The Lost Great Pope
The, in effect, cancelling of the charismatic and brilliant Robert Cardinal Sarah seems to extinguish any forlorn hope that the Catholic Church might be saved by earthly intervention.
The ‘resignation’ of Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, frequently lazily mischaracterised as an ‘outspoken conservative’, may be one of the most epochal events in the history of the Catholic Church, the final break with its roots and history before the final plummet into the nihilistic void that is modern reality.
Reports on the development have been predictably sprinkled with misdirection: The cardinal was 75, and therefore due to retire as required by Church law. Pope Francis merely ‘accepted his resignation’ — nothing to see here. In fact, it is customary for cardinals to continue in office with the permission of the pope for several years, up to the age of 80, beyond which they may not participate in a papal conclave, although they themselves continue after that age to be eligible for election as pope.
Interestingly, a number of press reports relayed the news under headlines like, ‘Pope removes conservative African cardinal who warned Islam would “invade the world” after clash with Vatican’. Many reports named Sarah as a possible future pope, but seemed to suggest also that his prospects had diminished due to his ‘resignation’.
Theoretically, it is true, Cardinal Sarah might yet become pope. But his removal from the ranks of senior Vatican figures certainly makes this somewhat less likely than before.
This question is one that matters more to the world than the world appears to think. It is not purely a matter of internal Church politics. Obviously, because the media reporting on these matters are overwhelmingly ‘progressive’, a prelate like Sarah is almost invariably cast in a dark light. For reasons of both ideology and commercial advantage, the world’s media require the pope to offer, in effect, the ‘watered down, appeasing Christianity’ Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly warned against, and there remains an abundance of actors within the Church — in particular the Vatican — prepared to give the scribes what they desire. It is undeniable that, in as far as can be judged from his published interventions, Pope Francis is content to volunteer as an instrument of both the media and the watered-down Church.
Sarah is a ‘conservative’ only in the sense that JPII conveyed when he spoke on his first visit to Assisi at the beginning of his papacy, when he declared that he was not a reformer. ‘I am not offended when labelled a conservative. The pope is not here to make changes but to conserve what he has receive into his charge.’ In a sense, the terms are nonsensical. The Church, being timeless, cannot be ‘progressed’. The term ‘traditional Catholic’ therefore, is or ought to be a tautology. To be a Catholic is to be a traditionalist; to be a ‘traditionalist’ is simply to be a faithful Catholic. In other matters, Sarah is a far-seeing, courageous and clear-spoken servant of Christ in the world.
The Church, which purports to carry the message of the eternal God, cannot ‘move with the times’. It is constant and amaranthine, infinite and unyielding. For the Church to ‘move with the times’ is to become something other than the Church.
Francis is of that ‘something other’, Sarah the unbending immovable object that stands against the hurricane of pseudo-progress. Put another way, Francis is the Pope of the Church of the New World Order, seeking to purvey a therapeutic panacea for the unease of the secular world; Sarah is the voice of the timeless Church. Whatever the topic, Sarah sounds like an adult articulating commonsensical perspectives on the complexities of the present moment; Bergoglio often sounds like a Woke prom queen trying to impress her first boyfriend.
The saga of the widening gap between these two men, which also conveys the story of what is happening to the Church, has been in train for some time and is more complex and interesting than the media reports of the new development have allowed. I wrote about it elsewhere a year ago, but my essay at that time was perhaps excessively couched in diplomacy and a desire to get it past the editorial border guards. I believe I pulled a couple of punches in the first draft, and the editors pulled a few more, so what ended up in print was fairly radically adrift of what I had actually hoped to say. I have decided, therefore, to have another go at describing the core of the Cardinal Sarah situation, as well as the extent of the loss that may be incurred if his involuntary resignation marks the end of him.
The article I wrote this time last year followed an odd statement by Cardinal Sarah to the effect that he was not ‘opposed’ to the pope, and sought to address two questions: Are Pope Francis and Cardinal Sarah at loggerheads on the topic of mass migration?; and, if so, which of them is closest to Church teaching on the matter? This question is central to the difference between them, and to the matter of how a pontificate of Sarah might differ from that of Bergoglio.
It is possible that the piece as originally submitted gave the unintended impression that I was criticising Cardinal Sarah for dissembling or lacking courage. Nothing could have been further from my mind. I believed, and believe — as outlined below — that his statements on mass migration are unambiguous and courageous, and far more closely in accord with Church teaching than those of Pope Francis. In fact, they amount to a clear expression of Church teaching through the ages, whereas those of the pope, which are followed by the vast majority of Catholic pastors, are radically remote from that teaching.
I made a tactical error in framing the argument, seeking to tone down criticism of Francis on the basis that this had become a bit of a cliche, thus throwing the balance askew. I wanted really to ask a question along the lines of: If the Pope and one of his key cardinals are saying diametrically opposing things on an issue as fundamental as what it means to ‘love thy neighbour’, does this ipso facto not mean that they are, in fact, ‘opposed’? I was puzzled as to why Cardinal Sarah was holding to his position on migration — which I admired — and yet appeared to insist that he and the pope were of one mind. If I had a criticism of Cardinal Sarah it was that he had, in perhaps seeking to damp down the controversy surrounding him, added to the confusion which has grown exponentially under Pope Francis, and which until recently Cardinal Sarah had done much to critique and rebalance. I absolutely did not wish to criticise him. I just could not fully understand his position and believed that many others were in a similar condition of confusion.
It is possible that the chief reason why Cardinal Sarah had issued his conciliatory statement pledging loyalty to Pope Francis, and insisting that he was not ‘opposed’ to him, was that he was being drawn into reports about a growing faction of clerics around Archbishop Viganò who were openly opposed to Pope Francis, suggesting that he was allied with this initiative. It may also be the case that Sarah had become conscious — possibly even because he had been told as much by Francis — that he might need to watch his step. It may well be that, essentially, Cardinal Sarah was seeking to avoid what has now occurred.
In truth, there are in fact many differences between Sarah and the pope, on all kinds of doctrinal and theological issues. In many instances, such differences are normal and unexceptionable, as Francis himself has acknowledged. Having a viewpoint different to Church teaching does not necessarily disqualify one from being a Catholic. It depends on the issues, and migration is not a red-letter doctrinal matter on which difference amounts to some kind of calamity. And yet, perhaps more than any other issue, it goes to the heart of Christian teaching, to this fundamental but complex question of what it means to ‘love thy neighbour’.
In truth, as Sarah has intimated, this question also has, at this moment, implications for the very future of our civilisation. Ominously, in the time of Pope Bergoglio, the teaching of the Church has been skewed into a form of simplistic moral blackmail in a manner that serves to damage that civilisation irretrievably.
On loving Thy Neighbour, the ‘Stranger’
There is a riddle requiring some kind of explanation. Robert Cardinal Sarah has said it is wrong to ‘oppose’ the pope—which might be assumed to incorporate the implication that he is not himself opposing the pope. Yet, the pope and Cardinal Sarah say ‘opposing’ things about mass migration, and both imply or assert that what they say on this subject is in line with Catholic teaching.
Speaking in the Italian city of Bari [in February 2020], Pope Francis, without naming names, made a comparison between Nazism and contemporary ‘populist’ politicians who speak of recent waves of migrants travelling from Africa to Europe as an ‘invasion’.
‘I grow fearful when I hear certain speeches by some leaders of the new forms of populism; it reminds me of speeches that disseminated fear and hatred back in the thirties of the last century,’ he said.
‘Fear is leading to a sense that we need to defend ourselves against what is depicted in demagogic terms as an invasion. The rhetoric of the clash of civilisations merely serves to justify violence and to nurture hatred.’
‘Notions of racial purity have no future,’ the pope said, though without stating whose notions he was alluding to. ‘The message of intermingling has much to tell us. To be part of the Mediterranean region is a source extraordinary potential: may we not allow a spirit of nationalism to spread the opposite view, namely, that those states less accessible and geographically more isolated should be privileged.’
Decrying walls and calling on European politicians not to close their countries’ borders, the pope said that to oppose international migration is to ‘stand in the way of the unification of the human family, which despite many challenges, continues to advance.’
It is interesting that the pope here spoke of nationalism as though it were self-evidently and intrinsically evil. Perhaps the Holy Father had forgotten that, according to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus urged his disciples to ‘go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.’ It was as an agglomeration of nations that Jesus perceived the human world in waiting for His proposal.
To the naked eye, Guinean-born Robert Cardinal Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, appears to take a view that id different from the pope's and rather closer to the words of Jesus, as relayed to us by Matthew.
In April , Cardinal Sarah gave an interview to the French magazine Valeurs Actuelles in which he called migration a ‘new form of slavery’ and made clear his view that proselytising in favour of the mass movement of peoples from African to Europe was at odds with the Christian message. ‘It is better to help people flourish in their culture than to encourage them to come to a Europe in full decadence,’ he said. ‘It is a false exegesis to use the word of God to promote migration. God never wanted these heartbreaks.’
Moreover, in this interview also, he seemed to acknowledge that, in making this statement, he was questioning a position being articulated from somewhere within the Church. ‘Today, many priests and bishops are literally bewitched by political or social issues,’ he said. ‘Today, I am not afraid to say that priests, bishops and even cardinals are afraid to proclaim what God teaches and to transmit the doctrine of the Church. They are afraid of being frowned upon, of being seen as reactionaries. So they say fuzzy, vague, imprecise things to escape criticism, and they marry the stupid transience of the world.’
‘All migrants who arrive in Europe are penniless, without work, without dignity. . . . This is what the Church wants? The Church cannot cooperate with this new form of slavery that has become mass migration.’
He warned that the West, with its low birth rate, risks disappearing, and in making this point had recourse to the concept of invasion. ‘If Europe disappears, and with it the priceless values of the Old Continent, Islam will invade the world and we will completely change culture, anthropology and moral vision.’
In a recent book, The Day is Now Far Spent, published in 2019, Cardinal Sarah expands on these observations.
‘Everything must be done so that people can remain in the countries that saw their birth. Every day, hundreds of Africans die in the waters of the Mediterranean.’
‘Very soon, we know, there will be in Europe a singularly dangerous imbalance on the demographic, cultural and religious levels.’
‘Globalized humanity, without borders, is a hell. The standardization of ways of life is the cancer of the postmodern world. Men become unwitting members of a great planetary herd, that does not think, does not protest, and allows itself to be guided toward a future that does not belong to it.’
‘Men do not resemble one another. Nature, too, is multifariously rich, because he ordained it so. Our Father thought that his children could be enriched by their differences. Today globalization is contrary to the divine plan. It tends to make humanity uniform. Globalization means cutting man off from his roots, from his religion, from his culture, history, customs, and ancestors. He becomes stateless, without a country, without a land. He is at home everywhere and nowhere.’
‘I can understand the idea of some cooperation of peoples. I can understand a certain opening of boundaries so as to improve economic exchange. But the libertarian liberal ideology is nonsense. Europe is dying of this selfish delirium.’
'If the West continues in this fatal way, there is a great risk that, due to a lack of birth, it will disappear, invaded by foreigners, just as Rome has been invaded by barbarians.' .
'My country is predominantly Muslim. I think I know what reality I'm talking about.'
So far, so different — Sarah and Bergoglio, that is. These clear divergences between Pope Francis and Cardinal Sarah on these questions are so stark as to suggest that the Church speaks with at least two diametrically opposing voices on the issue of the meaning of ‘love thy neighbour’, at least in the specific context of ‘welcoming the stranger’. Perhaps it is in part for this reason that there was a deal of speculation in 2019 about the possibility that Cardinal Sarah would throw his lot in with those Catholics who had come out in unequivocal opposition to the pope on other matters, some even going as far as to accuse him of various heresies.
Cardinal Sarah was not long in disposing of such suggestions. ‘Whoever is against the Pope is, ipso facto, outside the Church,’ he said in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, published to coincide with the publication of his book in October . ‘Those who place me in opposition to the Holy Father cannot present a single word of mine, a single phrase or a single attitude of mine to support their absurd — and I would say, diabolical — affirmation.’
He further said that those who portray him as an opponent of Pope Francis are being used by the devil to help divide the Church. ‘I would add that every Pope is right for his time,’ the cardinal said. ‘Providence looks after us very well, you know.’
‘The truth is that the Church is represented on earth by the Vicar of Christ, that is by the Pope. And whoever is against the Pope is, ipso facto, outside the Church.’
In The Day Is Now Far Spent, Cardinal Sarah quotes liberally from Pope Francis as well as his predecessor, Benedict XVI. Indeed, he persistently insists that in the things he says in the book he is echoing Pope Francis. The book’s dedication reads: ‘For Benedict XVI, peerless architect of the rebuilding of the Church. For Francis, faithful and devoted son of St Ignatius. For the priests throughout the world in thanksgiving on the occasion of my golden jubilee of priesthood.’
Yet, on migration, the glaring difference persists. In November 2019, just weeks after Cardinal Sarah’s book was published, Pope Francis, on a visit to Asia, praised Thailand’s multiculturalism. ‘As a multi-ethnic and diverse nation, Thailand has long known the importance of building harmony and peaceful coexistence between its numerous ethnic groups, while showing respect and appreciation for different cultures, religious groups, thoughts and ideas,’ he said. In these remarks he might well have been responding directly to Cardinal Sarah’s observations.
In other instances, he might well have been deemed to be ‘opposed’ to Cardinal Sarah. Two months before, speaking to members of his own order, the Jesuits, in Mozambique, he said: ‘There are those who want to stop this very important process of mingling cultures, which gives life to people. Mixing makes you grow, it gives you new life. It develops racial mixing, change and gives originality.’
‘Building walls means condemning yourself to death,’ he elaborated. ‘We can’t live asphyxiated by a culture as clean and pure as an operating theatre, aseptic and not microbial.’
A year earlier, in a message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis seemed to issue an unqualified injunction to countries admit and assist migrants. He urged the nations of Europe to ‘welcome, protect, promote and integrate,’ extending citizenship ‘free of financial or linguistic requirements, and . . . offering the possibility of special legalisation to migrants who can claim a long period of residence in the country of arrival.’ Europe would then, he said, be ‘responding to the Lord’s supreme commandment—we may all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves.’
On the other hand, Pope Francis has from time to time said things not entirely dissimilar to some of Cardinal Sarah’s statements. In March 2017, speaking to reporters on a flight home from a trip to South America, the pope said that governments have the right to exercise prudence in admitting migrants, regulating flows when the number of arrivals becomes unsustainable. ‘This means you have to ask yourself first: How much space do I have? Second: You have to remember it’s not just about taking them in, but also integrating them.’
The Church’s longtime teaching on migration has been directed at achieving peace and justice, both for those wishing to move in search of a better life and those seeking to preserve the lives they already have. It is, in other words, a commonsensical rationale, originally set out nearly a millennium ago by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae.
Aquinas divided relationships between natives and outsiders into two categories: hostile and peaceful. On the first he was unambiguous: hostile outsiders — those belonging to tribes or nations opposed to the culture and creed of the Jews — should never be welcomed. The Jews, he declared, did not admit visitors from all nations equally, since peoples closer to them were more quickly integrated into the population than those from farther away.
Regarding peaceful relationships, Aquinas identified three categories of ‘strangers’: 1. Travellers (in today’s parlance tourists); 2. Those who ‘came to dwell in their land as newcomers’ but without full citizenship, perhaps part-time resident aliens who come for work or other purposes; 3. Those seeking full admission to the nation, who, having pledged their allegiance to it, were, he said, required to wait for two to three generations before being regarded as fully integrated. The reason for this, he made clear, was that if foreigners were allowed to ‘meddle’ in the affairs of a nation soon after arrival, ‘many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people.’ For Aquinas, total integration into the creed, life, culture, traditions and language of the host country was essential for full acceptance of the ‘stranger’. In other words, the ‘stranger’ bore the greater part of the burden for ensuring that he ceased to be such.
In these matters, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is ad idem with Aquinas, placing equal emphasis on ‘welcoming the stranger’ and the responsibility of governments to protect their own citizens. Countries are obliged ‘to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin.’ But a nation is not required to accept numbers of migrants likely to impose an excessive burden on its own citizens — and migrants themselves have responsibilities to their host nations. The Catechism also states that political authorities, for the sake of the common good, may make immigration subject to various juridical conditions, ‘especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption’. Immigrants are obliged to respect ‘with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens’. This would seem to rule out people arriving in a new country and immediately setting to accuse their new hosts of being racists, and of owing them some kind of historical debt on the basis of skin colouration. It would also seem to imply that immigrants to a country ought not to demand that the symbols and icons of the dominant faith of that country be removed from sight lest these ‘offend’ them. The Catechism also emphasis the primacy of subsidiarity, which implies that loyalty to nation is superior to loyalty to a global ethic.
In his Introduction to The Day is Now Far Spent, Cardinal Sarah touches on what he alludes to as the disorientation of Christians arising from provocations which he does not specify.
In the book’s Introduction, he states:
‘Why speak up once more? In my last book, I invited you to silence. However, I can no longer be silent. I must no longer remain silent. Christians are disoriented. Every day from all sides, I receive calls for help from those who no longer know what to believe. Every day I meet in eRome with priests who are discouraged and wounded. The Church is experiencing the dark night of the soul. The mystery of iniquity is enveloping and blinding her.’
Later, he says: ‘This book is the cry of my soul! It is a cry of love for God and for my brethren. I owe to you, to you Christians, the only truth that saves. The Church is dying because her pastors are afraid to speak in all truth and clarity. We are afraid of the media, afraid of public opinion, afraid of our own brethren! The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep.’
What — whom? — might the cardinal have been speaking of?
I am not a theologian. But I can write down what one says and what the other says and ask the reader to say whether the two seem similar or different. I can certainly say that I personally believe that Begoglio and Sarah are, for the most part, entirely at odds on the question of mass migration, specifically mass migration into Europe. But, perhaps due to not being a theologian, I am confounded by Cardinal Sarah’s seeming insistence that he is not ‘opposed’ to the pope. He certainly seems to be ‘opposed’ to what the pope said in Bari, when he appeared to compare politicians like Italy’s Matteo Salvini, leader of Lega, and Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy, to Hitler and Mussolini.
The phrase ‘oppose’ has many different, if related, meanings. It can mean ‘challenge’ or ‘disagree with’ or even ‘contradict’, and each of these terms in turn has different meanings, depending on context. In Catholic terms, there exists a particular meaning of ‘oppose’, which might be phrased as ‘refuse to submit’ (to the pope or the Magisterium). This is something quite different from simple disagreement — at its highest in this context amounting to ‘vertical schism’, a refusal to accept the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, a ground for excommunication.
It may be that, in emphasising that he was not opposed to Pope Francis, Cardinal Sarah was taking pains to stress that he was not, in differing from the pope on certain matters, ipso facto ‘opposing’ the pope in this sense — as others, in disagreeing with Pope Francis, clearly were. He was making clear, in other words, that his intentions were in no sense schismatic, distancing himself from those who appeared to nurture such intentions and may have been counting him an ally.
There are differences of opinion between theologians concerning where and to what extent Catholics must obey the pope’s teachings and judgements. It appears to be the generally held view that, when the pope speaks on matters other than doctrines relating to faith and morals, he does not speak for God or the Church and it expressing nothing more than his personal judgements and opinions, in this case those of Jorge Borgoglio rather than Pope Francis. This pope, being especially garrulous, delivers himself of diverging opinions in all kind of situations; interviews, impromptu press conferences, off the cuff comments to bystanders, and so forth.
Papal infallibility arises only in relation to matters of faith and morals. A Catholic may disagree with a pope’s personal opinion or judgement, but may not disagree with Church teaching and remain a Catholic. For a pope to render one of his decrees infallible, he would have to deliver it ex Cathedra, from the chair of St. Peter, making it absolutely clear at the time that delivering an infallible decree was his precise intention. The last time this happened was in 1950, when Pope Pius XII infallibly declared the dogma of the Assumption of Mary.
It seems clear that the pope’s declaration on mass migration are not magisterial interventions, and might at the highest be called ‘non-definitive teachings.’ (There are degrees of adherence required in respect of various magisterial teachings, a pointed separation being emphasised between ‘definitive’ and ‘non-definitive’ teachings.)
It has also been noted that Pope Francis frequently appears to contradict even himself, so that sometimes it seems possible for anyone to claim to agree or disagree with him about just about anything.
It is permitted for a cardinal to disagree with the pope on procedural or pastoral questions, though not on questions of Church doctrine or discipline. Otherwise, a cardinal has a duty respectfully to inform the pope if he believes he is wrong about something. The authority of the pontiff derives from the Pope’s obedience to the Lord, and in this he may be subject to the fraternal correction of his cardinals.
In December 2014, Pope Francis insisted that disagreement in the Church is necessary and good. ‘If there were no difference of opinions, that wouldn't be normal,’ he said.
From any objective standpoint, Cardinal Sarah’s elucidation of Church teaching on mass migration appears to be more correct than the positions generally articulated by Pope Francis.
It is clear that Pope Francis, well known to be vengeful and unforgiving of anything resembling an insubordination or slight, took the opportunity of Cardinal Sarah’s offer of resignation to rid himself of a turbulent priest.
Of course, the turbulence is entirely on the other foot: Sarah is a calm and measured speaker, a voice of reason and decency, whereas Francis is verbose and often prone to giving offence, not least to his own Catholic flock. He is also one of the anointed voices of the New World Order, which includes in its designs the creation of a new world church, in which Christianity will have a much reduced role. The Time of Covid had seemed to bring many of the attendant questions to a head.
For a long time, Cardinal Sarah appeared to represent the hopes of those seeking a different direction or outcome. Through his life as priest and bishop, Sarah has been a voice of reason and order, and this continued into 2020, when he spoke several times in response to the alleged ‘pandemic’ in ways suggesting intelligence and balance.
In April last, seeming to take the whole thing at face value, he gave a lengthy interview to the French journal Valeurs , in which he described the virus as a ‘warning’ concerning the direction humanity had embarked upon.
‘The current crisis is a parable. It has revealed how all we do and are invited to believe was inconsistent, fragile and empty. We were told: you can consume without limits! But the economy has collapsed and the stock markets are crashing. Bankruptcies are everywhere. We were promised to push the limits of human nature ever further by a triumphant science. We were told about artificial procreation, surrogate motherhood, transhumanism, enhanced humanity. We boasted of being a man of synthesis and a humanity that biotechnologies would make invincible and immortal. But here we are in a panic, confined by a virus about which we know almost nothing. Epidemic was an outdated, medieval word. It suddenly became our everyday life.’
‘Modern man wants to be radically independent. He does not want to depend on the laws of nature. He refuses to be dependent on others by committing himself to definitive bonds such as marriage. It is humiliating to be dependent on God. He feels he owes nothing to anyone. Refusing to be part of a network of dependence, inheritance and filiation condemns us to enter naked into the jungle of competition from an economy left to its own devices.
‘But this is all an illusion. The experience of confinement has allowed many to rediscover that we are really and concretely dependent on each other. When everything collapses, only the bonds of marriage, family and friendship remain. We have rediscovered that as members of a nation, we are bound by bonds that are unbreakable but real. Above all, we have rediscovered that we are dependent on God.’
A month later, he was speaking in quite different terms to the Daily Compass about the unavailability of the sacraments, responding publicly for the first time to the concerns expressed by the faithful, who not only had been deprived of the Mass, but were also increasingly dismayed by the bizarre proposals being put forward in that connection. One such was a do-it-yourself communion with ‘takeaway’ hosts already consecrated by the priest, which would be closed individually in plastic bags and placed on shelves in the church.
‘No, no, no!’ — blurted Cardinal Sarah, in response to this provocation. ‘It's absolutely not possible. God deserves respect, you can't put Him in a bag. I don't know who thought of this absurdity, even if it is true that the deprivation of the Eucharist is certainly a suffering, the matter of how to communicate is not open to negotiation. We communicate in a dignified way, worthy of God who comes to us. The Eucharist must be treated with faith, we cannot treat it as a trivial object. We are not at the supermarket. This is total madness. No-one has the right to prevent a priest from hearing Confession and giving Communion.
‘It’s a question of faith, the heart of the problem lies in the crisis of faith in the priesthood.’
‘Mass in streaming is misleading also for priests: they must look at God not at a camera.’
This position, like his statements about migration, was diametrically at odds with the attitude and tone of the pope.
Last year was the occasion also of two peculiar episodes involving Cardinal Sarah.
In January 2020, a book, From the Depths of Our Hearts was published, initially bearing the names as authors of Cardinal Sarah and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, widely interpreted as an attempt to influence the pope‘s decision concerning ordination of married men. This book sparked controversy and some embarrassment for Sarah when the pope emeritus asked to have his name removed as the book’s co-author.
Then, in May, a not dissimilar episode made the headlines, embroiling Sarah in further potential embarrassment when, just hours after the publication of a controversial open letter regarding the coronavirus pandemic, Cardinal Sarah, listed among the signers of the letter, said he had not signed it.
The letter, titled ‘Appeal for the Church and the World,’ alleged that the ‘pandemic’ has been exaggerated to foster widespread social panic and undercut freedom as a preparation for the establishment of a one-world government. The principal author of the letter was Archbishop Carlo Viganò, a former papal emissary to the United States, who has been going hammer-and-tongs after Bergoglio in public for several years. On the day of the book’s publication, Cardinal Sarah tweeted: ‘I share on a personal basis some of the questions or concerns raised with regard to restrictions on fundamental freedoms, but I have not signed this petition.’
In a further tweet, he added: ‘A cardinal prefect of the Roman Curia must observe a certain reserve in political matters, so I explicitly asked this morning the authors of the petition titled ‘for the Church and for the world’ not to mention me.’
These episodes appear not to reflect well on the courage of either Cardinal Sarah or indeed the former Cardinal Ratzinger. But they also bespeak the air of menace that pervades the Vatican in the time of Bergoglio, well known to be a bully, institutionally and in person.
In September, Sarah returned publicly to the topic of the Eucharist. In a letter entitled ‘Let us return to the Eucharist with joy!,’ addressed to the presidents of bishops’ conferences around the world, he spoke of the need to return to normalcy and reiterated that virtual Masses are no substitute for being physically present at the liturgy.
‘Broadcasts alone risk distancing us from a personal and intimate encounter with the incarnate God who gave Himself to us not in a virtual way, but really, saying: ‘He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in him.’
He added: ’This physical contact with the Lord is vital, indispensable, irreplaceable.’
In November 2020, it was observed that Sarah’s signature was missing from a letter of sanction issued to an American bishop who had refused to suspend administering communion on the tongue in accordance with a diktat from the US bishops.
Much of this appears to underline the growing chasm between Cardinal Sarah and the pope, who after all appointed him to the position of Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
This represents, for sure, a late marker in the changing of the guard, portending the total ascendency of the Borgoglians.
Not especially unusually, Pope Francis has made a number of bizarre and quite disturbing statements over the past twelve months, mainly relating to the Covid-19 event and in support of secular authorities seeking to tyrannise and contain their populations in an utterly unprecedented manner to the ends of the most diabolical conspiracy ever perpetrated on the people of the world.
In a book published in November last, he accused people who refused to wear face masks of being ‘selfish’ and praised the ‘healthy indignation’ of BLM rioters. It seemed that, in this context at least, the pope was insisting on a culture ‘aseptic and not microbial.’ A month earlier, he had been filmed meeting guests at a crowded indoor papal audience while himself not wearing a mask, according to one report ‘kissing the hands of newly ordained priests and embracing and chatting with people who pulled their masks down or did not wear masks at all, flouting the Vatican’s coronavirus protocols.’ The Vatican has repeatedly refused to respond to questions about why the pope has many times appeared without the face mask he urges upon others. The most obvious answer is that he knows the whole thing is a scam, and doesn’t care at this stage whether he comes across as a hypocrite or not.
In January this year, he accused those who refused to accept (unsafe and unnecessary) Covid vaccines of ‘suicidal denialism’, seemingly oblivious that these vaccines are untested. He has said nothing about the numerous deaths and serious injuries inflicted since the vaccines were rolled out.
The pope, then, is a man exhibiting degrees of hypocrisy and inconsistency unprecedented in the See of Peter of recent times, in the past year issuing perhaps the most bizarre series of statements ever delivered by a reigning pontiff on controversial secular issues that are in reality outside of the pope’s remit except to the extent that they might involve encroachments upon religious and other forms of freedom requiring a pontifical intervention. But Bergoglio had absolutely nothing to say about any losses of freedom.
Worse, under his guidance, the Catholic bishops of the world have in the past year disgraced themselves by firstly abandoning their people to isolation and unhope — in many instances to lonely deaths — because of their refusal, after Bergoglio, to criticise secular authorities. Latterly, taking the cues from the pope, bishops all over the world have begun to bully their flocks into taking untried and potentially lethal vaccines at the insistence of governments and Big Pharma. Nowhere have these outrages been more visible than in Ireland.
Everyone knows it but everyone stands around in a stunned silence: The papacy of Bergoglio has been one of unprecedented ugliness, camouflaged whenever possible by a corrupt global media perceiving this awful pope as helpful to their own agendas. The signs are that the trends towards globalism and pseudo progressivism — in other words, Cultural Marxism — which have gained a grip on the Church since 2013 are set to continue post–Bergoglio. The pope and his henchmen have already gone a long way towards stitching up the next conclave so that it will deliver the ideological Son of Bergoglio when the time comes.
There seemed to be just one hope of a change, and his name was Robert Cardinal Sarah. A gentle erudite man, the contrast between the Guinean and the Argentinian could not be starker. He had made it clear when he turned 75 last June that the wished to remain at his post, tweeting: ‘For my part, I am happy to continue my work.’ But now, in the wake of his sidelining, all the hopes represented by Sarah are cast, too, under the Bergoglian cloud. At the end of the horrific twelve months when cancel culture finally went viral, he joins the exalted ranks of the many doctors, scientists and others who have been abolished as a warning to anyone thinking of questioning the orthodoxies of the New World Order and its ‘Covid Project’. Shortly after the announcement of his ‘resignation, he tweeted: ‘I am in God’s hands. The only rock is Christ. We will meet again very soon in Rome and elsewhere.’
But God, if He has not left the building, appears to be engaging in a game of extreme brinkmanship. Sarah is a one-in-a-century figure. There are few others within the upper ranks of the Church hierarchy with anything even approaching his vision and intelligence. (Even the words ‘he tweeted’ seem incongruous used in reference to this ageless and unwavering figure!) It is hard to see, therefore, how — short of dramatic divine intervention — the Catholic Church, or at least the Western elements of it, can be diverted from its current headlong trajectory towards the cliff-edge overhanging the abyss.