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Cardinal Sarah: Pope cannot change divine law on marriage

November 21, 2016

Not even the Roman Pontiff can change the Church’s teaching on marriage, Cardinal Robert Sarah told an interviewer.

In a conversation with the French Catholic journal L’Homme Nouveau, responding to questions about his book God or Nothing, Cardinal Sarah addressed the question of whether Pope Francis could allow Catholics who are divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist. He said:

The entire Church has always firmly held that one may not receive communion with the knowledge of being in a state of mortal sin, a principle recalled as definitive by John Paul II in his 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

Cardinal Sarah concluded: “Not even a Pope can dispense from such a divine law.”

In the interview, Cardinal Sarah—who is prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship—voiced his concern about the level of confusion, even among bishops, regarding the Church’s teaching. He said:

I cannot allow myself to imagine as the cause of such confusion anything but the insufficiency of the formation of my confreres. And insofar as I am responsible for the discipline of the sacraments in the whole Latin Church, I am bound in conscience to recall that Christ has reestablished the Creator’s original plan of a monogamous, indissoluble marriage ordered to the good of the spouses, as also to the generation and education of children.


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  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Nov. 22, 2016 3:29 PM ET USA

    Personally, I don't think there is much confusion among the laity on this question. What there is is dismay that unnecessary ambiguity has been introduced into the question. As I watch what is transpiring, I see a concerted effort to undermine the Papacy of St. John Paul II regarding the teachings on family, marriage, and sexuality. That is dismaying to me.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Nov. 22, 2016 1:35 PM ET USA

    I hope the courageous Cardinal is fast to duck. I expect the scimitar to fall any day now. Insufficiency of formation? The leftists must be fuming right about now. They presume to be fully formed in the spirit of Vatican II; yet Cardinal Sarah lays blame for their confusion on their formation? I know an archbishop who has refused on repeated occasions to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation according to the extraordinary form because "he does not know Latin." Insufficiency of formation?

  • Posted by: mwean7331 - Nov. 21, 2016 6:40 PM ET USA

    Let's face it thee is certainly confusion on rhis question among the laity and apparently many members of the clergy. All of this, in my mind, would be cleared up with a firm statement form the Pope. Even the German Bishops would understand (hopefully).