Cardinal Sarah Endorses the “Notes” of Pope Benedict, “Martyr For the Truth”
Cardinal Robert Sarah took everyone by surprise on the evening of May 14 in Rome, in the auditorium of the cultural center of the church of St. Louis of the French, when everyone was expecting him to present his latest book, entitled “Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse,” on the Church’s crisis of faith and the decline of the West.
Because instead, the cardinal said right away, “this evening I will not talk about this book at all.” And the reason - he explained - is that “the fundamental ideas that I develop in it were illustrated, presented, and demonstrated brilliantly last April by Pope Benedict XVI in the ‘notes’ that he had composed in view of the summit of the presidents of the episcopal conferences on sexual abuse convened in Rome by Pope Francis from February 21 to 24.”
Cardinal Sarah continued:
“His reflection has revealed itself to be a true source of light in the night of faith that touches the whole Church. It has prompted reactions that at times have bordered on intellectual hysteria. I have felt personally struck by the wretchedness and coarseness of several comments. We must be convinced that once again the theologian Ratzinger, whose stature is that of a true father and doctor of the Church, has seen correctly and has touched the deepest heart of the Church’s crisis.
“I would therefore like us this evening to allow ourselves to be enlightened by this demanding and luminous thought of his. How could we summarize the thesis of Benedict XVI? Allow me to simply cite him: ‘Why has pedophilia reached such proportions? In the final analysis, the reason is the absence of God.’ This is the architectonic principle of the entire reflection of the pope emeritus. This is the conclusion of his long argumentation. This must be the starting point of every investigation of the scandal of sexual abuse committed by priests, in order to propose an effective solution.
“The crisis of pedophilia in the Church, the scandalous and distressing multiplication of abuse has one and only one ultimate cause: the absence of God. Benedict XVI summarizes it in another formula that is also clear. I quote: ‘It is only where faith no longer determines the actions of man that such crimes are possible.’
“The theological genius of Joseph Ratzinger here touches not only upon his experience as pastor of souls and as bishop, as father of his priests, but also upon his personal, spiritual, and mystical experience. He goes back to the fundamental cause, he allows us to understand what the only way can be for getting out of the frightening and humiliating scandal of pedophilia. The crisis of sexual abuse is the symptom of a deeper crisis: the crisis of faith, the crisis of the sense of God.”
The entire conference by Cardinal Sarah is reproduced, in French, on this other page of Settimo Cielo:
> Lumière dans la nuit. Au cœur de la crise des abus sur mineurs, le regard de Benoît XVI sur l’Église
In it Sarah goes over Joseph Ratinger’s analysis step by step, agreeing with it completely. He refutes in biting terms the criticisms that have been brought against it. He emphasizes the effects of the crisis of faith in the lives of priests and in the formation of seminarians. He stigmatizes the false “guarantism” that, in tolerating doctrines contrary to the integrity of the faith, also encourages practices contrary to chastity. He invokes that profound respect for the “Eucharistic body of the Lord” without which there is no longer any respect for “the pure and innocent bodies of children.”
And this is the finale, more than ever in unison with Ratzinger:
“To conclude, I say to you again with Pope Benedict: yes, the Church is full of sinners. But it is not in crisis, we are the ones who are in crisis. The devil wants to make us doubt. He wants to make us believe that God abandons his Church. But no, this is always ‘the field of God. There are not only the weeds but also the good wheat of God. To proclaim these two aspects with insistence does not stem at all from a false apologetics: it is a service that it is necessary to render to the truth,’ says Benedict XVI. He proves it, his prayerful and teaching presence in our midst, in the heart of the Church, in Rome, he confirms it for us. Yes, in our midst is the good wheat of God.
“Thank you, dear Pope Benedict, for being according to your motto a cooperator with the truth, a servant of the truth. Your word encourages and reassures us. You are a witness, a ‘martyr’ for the truth. Thank you.”
No need to say that this impassioned apologia for Ratzinger’s analysis made by Cardinal Sarah is the polar opposite of the gelid welcome reserved for it by Pope Francis:
So, if I understand it correctly, according to the Pope Emeritus as endorsed by Crd Sarah, the Church of Christ is always well because the Head is the Lord out God is himself. The ones claiming to belong to Him i.e the Church, may be or may be not in full communion with her. One can guess who is in and who is out by their actions and their teachings. I can think of some very public teachers who have been examined by famous theologians and were found wanting. Those who cover up wolfs parading in sheep's closing are the very worst. So, what is the answer for the day to day life of believers? I find that privete praying is the best if the loneliest option because living thousands of miles from the likes of Benedict XVI or Crd Sarah the choice of who to lie down with so as not to get up with flees is a hit and miss proposition. We are in desperate need of trustworthy leaders. I ask, is our Bishops' Conference equipped to lead the faithful? Are there enough brave ones among them to counter act the machinations of the likes of Crd's Kupich, Tobin et al. I fear the answer may be no.
A first and simple reading of the last paragraph yields the conclusion that by stating that Pope Emeritus Benedict is the good wheat, and without including anyone else in that category, Cardinal Sarah is contrasting Benedict with Bergoglio. Of course there will be the usual tortured readings by the usual suspects to deny it. Not that a papal wrestling match matters all that much to me as a Greek Catholic.
Christ is Risen!
Money-quote for me: “...yes, the Church is full of sinners. But it is not in crisis, we are the ones who are in crisis.”
Taken at full value, everyone knows there are major problems in our Church; but those problems boil down to humans cooperating with God vs not. Humans without God fail miserably and then the Church gets pulled down with them. As a favorite priest of ours often said: “KISS it—Keep It Simple, Stupid!”
Pope Francis may have disappointed some liberals by his remarks concerning women deacons, but he still has their confidence because they see his idea of 'discernment' as a way of changing doctrine to accommodate 'pastoral' practice, and so modernize the Church.
While traditionalists (for want of a better term) see Vatican II as ushering in a revolution which has damaged the Church on several levels, liberals see it as a work in progress. Their hermeneutic is roughly as follows: Good Pope John threw open the windows to let in the fresh air of modernity, but the cautious Paul VI closed them one by one. His successors John Paul II and Benedict XVI were reactionaries, but Francis gives hope that the revolution, stalled for forty years, might be resumed.
Some of this is pure myth, like the claim that Grand Inquisitor Ratzinger 'silenced' dozens of theologians (in reality even the heterodox Schillebeeckx got what amounted to a free pass) or that John XXIII was more liberal than Paul VI - the opposite was true, as Paul himself admitted.
Nor is it a case of 'going back to the 1970s'. It is a question of going forward from the 1970s, with the intervening decades seen as a regrettable interlude.
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