Renewed Papal "Hostility" Against Cardinal Sarah -- Who Can and Can Not?
(Rome) Cardinal Robert Sarah, who has been Prefect of the Roman Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments since the autumn of 2014, has developed over the past two years into one of the most prolific and courageous representatives of the universal Church. His traditional understanding of the Church and his public ministry has led to increasing rejection in papal circles. Within the last three months, the Cardinal of Guinea has been rebuffed for the second time.
Cardinal Sarah says what he thinks and he knows what he is talking about. He has written, among other things, two books. The first book, "God or Nothing", was published in 2015 and became a Catholic bestseller worldwide. Since then it has been translated into thirteen languages and topped numerous books on Pope Francis.
Recently the Cadinal's new book, "La Force du silence" (The Power of Silence) was presented in Paris.Translations in other languages are in preparation, and there is every indication that this book will be a sales success.
Clear language is essential for renewal of the Church
The clear language, spoken by the Cardinal, is different from the ambiguous formulations currently preferred in Rome which leave much room for interpretation. The controversial post-synodal Letter Amoris Laetitia became a prime example of the new papal language. Although the Church leader has been asked publicly by various groups of theologians and philosophers to provide clarity to ambiguous formulations, or withdraw the document, the reigning pontiff has avoided since 2013 from a definition. Pope Francis hides behind references to third parties, without taking even their interpretations himself. He repeated several times, the authentic interpretation of Amoris Laetitia was what Cardinal Schoenborn explained at the presentation of the document in Rome on the 8th of April. What the Archbishop of Vienna said has not been exactly repeated by the Pope. Lately, a "pastoral document" of the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Buenos Aires consider it as the "authentic" interpretation. There is "no need" to add anything, said Francis, but without saying what exactly is said in this document. Those in Rome speak cautiously of an "indirect interpretation". The braver ones say that it is "obvious" that Pope Francis wants to change previous doctrine, but he does not dare to say it. He therefore is handling things more "dietro le quinte" behind the scenes.
The black African Sarah is made of different stuff. He speaks in clear language, because he considers it essential for a renewal of the Church.
Call for all priests to celebrate ad orientem from First Sunday of Advent
"It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common direction of prayer of the faithful and priests - to the east or at least the direction of Apse -. from whence the Lord will come again"
So he repeated a statement he had made in May in an interview with the French magazine Famille Chrétien. The Cardinal also contradicted the assertion spread in recent decades that the priests turn their "backs on" the people, he also celebrates facing ad orientem (to the east). It is "essential that the priest and the faithful face east together. That is exactly what Council Fathers wanted "because" priests and faithful face together in the same direction, on the returning Lord, whom they expect." In the rubrics for the celebration of Mass it was specified exactly when the priest turns to the people (see Cardinal Sarah: "Priests, celebrate ad orientem" ).
In some circles the brightest excitement prevailed and it was followed by the first affront to Cardinal Sarah. One could also speak of a shot across the bow. On the 11th of July an anonymous statement was published by the Press Office of the Vatican. One does not know which dicastery and which person was responsible. Yet it is certain that it has been endorsed by Santa Marta, otherwise they would not have been published by the Press Office.
Vatican statement with "irritating nonsense"
With the statement someone hastened to clarify that "no new liturgical directives" are provided for the start of Advent, as someone "falsely" had concluded from the words of Cardinal Sarah. It should also be "better to avoid the expression, 'reform of the reform' regarding the liturgy, as it was sometimes a source of misunderstandings."
In short, Cardinal Sarah's statements were denied by mention of his name. Moreover, the Cardinal was virtually represented as a liar. In the anonymous the Vatican statement it said: "This all happened by mutual agreement within the course of a recent audience that the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship was granted by the Pope." (see also Direction of Celebration: Pope Francis stops foray by Cardinal Sarah ).
The matter was quite differently explained from the point of view of the Cardinal addressed. Cardinal Sarah appealed specifically to Pope Francis. He presented to him his liturgical concerns, and the Pope had encouraged him.
In London, the cardinal had announced:
"It seems to me useful to remember what I have said on other occasions: Pope Francis asked me to continue the extraordinary liturgical work begun by Benedict XVI. (see. the message to the Sacra Liturgia-Meeting 2015 in New York, USA). It is not so that the views of his predecessor is ruled out, because we have a new Pope. On the contrary, the Holy Father Francis has an immense respect for the liturgical point of view and for the retired Pope Benedict XVI. in conscientious fidelity to the intentions and objectives of the Council Fathers' implemented decisions."
The anonymous press release from the Vatican clearly explained concerns that haunt the papal entourage. It also "clarified" that the Missal of Paul VI. is the "ordinary form" of the Roman Rite, and as such should not be replaced by the "extraordinary form". It was also "clarified" that the altar must always be designed in such a way that the celebratio versus populum can be performed. A "false" statement, according to experts, because this quoted from Institutio Generalis Romani Missalis 2002 only applies to new churches. A celebration direction to the people moreover, was also as the leading liturgists agree, liturgical "nonsense," because the priest turns in the Eucharistic celebration with the people to God and not to the people. Every priest can and should celebrate eastwards, repeated Cardinal Sarah again. This requires neither a permit nor a change in the rules in force, because it corresponds to the applicable regulations.
In his new book "La Force du silence," Cardinal Sarah reaffirms the need to celebrate "versus orientem": The reform of the post-conciliar liturgical reform will take place, because it is necessary, said the Cardinal Prefect.
A week after the book came onto the market, a second affront to the Cardinal followed and again directly from the papal entourage.
This coming October 27 the academic year for the Pontifical Institute of John Paul II for Studies on Marriage and Family opened its academic year. Cardinal Sarah is to have given the opening speech. But now everything is different. The opening speech will now be held by Pope Francis personally.
The change was disavowed not only by Cardinal Sarah, it also relates to the institution itself, which was founded by John Paul II., together with Cardinal Carlo Caffarra and also in connection with the Synod of Bishops on the Family, deciding how to hold firm on the sacrament of marriage and the traditional moral teaching of the Church. Too firm according to the papal entourage, because the Institute's attitude stands in the way of the "new mercy" to which Cardinal Kasper and Pope Francis showed the way.
Although the staff of the Institute are the official, papal experts in marriage and family, they were neither consulted on the preparations nor the synod. Thus, the Institute has been clearly shown that his line is no longer desirable.
"The result is, that Paglia has boasts to all and sundry of having received the assurance from the Pope that he will personally hold the opening speech for the new course 'of the Institute, dedicated to the contemporary and openness - instead of the outdated and closed Sarah."
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Vatican.va (Screenshot)
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