Cardinal Sarah on Catholic Doctrine

Excerpts from address given by Robert Cardinal Sarah at Église Saint François-Xavier in Paris, May 25, 2019, just hours after he visited the Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Paris following the catastrophic fire which nearly destroyed it.

And then, dear friends, what else does our cathedral need? It needs solid pillars to support the vaults. What are these pillars? What foundation is needed to support the graceful slenderness of the Gothic rib-vaults? The Catholic doctrine we have received from the apostles is the only solid foundation we can find.

If everyone defends his own opinion, theological hypotheses, novelties, or a pastoral approach that contradicts the demands of the Gospel and the perennial Magisterium of the Church, then division will spread everywhere.

I am wounded when I see so many pastors selling off Catholic doctrine and sowing division among the faithful. We owe the Christian people a clear teaching, firm and stable. How can we allow bishops and episcopal conferences to contradict one another? Where confusion reigns, God cannot dwell! For God is Light and Truth.

Unity of faith assumes the unity of the magisterium across space and time. When we are confronted with a new teaching, it must always be interpreted in continuity with the teaching that preceded. If we introduce ruptures and revolutions, we destroy the unity that governs the holy Church across the ages. This does not mean that we are condemned to a theological fixism. But all evolution must lead to a better understanding and deepening of the past. The hermeneutic of reform in continuity that Benedict XVI so clearly taught is a condition sine qua non of unity. Those who loudly proclaim change and rupture are false prophets! They are not seeking the good of the flock. They are mercenaries let in by deceit into the sheepfold!

Our unity is forged around the truth of Catholic doctrine and the moral teaching of the Church. There are no other means. To try to win media approval at the price of the truth is to do Judas’ work! Do not fear! What greater gift is there for humanity than the truth of the Gospel? What more precious treasure than the light of the Gospel and the Wisdom of God, who is Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:24)?

Some Christians seem to want to deprive themselves of this light and wisdom. They limit themselves to looking at the world with secular eyes. Why? Is it the wish to be accepted by the world? The wish to be like the world?

I wonder whether, deep down, this attitude masks a fearful refusal to listen to what Jesus himself told us: “You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world.” What an honor, but also what a responsibility! What a duty! To renounce being the salt of the earth is to condemn the world to remain bland and tasteless. To renounce being the light of the world is to condemn it to darkness and abandon it to the shadows of its rebellion against God! We must not let this happen!