasure trove of wisdom, and unambiguous teaching on faith-related issues of the day - it is a pleasure to read. He does not avoid addressing even the most controversial issues.
I have been reading the book for the past few weeks and have been so impressed that I am including below some notable excerpts for the benefit of LifeSite readers. I believe you will appreciate the excerpts. Better still, buy the book.
During the 2014 Synod on the family, Cardinal Walter Kasper made demeaning remarks about the African cardinals who were frustrating his and others’ efforts to impose their modernist, relativist changes to the Church’s core moral teachings.
Kasper was recorded telling a Zenit News Agency reporter that African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do” and that they are "very different, especially about gays.” That translated in many minds into, “they are still faithful, whereas we more advanced Europeans don’t believe all that morality stuff anymore.” Kasper went on a bit more to indicate he believed the Africans to be out-of-date simpletons.
God or Nothing reveals that Cardinal Robert Sarah, one of those African bishops who actively opposed Kasper’s proposals, is a highly aware and learned prince of the Church. This man, whose humble demeanor seems similar to that of the brilliant and holy Pope Benedict, understands well the machinations of the world, but also, unlike Kasper, he strives to maintain a constant spiritual link to His Lord to guide his every action and word.
After reading God or Nothing, one cannot help but conclude how very wrong Cardinal Kasper is about the intelligence and wisdom of the African cardinals such as Sarah.
I start first with a series of excerpts of Sarah’s answer to an initial question from his interviewer, Nicolas Diat: What are the most worrisome signs today, and your opinion, for the future of the church? Quotes following that are related to other questions that were not necessary to re-print.
As head of Cor Unum, Cardinal Sarah witnessed the scandalous leftist ideological and political emphases of most Western bishops’ conferences’ international aid agencies, such as Canada’s Development and Peace and the US Bishops’ Catholic Relief Services. But there were many more as well, such as the German bishops’ agency, that were every bit as distant from their mandate to be in the service of the Gospel. Sarah, together with Pope Benedict, undertook major reforms to attempt to redirect the agencies back to their Catholic spiritual mission.
Cardinal Sarah (book page of each quote section is noted):
p. 112 - There is a missionary trend that emphasizes political involvement or struggle and social-economic development; This approach offers a diluted interpretation of the gospel and of the proclamation of Jesus.
p. 114 - A priest who has interiorized his priestly life is careful to communicate his encounter with God in a comprehensible way. He will be capable of speaking simply. Some have intellectualized and complicated the Christian message so much that a great number of people are no longer touched by or interested in the teaching of the church.
p. 115 - Fathers of the church knew how to express themselves in a moving way and succeeded in converting whole populations to Christ. Through vivid expressions and beautiful images, they merely communicated their own spiritual experiences.
- One of the major difficulties at present is found in ambiguities or personal statements about important doctrinal points, which can lead to erroneous and dangerous opinions. These bad habits disorient many of the faithful. Sometimes contradictory answers to very serious questions are given by the clergy and the theologians. How can the people of God help but be disturbed by such behaviour? How can the baptized be certain of what is good or bad? Confusion about the right direction to take is the worst malady of our era.
- Contrary to the surrounding subjectivism, the church must know how to tell the truth, with humility, respect, and clarity.
- God did not ask us to create personal projects to transmit the faith. Men of God are conveyors, not interpreters; they are faithful messengers and stewards of the Christian mysteries. Much will be demanded of those who received much.
p. 116 - The first missionaries never separated the proclamation of the word of God, the celebration of the sacraments, and charitable service. Today, we have the tendency to emphasize socio-political involvement and economic development, while excluding evangelization.
- We are misusing the social doctrine of the church without understanding it correctly. It becomes a tool for political action.
p. 117 - The Church would betray Jesus by becoming actively involved in political life.
p. 130 - Ideologies coarsen, crush, and destroy men.
- The ideological spirit is the opposite of the Gospel spirit. That is why priests who choose to follow or to propagate political ideas are necessarily on the wrong path, since they make sacred something that is not supposed to be. Ideology is by nature disconnected from reality, and it is necessarily a source of division, since you cannot win the lasting allegiances of people who are still anchored in reality, in good times and bad.
On Gender ideology (same page continued)
- Today [the Church] must address gender ideology, which John Paul II did not hesitate to describe as a "new ideology of evil”. Moreover gender, the product of reflection by American structuralists, is a deformed child of Marxist thinking. In his last book, Memory and Identity, John Paul II had already written: “I am thinking…of the strong pressure from the European Parliament to recognize homosexual unions as an alternative type of family, the right to adopt children. It is legitimate, even necessary to ask whether this is not the work of another ideology of evil, more subtle and hidden, perhaps, intent upon exploiting human rights themselves against man and against the family.”
- Gender ideology conveys a crude lie, since the reality of the human being as man and woman is denied. The lobbies and the feminist movement promote it with violence. It has rapidly been transformed into a battle against the social order and its values. Its objective does not just stop at the deconstruction of the [human] subject; It is interested above all in the deconstruction of the social order. It is about sowing discord over the legitimacy of social norms and introducing a suspicion over the model of heterosexuality; for [proponents of] gender [theory], it is necessary to abolish Christian civilization and construct a new world.
See the next three parts of this series of excerpts from "God or Nothing".
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