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Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
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Vatican’s liturgy chief: Giving Communion to divorced-and-remarried would ‘oppose Jesus’

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

ROME, December 10, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Robert Sarah has reiterated the traditional teaching of the Church regarding divorced and remarried Catholics, stating that allowing them to receive Communion is “actually to close the true door of life.”

“To admit a person to Eucharistic communion when he lives in manifest contradiction with the words of Jesus signifies opening a door which does not lead to Christ, or actually to close the true door of life,” he stated in an interview with Armin Schwibach, philosophy professor at Rome’s Pontifical Athanaeum Regina Apostolorum.

“To kick in this door or climb in some other place means to write another gospel and to oppose Jesus Christ Our Lord,” observed Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

For people in life situations “contrary to the words of Jesus” the “door is always open, in as much as God continues to call to conversion,” Sarah stated in the interview, translated from Italian by Evan Simpkins and published in the National Catholic Register.

The outspoken Guinean cardinal also decried analyses “by the press” that argue the final report from 2015 Synod on the Family, known as the “Relatio synodi,” opened the door to allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, saying this gives the synod document “an abusive, even deceitful, interpretation, which deforms its meaning.”

The section on divorced-and-remarried Catholics in the final report, comprising paragraphs 84-86, have been much-parsed for indications of what Pope Francis might decide regarding the controversial question of granting them Communion.

“I am quite sure that Pope Francis interprets numbers 84 to 86 of the ‘Relatio synodi’ in perfect continuity with and fidelity to his predecessors,” Sarah told Schwibach.

The high-ranking cardinal has consistently defended the Church’s traditional teaching regarding licit reception of the Eucharist, in one instance publicly contradicting Pope Francis’ reputed advice to a Lutheran woman that she search her conscience to answer the question whether or not she should receive Communion.

“A non-Catholic cannot receive Communion. That is very, very clear. It’s not a matter of following your conscience,” he said.

Recently casting renewed confusion and doubt on a similar point was Jesuit and close papal advisor Fr. Antonio Spadaro, who, Schwibach pointed out in the interview, “speaks explicitly of an ‘open door’ to the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried.”

Editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, Spadaro wrote in that influential journal in November: “With regard to access to the sacraments, the ordinary synod has therefore effectively created the basis for it, opening a door which however in the previous synod remained closed.”

But Sarah categorically rejected that notion as well, joining Cardinal Raymond Burke in a public rebuttal of Spadaro’s views.

The Relatio synodi “never speaks of giving the Eucharist to those who continue to live in a way manifestly contrary to it,” he told Schwibach. “The written text is the only sure one for rightly interpreting that which the Synod wanted to say.”

While the Relatio synodi does not explicitly reiterate the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, it states that any pastoral accompaniment of divorced and remarried Catholics “has to happen ‘according to the teaching of the Church.’”

“This teaching includes without a doubt the unadulterated reading, complete and faithful, of Familiaris Consortio 84 and Sacramentum Caritatis 29, together with the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” the cardinal noted.

“In other words, to the divorced and civilly remarried the door to Eucharistic communion remains closed because Jesus himself has said: ‘Whoever repudiates his wife, if not in case of fornication, and marries another, commits adultery. Thus let no man sunder what God has bound together’.”

The Church, he emphasized, has only one goal: “To bring the person to Jesus, to put his life in harmony with Jesus and with his teaching on human and conjugal love. Access to the Eucharist, which is communion with the body of Jesus, is opened to all those who are ready to live in the body in accord with the word of Jesus.”

For the Church to open a door to “to another place” would not be “the door of mercy,” Sarah added. “Then it would mean a true change of doctrine, because every doctrine (like that of the indissolubility of marriage) is confessed firstly in the place where the Eucharist is celebrated.”

Sarah pointedly criticized those priests, bishops and cardinals who “for comfort” and “in order not to appear politically incorrect,” think that “to meet the problems of the world one has to adapt to it, ignoring the clear word of Jesus on the indissolubility of marriage and splitting apart, because of mercy, pastoral care and doctrine.”

“This is called worldliness, which is all the worse in that it can strike Christians, lay or consecrated, and is the danger about which Pope Francis is always reminding us,” the cardinal said, adding that a read through Graham Greene’s “beautiful” novel The Power and the Glory will “verify what I am saying.”

He also faulted the synod on the family for a “Eurocentric approach,” that was manifest not only in the prominence of issues that preoccupy the West, “but above all for an excessive insistence on the individual and the subjective conscience.”

From such a perspective, the family is seen as a “privatized reality, measured only according to the desire of the individualistic subject, which reduces love to an emotion.”

“This is why a too Eurocentric point of view wants at any cost to justify situations which are contrary to the truth of marriage, like fornication or cohabitation or civil marriage, and to see them as a path toward fullness,” Sarah observed, “instead of recognizing the harm which they do to the person, because they possess a logic contrary to true love.”

He described Europe’s “greatest weakness, which I would call mortal sin,” as “the silent apostasy of which St. John Paul II had spoken,” and he warned that the continent “is in danger because it has forgotten God, and, as a result its culture, its history, its roots, its identity.”

The West’s post-modern denial of God and its insistence that “everyone is free to believe whatever they want, but only in private” means “denying everything,” Sarah contended, including that “man is able to seek the Truth (as far as this would be useless): in fact, insofar as everything is equal, nothing counts anymore.”

And, he said, this “relativism is much worse than nihilism.”

“If we look at the brutal attacks in Paris we see that the jihadists have hit precisely the places which we hold to be the expression of today’s ‘life’: liberty, which often flows into anarchy; fun; lightheartedness.”

But “where man no longer perceives God, life becomes empty. One can refill it with material wealth: money, entertainment, sex, but all this is insufficient,” Sarah warned.

“I will make a proposal: let us return to praying, which is the path of dialogue with God: only improving our relationship with God, does he improve that among men. Without this we will always have wars, hate and wounds. We have to give time to God.”

And that “vital and urgent” task of reconnecting “personal and interior relationships with God” happens “through a true and intense liturgical and sacramental life,” Sarah said.

“We were created to love, pray and adore God. When man kneels down before God he reaches the highest level of existence,” he pointed out. “The liturgy lived in piety and sacredness, with faith and love, allows us to reach our fullness in God.”

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