Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


A Public Demeaning of Cardinal Sarah?

October 22nd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

A Public Demeaning of Robert Cardinal Sarah?

First — I acknowledge my own bias. I greatly admire Cardinal Sarah. In no way do I question his faithfulness as a son of the Church, his spirituality (his book “Silence”), or his care in writing what conscience calls him to write (“God or Nothing!”) I happen to believe he has been prepared by God for the sake of the liturgy, prepared in the furnace in Guinea of poverty, love of the priesthood and willingness to suffer for righteousness, having only barely escaped from the very real threat of prison, torture and death under a disordered but powerful dictator in Guinea.  His experience reminds me of some combat veterans I have known, who look at the risk of criticism, punishment or — heaven forbid — political incorrectness as ‘nothing’! Their having faced death themselves in combat, those I have known have subsequently been able to lay aside what is often a fear of human beings’ opinions, because they have been tested and survived in battle. One never knows until one is tested.

I am making no judgment about Cardinal Sarah in that framework; but when I think of him I sense that those who have not experienced the kind of cauldron out of which he came, will never be able to understand the serenity of righteousness he is able to claim.

Why write this now? Because today, Oct. 22nd, 2017 and the Feast of Pope St. John Paul II, was a startling release by Pope Francis of a criticism or correction of Cardinal Sarah which strikes me as demeaning of the Cardinal and of his responsibilities. I am not going to claim that I understand all the details and intricacies of Canon Law arguments summarized below, but Pope Francis’ demand for Cardinal Sarah to basically retract what he wrote, by disseminating the Pope’s letter, is accompanied by what shocks me as a totally inappropriate picture that I believe many people will see as a kind of public flogging of the Cardinal.




I want to first apologize for even using the picture, because I didn’t want to be part of promulgating a demeaning picture of Cardinal Sarah. However, to leave it out of the story with which it was included only distorts the overall message. The problem with the picture is that it shows Cardinal Sarah kneeling before a laughing Pope Francis, kissing his ring, being laughed at by what one takes as the Vaticanisti, even their snapping pictures.  I have searched the L’Osservatore Romano gallery on line, for the same picture already published but used in a very different context, and I found none. That does lend some credence to this not being a file picture from some more joyous event. If this picture does represent the current event, I am appalled for human dignity, embarrassed for the Church and completely disgusted.  Even if this were a file picture, a ‘re-run’ so to speak, I would be no less distressed, because it seems the reason for using it in the present context would be just as appalling, embarrassing and disgusting, and provoking the same response.

I am also reacting, in part, to the memory of the Synod when Cardinal Kasper denounced the prelates of Africa as being naive or behind the times, not to be taken too seriously. Yet Africa is the fastest growing continent for the Catholic Church, so it is to be reckoned with, especially in its strong embrace of traditional and faithful Catholic teaching against same-sex issues, contraception and abortion. It is noticeable that Cardinal Sarah has been treated quite differently from other victims of recent Vatican politics, and one can only wonder if there is some Vatican fear of being accused of racism if Cardinal Sarah were dismissed; i.e. managing not by dismissal but by diminishing his credibility, or as a warning to those who dissent in the name of faithfulness. The picture of the jovial group witnessing Cardinal Sarah’s kissing the Pope’s ring seems to have no people of color in the laughing crowd. It seems to be a disconnect between Cardinal Sarah’s humble actions and the rest of the attendees almost jeering, a subliminal colonial motif. Why is that? Seriously, in a world-wide Church, WHY is that and HOW can it be?

The following is the translation of the article in Spanish, and the text released of Pope Francis’ letter demand to Cardinal Sarah in Italian. The on-line translator was used, and it likely lacks some clarity which people who are experienced in the languages will detect as the original written word is analyzed.  But, for now, here is the text in blue, all unedited:

“The Pope denies Cardinal Sarah and demands that InfoVaticana announce his rectification

Francis asked the cardinal in a letter that the media in which he spread the letter by nuancing the Motu Proprio Magnum Principium now spread its rectification. Francis points out that the interpretation of Magnum Principium against which Sarah warned is precisely what the Pope wanted. Last Friday several media published (InfoVaticana in Spanish, La Nuova Bussola in Italian and L’Homme Noveau in French) simultaneously the letter with which Cardinal Sarah qualified and limited the scope of the motu proprio Magnum Principium, concerning the translations of the liturgical texts to different languages and made public by the Pope on 9 September.

Sarah clarifies: “Liturgiam authenticam remains the reference text for liturgical translations” In the letter, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship clarified that the rule that still governs the translations of liturgical texts is Liturgiam Authenticam, dated 2001. Well, it seems that Sarah’s interpretation is not correct. Precisely the Pope wanted to offer to episcopal conferences the freedom of translation of liturgical texts, an extensive interpretation against which the cardinal warned in his letter.

Last Monday Francis sent a letter to Cardinal Sarah in which he described the cardinal’s comments as “inaccurate” and explained the true meaning and scope of his Motu Proprio. The cardinal had spread his letter in several media simultaneously. In Spanish in InfoVaticana, in French in L’homme Noveau and in Italian in LNBQ. On this, says the Pope, “stating that the comment has been published on some websites and has been wrongly attributed to you, I kindly ask you to provide this response to the same sites as well as to send it to all Episcopal Conferences , Members and Consultants of this Dicastery. Following the orders of the Pope, we published the Pope’s letter to Cardinal Sarah, signed last Sunday, October 15th. Francisco [Spanish version says “Arthur Roche”] Roche, secretary of the dicastery presided by Sarah, probably to deliver the missive. You can read the whole letter of the Pope below in Italian (here the original image of the Pope’s letter), and a translation into Spanish”  (Doubtless the LifeSiteNews translation (link at the bottom of this post) offers a more precise understanding than the following auto-translator.)

“Vatican City, October 15, 2017 

To His most Reverend eminence Mr. Card. Robert Sarah. 

Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments


I have received your letter of September 30 in which you would kindly express my [your?] gratitude for the publication of the Motu Proprio Magnum Principium and send me an elaborate note, “comments”, on the same with the aim of facilitating a better understanding of the text.

In thanking you for your efforts and contributions, I would simply like to express, and hope, for clarification, some observations on your note, which I consider to be important above all for the application and just understanding of the Motu Proprio and to avoid any misunderstanding.

First, it is important to point out the importance of the clear difference that the new Motu Proprio establishes between recognitio and confirmatio, well enshrined in § 2 and 3 of canon 838, to abolish the practice adopted by the dicastery after Liturgiam Auténticam (LA) ) and that the new Motu Proprio wanted to change. Therefore, we can not say that recognitio and confirmatio are “strictly synonymous (or) interchangeable” or “are interchangeable in the level of responsibility of the Holy See.”
In reality the new Canon 838, through the distinction between recognitio and confirmatio, affirms the diverse responsibility of the Apostolic See in the exercise of these two actions, as well as that of episcopal conferences. Magnum Principium no longer holds that translations must conform in all respects to the rules of Lirugriam genuticam, as was stated in the past. For this reason, individual LA numbers must be carefully re-understood, including numbers 79-84, to distinguish what the code requires for translation and what is required for legitimate adaptations. Therefore, it is clear that some numbers of Liturgiam Authenticam have been repealed or have fallen under the terms in which they were reformulated by the new Motu Proprio (for example, 76 and 80).

Regarding the responsibility of Episcopal Conferences to translate “fideliter”, it should be specified that the judgment on fidelity to Latin and the necessary corrections, which was the duty of the dicastery, while now the norm grants Episcopal Conferences the power to judge the goodness and consistency of the one and the other end in the translation of the original, even in dialogue with the Holy See. Confirmation is no more, therefore, a detailed exemen word for word, except in obvious cases that can be made to the present bishops for further reflection. This applies in particular to the relevant formulas, such as for the Eucharistic prayers, especially the sacramental formulas approved by the Holy Father. Confirmation also takes into account the integrity of the book, which verifies that all the pieces that make up the typical edition have been translated [1].

Here it may be added that, in the light of the MP, the “fideliter” § 3 of the canon implies a triple fidelity: to the original text in the first place; to the particular language that is translated and finally to the comprehensibility of the text by the recipients (cf. General Institution of the Roman Missal Nos. 391-392) In this sense, recognitio only indicates verification and preservation of conformity to the law and communion of the Church. The process of translating the relevant liturgical texts (sacramental formulas, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer …) into a language – which is considered to be genuine translations – should not lead to a spirit of “imposition” on episcopal conferences of a given translation done by the Department, since this would prejudice the right of bishops enshrined in the canon, and even before SC 36 § 4. Also, bear in mind the similarity with Canon 825 § 1 on the version of Sacred Scripture that does not require confirmation by the Apostolic See.

It is wrong to attribute to confirmation the purpose of recognitio (ie to “verify and safeguard compliance with law”). Of course, confirmation is not merely formal, but necessary for the edition of the liturgical book “translated”: it is granted after the version has been submitted to the Apostolic See for the ratification of the Bishops’ approval in a spirit of dialogue and aid to reflect if and when necessary, respecting their rights and duties, considering the legality of the process followed and its modalities [2]. Finally, Eminence, I reiterate my fraternal gratitude for his commitment and note that the commentaire has been published on some websites and wrongly attributed to his person, I kindly ask you to provide this answer to the same sites as well as sending it to all Episcopal Conferences, Members and Consultors of this Dicastery. “



Here is the link:

Subsequent Links:

Wake up CF’ers — we are sliding very quickly down the slippery slope to what we battled against for so long.


Some months ago I cautioned in Part II of “Sheltering in Place” to build our collections of truly orthodox, traditional works, bibles, spiritual reading, catechisms etc. I reiterate that even more strongly, and will soon prepare Part IV of that string of posts, in which we not only need the network of those who support our soul life (Part III), but to carefully delete those who don’t.  More soon.  Diane Harris



9 Responses to “A Public Demeaning of Cardinal Sarah?”

  1. avatar militia says:

    I think the answer is that all faithful Catholics are being demeaned.

  2. avatar raymondfrice says:

    “I think the answer is that all faithful Catholics are being demeaned.”

    i think that faithful Catholics are those who are obedient to the pope, study his writings, and give internal assent to his teaching authority and theological positions..

  3. avatar militia says:

    and, Raymondfrice, add to what you wrote: “who are faithful to the 2000 year deposit of faith, Scripture and Tradition of the Church, including to what prior Popes have taught, without contradiction, ambiguity or waffling. After all, the Pope is not God; he is the Vicar of Christ, servant of the servants of God, charged with faithfully protecting what Christ gave to us, not changing an iota or jot of what is written or reinventing new doctrine.

  4. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    The author of the article accessed at the link below indicates what he apprehends to be the Holy Father’s method of introducing and affirming innovations. Also, it is telling to contrast Pope Francis’ silence with his assertive clarification.

  5. avatar christian says:

    Good article, Dominick!

    I have to agree with what militia wrote as an addition to raymondfrice’s submission:

    “I think that faithful Catholics are those who are obedient to the pope, study his writings, and give internal assent to his teaching authority and theological positions..”“who are faithful to the 2000 year deposit of faith, Scripture and Tradition of the Church, including to what prior Popes have taught, without contradiction, ambiguity or waffling.”

  6. avatar raymondfrice says:

    Militia:” he is the Vicar of Christ ”

    No he is not!!! He is the vicar of Peter, the first of the popes. The title vicar of Christ was added to the popes’ titles when the Vatican wanted to gather more authority for the pope after the waning of the temporal power of the papacy after the Reformation and Garibaldi’s takeover..

  7. avatar militia says:

    I am surprised at your reply, Raymodfrice, because you often seem to be elevating the power of Pope Francis, and now you are saying he is not the Vicar of Christ. The Catechism says that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ (#936)and so does Canon Law (#331) so what is your point? Remember, many teachings have not been declared until threatened. But what goes back to the bible is very strong. The role of Vicar, given by Christ to Peter and his successors, is identified by the giving of the keys, symbolic of vicars of biblical households…. keeper of the keys. What is the point you are trying to make? It seems intended to diminish the papal title.

  8. avatar raymondfrice says:

    Canon law and the catechism were also used and manipulated to further the power of the Vaticanisti, those who wanted to further the pope’s power and Vatican as a government and not necessarily as a spiritual entity. As far as the power of the pope goes, I think he should have all the power of the office and not more such as Vicar of Christ.

  9. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    The first article I had ever read by Father Weinandy appeared in a Catholic magazine of renewal called NEW COVENANT. Published in a 1993 issue the article was entitled “Why Catholics Find It Hard To Evangelize”. What impressed me is that the priest/theologian/author courageously pointed out one of the difficulties for Catholics in Evangelization is their difficulty believing what Jesus, Scripture and Sacred Tradition teach about the reality of hell.

    So now that Father Weinandy has published publicly his July 31, 2017 letter to His Holiness, Pope Francis, I am reminded that this Catholic Priest out of deep, abiding faith and commitment to the Son of God Our Savior and to His Catholic Church speaks the truth in love even when it can potentially bring retaliatory recriminations against him.

    There is something supernatural about genuine Christian Love and Truth which empowers the faithful to walk the way that leads to life no matter how challenging and difficult.

    So once again he has done the difficult and challenging thong. He has written the Holy Father exhorting him to exercise the responsibilities of his Office as The Vicar of Christ.

    May all of us who read the commentary and full text of the letter (accessed at the link above) do so with the same disposition of filial loyalty and obedience with which the author prayed about writing and did write to the Bishop of Rome, His Holiness Pope Francis.

    Come, Holy Spirit, Come

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