May 30, 2015
"If the Eucharist is considered [simply] a meal we share in and that nobody can be excluded from it, then the sense of Mystery is lost". So says Cardinal Robert Sarah, the new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, in an intervention given at the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for the Studies on Marriage and the Family, at his presentation of: "The Family – a work in progress", a compilation of essays published by Cantagalli, in view of the upcoming Synod in October. A compilation intent on stimulating a discussion which touches on the "hot issues" of homosexuality, sexuality, divorce, in-vitro-fertilization, euthanasia and celibacy. Three volumes make up the collection, two of which are written by professors of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute: "The Eucharist and divorce: does the doctrine change?" by José Granados (who has also been nominated consultant to the Synod of Bishops) and "Different Families: imperfect expressions of the same ideal?" by Stephan Kampowski. The third, "What does Jesus think of the divorced and remarried?" is the work of Luis Sanchez Navarro, Ordinary of the New Testament at San Damaso University in Madrid. Il Foglio had anticipated ample extracts of Professors Granados and Sanchez's books on April 15th of this year.
"The West – said Cardinal Sarah, in an 'off the cuff' response to some questions posed to him from the auditorium – is adapting to its own illusions". The main problem, the prelate noted several times, is faith. (Il Foglio anticipated this last March 13th in a long extract from the book "Dieu ou rien" published in France by Fayard). "If you consider that the word "faith" is no longer mentioned even in the Rite of Baptism, when the parents are questioned about what they ask of the Church of God for their child, the significance of the problem is very clear", added the Cardinal who also blamed the teaching of Catechism today, "The children do drawings and don't learn anything – they don't go to Mass."
Regarding the upcoming Synod, an invitation came from Cardinal Sarah [for us] to have no illusions about epochal changes: "People think that there will be a revolution, but this cannot happen. Doctrine belongs to no-one, it is Christ's alone". After last October's meeting, noted the Cardinal in his presentation of the three volumes, "it was clear that the real crux of the matter was not only the question of the divorced and remarried", but "whether the doctrine of the Church is to be considered an unreachable ideal - an impossibility, which would therefore necessitate adapting to a downward trend to propose it to present-day society. If this is the situation, we need a clarification as to whether the Gospel is the good news for man or a useless burden no longer viable". The riches of Catholicism – he added – "cannot be revealed through ideas dictated by a kind of pragmatism and some mutual feelings in common. Revelation shows humanity the way to wholeness and happiness. Ignoring this fact would mean affirming the need to re-think the very foundations of the redeeming action of the Church itself, which is accomplished through the Sacraments."
The problem is also those "priests and bishops" who contribute to "contradicting the word of Christ" by their own words. And this said Cardinal Sarah, "is extremely grave". To permit at some diocesan levels what has not yet been authorized by the Synod (the allusion was to the practices followed in many situations of centre-north Europe) is to "profane Christ". It is of little worth invoking mercy: "We are deceiving people when we talk of mercy without knowing what the word means. The Lord forgives sins, but only if we repent of them". The divisions that were seen last October, "…were all from the West. In Africa, we have remained steadfast, as there have been many people in that continent who have lost their lives for the faith."
The Cardinal launched an appeal against those members of the clergy who use imprecise language: " It is wrong for the Church to use the vocabulary of the United Nations. We have our own vocabulary." He then wanted to make a clarification on one of the maxims that has become very popular since 2013 i.e. the one about 'going out to into the peripheries'. A correct intention, obviously, but on one condition: "It's easy to go out into the peripheries, but it depends on whether we are taking Christ [to them]. Today it is more courageous to be with Christ on the Cross which means martyrdom. Our duty is to go against the mainstream" as regards the fashions of the time, and "what the world is saying". And besides, "if the Church stops preaching the Gospel, it is finished. It can do so with present day fashions, but with firmness."
And lastly, a note on the decline of priestly vocations in the world: "The question is not that there are few priests, inasmuch as whether these priests are true priests for Christ."
[Rorate translation by contributor Francesca Romana. Source.]