What Does Pope Francis’ Letter To Card. Sarah Really Say?

What Does Pope Francis’ Letter To Card. Sarah Really Say?

By now you have seen coverage of a letter that his Holiness of Our Lord Pope Francis sent to an Italian site, La Nuova Bussola, for publication. [HERE]  Inter alia, it explains something about the meaning of Magnum principium, Pope Francis’ change to law to expand the role of episcopal conferences in the preparation of liturgical translations.   [HERE]

The catholic Left has whipped itself into a spittle-flecked nutty over this new letter from Pope Francis and they are practically baying for Card. Sarah’s blood.

“It is a beat down of Cardinal Sarah!  It’s a CORRECTION!  Ooooo Cardinal Sarah is soooo stooopid!  See?!? SEE?!”

A good example of this via Twitter, is from the diligently self-promoting…

I just want to ask if it is worthy of “dignitas” of a Roman Curia cardinal to make repeated false statements about the pope’s intentions https://twitter.com/matthewschmitz/status/922085548189241344 


And also…

Publicly rebuked twice and increasingly sideline by @Pontifex, it is time for Cdl Sarah to resign as prefect of Cong. for Divine Worship.


But we all know about him.  His animus is his lens.

There is a key point in Pope Francis’ letter, which the inattentive might not catch… especially if they don’t want to.

In the beginning of the letter, Pope Francis wrote (my translation):


ho ricevuto la sua lettera del 30 settembre u.s., con la quale Ella ha voluto benevolmente esprimermi la sua gratitudine per la pubblicazione del Motu Proprio Magnum Principium e trasmettermi una elaborata nota, “Commentaire”, sullo stesso finalizzata a una migliore comprensione del testo.

Your Eminence,

I received your letter of 30 September, last, by which you wanted to express to me kindly your gratitude for the publication of Motu Proprio Magnum principium and to send me an explanatory note about it, “Commentaire”, about the same aimed at a better understanding of the text.


Okay… that’s how Pope Francis’ letter begins.  What do we have here.

The Pope says that he received two things from Card. Sarah.  He received Card. Sarah’s letter in which the Cardinal thanked the Pope for Magnum principium.  He also received, with the aforementioned letter, an “explanatory note”, which the Pope calls by the French word “Commentaire”.   There are two things: Card. Sarah’s own letter and the “Commentaire” which the Cardinal sent.

After this, the Pope comments on Magnum principium and the “explanatory note”!  He doesn’t say anything like, “in your interpretation, Your Eminence”.  Not even close.

At the end of Pope Francis letter we read:

Infine, Eminenza, ribadisco il mio fraterno ringraziamento per il suo impegno e constatando [NB: constatare, not costatare] che la nota “Commentaire” è stata pubblicata su alcuni siti web, ed erroneamente attribuita alla sua persona, Le chiedo cortesemente di provvedere alla divulgazione di questa mia risposta sugli stessi siti nonché l’invio della stessa a tutte le Conferenze Episcopali, ai Membri e ai Consultori di codesto Dicastero.



Finally, Your Eminence, I reaffirm my fraternal gratitude for your diligence and, recognizing that the “Commentaire” note was published on some websites, and was wrongly attributed to your person, I ask you kindly to see to the distribution of this my response to the same sites, as well to the the forwarding of the same to all episcopal conferences, and to the members and the consultors of the Dicastery [the CDW].



At the end, the Pope thanks Card. Sarah for his “diligence”, his having taken the time and effort, “impegno”, presumably about making known to the Pope the contents of the “Commentaire”.  Then the Pope acknowledges that Card. Sarah did not write the “Commentaire”, and that he understands that it was erroneously attributed to the Cardinal.   That’s what the Pope says: “Thanks for letting me know about this Commentaire, which you did not write and which some out there on the internet have incorrectly said that you wrote.”

Hence, the Pope asks that, since that “Commentaire”, wrongly attributed to the Cardinal, was on websites, the Pope asked that Card. Sarah set the record straight by sending the Pope’s letter also around to sites and members and consultors of the Congregation, just to make things clear.  The language about the Cardinals “diligence” smacks of a followup after a meeting.  It is as if to say, you brought these things to my attention, and here’s what we determined to do about it.

And yet the catholic Left has gone into grand mal nutty about how Pope Francis beat down Card. Sarah.  But that’s not what the letter does.

There’s more to be said about the content of Pope Francis’ letter in regard to principles of translation and the mens of Magnum principium, but let’s get this part about Card. Sarah straight.

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