Popes, Cardinals and bishops have an obligation to be crystal clear and promote the unity of the Church based upon her crystal clear teachings. When they muddy these teachings in any way, they will be held accountable by God!
Cardinal Arinze makes clear that popes can't change what is revealed truth. In fact we know that popes and bishops cannot act as absolute monarchs or dictators. They are bound by the infallible teachings of the Church even in pastoral practice. Pope Saint John Paul II made this explicit when he stated he had absolutely no authority, even if he wanted to do it, to ordain women into Holy Orders. He was not an absolute monarch or despot. Papal powers are limited and this is indeed infallible also!
Read John Allen of Crux complete article and interview with Nigeria’s Cardinal Francis Arinze.by pressing here:
Arinze: I think they would like the synod to speak
with a clear voice that marriage comes from God, as a union between a
man and a woman. God created one Adam, one Eve. When Christ came, he
blessed that unity of marriage. He went to the marriage feast in Cana,
and he did his first recorded miracle, changing water into wine, which
means that he approved! Marriage comes from God, not from human beings,
so human beings cannot reinvent or redefine it.
You are convinced it’s not possible to invite divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to Communion?
That is correct, in the sense that Christ has said, “What God has
joined, let no man put asunder,” and the Catholic Church traditionally
has interpreted it to mean that a consummated marriage sanctified by the
sacrament cannot be broken by any authority.
Including the authority of the Church?
Yes, not even the authority of the Church can break it. That being
so, if a man leaves a woman or asks her to go away, or she does the
same, and they get a fresh partner, that can’t be approved. Christ has
one word for a person who does that: “Adultery.” We cannot improve on
what Christ has said. We cannot be wiser than him, or say that “there is
a circumstance he did not foresee.” We cannot be more merciful than
We must look for a way to help the divorced who are remarried, [but]
we don’t help them by saying, “Come and receive Holy Communion.”
The Eucharist is not something we possess, and we can give to our
friends and those with whom we sympathize …. The idea of sin is not
something new invented by modern conservative people in the Church. It
is Christ himself who called it a sin, and he used that word “adultery.”
He knows what he’s talking about. Without departing from Christ, how
can we backpedal?
Remember, only God will conduct the last judgment, not us, not even
half a dozen cardinals from the Vatican. God will judge each person’s
circumstances, but objectively we cannot approve [divorce and
Some African bishops have said that if the Church makes a
change on Communion for the divorced and remarried, some people living
in polygamous relationships might ask why that can’t be done for them,
too. Is that a concern you would share?
Yes. It’s not a bad argument, because the polygamous could say,
“Look, my own situation is better than that of these other fellows who
threw out their first wife and got another one. I didn’t throw out the
first one, she remains, and I only took on a second one. God even
tolerated polygamy in the Old Testament!”
We have to look for another way to ensure compassion for those who
are in difficulty. You don’t solve a headache by cutting off the head!
There has been conversation in the synod about a finding a
“new language,” especially on homosexuality, meaning something that’s
more inclusive and welcoming. How does that look from the African
I would be suspicious, because I would wonder what type of new
language you want. Shouldn’t we call things by their name, calling good
“good” and evil “evil”? We don’t condemn the person, but we don’t
approve the action.
One of the duties of bishops is to teach, and it is very important
that the Gospel be undiluted, without adding salt or pepper, but without
subtracting them, either. The message is not ours. Christ’s message
must shine clearly on what marriage is. If two men come together for
business purposes, we’re not worried about that. But if they begin to
call it marriage, don’t you see that it’s not all right anymore?
Some at the synod have talked about allowing decisions on the
divorced and remarried or on homosexuality to be decentralized, made at
the level of regional or national bishops’ conferences or by individual
bishops. How do you feel about that?
Are you going to tell me that we can have a national bishops’
conference in one country that would approve something which, in another
conference, would be seen as sin? Is sin going to change according to
national borders? We’d become national churches. Have there not been
other religious affiliations in the world that came dangerously near to
National bishops’ conferences are important and should have a clear
role, but I don’t think it should include these areas. It looks
dangerously like nationalizing right and wrong.
There’s been talk at the synod about what Pope Francis has
labeled “ideological colonization.” What does it mean in the African
Africans would think immediately of the big countries that have more
money, more economic weight, pushing the so-called “Third World”, or
developing countries — although every country is developing somehow — to
adopt abortion and contraception, but they don’t use those terms, they
call it “family planning.” They’ll say you must have it in your
government plan, otherwise you have too many people and that’s why
you’re not developed. You should reduce your population, and they make
it a condition for receiving international financial help.
To take another example, some African governments have assigned
prison terms for homosexuality. It’s not that I support those measures,
but for the richer countries to say that if you don’t change those laws
you’re against human rights and therefore we’ll see that you don’t get
financing, this also becomes ideological colonization.
The richer countries may have more money, but they shouldn’t turn
themselves into professors of moral theology just because other
countries are poor. When I was archbishop, I said to one big agency that
came to Nigeria to help us, “We have a minimum dignity below which
we’re not prepared to descend for the sake of your money. Don’t go below
Many observers speak about an “African moment” in
Catholicism. What does Africa have to give to the Church that it needs
Without boasting or pretending that Africa has a monopoly on good
things, there are some things we can bring. [For instance], Africans can
share the joy of being a Christian. Christianity is good news in
Africa. Young people commit themselves with serious sacrifice to
When I was archbishop, I began a monastery of enclosed Benedictine
nuns in 1978, the year of three popes. An Italian convent sent four
nuns, three Italians and one Nigerian, to get it started. Now there are
120 nuns there. They’ve founded another monastery in Nigeria with 50
nuns, and they’ve taken over one in Italy where there are 10 nuns, all
Nigerians. The Italians have died out, only the Nigerians remain. They
have sent their nuns to some other convents in Italy and Spain, quietly,
without any noise.
Young people are ready to offer themselves. They are responding.
Young people are not allergic to sacrifice, and Africans can share that.
Africans are sharing in the mission of the Church.