Cdl. Sarah: Crisis of Faith

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  November 19, 2015   

Cdl Sarah: The crisis of faith is owing to insufficient formation of bishops

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ROME ( - Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea is maintaining that the fundamental problem in the Church today is the crisis of faith, plaguing even the hierarchy.

As prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship, the cardinal not only found time to write extensively on this subject in his book God or Nothing, but also answered objections to his book in a four-page Q & A, soon to be released, in the French magazine L'Homme Nouveau. The French paper in turn has allowed Chiesa to preview a few sections of Sarah's dossier.

In the Q & A, Sarah writes,

To conclude, I feel wounded in my heart as a bishop in witnessing such incomprehension of the Church's definitive teaching on the part of my brother priests. I cannot allow myself to imagine as the cause of such confusion anything but the insufficiency of the formation of my confreres.

Sarah is partly referring to prelates who openly question Catholic dogmas such as ordination of women, indissolubility of marriage, and the intrinsic evil of contraception and sodomy.

To the claim that doctrine is somehow settled or changed by a majority vote that includes the laity, he answers, "This is not a matter of majority, but of unanimity. ... The thought of the faithful does not represent the 'position of the Church' if it is not itself in accord with the body of bishops."

This follows what Pope Benedict XVI stated in 2012 of the sensus fidelium: "It is certainly not a kind of public ecclesial opinion, and invoking it in order to contest the teachings of the Magisterium would be unthinkable."

Regarding the Magisterium, Vatican II stated in paragraph 22 of Lumen Gentium, "But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head."

And concerning the proposal that some pastors should give Holy Communion to all, even those in a state of objective mortal sin, Sarah responded that a necessary condition in order to be forgiven is a "firm intention" to stop committing grave, objectively sinful acts, as defined by the Council of Trent. He adds,

Without a firm intention (and apart from a total and non-culpable ignorance), such a Christian would remain in a state of mortal sin and would commit a grave sin by receiving communion. In the hypothesis that his state is publicly known, the ministers of the Church for their part have no right to give him communion. If they do so, their sin will be more grave before the Lord. It would be unequivocally a premeditated complicity and profanation of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus.

Sarah then applies this principle to a divorced and civilly remarried person, stating,

It can happen that a divorced person, for important reasons such as raising the children, may not be able to leave the second spouse. In this case, in order to be absolved and receive holy communion, the person must resolve no longer to commit with this second spouse the acts that, according to divine law, are reserved for true spouses. (Familiaris Consortio, no. 84)

In his book, Cdl. Sarah declares,

The entire Church has always firmly held that one may not receive communion with the knowledge of being in a state of mortal sin, a principle recalled as definitive by John Paul II in his 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, on the basis of what was decreed by the Council of Trent.

He immediately added: "Not even a pope can dispense from such a divine law."

To a similar objection to his book, Cdl. Sarah responds,

Conversely, the Church stigmatizes the deformations introduced into human love: homosexuality, polygamy, chauvinism, free love, divorce, contraception, etc. In any case, it never condemns persons. But it does not leave them in their sin. Like its Master, it has the courage and the charity to say to them: go and from now on sin no more.

Cardinal Sarah is one of 15 prelates selected to prepare the next synod scheduled for 2018.

To learn more about the crisis in the Church, watch our Faith-Based Investigation: Rebellion in the Church.


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