Cardinal Sarah: God or Nothing, A Conversation on Faith

Cardinal Sarah (1): Ambiguities on doctrine can lead to dangerous opinions

June 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – This is a good news report in that it presents some clear, exceptionally well-informed teaching excerpts from a book interview with a holy Cardinal of the Catholic Church. The comments are especially timely considering all that has happened as a result of the massive confusion that has come out of the two synods on the family.

Cardinal Robert Sarah came from the very simple life in one of the smallest villages in Guinea, Africa, endured great hardships and the persecutions and violence of a Marxist dictatorship, was appointed as a bishop of the Catholic Church at the age of 34, and rose to be an influential and yet still genuinely humble and spiritual-focused Cardinal in the Vatican.

Sarah’s early years of formation left him especially disposed to understand corruption and manipulations and the need to courageously speak necessary truth with simplicity.

In the midst of the swirling storm of confusion shaking the Church in 2015, Sarah’s book, God or Nothing, A Conversation on Faith, was released. The 284-page published interview with the cardinal, currently Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and formerly the head of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which oversaw all the Church’s aid agencies in the world, is a treasure trove of wisdom, and unambiguous teaching on faith-related issues of the day – it is a pleasure to read. He does not avoid addressing even the most controversial issues.

I have been reading the book for the past few weeks and have been so impressed that I am including below some notable excerpts for the benefit of LifeSite readers. I believe you will appreciate the excerpts. Better still, buy the book.

During the 2014 Synod on the family, Cardinal Walter Kasper made demeaning remarks about the African cardinals who were frustrating his and others’ efforts to impose their modernist, relativist changes to the Church’s core moral teachings.

Kasper was recorded telling a Zenit News Agency reporter that African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do” and that they are “very different, especially about gays.” That translated in many minds into, “they are still faithful, whereas we more advanced Europeans don’t believe all that morality stuff anymore.” Kasper went on a bit more to indicate he believed the Africans to be out-of-date simpletons.

God or Nothing reveals that Cardinal Robert Sarah, one of those African bishops who actively opposed Kasper’s proposals, is a highly aware and learned prince of the Church. This man, whose humble demeanor seems similar to that of the brilliant and holy Pope Benedict, understands well the machinations of the world, but also, unlike Kasper, he strives to maintain a constant spiritual link to His Lord to guide his every action and word.

After reading God or Nothing, one cannot help but conclude how very wrong Cardinal Kasper is about the intelligence and wisdom of the African cardinals such as Sarah.

I start first with a series of excerpts of Sarah’s answer to an initial question from his interviewer, Nicolas Diat: What are the most worrisome signs today, and your opinion, for the future of the church? Quotes following that are related to other questions that were not necessary to re-print.

As head of Cor Unum, Cardinal Sarah witnessed the scandalous leftist ideological and political emphases of most Western bishops’ conferences’ international aid agencies, such as Canada’s Development and Peace and the US Bishops’ Catholic Relief Services. But there were many more as well, such as the German bishops’ agency, that were every bit as distant from their mandate to be in the service of the Gospel. Sarah, together with Pope Benedict, undertook major reforms to attempt to redirect the agencies back to their Catholic spiritual mission.

Cardinal Sarah (book page of each quote section is noted):

p. 112 – There is a missionary trend that emphasizes political involvement or struggle and social-economic development; This approach offers a diluted interpretation of the gospel and of the proclamation of Jesus.

p. 114 – A priest who has interiorized his priestly life is careful to communicate his encounter with God in a comprehensible way. He will be capable of speaking simply. Some have intellectualized and complicated the Christian message so much that a great number of people are no longer touched by or interested in the teaching of the church.

p. 115 – Fathers of the church knew how to express themselves in a moving way and succeeded in converting whole populations to Christ. Through vivid expressions and beautiful images, they merely communicated their own spiritual experiences.

– One of the major difficulties at present is found in ambiguities or personal statements about important doctrinal points, which can lead to erroneous and dangerous opinions. These bad habits disorient many of the faithful. Sometimes contradictory answers to very serious questions are given by the clergy and the theologians. How can the people of God help but be disturbed by such behaviour? How can the baptized be certain of what is good or bad? Confusion about the right direction to take is the worst malady of our era.

– Contrary to the surrounding subjectivism, the church must know how to tell the truth, with humility, respect, and clarity.

– God did not ask us to create personal projects to transmit the faith. Men of God are conveyors, not interpreters; they are faithful messengers and stewards of the Christian mysteries. Much will be demanded of those who received much.

p. 116 – The first missionaries never separated the proclamation of the word of God, the celebration of the sacraments, and charitable service. Today, we have the tendency to emphasize socio-political involvement and economic development, while excluding evangelization.

– We are misusing the social doctrine of the church without understanding it correctly. It becomes a tool for political action.

p. 117 – The Church would betray Jesus by becoming actively involved in political life.

p. 130 – Ideologies coarsen, crush, and destroy men.

– The ideological spirit is the opposite of the Gospel spirit. That is why priests who choose to follow or to propagate political ideas are necessarily on the wrong path, since they make sacred something that is not supposed to be. Ideology is by nature disconnected from reality, and it is necessarily a source of division, since you cannot win the lasting allegiances of people who are still anchored in reality, in good times and bad.

On Gender ideology (same page continued)

– Today [the Church] must address gender ideology, which John Paul II did not hesitate to describe as a “new ideology of evil”. Moreover gender, the product of reflection by American structuralists, is a deformed child of Marxist thinking. In his last book, Memory and Identity, John Paul II had already written: “I am thinking…of the strong pressure from the European Parliament to recognize homosexual unions as an alternative type of family, the right to adopt children. It is legitimate, even necessary to ask whether this is not the work of another ideology of evil, more subtle and hidden, perhaps, intent upon exploiting human rights themselves against man and against the family.”

– Gender ideology conveys a crude lie, since the reality of the human being as man and woman is denied. The lobbies and the feminist movement promote it with violence. It has rapidly been transformed into a battle against the social order and its values. Its objective does not just stop at the deconstruction of the [human] subject; It is interested above all in the deconstruction of the social order. It is about sowing discord over the legitimacy of social norms and introducing a suspicion over the model of heterosexuality; for [proponents of] gender [theory], it is necessary to abolish Christian civilization and construct a new world.

See [below] the next three parts of this series of excerpts from “God or Nothing”.

2) Cardinal Sarah: “Those who want to eradicate poverty make Christ a liar – they are mistaken and lying”

3) Cardinal Sarah: ‘separating magisterial teaching from pastoral practice is… heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology’

4) Cardinal Sarah decries “attempt to make homosexuality the cornerstone of a new global ethic”

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4 comments on “Cardinal Sarah: God or Nothing, A Conversation on Faith

  1. Cardinal Sarah (2): “Those who want to eradicate poverty make Christ a liar – they are mistaken and lying”

    July 1, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – This is my second article of excerpts from Cardinal Sarah’s book because of the excellent teachings for our times that it contains. These are MUST READS as far as I am concerned and provide clear guidance at this time of confusion and distortions of truth.

    Poverty is a Christian value

    Clearly Cardinal Sarah’s comments here address the very misguided, heavily politicized and ideological efforts of many Catholic international aid agencies as well as government and other agencies that tend to emphasis elimination of the poor through contraception and destroying family cultures.

    He says:

    p.140 I remember being disgusted when I heard the advertising slogan of a Catholic charitable organization, which was almost insulting to the poor: ”Let us fight for zero poverty” .… not one saint – and God alone knows the tremendous number of saints of charity the church has brought forth in two thousand years – ever dared to speak that way about poverty and poor people.

    – Jesus himself had no pretension of the sort. The slogan respects neither the gospel nor Christ. Ever since the Old Testament, God has been with the poor; and Sacred Scripture unceasingly claims “the poor of Yahweh”. A poor person feels dependent on God; this bond is the foundation of spirituality.

    – Yes, poverty is a Christian value. The poor person is someone who knows that, by himself, he cannot live. He needs God and other people in order to be, flourish, and grow. On the contrary, rich people expect nothing of anyone. They can provide for their needs without calling either on their neighbors or on God. In this sense, wealth can lead to great sadness and true human loneliness or just terrible spiritual poverty. If in order to eat and care for himself, a man must turn to someone else, this necessarily results in a great enlargement of his heart. This is why the poor are closest to God and live great solidarity with one another;

    p.141 The church must not fight against poverty but, rather, wage a battle against destitution, especially material and spiritual destitution. It is critical to make a commitment so that all men might have the minimum they require in order to live. “The spirit of poverty and charity is the glory and witness of the Church of Christ”

    – But we do not have the right to confuse destitution and poverty, because in doing so we would seriously be going against the gospel. Recall what Christ told us: “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me” (Jn 12:8) Those who want to eradicate poverty make the son of God a liar. They are mistaken and lying.

    p.142 The language of the UN and of its agencies, who want to suppress poverty, which they confuse with destitution, is not that of the church of Christ. The Son of God did not come to speak to the poor in ideological slogans! The Church must banish these slogans from our language. For they stupefied and destroyed peoples who were trying to remain free in conscience

    Truth is charity

    Below he addresses the many influential or small-minded critics who insist that we must just pray and remain silent about the damaging programs and statements we see and hear and not speak out in order to protect life, family, faith and truth.

    p.143 It is a lack of charity to shut one’s eyes. It is a lack of charity to remain silent in the face of confusing words and slogans!

    The atheistic West is endangering the whole world

    Cardinal Sarah is aware of the great dangers to the entire world of today’s situation in especially the European Union, the United States and Canada.

    p.146 I think that the immense economic, military, technological, and media influence of a godless West could be a disaster for the world. If the West does not convert to Christ, it could end up making the whole world pagan; the philosophy of unbelief feverishly seeks followers in new parts of the globe. In this sense, we are facing an atheism that is proselytizing more and more. The pagan culture is determined to extend the domain of its struggle against God. In order to bring about their rebirth, the former countries of the old Christian tradition need to re-energize by embarking on a new evangelization.

    P.148 Following Benedict XVI, I am convinced that one of the most important tasks of the church is to make the West rediscover the radiant face of Jesus. If the Old Continent cuts itself off from its roots definitively, I fear that it will cause a major crisis for all mankind, and I see some beginnings of it here and there.

The absolute need to defend the traditions and doctrines of Catholicism

    p.147 we have an urgent obligation, says St. Athanasius, to study “the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles, and guarded by the Fathers. For upon this faith the church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or name.”

    Prayer is the tool to reform the world

    p.150 Prayer is the greatest need of the contemporary world; it remains the tool with which to reform the world.

    p.153 The start of the reform must concentrate on Catholic schools and seminaries.

  2. Cardinal Sarah (3): ‘Separating magisterial teaching from pastoral practice is… heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology’

    July 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — As I have been reading more pages of God or Nothing, it has been compelling to share with LifeSite readers even more highlights from the later pages of this powerful and timely book.

    As the book goes on, I have been struck by how Cardinal Sarah does two things in particular:

    1) Presents more and extensive quotes from laudible parts of the writings of Pope Francis and affirms their importance.
    2) Strongly challenges with greater bluntness the mistaken, dangerous or heretical ideas that are being promoted in the Church during the Francis papacy.

    As before, the page number for each quote is noted at the beginning. Quotes without page numbers follow on the previously noted page. Especially significant excerpts are bolded.

    1) The misunderstanding of divine mercy

    p.173 Many of the faithful rejoice to hear talk about divine mercy, and they hope that the radical demands of the gospel can be relaxed even for the benefit of those who by their lives have chosen to break away from the crucified love of Jesus.

    – They think that because of the Lord’s infinite goodness everything is possible, while at the same time deciding to change nothing in their lives. Many expect, as something normal, that God should pour out his mercy on them while they remain in sin…

    p.174 What good is it to know that the Pope’s Twitter account is followed by thousands if people do not change their lives concretely?

    p.203 …before flooding us with it’s benevolence, mercy demands truth, justice, and repentance. In God, mercy will become “forgiveness”.

    p. 280 We go so far as to exploit the mercy of God, stifling justice and truth, so as to “welcome” homosexual persons – as the Relatio post disceptationem from the last Synod on the family in October 2014 puts it – who “have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community”. Moreover, this document goes on to say that “the question of homosexuality requires serious reflection on how to devise realistic approaches to affective growth, human development, and maturation in the gospel, while integrating the sexual aspect”. In fact, the real scandal is not the existence of sinners, for mercy and forgiveness always exist precisely for them, but rather the confusion between good and evil caused by Catholic shepherds. If men who are consecrated to God are no longer capable of understanding the radical nature of the Gospel message and seek to anaesthetize it, we will be going the wrong way. For that is the real failure of mercy.

    2) Heresy of conflict between “magisterial teaching and pastoral practice”

    p.276 Question: last December [2014] Reinhard Cardinal Marx, president of the German Bishops’ conference said: “throughout the world, the search for a theologically responsible and pastorally appropriate way of assisting Catholics who are divorced or divorced and civilly remarried is one of the urgent challenges for pastoral ministry to families and married couples in the context of evangelization.” What is your viewpoint on this subject, which figured among the questions at the last synod in October 2014?

    Sarah: …this very general statement seems to me to be the expression of mere ideology that they want to impose hastily on the whole Church. In my experience, specifically after 23 years as Archbishop of Conakry, and nine years as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of People’s, the question of “Catholics who are divorced or divorced and civilly remarried” is not an urgent challenge for the Church of Africa or Asia. On the contrary, this is an obsession of some Western churches that want to impose so-called “theologically responsible and pastorally appropriate” solutions that radically contradict the teaching of Jesus and of the Church’s Magisterium.

    p.277 …it is not possible to imagine any conflict or tension whatsoever between magisterial teaching and pastoral practice. The idea of putting magisterial teaching in a beautiful display case while separating it from pastoral practice, which then could evolve along with circumstances, fashion, and passions, is a sort of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology.

    – I therefore solemnly state that the Church in Africa is staunchly opposed to any rebellion against the teaching of Jesus and of the magisterium.

    – How could a synod go back on the constant teaching that was unified and explained in greater depth by Blessed Paul VI, Saint John Paul II, and Benedict the XVI? I place my trust in the fidelity of Francis.

    p.281 Aline Lizotte, a renowned theologian and director of the Karol Wojtyla Institute, correctly argues…”For a baptized person, to say that a de facto union, concubinage, or merely civil marriage can objectively be positive elements leading toward Sacramental fullness is to try to rewrite the history of salvation backward!”

    – Today there is a confrontation and a rebellion against God, a battle organized against Christ and his church. How is it comprehensible that Catholic pastors should put doctrine to a vote; the love of God and the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, on divorce and remarriage, as though from now on the word of God and the Magisterium had to be sanctioned and approved by majority vote?

    – Men who devise and elaborate strategies to kill God, to destroy the centuries-old doctrine and teaching of the Church, will themselves be swallowed up, carried off by their own earthly victory into the eternal fires of Gehenna.

    3) The reign of practical atheism in the West

    p.167 Today the West lives as if God does not exist.

    – The west decided to distance itself from the Christian faith under the influence of the Enlightenment philosophers and the resulting political currents. Although Christian communities exist that are still vital and missionary, most Western populations now regard Jesus as a sort of idea but not an event, much less as a person whom the apostles and many witnesses of the gospel met and loved and to whom they consecrated their whole life.

    – This estrangement from God is not caused by reasoning but by a wish to be detached from him.

    – Man no longer wishes to reflect on his relationship to God because he himself intends to become God.

    p.171 But the death of God results in the burial of good, love, and truth.

    – All atheism seeks to change the very nature of man.

    p.190 Soviet Communism showed how possible it was to lead mankind into misery by promising absolute equality…. Equality is not God’s creation.

    – Egalitarianism is an ideology that thrives when religion is forgotten. All ideologies end up disappearing, like communism. Thus the fall of ideologies is inevitable inasmuch as they are nothing but mere products of man without God. But at what cost!

    4) Miscellaneous

    p.192 There is a great sadness in claiming to want to indulge in limitless pleasures, whereas the most beautiful joy is to remain simply with God, allowing him to clothe us in light and purity.

    p.193 Today we are confronted with one of the last stages of the civilization of diversion. The alternative is simple: if mankind reforms itself, it will live, but if it’s headlong flight persists, civilization will become a Hell.

    p.201 Faith is the foundation of hope, a new dimension of man that leads him toward divinity….Since our faith and our hope rest in God, we have nothing to fear.

  3. Cardinal Sarah (4): decries “attempt to make homosexuality the cornerstone of a new global ethic”

    July 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – This is the 4th and final list of notable quotes from Cardinal Sarah’s book, God or Nothing. Today we publish excerpts of Sarah’s clear teaching on moral issues.

    I strongly suggest reading all four reports if this is the first that you have read. Each report covers different issues.

    – Cardinal Sarah: “Those who want to eradicate poverty make Christ a liar – they are mistaken and lying”

    – Cardinal Sarah: ambiguities on doctrine – can lead to dangerous opinions.

    – Cardinal Sarah: ‘separating magisterial teaching from pastoral practice is… heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology’

    Purchasing and reading the book, God or Nothing will lead to a better appreciation of Cardinal Sarah’s statements. His life story and the more detailed answers to the numerous questions presented by Nicolas Diat, provide essential context.

    Cardinal Sarah is a true Catholic Shepherd. He far more fears offending God by not preaching and teaching what a Catholic bishop is called to teach at this time in history, than he fears losing status or admiration from the world.

    It is interesting that, on the issue of homosexuality, the good Cardinal shares the view of LifeSite that, “The chief enemies of homosexual persons are the LGBT lobbies” and powerful international forces funding and pushing them. This descendent of the apostles truly wishes to save and defend the lives and souls of those who enter into this dangerous behavior.

    1) Sexual Morality
    (Without an authentic spiritual life, none will see what Sarah sees. Spiritual blindness is dominant in our time)

    p.156 Morality is fundamentally a consequence of the Christian faith

    p.157 In a hyper-eroticized society, which tries to convince people that man is fulfilled only through unbridled sexuality, it seems me that women’s dignity has had major setbacks. The West is the continent that most shamefully humiliates and despises women by publicly stripping them naked and utilizing them for hedonistic commercial purposes.

    p.158 How are we to understand the fact that the major UN agencies that claim to champion human rights do not fight vigorously against the powerful European and American sex industry? All of these dark clouds are signs of a world that lives far from Christ. Without the Son of God, man is lost and humanity has no more future.

    p.159 Gender ideology has become the perverse condition for cooperation and development.

    – I have noticed the existence of international programs that impose abortion and the sterilization of women. These policies are all more hideous because most African populations are defenseless, at the mercy of fanatical Western ideologues. The poor are asking for a little aid, and some people are cruel enough to poison their minds. Africa and Asia absolutely must protect their cultures and their own values. International agencies in fact have no right to practice this new Malthusian, brutal colonialism. Out of ignorance or complicity, African and Asian governments would be guilty of allowing their people to be euthanized. Mankind would lose much if these continents were to fall into the huge, formless magma of a globalization, which is directed toward an inhumane ideal that is in fact a hideous, barbaric oligarchy.

    2) Homosexuality: “the cornerstone of a new global ethic”
    (Here Sarah asks a question that everyone should be asking, but few do ask.)

    – The Holy See must play it’s part. We cannot accept the propaganda and the pressure groups of the LGBT lobby – lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered. The process is all the more unsettling for being rapid and recent. Why this frenzied desire to impose theory? An anthropological vision that was unknown a few years ago, the product of the strange thought of a few sociologists and writers like Michel Foucault, should suddenly become the world’s new El Dorado? It is impossible to remain complacent in the presence of such an immoral and demonic deception.

    p.160 Behind this Promethean vision of Africa or Asia there is the mark of the devil.

    – The chief enemies of homosexual persons are the LGBT lobbies. It is a serious error to reduce an individual to his behavior, especially sexual behavior. Nature always ends up having its revenge.

    p.164 I observe an attempt by some influential structures to make homosexuality the cornerstone of a new global ethic. Every extremist ideological project bears within it its own failure; in the short-term, I fear that homosexual persons will be the first victims such political excesses.

    p.280 While Christians are dying for their faith and their fidelity to Jesus, in the West, men of the Church are trying to reduce the requirements of the Gospel to a minimum.

    – (This was also included in the previous report under the section on mercy) We go so far as to exploit the mercy of God, stifling justice and truth, so as to “welcome” homosexual persons – as the Relatio post disceptationem from the last Synod on the family in October 2014 puts it – who “have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community”. Moreover, this document goes on to say that “the question of homosexuality requires serious reflection on how to devise realistic approaches to affective growth, human development, and maturation in the gospel, while integrating the sexual aspect”. In fact, the real scandal is not the existence of sinners, for mercy and forgiveness always exist precisely for them, but rather the confusion between good and evil caused by Catholic shepherds. If men who are consecrated to God are no longer capable of understanding the radical nature of the Gospel message and seek to anaesthetize it, we will be going the wrong way. For that is the real failure of mercy.

    (Again a spiritual perspective, that reveals the deadly truth about euthanasia)

    p.161 Euthanasia is the most acute indication of a Godless subhuman society that has lost hope.

    – If we do not overcome the culture of death, mankind is headed for its perdition. Now, at the beginning of the third millennium, the destruction of human life is no longer a barbaric act but a sign of progress in civilization; the law takes a right to individual liberty as the pretext for giving man the option to kill his neighbor. The world becomes a real hell. This is no longer a sort of decadence but, rather, a dictatorship of horror, a programmed Genocide of which the Western powers are guilty.

  4. Is it possible that the influence of the former Archbishop of Dakar, the saintly Marcel, is being felt today in the words of Cardinal Sarah? Is it possible that the saintly Marcel is still interceding for us in Heaven? I choose to think so.

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