Sign the pledge to pray for the Synod on the Family here.
ROME, June 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – “What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today.” So spoke Cardinal Robert Sarah in a blistering opening speech at the synod last week, now made public, in which the Guinean Cardinal identifies the greatest modern enemies of the family as the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”
In a recent interview with Aleteia, Sarah also expressed grave concerns about the manipulation of the Synod towards a liberalizing “agenda they are trying to impose,” while in his speech in the Synod hall he expressed misgivings at the way the Synod has been conducted.
The African Cardinal said that “in the previous Synod, on various issues one sensed the temptation to yield to the mentality of the secularized world and individualistic West.” In particular, he criticized some of the procedures which organizers put in place, which he said seemed “to promote a way of seeing typical of certain fringe groups of the wealthiest churches.”
“This is contrary to a poor Church,” Sarah argued, and contradicts “a joyously evangelical and prophetic sign of contradiction to worldliness.”
Sarah specifically decried the fact that “some statements that are not shared by the qualified majority of the last Synod still ended up in the Relatio and then in the Lineamenta and the Instrumentum laboris when other pressing and very current issues (such as gender ideology) are instead ignored.” It was Pope Francis himself who overruled the vote at least year's Synod, and decided to include controversial paragraphs on homosexuality and communion for divorce and remarried Catholics that did not meet the required 2/3 majority in the final relatio, which became the basis for the Instrumentum laboris for this year's Synod.
“The first hope is therefore that, in our work, there be more freedom, transparency and objectivity,” Sarah told the Synod Fathers. “For this, it would be beneficial to publish the summaries of the interventions, to facilitate discussion and avoid any prejudice or discrimination in accepting the pronouncements of the Synod Fathers.”
In his speech the Cardinal specifically deplored gender ideology and ISIS as opposing “demonic” forces, because they both “demand a universal and totalitarian rule, are violently intolerant, destroyers of families, society and the Church, and are openly Christianophobic.”
Sarah argued that “the idolatry of Western freedom” epitomized by “gender ideology,” and groups like FEMEN and the LGBT lobby, leads to the “subjectivist disintegration in the secularized West through quick and easy divorce, abortion, homosexual unions, euthanasia.” Radical Islam, especially groups likes Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram, likewise destroy the family, because the “pseudo-family of ideologized Islam,” “legitimizes polygamy, female subservience, sexual slavery, child marriage etc.”
While many progressive Synod Fathers have urged the Church to abandon “negative” or “judgmental” language, Sarah instead made generous use of emboldened, biblical language of spiritual warfare in his intervention, quoting St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “We are not contending against creatures of flesh and blood.”
Sarah warned the Synod fathers of the dangers of making any concession to the “demonic” ideologies of the modern world within the Church, saying, “We need to be inclusive and welcoming to all that is human; but what comes from the Enemy [the Devil] cannot and must not be assimilated. You cannot join Christ and Belial [the Devil]!” This crisis today, Sarah argued, is not primarily a sociological one, but the “the marriage crisis is essentially a crisis of God… a crisis of faith.”
In his address, Sarah criticized progressive prelates at the Synod by turning their favorite rhetorical language and theological metaphors on their heads. Sarah inverted the progressive theologians’ insistence on more pastoral “diversity” in the Church, arguing to the contrary that marriage itself is “as an intimate communion in diversity, (man and woman) that is generous in the gift of life.” Liberals have used the phrase “unity in diversity” to argue for the decentralization of Church discipline on the sacraments to local dioceses.
Cardinal Sarah did not shy away from criticizing phrases used by the Pope himself. In Pope Francis’ opening address he spoke of the “deposit of faith” in dialogue with and illuminating the “deposit of life” of lived experience of the modern Catholic. Sarah argued that “recognizing the so-called ‘realities of life’ as a locus theologicus means giving up hope in the transforming power of faith and the Gospel. The Gospel that once transformed cultures is now in danger of being transformed by them.”
On Monday, Cardinal Sarah, the head of the powerful Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican, was listed as one of numerous high ranking signatories of a leaked letter to Pope Francis that objected that the Synod “seems designed to facilitate predetermined results on important disputed questions” and has the potential for “abandonment of key elements of Christian belief and practice in the name of pastoral adaptation.” Sarah has not denied reports that he signed the letter. While the Pope made a subsequent intervention warning of a “hermeneutic of conspiracy,” Cardinal Sarah nonetheless took aim at the Synod proceedings in his opening remarks, calling for “more transparency” and “respect.”
Concerns remain that the Synod leadership of ten clerics chosen by Pope Francis to write up the final report for this year’s Synod may manipulate the process in such a way that it may require a countervailing 2/3 majority for the bishops to remove heterodox paragraphs from the final document that only passed on a simple majority previously. Cardinal Sarah, has repeatedly denounced proposals to liberalize Church discipline on marriage, homosexuality and Holy Communion as “a form of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology” “that would consist in placing the Magisterium in a nice box by detaching it from pastoral practice – which could evolve according to the circumstances, fads, and passions.”
Translation from Italian by Diana Montagna.
Robert Cardinal Sarah
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Text for Synod on the Family, October 2015
Your Holiness, Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, participants of the Synod,
I propose these three thoughts:
1) More transparency and respect among us
I feel a strong need to invoke the Spirit of Truth and Love, the source of parresia in speaking and humility in listening, who alone is capable of creating true harmony in plurality.
I say frankly that in the previous Synod, on various issues one sensed the temptation to yield to the mentality of the secularized world and individualistic West. Recognizing the so-called “realities of life” as a locus theologicus means giving up hope in the transforming power of faith and the Gospel. The Gospel that once transformed cultures is now in danger of being transformed by them. Furthermore, some of the procedures used did not seem aimed at enriching discussion and communion as much as they did to promote a way of seeing typical of certain fringe groups of the wealthiest churches. This is contrary to a poor Church, a joyously evangelical and prophetic sign of contradiction to worldliness. Nor does one understand why some statements that are not shared by the qualified majority of the last Synod still ended up in the Relatio and then in the Lineamenta and the Instrumentum laboris when other pressing and very current issues (such as gender ideology) are instead ignored.
The first hope is therefore that, in our work, there be more freedom, transparency and objectivity. For this, it would be beneficial to publish the summaries of the interventions, to facilitate discussion and avoid any prejudice or discrimination in accepting the pronouncements of the synod Fathers.
2) Discernment of history and of spirits
A second hope: that the Synod honor its historic mission and not limit itself to speaking only about certain pastoral issues (such as the possible communion for divorced and remarried) but help the Holy Father to enunciate clearly certain truths and useful guidance on a global level. For there are new challenges with respect to the synod celebrated in 1980. A theological discernment enables us to see in our time two unexpected threats (almost like two “apocalyptic beasts”) located on opposite poles: on the one hand, the idolatry of Western freedom; on the other, Islamic fundamentalism: atheistic secularism versus religious fanaticism. To use a slogan, we find ourselves between “gender ideology and ISIS”. Islamic massacres and libertarian demands regularly contend for the front page of the newspapers. (Let us remember what happened last June 26!). From these two radicalizations arise the two major threats to the family: its subjectivist disintegration in the secularized West through quick and easy divorce, abortion, homosexual unions, euthanasia etc. (cf. Gender theory, the ‘Femen’, the LGBT lobby, IPPF …). On the other hand, the pseudo-family of ideologized Islam which legitimizes polygamy, female subservience, sexual slavery, child marriage etc. (cf. Al Qaeda, Isis, Boko Haram ...)
Several clues enable us to intuit the same demonic origin of these two movements. Unlike the Spirit of Truth that promotes communion in the distinction (perichoresis), these encourage confusion (homo-gamy) or subordination (poly-gamy). Furthermore, they demand a universal and totalitarian rule, are violently intolerant, destroyers of families, society and the Church, and are openly Christianophobic.
“We are not contending against creatures of flesh and blood ….” We need to be inclusive and welcoming to all that is human; but what comes from the Enemy cannot and must not be assimilated. You can not join Christ and Belial! What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion Ideologies and Islamic Fanaticism are today.
3) Proclaim and serve the beauty of Monogamy and the Family
Faced with these two deadly and unprecedented challenges (“homo-gamy” and “poly-gamy”) the Church must promote a true “epiphany of the Family.” To this both the Pope (as spokesman of the Church) may contribute, and individual Bishops and Pastors of the Christian flock: that is, “the Church of God, which he has obtained with his own blood” (Acts: 20:28).
We must proclaim the truth without fear, i.e. the Plan of God, which is monogamy in conjugal love open to life. Bearing in mind the historical situation just recalled, it is urgent that the Church, at its summit, definitively declare the will of the Creator for marriage. How many people of good will and common sense would join in this luminous act of courage carried out by the Church!
Together with a strong and clear Word of the Supreme Magisterium, Pastors have the mission of helping our contemporaries to discover the beauty of the Christian family. To do this, it must first promote all that represents a true Christian Initiation of adults, for the marriage crisis is essentially a crisis of God, but also a crisis of faith, and this is an infantile Christian initiation. Then we must discern those realities that the Holy Spirit is already raising up to reveal the Truth of the Family as an intimate communion in diversity (man and woman) that is generous in the gift of life. We bishops have the urgent duty to recognize and promote the charisms, movements, and ecclesial realities in which the Family is truly revealed, this prodigy of harmony, love of life and hope in Eternity, this cradle of faith and school charity. And there are so many realities offered by Providence, together with the Second Vatican Council, in which this miracle is offered.