Thursday, November 19, 2015


 It really isn't that hard to be clear about what the Church teaches and expects. Anyone and I mean anyone, even the least educated among us, can find out what the Church teaches. It is out in the open. No pope, bishop, priest, deacon, religious, theologian or lay person has hidden information known only to them alone and from private sources. It they do, they are the true Gnostics. 

Thank you Cardinal Sarah for you strong teachings. You are a prophet for the Church at this time!

This is from a four jam-packed pages of the dossier that the French Catholic magazine “L'Homme Nouveau” is publishing:

Four objections, four responses, and one conclusion

by Robert Sarah


Q: According to one of my critics, the Catholic Church “is not only the hierarchy of bishops, including that of Rome, but the baptized as a whole. In order to say what is the ‘position of the Church,’ it would therefore be legitimate to assume the judgment of this majority.”

A: The first statement is correct. But 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.

Vatican Council II, dogmatic constitution “Dei Verbum,” no. 10: “The task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Moreover, this is not a matter of majority, but of unanimity. Vatican Council II, dogmatic constitution “Lumen Gentium,” no. 12:

“The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters of faith when, from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful, they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God. Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints, penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.”

Finally, this unanimity is a sufficient condition for declaring that an assertion is in the deposit revealed by God (as in the case of the Assumption of Mary), but it is not a necessary condition: it can happen that the magisterium may solemnly define a doctrine of faith before unanimity has been reached (as for papal infallibility, at Vatican Council I).


Q: According to one critic whose fidelity to the priesthood I admire, thousands of priests do not hesitate to give communion to all.

A: In the first place we note the absence of doctrinal authority in this myriad of sacred ministers, who in other ways are certainly respectable. Moreover, no matter how authentic this “statistic” may be, this position mixes up, among persons living in a notorious and habitual state of sin (for example, adultery and permanent infidelity to one’s spouse, frequent and grave fraud in business):

a) a believer who finally repents with the firm intention to avoid falling in the future, receives holy absolution and as a result may receive the holy Eucharist, and

b) the believer who does not want to stop committing acts of grave objective guilt in the future, contradicting the Word of God and the covenant signified precisely by the Eucharist.

This latter case excludes the “firm intention” defined by the Council of Trent as necessary to be forgiven by God. We should specify that this firm intention does not consist in knowing that one will not sin again, but in making the deliberate decision to employ the means suitable for avoiding the sin. 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.


Q: A person who writes to me and whose age inspires the greatest respect evokes the case of a Catholic woman, divorced following domestic violence, who lives as “remarried” but participates intensely in the life of her parish. Should this not incite us to give holy communion to this person?

A: I acknowledge the generosity of heart underlying the objection. But this mixes up or forgets various aspects. Here they are.

1. If one undergoes domestic violence, one has the right to leave one’s spouse (Code of Canon Law, canon 1153).

2. The Church allows one to ask, with divorce, for the civil effects of legitimate separation (John Paul II, January 21, 2002, address to the Roman Rota). Simple divorce does not exclude one from the sacraments.

3. A spouse who abandons himself in a habitual way to domestic violence is probably suffering from a psychological illness, which may be grounds for the nullity of the marriage in question from the very beginning (Code of Canon Law, canon 1095 § 3).

4. If the Church declares the first marriage null, the victim could contract another, granted that the other conditions of this sacrament are present.

5. 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). Now, the experience of numerous couples shows that this is often very difficult, but it is nonetheless possible with the help of God’s grace, spiritual direction, and the frequent practice of the sacrament of reconciliation. In effect this latter permits one, if one falls, to start again more firmly on the right way, gradually progressing toward chastity.

6. The participation in parish life on the part of a divorced and remarried person not yet ready to promise chastity disposes him precisely to open his heart to the grace of making this necessary promise (“Familiaris Consortio,” no. 84).


Q: According to another priest who bases himself on his experience as a “Fidei donum” missionary in Africa, the African family does not correspond to the description I have given.

A: I don’t know what African country and diocese this priest is talking about. But in Western Africa, in spite of the massive presence of Islam, in the pure tradition of our ancestors marriage is monogamous and indissoluble. I have spoken of this in my book “God or Nothing.” I have therefore affirmed that “still today, the family in Africa remains stable, solid, traditional.”

I did not intend in any way to say that the non-Christian African family would be a model, since it evidently suffers from the imprint of sin and also knows its difficulties. I simply intended to say that in African culture in general:

1. the family is still founded on a heterosexual union;

2. marriage is seen as being without divorce, in spite of the paradigm of simultaneous polygamy;

3. it is open to procreation;

4. family bonds are seen as sacred.

Isn’t this precisely what my missionary correspondent wanted to emphasize? (I emphasize here the generosity of the “Fidei donum,” meaning those Western diocesan priests who become voluntary evangelizers in mission countries).

However, the question that he raises is another one: it is that of the possible gradual progression of the pastoral evangelization of non-Christian families, still imbued with deviations provoked by sin, but some traditions of which can be evangelized and serve as a point of departure for the proclamation of Christ.

In any case, if my correspondent seems implicitly to accuse me of having reduced “the African family” to that which lives the Christian ideal, neither can it be reduced in the other direction to the polygamist typology, whether “traditional” or Muslim.


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. And insofar as I am responsible for the discipline of the sacraments in the whole Latin Church, I am bound in conscience to recall that Christ has reestablished the Creator’s original plan of a monogamous, indissoluble marriage ordered to the good of the spouses, as also to the generation and education of children. He has also elevated marriage between baptized persons to the rank of a sacrament, signifying God’s covenant with his people, just like the Eucharist.

In spite of this, there also exists a marriage that the Church calls “legitimate.” The sacred dimension of this “natural” dimension makes it an element awaiting the sacrament, on the condition that it respect heterosexuality and the parity of the two spouses when it comes to their specific rights and duties, and that the consent not exclude monogamy, indissolubility, permanence, and openness to life.

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.

The Church does not only welcome with mercy, respect, and delicacy. It firmly invites to conversion. As its follower, I promote mercy for sinners - which all of us are - but also firmness toward sins incompatible with the love for God that is professed with sacramental communion. What is this if not the imitation of the attitude of the Son of God who addresses the adulterous woman: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on sin no more” (Jn 8:11)?


Mark Thomas said...


Well, at least let him be Pope for two days...but seriously, folks!

Father McDonald, I have appreciated the coverage that you have devoted on your blog to Robert Cardinal Sarah. His holiness and orthodoxy have been very uplifting to me.

Deo gratias for Cardinal Sarah. Deo gratias for Father McDonald.


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Fr. Z when he says "Save the liturgy, save the world." We have so many problems in the Church that need to be fixed, but the liturgical problem, at least to me, is at the very heart of the problem. Lex Orendi, Lex Credendi.
Cardinal Sarah is exactly who we need as pope to correct the liturgical problems. Nothing will happen in the Church just by suggesting things need to be done (see Summorum Pontificum). There needs to be concrete demands from Rome.


Mark Thomas said...

It is a blessing to have a spiritual father (Robert Cardinal Sarah) whose declarations do not require clarifications followed by clarifications of clarifications followed by...


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

I think that within this generation and the next, the pendulum will start to swing, and in a major way. I'm in my mid-20's and recently started exclusively attending the TLM. There are probably 3 times as many young people at the TLM parish than there are in the parish that I'm zoned for, yet its probably less than half the size. One thing that I've noticed is that while the "Novus Ordo" church if you will is on the accelerated aging train the "Tridentine" Church is shrinking in age.
My question is, in a generation or so who exactly is going to be left in the "Novus Ordo" church? The vocations are not increasing, the congregations are aging, the youth are leaving.

Mark Thomas said...

"Nothing will happen in the Church just by suggesting things need to be done (see Summorum Pontificum). There needs to be concrete demands from Rome."

There were Conciliar Fathers who believed that a New Mass should have been formed but not to replace the TLM. They believed that parishes would use the New Mass alongside the TLM. The New Mass would be an option.

Pope Blessed Paul VI wouldn't have any of that. He rammed the New Mass down our throats. That was that. Bishops and priests either went along with the Novus Ordo program or were trampled.

You are correct. Suggestions won't go anywhere...concrete action in regard to liturgy is required should Pope Francis wish to restore liturgical sanity to the Latin Church.


Mark Thomas

gob said...

I have said it before, and here it is again....The mainly white, European, old guys who elect the Pope are very unlikely to pick a black guy. (BTW....I was talking very recently to a person who is a missionary in Africa who said that it seems a fairly common thing for clergy...priests, bishops to have girlfriends/mistresses/wives and children. Anybody have any knowledge of this?)

Anonymous said...

I wonder how long until the good Cardinal is made co-patron of the Order Of Malta?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

TJM it is wrong and a very serious mortal sin to state that a "blessed" who is infallibly proclaimed by the pope to be in heaven is a "disaster." That is why I did not publish you sinful comment and make your mortal sin public.

Jusadbellum said...

Fr. McDonald, correct me if I'm wrong, but declaration of Sainthood does not mean a man never committed a sin or never made a mistake (even egregious ones) in their lives, but only that they died a holy death and generally lived the virtues heroically.

Thus it's entirely possible for Pope John XXIII to have made serious mistakes in judgment while also being a truly holy man.

It's vital that we grasp this. All of us commit sins and we've all made mistakes that in hindsight can look incredibly dumb or "obviously wrong headed" but that at the time seemed to us to be the only prudent course of action to take.

Infallibility isn't impeccability, and Holiness does not magically keep one from error in prudential decisions. How many saints preached crusades? Could they have known that some crusaders would run amok and commit egregious sins in the name of Christ? No. Can they thus be held accountable for the sins of some crusaders? Not really. But they were involved in the promotion of that crusade (4th).

So accusing a deceased Pope of tactical or even strategic mistakes is not what the accusers tend to THINK it is. It's no slam dunk argument against their holiness or presence in Heaven. On the other hand, just because someone is declared holy by the Church doesn't ipso facto canonize every opinion and every prudential act they ever did or said either.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

One may not like a pope's leadership, theology, devotional life, tastes in vestments, and manner of teaching, but to call a pope declared blessed by another pope to be a disaster is a sin against charity, a mortal sin at that. To call anyone a disaster in a mean-spirited way, even someone who is a sinner and has a life out of control is not charitable for Christians. Our role is to assist, treat, respect, love. Name calling especially of the intentional type is a sin against charity and one that I consider to be a mortal sin: serious matter, a Catholic should know it is serious matter and then one does so with full consent of the will, in other words it isn't just a spontaneous utterance in the heat of exasperation or frustration.

Anonymous said...

How about calling someone a mortal sinner? Not a sin against charity?

I have said it it is again....One cannot know that an action by another is a mortal sin. Only God ...and, perhaps the "sinner" can know that. And of course, a mortal sin can only be committed if the committer knows and believes it is a mortal sin.

Think about terrorists who genuinely believe that they are ordered by god to kill infidels....Mortal sin? Seems like one to me....but who am I to judge?

John Nolan said...

I predict that the next pope will be from outside Europe or the Americas. The electors take geography into account. Every conclave since 1958 has been split along liberal/conservative lines and if they don't pick an African it will be because he is too conservative, not because he is black. Peter Turkson (Ghana) might be acceptable to the liberal faction.

Looking at Asia, Cardinal Ranjith is probably seen as being too conservative and Tagle as too liberal. If the Francis pontificate degenerates into an unholy mess (and there are signs that it might well do) this could strengthen the conservative hand in the next conclave and make Sarah electable.

Regarding the liturgy, Benedict XVI saw what happened when Rome imposed wide-ranging reform in the 1960s and was not going to make the same mistake. By declaring that the older Rites were of equal legitimacy to the newer ones he laid the groundwork for a bottom-up restoration which may well take generations to come to fruition, but which in a mere eight years has produced quantifiable results.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John I agree with you especially about imposing reforms and Benedict not wanting to do this but to model the reforms. And yes, allowing the EF to be celebrated more widely and main-stream was a stroke of genius in this regard.

The Anglican Ordinariate Mass allows for the EF options that would rebuild the OF Mass but these are in the appendix of this Missal. If we had a similar addendum or appendix with EF options for the PATFOTA, older Rite of Sprinkling, Offertory Prayers, rubrics for the Roman Canon and Last Gospel, these wouldn't be imposed but only gradually become the norm over the course of a couple of decades, maybe one generation.

I think the Ordinariate's reform of the calendar, though, could be "imposed" immediately on the Ordinary Form with little problems.

gob said...

No comments on anonymous 3:37?

John Nolan said...

Since the Ordinariate will use the Novus Ordo Lectionary, what will their 'reform of the calendar' mean in practice? For example, in 2016 the first Sunday of Lent is 14 February, so Septuagesima Sunday is 24 January. But the Lectionary readings for this day are for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) as are the chants in the current (1974) Graduale, which of course include the Alleluia. Are they going to substitute the traditional Septuagesima chants including the Tract 'De Profundis'? If they opt for the Lectionary psalm and 'Gospel acclamation' they can hardly avoid the Alleluia.

They may count Sundays 'after Trinity' but if they use the NO Lectionary these will just be Ordinary Time under a different name - for example 2nd after Trinity will be the same as 10th in Ordinary Time. Where will the extra lessons for Ember days come from? The Roman Missal (EF)?

If they use the 1970 Lectionary they are tied to the Novus Ordo calendar devised, according to Louis Bouyer, by a 'trio of maniacs'. You can't separate the two, any more than you can impose the OF Lectionary onto the EF Mass.

Gene said...

Anon @ 3:37 is obviously a relativist. Not worth much of as comment.