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ROME, July 8, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — An eminent African cardinal has strongly emphasized the identity of the Catholic priest as the caretaker of souls. 

“Today we speak little about the Gospel and we don’t speak about souls anymore,” Cardinal Robert Sarah, the former Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said in a recent interview.  

“Pastoral care today is concerned principally with the body, life, material things,” he added. 

“Thus, when Jesus says, ‘What does it profit a man that he should gain the whole world but lose his soul’, all the modern translations say ‘but lose his own life’ (Matt 16:26).” 

The cardinal pointed out that the Latin words of the pious centurion “and my soul shall be healed,” repeated by Catholics before Holy Communion, have been rendered “and I will be saved” in Italian.  

“The priest has the care of souls,” Sarah stated firmly.  

“If he does not care about souls, he becomes useless. This means, for a priest, to take care of others, to be a ‘curate’ [curato, curé], like St. John Vianney.”  

Sarah granted a half-hour interview to journalist Lorenzo Bertocchi that appeared in this month’s issue of the Italian Catholic Il Timone (“The Helm”) magazine, answering questions about the crisis in the contemporary priesthood, priestly celibacy, and priestly identity, among other subjects. 

Regarding the crisis, the cardinal stated that everything “bearing in itself the clear signs of stability, immutability, and eternity” in our society — including both the priesthood and marriage — is in crisis. Sarah explained that because the “man of today” lives on sensations, emotional impulses and material things, he thinks a life dedicated to spiritual and supernatural values seems “impossible or absurd.” 

“The priestly life falls victim to this crisis of modernity,” Sarah said. 

“The priestly vocation is always born in the context of the faith in the man’s life and community, be it the family or the parish,” he continued. 

“Without faith in God, he would not understand the reason to give his whole life for Christ, for the Church, and for souls, always. For many men today, the priesthood is … a useless life except and only when it concerns itself with the material needs of others.” 

But, as Sarah points out, it is not necessary to be a priest to sustain people materially. Priests are called to take up the mission Jesus left to the 11 faithful apostles. 

“In the moment we chose to follow the priestly calling, we chose to represent Christ in the world, on this earth, to reflect the Sun that is Christ,” the cardinal said. 

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PETITION UPDATE (9/3/21)

Following the US Supreme Court's decision to allow Texas' Heartbeat Law to go into effect, Joe Biden made the announcement that he would initiate a "whole-of-government" response against the new pro-life statute which could ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

This is yet another, outright confirmation of Biden's openly pro-abortion policies, policies which have the main objective of ensuring that women will continue to be able to kill their own children without impediment.

This anti-life, anti-Catholic stance needs to be urgently addressed and condemned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

For the good of the Church, for the good of pre-born babies, for the good of the faithful, and, indeed, for his own good, Joe Biden needs to be publicly rebuked by the bishops and excommunicated until such time as he repents from his pro-abortion policies.

Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition, which asks the bishops of the United States to act in unison to exclude Joe Biden from Holy Communion for his scandalous promotion of abortion - the murder of the innocent.

After signing, please take a moment to CONTACT the offices of the USCCB to politely, but firmly, encourage the Conference to take the necessary steps to exclude from Holy Communion public officials who continue to show blatant disregard for innocent human life and the Church's teaching.

The USCCB's Office phone number is: 202.541.3000

Thank you!

_____________________________________________________________________________

"No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." - Matthew 6:24

In the lead-up to their meeting in mid-June, we call on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to exclude Joe Biden and other “Catholic” politicians (like, Nancy Pelosi) from Holy Communion over their public, obstinate, and scandalous promotion of abortion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which asks the USCCB to act to stop the abuse of the reception of the Holy Eucharist by politicians who promote the murder of innocent pre-born babies.

We know that making a decision to exclude public figures from Holy Communion is not easy. But, sometimes, this is the only way to make them understand the error of their ways, and to preserve the Church from serious scandal.

Indeed, Canon Law (Canon 915) declares that those who persist in manifest, grave sin should not be admitted to Holy Communion

Beyond that, at this point, public excommunication appears as the only suitable response for Biden's obstinate, public and grave sin of promoting abortion.

In doing so, we do not hold ourselves up as judges over Joe Biden's eternal soul, but we encourage the bishops to make known one of the consequences of public and obstinate support of abortion by our 'Catholic' politicians.

The fact is, in terms of the manifest, grave sin of abortion, Joe Biden is as bad as he said he would be before the election.

Therefore, it is cold comfort that the USCCB is only preparing to discuss this issue only now.

But even now, if the USCCB publicly excommunicate Biden for his pro-abortion stance (as well as other pro-abortion politicians), the Conference could reclaim some of the moral authority which they lost by their largely silent assent to Biden's candidacy.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition, now.

Since Joe Biden was sworn-in on the 20th of January, he has wasted no time in signing orders and bills which facilitate the destruction of unborn human life.

  • In one executive order, Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy prohibiting the federal government from spending taxpayer monies on abortion and the promotion of abortion.
  • Biden also signed (instead of vetoing) the COVID relief bill, which, for the first time in 44 years, contained funding for abortions in America, using taxpayer dollars.
  • Biden said that he wouldn't defend Hyde, and he hasn't.

And, if he and the Democratic Party get their way, a lot more of the same regarding abortion is on the way.

Strong action must be taken lest anyone, especially young people, be confused by the scandal of a "Catholic" in Biden's position aggressively promoting abortion, enabling the killing of innocent human beings.

American rank-and-file Catholics don't want any more compromise and equivocation from the Bishops Conference on this "pre-eminent" life-and-death issue.

We want clear action, not twenty more years of dithering and "dialoguing."

50 million babies have been lost to abortion in the U.S. since Roe!

So, we will NOT accept any more lives lost as a result of dithering and "dialoguing." [**Please see "Notes" below about how it has been reported that some senior U.S. clerics are trying to prevent this discussion from even taking place.]

And, we will especially NOT accept one life lost to abortion by politicians who claim the Catholic Faith, but who promote grave evil. God forbid!

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by not imposing public canonical penalties on a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

The bishops are now at a crossroads and must choose either God or mammon.

We call on them to choose God and choose Life!

And we also continue to encourage those brave, true and good bishops who have done well to warn Amercian Catholics about the perils to the unborn and the Faith resulting from Biden's promotion of abortion!

SIGN and SHARE this petition, which asks the bishops of the United States to act in unison to exclude Joe Biden from Holy Communion for his scandalous promotion of abortion - the murder of the innocent.

After signing, please take a moment to CONTACT the offices of the USCCB to politely, but firmly, encourage the Conference to take the necessary steps to exclude from Holy Communion public officials who continue to show blatant disregard for innocent human life and the Church's teaching.

The USCCB's Office phone number is: 202.541.3000

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Joe Biden: I support abortion ‘under any circumstance’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/joe-biden-i-support-abortion-under-any-circumstance

Biden administration has opened the way for ‘abortion by mail on a massive scale’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/biden-administration-unleashed-by

‘Catholic’ Biden marks Roe v. Wade anniversary with pledge to make abortion available for ‘everyone’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/catholic-biden-marks-roe-v-wade-anniversary-with-pledge-to-make-abortion-available-for-everyone

BREAKING: DC archbishop affirms he will give Holy Communion to pro-abortion Joe Biden - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-dc-archbishop-affirms-he-will-give-holy-communion-to-pro-abortion-joe-biden

Vatican puts brakes on US bishops confronting problem of pro-abortion Biden receiving Holy Communion - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/vatican-puts-brakes-on-us-bishops-confronting-problem-of-pro-abortion-biden-receiving-holy-communion

Abp. Aquila backs call for pro-abortion ‘Catholic’ Joe Biden to be denied Holy Communion - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abp-aquila-backs-call-for-pro-abortion-catholic-joe-biden-to-be-denied-holy-communion

Cardinal Burke floats ‘excommunication’ for Biden over his ‘aggressive’ abortion promotion - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-burke-floats-excommunication-for-biden-over-his-aggressive-promotion-of-abortion

Biden’s HHS is lying about Title X to push abortion - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/bidens-hhs-is-lying-about-title-x-to-push-abortion

List of US bishops for and against denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians like Biden, Pelosi - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/list-of-us-bishops-for-and-against-denying-communion-to-pro-abortion-politicians-like-biden-pelosi

Notes about USCCB's June Meeting:

For nearly twenty years, the US bishops have been dithering about whether or not to excommunicate pro-abortion politicians by formally withholding Holy Communion from them.

Their indecision on this gravely scandalous matter is a scandal in itself, but one of the biggest obstacles has been internal opposition from senior U.S. bishops.

And, although the faces have changed in the last 20 years, their morally-and-intellectually-challenged arguments against excommunication have not changed.

Liberal bishops of the USCCB say that excommunicating Biden (for example) would divide the Church, divide the bishops, and would politicize the reception of Holy Communion.

Indeed, in the name of “unity,” it is reported that some senior U.S. clerics, including Cardinal Blase Cupich (Chicago), Cardinal Wilton Gregory (Washington, DC) and Cardinal O’Malley (Boston), have been working overtime to prevent any substantial discussion of so-called “Eucharist coherence” (that is, what qualifies as worthy reception of Holy Communion).

It is also reported that at least 57 other American bishops allegedly joined these Cardinals in a recent letter to the Head of the Bishops Conference, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles, to try to pressure him to drop the planned discussion at the full meeting of bishops in June.

And now, even the Vatican is getting involved, with the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith suggesting that even more “dialogue” is needed.

These same clerics may mistakenly believe that any attempt to suppress the objective connection between a politician’s promotion of abortion and his unworthy reception of Holy Communion will fool anyone.

But, it will not.

Rank-and-file Catholics are not stupid and can smell compromise a mile away, and we’ve had enough.

With all due respect to the Cardinal, bishops, and the Vatican…those who fail to act diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by “dialoguing” with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition urging the bishops Conference to take action at their June meeting to exclude pro-abortion Joe Biden and other abortion-promoting “Catholic” politicians from Holy Communion.

***Photo Credit: Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

  Hide Petition Text

“We have chosen to receive and carry forward the mission that Jesus has left and entrusted to his apostles before returning to the Father.” 

The apparent “uselessness” of the priestly vocation is the hallmark that gives meaning to the priestly life, Sarah said, and he decried contemporary “non-Catholic” trends in Catholic theology that have contributed to the crisis in the priesthood.  

“A certain liberal, anthropomorphic theology has impoverished the nature and identity of the Catholic priesthood, giving it a functionalist and horizontal dimension,” the cardinal said.  

“This theology, which was victorious in the Church and which many [Council] Fathers supported before, during and after the work in the [Second Vatican] Council chamber, represents neither the mind of the Church nor most of the Fathers who took part in the last Council.” 

Sarah explained that this “non-Catholic” thinking, as he said Pope Paul VI had defined it, had entered Catholic theology departments, seminaries, and parishes and “contaminated the doctrine of the priesthood and the way of life of so many priests.”  

Priestly celibacy ‘is more useful than ever’ 

Regarding calls to drop mandatory celibacy, Sarah said the “old” argument that celibacy has caused a priest shortage is dealing in “a pretext or an excuse.” Citing the book on priestly celibacy he recently wrote with Pope Benedict XVI, the cardinal praised the state as a “gift” and “a sign of conformation to Christ.”  

“Priestly celibacy in the Church is one of the most eloquent signs of the supernatural and transcendent dimension of the priesthood intended by Jesus,” he said.  

“It’s a gift that the Catholic Church has guarded from the very beginning, from apostolic ties, keeping it as a sign of conformation to Christ.” 

Celibacy also helps the priest resemble Christ, particularly in his dedication to souls. 

“The priest must resemble Christ, spouse of the Church,” Sarah said.  

“He has no other loves than the Church and the souls for which he gives his life, like Jesus,” he added. 

“This sign/scandal for the world today is more useful than ever.”  

In a society where the mass media spreads a “pansexualist and eroticist culture,” young people need celibate priests as models of generous, selfless love and, Sarah said, “to discover the beauty of a love given to everyone without being exclusively for someone, like the love of our Lord Jesus for us.”  

The cardinal recognizes that living this way takes training in spiritual asceticism “because there’s no shortage of opportunities for temptation.” He noted that there are many dangers in the priestly life today, particularly for young priests, thanks to a youth spent with bad companions and/or in front of television and computer, without proper models of life. Not knowing to structure their day is a problem for priests, as is spending too much time on the internet.  

“It is true that a solid doctrinal preparation is not enough to avoid sin, but a good preparation, good reading, and a good spiritual director are the solid basis for [the priest’s] own spiritual life,” Sarah said, and emphasized that the priest should not leave his continuing spiritual formation “to chance” but to tend to his own soul before taking care of other people. At the same time, however, the priest must have a “zeal” for other souls.  

“In light of what has been said, there follows the importance of the care of souls, the zeal for souls, ‘animarum zelus,’ which is the interest a shepherd must have in the eternal salvation of the little sheep in his care,” Sarah said and quoted extensively from a Holy Thursday 2012 homily by Pope Benedict XVI: 

… As priests … we are concerned for the whole person, including his or her physical needs … And yet we are concerned not only with the body, but also with the needs of the soul: with those who suffer from the violation of their rights or from destroyed love, with those unable to perceive the truth, those who suffer for lack of truth and love. We are concerned with the salvation of men and women in body and soul. And as priests of Jesus Christ we carry out our task with enthusiasm. No one should ever have the impression that we work conscientiously when on duty, but before and after hours we belong only to ourselves. A priest never belongs to himself. People must sense our zeal, through which we bear credible witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Cardinal Sarah is known and loved throughout the Catholic Church for his adherence to perennial doctrine and his spiritual writings, including God or Nothing (2015), The Power of Silence (2016), The Day Is Now Far Spent (2019), and his work with Benedict XVI celebrating celibacy, From the Depths of Our Hearts (2020).  

Sarah was born in Guinea in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1969. Pope John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Conakry 10 years later, when Sarah was 34. He was appointed secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 2001. Nine years later, Benedict XVI appointed Sarah president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum.” He was made a Cardinal in 2010. Pope Francis appointed Sarah the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2014 and accepted his resignation in 2021, about six months after the cardinal turned 75.

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