ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea expressed grave concerns about an Amazon Synod proposal to ordain married priests, particularly favorable among the left-leaning German prelates.
The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments described the proposal as "contradicting" Church teaching and "theologically absurd, leading also to question the obligatory nature of celibacy" in an interview with Corriere della Sera, an Italian daily newspaper.
Sarah said that in addition to its absurdity, it separates the three gifts ("tria munera") all priests receive at ordination — to teach, to govern and to sanctify — which is a "total contradiction with the teachings of the Vatican Council" and of all the "Tradition of the Latin Church which establishes their substantial unity."
Acknowledging that the ordination of married men would call into question the obligatory nature of celibacy, Sarah found comfort in Pope Francis' reference to Pope Paul VI's comment to a group of journalists on Jan. 27, 2019: "I prefer to give my life before changing the law of Celibacy."
Connecting the decline in vocations to the assaults on viri probati ("men of proven virtue"), Sarah challenged, "Ask yourself why there are no more people willing to give all of themselves for God, for the priesthood and for virginity."
The answer to this question, for Sarah, can be seen in "the rejection of God," which "concerns the whole world but has its origin mainly in Europe," where it "is now encased in the Western conscience."
[T]oday it is the man who has substituted himself for God. The Father is rejected and God is rejected, because he does not admit that he can depend on someone. Everyone wants to self-determine himself, in life, in death, in sexuality, to the point of changing nature based on his own ideas.
Here we are far beyond even Nietzsche's superhumanism. Today it is a barbarism that we experience from the inside, not like the Romans of the 4th century who were attacked by external enemies.
Sarah said he "feared" that "Westerners are confiscating this assembly to advance their plans," thinking they can solve social justice problems with their "ploys."
The cardinal made clear that he directed these comments to key topics being discussed at the synod: "The ordination of married men, the creation of women's ministries or the jurisdiction of the laity," adding, "These points touch the structure of the universal Church. Taking advantage to introduce ideological plans would be an unworthy manipulation, a dishonest deception, an insult to God who guides his Church and entrusts to him his plan of salvation."
He called it "abominable" that the "spiritual distress of the poor in the Amazon was used as an excuse to support typical projects of bourgeois and worldly Christianity."
This is not the first time Sarah has pointed to the source of the current spiritual crisis as being godless Western intellectualism, found in the philosophy of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, for example.
In an earlier interview, Sarah said:
People in the West are guilty of rejecting God. They have not only rejected God. Friedrich Nietzsche, who may be considered the spokesman of the West, has claimed: "God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him…" We have murdered God. In view of God's death among men, Nietzsche would replace him with a prophetic "Superman."
The 74-year-old Guinean cardinal also connected rejection of a male priesthood to rejection of fatherhood and inheritance:
I would like to emphasize the rejection of fatherhood. Our contemporaries are convinced that, in order to be free, one must not depend on anybody. There is a tragic error in this. Western people are convinced that receiving is contrary to the dignity of human persons. But civilized man is fundamentally an heir, he receives a history, a culture, a language, a name, a family. This is what distinguishes him from the barbarian.
"To refuse to be inscribed within a ... heritage ... condemns us to go back naked into the jungle of a competitive economy left to its own devices," he said, adding, "Because he refuses to acknowledge himself as an heir, man is condemned to the hell of liberal globalization."
« Alla radice del collasso dell'Occidente c'è una crisi culturale e identitaria. L'Occidente non sa più chi è, perché non sa più e non vuole più sapere chi l'ha creato, chi l'ha plasmato. Molti Paesi ignorano la propria storia. » pic.twitter.com/cBkE8A4bWQ— Cardinal R. Sarah (@Card_R_Sarah) October 10, 2019
Still, Sarah is hopeful for the future of the Church — even with its dilemmas — which he finds in the unity of Christ. He dedicated his recent book The Day Is Now Far Spent to both Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and to Pope Francis — as well to all the priests of the world.
Although Sarah is convinced that "the crisis of the priesthood is a central element of the crisis of the Church," he keeps hope in the priestly lineage of St. Peter.
And although he claims "the enemy of the priesthood today is efficiency, productivity, as if we were employees of a company" and although "The priests have been emasculated of their identity," he believes a priest still represents "a continuation among us of the presence of Christ."
The entire interview with Cdl. Sarah is available in Italian at Corriere della Sera.