Cardinal Sarah and Our Silent Apostasy

The book God or Nothing, a wide-ranging interview with Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by the French journalist Nicolas Diat is one of the most refreshing things published in recent memory. I cannot praise this book too highly. It breathes forth the wisdom, insight, and deep faith of a truly devoted servant of the Church. It is a prophetic witness to the truth. Sarah gets to the root of what is ailing the world today, and proposes the Church’s unchanging remedy: faith in God as revealed by His Son Jesus Christ. Along the way, he also chides fellow churchmen and the faithful for those occasions when surrender to a worldly spirit has brought great harm to the Church.

Pope St. Pius X was asked after his election what would be the program of his pontificate. He pointed to a crucifix and said, “This is my program.” In a similar vein, asked about the current situation, “Is it a crisis of the Church or a ‘crisis of God?’,” Sarah responds: “Contrary to what we may think, the greatest difficulty of men is not in believing what the Church teaches at the moral level; the most difficult thing for the postmodern world is to believe in God and in his only Son.”

The root problem in Western society – and the Church – comes down to this: degrees of unbelief in God and in his revelation. This unbelief ranges from atheism (theoretical and practical) to agnosticism (often the fruit of ignorance, laziness, or spiritual blindness) to pick-and-choose Catholicism. When we fail to adhere unreservedly to Christ and his teaching, we are left to our own devices – not a happy thought.

Sarah states: “If the tie between God and Christians is weakened, the Church becomes simply a human structure, one society among others. With that, the Church becomes trivial; she makes herself worldly and is corrupted to the point of losing her original nature. Indeed, without God we create a Church in our own image, for our little needs, likes, and dislikes. Fashion takes hold of the Church, and the illusion of sacredness become perishable, a sort of outdated medication.”


Consider such remarkable things as the recent praise of the late David Bowie by L’Osservatore Romano. This follows upon earlier elegizing of Michael Jackson and the recent use of St. Peter’s Basilica as a projection screen for various profane images. Even more significantly, the Faith has been trivialized by the campaign to give Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried. The mere repetition of the Lord’s words, “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery” (Lk 16-18). is dismissed as harsh, uncharitable, and morose.


The reception of Holy Communion by those living in an invalid second marriage is viewed by the innovators as a matter of justice – a remedy for unjustly excluding them from the community of the faithful, exposing them to unwarranted shame, and frustrating their laudable desire to be nourished by the Lord. The innovators derisively stigmatize 2000 years of Catholic teaching as an outdated, rigorist, and fundamentalist reading of the Lord’s words. Such intransigence allegedly prevents the Church from carrying out the Lord’s “real intention”: that everyone who wants to receive Holy Communion be invited to participate at the banquet of his Body and Blood.

But the Lord’s words are clear and have been faithfully applied in the life of the Church from the beginning. They cannot be dismissed without undermining the binding force of everything else He said. The campaign to clear the way for Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried is a corruption, remaking the Church into a sentimental gathering in which only certain parts of what the Lord said are preached and lived.

Here’s the new drill: if we find something in the Gospel offensive to our new sensibilities, then let’s ignore it and effectively rewrite Church teaching by changing her sacramental practice. To calm nerves, let’s claim that the doctrine remains unchanged. We do not really believe that, of course, but it is the necessary camouflage for revolutionary doctrinal innovation until we can cast off this pretense. Then we can simply announce that whatever anyone thought that Christ’s teaching meant in the past, it now means something quite different, thanks to the gift of the “prophetic voices of our age.”

How did we get to this point? Cardinal Sarah supplies the answer: “Western societies are organized and live as though God did not exist. Christians themselves, on many occasions, have settled down to a silent apostasy.” The sacred nature of the sacraments has been swallowed up in a humanistic view that sees the Church as a dispenser of personal comfort and consolation, and as a promoter of group solidarity and social action.

In this scheme, not allowing someone who wants to receive Holy Communion to do so is intolerable. Is it not a silent apostasy when some churchmen tell us that the unworthy reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood must not be interfered with by reminding the faithful of what the Lord actually said?

Our largely toxic Western culture is reflexively hostile to truth claims that conflict with the sexual revolution. The Church has the mission to proclaim the truth about marriage as taught by Our Lord, not cast that teaching aside in order to conform to the world. Cardinal Sarah is again on target when he says: “The Church proclaims the Word of God and celebrates the sacraments in the world. She must do this with the utmost honesty, a genuine rigor, a merciful respect for human miseries that she has the duty to lead toward the ‘splendor of truth,’ to quote the opening words of an encyclical by John Paul II.”

As the French say, “Ainsi soit-il,” “May it thus be” – which is to say, Amen.

You can buy God or Nothing through The Catholic Thing store at Amazon by clicking here.

Fr. Gerald E. Murray

Fr. Gerald E. Murray

The Rev. Gerald E. Murray, J.C.D. is a canon lawyer and the pastor of Holy Family Church in New York City.

  • Christophe

    The elephant in the room not mentioned by Cardinal Sarah or Fr. Murray — Pope Francis. This omission undermines the credibility of the article.

    • JaneSeymour

      But we all know whom Cardinal Sarah was talking about.

    • Steve Jalsevac

      It was not necessary. Not mentioning Francis does not distract from the excellent teaching in the article and facilitates calm reflection about its contents.

  • Oscar Pierce

    Absolutely one of the most powerful and informative books I have ever! I have given away something like 18 copies so far. I have found it to be extremely inspirational as I proceed through RCIA in a profession of faith to conversion.

  • Manfred

    Thank you for a fine book review and essay, Fathef Murray. I don’t believe you mentioned Pope Francis.
    Not to worry as a certain Mr. Voris is DOING something about the problems in the Church, rather than merely writing about them as has been done for the last fifty years. I am sure you are aware of some of the activity of which he, his staff as well as some priests and laity in your Archdiocese are accomplishing. Intelligent laymen and women have known for decades that feckless popes and lazy and often homosexual bishops have brought the Church to Its current state of affairs.
    Solid, trained laymen and good priests will take over now by exposing the corruption in the Church by a :Free Press” reporting over the internet. The lawsuit by the parishioners of St, Frances de Chantal parish is a great example of how it will work..It is just the beginning.

  • Dominic

    Thanks Fr. Murray, ‘God or Nothing’ is an exceptional book that highlights the life of a truly holy man and brought me new strength as well as challenge. It will sit happily on my shelves beside Fr. Schall’s ‘The Regensburg Lecture,’ as it, too, surgically diagnoses many of the deepest problems in today’s world. And, it offers clear solutions: Crux, Hostia, et Virgio.

    In addition, I found Cardinal Sarah’s book enjoyable to read (it is well written) because of his underlying non-First World perspective. Too often American (Western) Catholics see our issues as the key ones confronting Christ’s Church. “Of course ordination of women is a/the ‘principal’ challenge for today’s Church.’ (See, e.g. James Carroll). Cardinal Sarah simply comes from a different world, and writes from that worldview. He neither discounts nor ignores the Western world, but it is refreshing to be “put in my place.”

    Finally, a nice capstone to ‘God or Nothing’ is Cardinal Chaput’s article on Mercy in last month’s First Things. Real mercy is loving adherence to Christ’s teachings. To Truth.

  • Michael Dowd

    Excellent Fr. Murray. Thank God for Cardinal Sarah. He should be the Pope for he knows that without God we are nothing. But with God we become Godlike. Paradoxically, to accomplish this we must become as nothing. In direct opposition, it would appear, that the Church has raised Man’s desires over God’s. This is the apocalyptic tragedy of our times. Let us pray the Catholic Church having lost it’s way can find the path to eternal life once again.

  • Yes, Father Murray, as one priest to another a refreshing insight into the state of the Church’s worldly construct. I am amazed as well why so many of the clergy do not weigh in with a call to repentance. There is an obvious intellectual dysfunction afoot and teaching the “good news” of the Gospel.

    • Evangeline1031

      Your comment is mine as well, Fr. Tom. The clear vision of what evil has infiltrated and taken over our church is bad, the silence on the part of the ones who recognize it is somehow even worse. We are utterly alone here, because unless one publicly, loudly, and directly calls out this evil using words such as evil, heresy, apostasy, diabolical, and directly stated TO the perpetrators, then we have no earthly defenders, no one willing to stand in the brink and go to the mat, even for God. This papacy is not to be endured. It is shocking that such clear and obvious sacrileges and outrages would be met with such profound cowardice and acceptance by our clergy. This can only lead to massive crisis of faith in believers, the longer this goes on, as it will appear that, God is not worried, why should I be? Perhaps I have been on the wrong side of things. Perhaps we HAVE been too judgmental and unaccepting. Can I be more merciful than God? And people will just get plain tired of being the lone holdout. We need LEADERS, real ones, unafraid of consequences and very, very vocal.
      When God returns will He find any faith?

  • DaveJ

    Thanks be to God for men like Cardinal Sarah who resist the tide of fashion. Truth must never be compromised. Fr. Murray is spot on in his summary of the tactics of the enemies of Truth: if we find something in the Gospel offensive
    to our new sensibilities, then let’s ignore it and effectively rewrite
    Church teaching by changing her sacramental practice. To calm nerves,
    let’s claim that the doctrine remains unchanged. We do not really
    believe that, of course, but it is the necessary camouflage for
    revolutionary doctrinal innovation until we can cast off this pretense.
    Then we can simply announce that whatever anyone thought that Christ’s
    teaching meant in the past, it now means something quite different,
    thanks to the gift of the “prophetic voices of our age.”

  • Vince Whirlwind

    Another author who hasn’t seen the forest, because of all those pesky divorced and remarried trees. .

    I’ve heard that less than 10% of all requests for a declaration of nullity in the USA are denied. Is this because the other 90% are just rubber stamped, handed out like candy? Or are 90%+ indeed in invalid marriages? “Illegal” marriages as the Gospel calls it. Yes, that part of the Gospel this author omitted. Statistically then, it is probable that all the others, who are not seeking annulment will have a similar percentage.

    Today’s Gospel: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

    The Eucharist is not the grand prize at the end of the race, it is a necessary nourishment during the race.

    Perhaps if one were to take a step back from hacking on this one single tree, that is being innocently hacked, (and also took a course in basic statistics)….this Gospel would have a much deeper meaning.

    • ThirstforTruth

      To me this Gospel is speaking here more to the need for and intention of the sacrament of Penance.
      At any rate, you are correct, that the Eucharist is not the prize at the end of THE
      race …that is Heaven! Rather, the Eucharist is Jesus’ way of remaining with us
      until that Second Coming. He is truly resent both in His Body and in His Blood, in His Sacred Person. He does nourish and forgive through Both. When we come forward to receive Him, we must approach Him as He really is….and that means in all humility and honesty. We cannot hide behind our sinful selves standing in the very Presence of Truth Itself. If do not have our lives in order, we are not presenting ourselves in that manner and need to do what we can to preserve or restore that order. An annulment is NOT to be sniffed at as it can go a very long way toward restoring that order in the life of our souls.
      To say that those who have brought disorder into the life of their soul by entering knowingly into an invalid marriage, are in the proper disposition to receive this
      sacrament, is to bring condemnation ( as St Paul said) on themselves. In reality
      the Church is protecting not only the sacredness of the Eucharist, but also the very life of the soul of the would-be communicant.
      As Father points out here, the spirit of worldly sentimentality is strong today and infecting those who would otherwise listen to our wise and gentle Mother, the Church. Pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten you and the Immaculate Mary, Mother of God to lead you…and all sinners like ourselves who selfishly think we
      are in charge!

    • Rusty

      No, I think you have missed the point. The issue isn’t divorced and remarried seeking to receive communion per se, it is that in order to permit this there must be a change in doctrine (whether explicit or implicit). Statistics are not relevant.

      It may well be that one might question the validity of annulments being granted – fair enough, but none of us know the details of each annulment to answer that question. It seems to me that those granting the annulment do so in the context of canon law and at the ultimate test to their own souls.

      • Vince Whirlwind

        No you’ve missed my point.

        If a man is wrongfully convicted of murder by a jury of his peers, has he also then broken The 6th Commandment?

        Wouldn’t it prudent to have a presumption of innocence? Do you not want these people coming back to church?

        Statistics don’t lie.

        • Rusty

          Again, I believe you put the cart before the horse. It isn’t about putting bums in pews, it is about saving souls. The visible and external forms and practices of the Church accompany truth that exists in an invisible way – think of the definition of a sacrament. Everyone is invited and welcome to attend Church, but the sacraments are ways that Christ gave us to have access to grace. If one is not in a state of grace, the Eucharist will not give grace unless there has been a request for mercy and repentance, normally through sacramental confession and absolution. An annulment is not a magic potion, it is not something that can turn a valid marriage into a null. If, through error or intent, an annulment is granted where it ought not to be granted, that doesn’t change the state of the divorced person’s soul before God.

    • DougH

      If the other 90%+ are indeed invalid marriages, then doesn’t that validate Fr. Murray’s point of a vast silent apostasy within the Catholic Church that has to be dealt with? At least it has provided an example for other churches to profit from, such as the reaction of the LDS Church and the non-European Anglicans to the growing heresy of revisionist marriage.

    • Howard Kainz

      “Take a course in basic statistics” to understand the deeper meaning of the Gospel?? Non sequitur.

      • Vince Whirlwind

        Perhaps I should have included the question posed by the scribes just prior to Jesus saying what I quoted. Pray on it.

        “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

        Were all the apostles “worthy to receive” at The Last Supper?

        • John II

          Actually, Judas wasn’t, to judge by his behavior.

          And none of us is on his own accord, if words mean anything: “Domine, non sum dignus . . .”

          Apparently, Jesus deemed eleven of them worthy, and they were all a pretty sorry lot to start with.

          So what’s your point?

    • Another spin

    • samton909

      The Eucharist is not just some food that you take in to win races. Do try to have a more Catholic understanding of the importance and true nature of the Eucharist. To refer to it as mere food is a bit insulting.

  • Dennis_Moore

    Great article – and it makes me think about why Cardinal Sarah’s comments on the liturgy being ignored by most parishes (Contrary to what has sometimes been maintained, it is in full conformity with the conciliar Constitution—indeed, it is entirely fitting—for everyone, priest and congregation, to turn together to the East during the penitential rite, the singing of the Gloria, the orations, and the Eucharistic prayer, in order to express the desire to participate in the work of worship and redemption accomplished by Christ. This practice could well be established in cathedrals, where liturgical life must be exemplary (cf. §41).

  • Tanyi Tanyi

    I thank God for Cardinal Sarah and Fr. Murray. The disaster regarding the clear teaching of the Church has been caused by Francis. He wants to please the Western media.

  • grump

    “Western societies are organized and live as
    though God did not exist.” Really? Compare to Africa, most of which is beset by in witchcraft, savagery and uncivilized societies. ISIS is getting most of the bad press as a terrorist group but African-based Boko Haram is the most violent of all, killing more than 6,400 in 2014. Where is the condemnation from Sarah of his own tribe?

    • You sir have totally miss the point but then again when one has anger in his heart he is blind to the TRUTH.

      • grump

        Que Sarah Sarah.

    • samton909

      Boko Haram are Muslims. They are from Nigeria.

      Cardinal Sarah is from Guinea. Guinea is almost a thousand miles away from Nigeria.

      Boko Haram, therefore, can not be of the same “tribe” as Cardinal Sarah.

      And anyway, Sarah has spoken out strongly against Boko Haram. At the synod, he referred to them as “the beasts of the apocalypse”

      A United Nations report from September 2014 found that “at least 24,015” Iraqi civilians — the vast majority of whom were Muslim — had been killed or injured by Daesh in the first eight months of 2014. The authors of the report warned that their numbers were likely too low, and did not include deaths from related causes. And that is just in Iraq. One estimate says ISIS has killed well over 100,000 people.

      We have a reasonably good estimate of the peope Boko Haram has killed. However, the death count caused by ISIS is not all counted because they have control of the country in which they kill all these people.

      There was a rather flaky report that came out that said that Boko Haram had killed more people, but that report only reported on known, identified murders that had been reported. When ISIS cuts your head off and throws you in a ditch in the desert they tend not to report that to the authorities.

  • Diane

    Fr. Murray, so when can we expect all of the faithful clergy to band together and rid our beautiful Catholic Church of the depraved, perverted, and sinful homosexuals from the priest to the Cardinals? The Catholic Church is the last closet that they must come out of. They are destroying our Church. What happens when all of the old faithful Cardinals, Bishops and priests die off. This must be done sooner than later, otherwise, we will never be able to save our Church. The PC culture will destroy those who want this done. We need to act now. Follow Michael Voris. He seems to be the only one who is encouraging an active role in getting our Catholic Church back from Satan and the evils that have taken over our Church.

  • ThirstforTruth

    Bullseye! Thank you Father Murray for a soul searching review of this book all Catholics interested in the fate of our Church should run to buy and read today! BTW…in keeping with this theme, could you write something about the new evangelization programs being promoted in our parishes, particularly the CHRISTLIFE series which to me raise big
    questions, especially the way our sacraments seem demoted in them and really come
    across ( to me and a few others) as rather “Protestant-esque”?

    • kathleen

      And what about those Matthew Kelly programs that are all over our parishes? In one of Kelly’s books – Rediscover Catholicism – it seems very much in line with Church teaching, except for two chapters that jumped out at me. One where he talks about someone who we might invite to attend Mass with us and if that person can’t receive Holy Communion – then that person will feel unwelcome. And the other chapter where he implies that there is too much power in Rome, so we should decentralize the Church??
      The current Matthew Kelly program being offered at our parish this Lent is based on Kelly’s book – Rediscover Jesus – his video promoting this program was put on at all the Masses last weekend instead of a proper homily. In the video he talked about a personal relationship with Jesus. That’s very good. But no mention of the personal relationship with Jesus par excellence, that of the Holy Eucharist. Maybe this program is only Step 1 and the Holy Spirit will use it to bring about His own good purpose. I am praying for that!

      • Diane

        This sounds like a real problem to me. It seems very protestant. They are trying to make our Catholic Church Protestant, when it should actually be the other way around. Non-Catholics who come to Mass must realize that they must be Catholic to receive the Real Presence, because that is just how important the Holy Eucharist is, to say that they are unwelcome is heresy. They can become Catholic and then be able to receive the fullness of the Catholic Church, which is the Holy Eucharist. I would question these books if I were you, especially since they seem to bother you. Speak up you will be dong the service of God.

        • kathleen

          Diane: See my response to Vince Whirlwind above. And read Kelly’s book Rediscover Catholicism. Let me know what you think.

      • Vince Whirlwind

        Could you source those chapters you refer to in Mathew Kelly’s book? I’d like to check up on that myself.

        If more people rediscovered Jesus, there would then be more people next week to hear those wonderful, amazing “proper” homilies.

        • kathleen

          The chapters in Rediscover Catholicism are 19 and 20. Let me know what you think after you have read them.

          • Vince Whirlwind

            I’ve read both those books, several times and they are both excellent. They should be required reading. I went and reread what you are referring to and I think you’re grossly misreading what his intention was. He’s talking about making friendships first when it comes to evangelizing as a Catholic. He simply gives an example of why it’s uncomfortable inviting someone to our mass, when they will be told they can’t have communion. That’s uncomfortable and it can be one reason we don’t invite people, that’s all he was saying. NOWHERE does he imply
            We need to change Church teaching on who receives The Eucharist.

            Kelly is a wonderful, gifted orthodox Catholic writer. He certainly raises issues many Catholics don’t like to hear. But it’s the truth. And I think you did him wrong by grossly mischaracterizing what he said in one sentence in an excellent book.

            Telling people we need to evangelize and telling people to get to know Jesus more….wow, what a Protestant!

          • kathleen

            You say that Kelly is raising issues that Catholics don’t like to hear. Please be specific and tell tell me what those issues are. You have no problem with the books I cited in my previous comments so let’s agree to disagree on that. As for modern day Catholic writers and evangelists I prefer Scot Hahn (Protestant convert), Tim Gray, Patrick Madrid, and the Fathers of Mercy, to name a few. And the late excellent teachers and writers Fr. Thomas Dubay and Fr. John Hardon.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    Lord, I kneel and offer you my word on a wing And I’m trying hard to fit among your scheme of things. David Bowie.
    Card Ravasi Vat Cult Minister says “He prayed in the depths of his addictions and lacerating questions. He wore for many years a small silver crucifix.” Maybe I’m too soft. I can’t fault Fr Murray or Fr Rutler in NYC who works with addicts and has a much harsher assessment of Bowie. I agree Bowie is an icon for youth a powerful image drawing many into drugs, homosexuality, despair. Yet I cannot refuse the thought of the soul that produced the words. This is the world we’re dealing with. Either we hate them and facilitate their inevitable eternal misery or we show some compassion at least by listening to their pain and by doing so better situated to offer a pathway to hope and Life. Insofar as communion for div and remarried the question has pained me and I never veered from Church teaching. After many years my conviction is that if we permit it we are forced to admit that repentance for the forgiveness of sins is a sham. That’s when “the Church will actually collapse like a house of cards” quoting Pope Francis the opposite to what he suggests and the St. Galen Group of Cardinals are apparently implementing. Benedict XVI who some have called a heretic for once [1972] considering that possibility and since has firmly changed his position stating the same rationale that has convinced me that the Church must maintain its teaching evidenced a disposition of compassion. The Truth however became clear. If we cannot change an unchangeable doctrine we should change our posture.

  • maineman

    Excellent essay, as usual, Father. Thank you.

    While we’re at it, I notice that The Catholic Thing seems to have a store at Amazon. I wonder if people are aware that the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has been one of the driving forces behind the fake marriage movement, pledging millions in support of the various associated efforts. Not to mention the boot that Amazon has on the necks of many smaller, some devoutly Catholic merchants.

    Is it essential that we all join up with the prince of this world for convenience and in order to make money? Might The Catholic Thing not find another way to sell books?

    • Peter O’Reilly

      Thank you for mentioning Amazon in regards to monetary support of certain political agendas. I would encourage The Catholic Thing to do due diligence in looking into this matter of encouraging business with Amazon. I am glad you brought this up, and I hope The Catholic Thing looks further into this.

  • mary c

    If the Church does clear the way for the divorced and remarried to receive Communion,then I suppose it will have to take away sainthood from John the Baptist too. After all,as Christ’s cousin and evangelist,he was imprisoned and martyred for calling out Herod on his adultery and remarriage. So I guess it was much ado about nothing?

    • sg4402

      And what a waste of a fine career by Thomas More. The wise (and holy?) ones must have been those defectors, the bishops who joined the king. Just one example of the upside down world that confronts us.

      Allow a digression to the core rationale—

      Perhaps the one canonized should be Charles Darwin. How he has enlightened all (the elites), as we evolve in this “brave new world” to Utopia. (Ironic, in some ways, that More’s most famous writing was “Utopia”.)

    • elcer

      King Henry VIII would have loved the modern Church. Just think how the church of “Nice” would have changed the history of the western world. If the Pope had only been more “understanding and loving” and given Henry an annulment or allowed him to receive the Eucharist, England might still be a “Catholic” country. All those people who were martyred especially Thomas More and Edmund Campion would not have had to be martyred or did they die for nothing?

    • Diane

      Wow, do you have that backwards. His martyrdom was because he preached against the adultery. So, it was a lot to do about everything adulterous. They sinned by beheading him.

    • Questioner @ large

      And Henry vIII could have had his way. What a waste of time that we went through with England. All those martyrs died for nothing. What fools were they. Along with St. Charles Lwanga who lost his life rather than commit sodomy with the king. Let’s just throw our hands up and follow the rest of the world if that’s where we are headed. Lay down our crosses.

  • Dom_Pedulla

    Father Murray, well put indeed! I have a friend in a particular diocese who is raising all kinds of monies for Catholic Charities, for projects that in themselves, and morally speaking, are not at all morally objectionable, and that as a faithful Catholic, one might support with a clear conscience. However, neither can it be said that any of these projects, considering all of their individual aspects, are distinctively Catholic, in the sense that not a single aspect of any of them would be considered unwelcome or unworthy of participation by any honest pagan, Lutheran, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, etc., you get the idea I think, of where I’m heading. So our institutional social outreach often today (and I don’t think it’s at all limited to her diocese) is becoming not really Catholic, I mean here not DISTINCTIVELY Catholic. Well, that’s a problem, because for us, institutional religious social outreach is the incarnation or embodiment of our particular faith. Therefore it’s not enough. Whatever we do must in some way be a reflection of our full faith, and so if we in a faith and doctrine conference would fashion or presentations slightly differently from our ecumenical friends, so must our actions be also somewhat different. This, today, I see as a huge problem, and I think Cardinal Sarah has his fingers exactly on the pulse.

    • veritasetgratia

      Interesting what you say. Fr. John Hardon SJ wrote that Pope St.John Paul II whilst supporting Mother Teresa’s work, told her he wanted her Missionaries of Charity trained to
      speak of Jesus Christ as well during their work. This did not mean a shift to focus away from a destitute person’s primary needs but the work needed to include relating it back to Jesus Christ. Fr Hardon was involved in this project with the Sisters. In their work with the dying, perhaps the primary message was that God is love. This would be a new message to non-Christians.

    • Alicia

      I have also felt that way, although, sometimes I think that if it is clear to te people receiving the help that this is the Catholic Church, it is a kind of evangelizing and might attract people to the Church.
      Donate to seminaries, help pay for their studies. It is very expensive to become a priest or a nun. Donate to the ministries in your church and to Catholic organizations with priests and nuns preaching all over and opening Catholic schools like Cross Catholic Outreach, Oblate Missions, etc.
      God bless.

  • Dom_Pedulla

    My email is if anyone wants to further discuss this phenomenon His Eminence Cardinal Sarah and now Father Murray describe, as it relates to organized institutional religious social outreach.

  • I accepted the Church teaching on marriage and after 19 years of marriage I was divorced, granted an annulment but never re-married or lived with another woman. I simply moved on and continued to raise my sons. But I certainly had questions about how others were treated, those who didn’t qualify for an annulment for example. Compare divorce and receiving the Eucharist to a priest who leaves the priesthood and is granted dispensation for example. He can be forgiven and can receive communion and can even get married. A woman can have an abortion, confess it and receive communion. I can murder another person, confess it and receive communion while I serve my sentence in prison. I can be a priest convicted of sexually abusing a minor, confess and be forgiven and continue to receive communion. But if I divorce, do not qualify for an annulment and get re-married, an invalid marriage the Church would say, but I do confess the wrong, I am not able to receive the Eucharist. Perhaps I even got married to support my children. Something doesn’t seem right or equal in all of those situations.

    • Edith Wohldmann

      Christ said that, What God has united you cannot separate, and if you remarry another it is adultery. We cannot dismiss God’s words. We have to counter the sinful practice and obey God. People have to be strengthened in their faith and for their children’s sake admit that divorce is to be avoided. I divorced after 7 years, unfortunately I had my conversion after my divorce and did not remarry. God blessed me with children, they have good marriages. My point is the only way to heal the culture is to try your best to preach the faith without words but by surrender to God,

      • Vince Whirlwind

        You are right Edith, what God united, you cannot separate. That is what is so awesome about a valid sacramental marriage! It literally, don’t get any better. Valid, sacramental marriages rarely if ever divorce, it’s not even in their vocabulary. (And statistics prove this). In the USA, it’s a fact that 90+% of people approaching a marriage tribunal are found to have been in an invalid marriage.

        The first sign that a marriage was invalid is a civil divorce…. It only makes sense.

        And, If a marriage is truly invalid….isn’t is just and charitable to rectify this, even if they still happened to be “married!!?”

    • Margaret O’Hagan

      But you can Patrick! You simply have to live with your new wife as ” brother and sister”

    • Alicia

      The difference is that the murderer, the woman who had the abotion, the sexual abuser, etc. repent, confess, and promise not to sin again. They are forgiven and can receive the Eucharist.
      The sin for the person in an invalid martiage is adultery. They can repent, confess, promise to end the adultery situation and receive the Eucharist. If they pretend to continue living as man and wife and having sexual relations, that is to continue sinning (adultery), how can they possibly receive the Eucharist.
      The priest who changed his mind, leaves the priesthood, not the Church. However, he can no longer work as a priest.
      The person who needs help supporting the children can apply for welfare.
      The Church can not allow a person living in what is mortal sin, according to Church Doctrine, to receive the Eucharist. We all have a cross to carry. If ending the adultery is theirs, well then they should carry it and ask God for his graces to help them.. He will.

    • Vince Whirlwind

      No, this person in your last example cannot go to confession. He may not receive that sacrament either. He can go as many times as he wants, but will not receive a valid absolution.

    • Questioner @ large

      It’s not a one time sin. When you confess your sins and ask for forgiveness you must try not to do it again. When you take on a new marriage that is very difficult to do unless you promise to live as brother and sister.

    • GaryLockhart

      “But if I divorce, do not qualify for an annulment and get re-married, an invalid marriage the Church would say, but I do confess the wrong, I am not able to receive the Eucharist.”


      Read the following very carefully and if you have trouble comprehending it seek out a competent spiritual adviser who can explain what it means to live in complete continence.

      1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”158 The Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence. Catechism of the Catholic Church

    • FreemenRtrue

      Who doesn’t ‘qualify’ an annulment?

  • Phung Chung

    Excellent and uplifting read.

    “The sacred nature of the sacraments has been swallowed up in a humanistic view that sees the Church as a dispenser of personal comfort and consolation, and as a promoter of group solidarity and social action.”

  • Dave Fladlien

    I guess that as much as I want to, I can’t stay silent on this. That much-abused but also much-wrongly-maligned and essential item called “my conscience” is bugging me too much.

    When will we stop trying to say that something, or worse — someone — is all good or all evil? When will we stop being totally digital in our thinking while condemning our digital society? The Church can’t compromise itself for the whims of society, but it also must legitimately adapt itself to the needs of each one of its people (or else become totally worthless and irrelevant). Those are not the same things. We do not have to choose between “caving in” and being “absolutely rigid”. God simply didn’t make a reality that requires that; in fact He made the opposite.

    I applaud Fr. Morello for making the effort below to look at both the good and bad of a very complicated, tormented and gifted guy named David Bowie. None of us can know how God saw David, but we can be sure of this: he was more extreme than, but not different from, the rest of us. We are all complex paradoxes of good and evil. We have to be: we all have a fallen nature but we were all made by God and have all been redeemed. So we have to be good and bad.

    But despite Fr. Morello’s effort below, we as a group continue to choose one “side” or the other. I don’t think we should do that. I think we should look at how the Church can be BOTH true to itself AND genuinely reach out to and meet the needs of people. I refuse to accept the idea that it has to be one or the other. It has to be both, or it isn’t serving God or its people.

    • Margaret O’Hagan

      The way I see it Dave, is that one of the gates to heaven is the gate of beauty and the culture is the West has been so debased and coarsened that people no longer recognise beauty and subsequently truth. I remember my father remarking on the “waste of time reading a stupid ‘harmless’ magazine” because of what one could be reading instead.

    • samton909

      You are right to a great degree. The problem arises when people start taking the church’s refusal to lay down rules as basically saying “anything goes”, as many have tried to do – and say that there really is no sin, etc. The one fundamental thing that the church must do is say “This is a sin. This is bad” It can then go on to explain how that sin can be forgiven, but once the church refuses to tell us what is or what is not a sin, we are lost.

      Taking your David Bowie example – we could just as easily say “…look at both the good and bad of a very complicated, tormented and gifted guy named Adolph Hitler. None of us can know how God saw Adolph, but we can be sure of this: he was more extreme than, but not different from, the rest of us. We are all complex paradoxes of good and evil. We have to be: we all have a fallen nature but we were all made by God and have all been redeemed.”

      At some point, we begin to excuse sin, to minimize it, rather than acknowledge its existence, its corrosive effect on all of humanity, and we begin to normalize it.

      That’s why the Pope’s emphasis on mercy can be confusing. Sure, mercy is central to Christianity. But some have confused his call for mercy with a call to never recognize sin. In fact, he has often said that one must recognize the sin and its awfulness first, and then mercy is freely bestowed. But many are confusing his real message, with a “let’s not focus on sin” approach, and maybe that is at least partly his fault.

      • Dave Fladlien

        Samton909: Thanks for your thoughts here. I’ll take issue with your substitution of Hitler for Bowie, though. In Bowie’s case we are dealing with someone who is struggling with internal problems, thus some of the things he got into. He was not a vicious person trying to hurt other people. Objectively speaking, Hitler was. I don’t think we can substitute one for the other, nor do I think our approach can be anything like the same for one as for the other.

        This a key reason why I advocate looking at sin more individually. Hitler’s actions were the result of an evil man seeking revenge and power. In Bowie’s case, the (much lesser) sins were the result of a tormented soul trying to deal with his problems, and at times choosing very wrong ways to do so. But they were not the result of wanting to hurt people. And I don’t think we even all have the same information on what he actually did or did not do.

        Even when a particular action may always be wrong in itself, I think in dealing with the person doing the action, we have to be very careful to distinguish which kind of person we are dealing with. Our approach to the person has to be very different depending on which kind of person it is. I think that is a great part of why Jesus so strongly cautioned us about avoiding judgement of a person (not of the act the person performed).

    • GaryLockhart

      “and have all been redeemed.”
      Assumes facts not in evidence and contradicts the actual teaching of the Church. You’re embracing the false protestant doctrine of “once saved always saved”.

      Exercising free will you have a choice – right or wrong – plain and simple. The Church should not be in the business of enabling sin and should instead be constantly reiterating the words of Christ and St. Paul without reservation.

      “And why even of yourselves do you not judge that which is just?” Luke 12:57

      “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.
      ” Philippians 2:12

      • Dave Fladlien

        Gary: I’m going to question your position about redemption. Christ redeemed our fallen human nature. Since each of us has that nature, we each have the redemptive gift bestowed by Christ on that nature. Not all of us accept redemption, which we can by our free will reject and nullify through subjectively-culpable grave sin. But even that doesn’t change the fact that Christ redeemed us; it just means that we (by our own free choice) have forfeited the gift that we were given.

        That’s all that I was referring to. The point I was trying to make is that each of us is a mix of the good created by God and the bad brought about by our fallen nature and by our own sinful choices. I am not sure that we actually disagree here.

  • veritasetgratia

    Dr Richmond I sincerely believe Atheism’s strident voice today and Agnosticism is making all Christians appreciate one another’s witness. I always congratulate the Adventists when they come knocking on my door because of their zeal. Some of my best friends are Evangelicals and we buoy one another up through threads of commonality ie. our desire to please God and bring about to others an encounter with Christ. Unhappily, just at the moment, there are zealous Christians promising salvation is guaranteed based on a particular formula involving a personal decision, but Catholics feel great fellowship with St. Paul who said he was ‘working out his salvation with fear and trembling’, So for Catholics this “working out” is a lifelong effort of opening ourselves up to personal conversion by Christ, and greater response to God’s Grace by working in our Apostolates with confidence and trust. Christ’s repsonse to Peter that day (get behind Me satan) was the first instalment of His teaching “those who lose their lives for My sake will save it” as Peter
    wanted Jesus to conserve His own life on earth.

  • JaneSeymour

    Great article. Now I can understand why the Bishop of Rome doesn’t like the African Bishops.

  • Alicia

    Celibacy for priests is not Catholic doctrine, the Word of God, Jesus’ teachings. It is Eclesiastical discipline and can be changed. There are married, Protestant ministers who converted to Catholism , studied for the priesthood and were ordained.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the Church change the celibacy doctrine, although most priests will probably chose the celibate life and make a private, their own vow of celibacy to God.

    • There is a connection between a life of continence [vs. celibacy] – a gift from God to be received – and the priesthood. In both the Catholic & Orthodox Traditions, the Bishops who have the fullness of the pristhood do not marry. This is pretty simple – but faith is required to understand – when seen this way: Christ is unmarried but he is a groom, the Bridegroom of his Body, the Church. The priest acts in “persona Christi”.
      It is more than just discipline. It has everything to do with the nature of the priesthood and those advocating for married priests are the ones who know very well its importance in the life of the Church.

      • lwhite

        Yes it absolutely has everything to do with the nature of the priesthood but the nature of the priesthood has been changed since Vatican II.

        In the Novus Ordo, the layperson has replaced all of the functions of priest except the reading of the Gospel and the Consecration making him merely the “president-presider” over the community, Eucharistic meal, while the elevation of the laity’s “royal priesthood”, true of course, to the same status as the priest, has already served to indoctrinate the Catholic into an “equal standing” with the priest. The de-emphasizing the primary purpose of the Mass as the Sacrificial re-presentation of Christ’s one Sacrifice, as a sacrifice needs a priest, and emphasizing Scripture as The Word, rather than Christ, also serves as an indoctrination tool against a celibate priesthood.

        • but the nature of the priesthood has been changed since Vatican II – A gift from God to be humbly and gratefully received cannot change. Innovators throwing all sorts of things at it or tyring to confuse the understanding of the intrinsic nature of the priesthood in itself does not and cannot change what has been established and received from God. The Holy Orders are of Divine origin an dthe priest acts in persona Christi and Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.

          Innovators have wanted to change but they cannot change it.

          • lwhite

            “Innovators have wanted to change the [nature of the] priesthood but they cannot change it.”

            Of course they cannot change it but their success has been in changing the perceptions of the laity, and I would also argue many priests, primarily through the invention of the Novus Ordo which is a drastic re-orientation of the Mass towards man, and an almost complete Protestantization of it to conform to the adoption of a false ecumenism.

            As we know, the Mass is generally the place in which the laity are infused with Catholic doctrine and practices, which are distinct from the Protestant sects. In addition, where does the priest train but in seminaries, filled with the heretical theology and philosophies of Modernists, while even some of them, like some of the laity, dissent from the teaching of the Church regarding celibacy and marriage of priests? Additionally, how can the Church really defend this practice since it allowed married Protestant converts into the priesthood?

    • 3C4

      Celibacy was the norm from the start.

      • lwhite

        Norm, Biblical, Tradition-none of this is important in the “New Evangelization” process since Vatican II.

        Denial of, refuting, disagreeing with, and enacting opposing teachings of Councils prior to Vatican II, to the teachings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, to the teachings of the Saints, and the teachings of popes prior to Vatican II are inherent in its documents. Why should the “rigid” notion of only the Catholic Church that the priest should be unmarried have any importance in the life of the modern Church?

    • mtcbones

      I sure hope not. a celibate priest has no “family worries”. he does not have to please the wife and children he does have “Children” in his parishioners /or apostolates.
      if we have married priests we will have trouble in some of their marriages then there could be annulments and divorces.
      a married man would be divided between the needs of his wife , children and parishioners.
      parishioners would be tempted to see what the priest buys for his wife and children with their money.
      would we have priests using various contraceptive methods including abortion.
      no it is a sacrifice and as it says in the bible it is not for everybody. those for whom it is not should not enter Holy Orders

      • lwhite

        Yes but in the “pastoral” approach to modern man, and the primary mission of the Church since Vatican II is “ecumenism”, the problem is the Catholic Church is the holdout when it comes to priestly celibacy. That is, it is a barrier to that unity which is so desired by Christians, although other Christian sects have fallen into heresy and schism and deny the very Truth of Christ. So if only the Catholic Church would capitulate to the majority will of the “separated brethren”, that unity would be so much easier to realize. And the Church’s obstinate practice of celibacy (so-called by those outside of Her) is not realistic in this modern age, which is after all, the place in which the Church now places Her hope of a future.

    • lwhite

      Priestly celibacy is not merely as of ecclesiastical institution but part of what is more broadly know in Catholic theology as “divine positive law”, initiated by Christ and His Apostles. That is, it is not merely disciplinary in nature.

      Priestly celibacy has a biblical basis in the evangelical counsel of Our Lord as relayed in St. Matthew’s Gospel (19:12), in St. Luke’s Gosepl (20:35), and also taken up by St. Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians (7:8-9, 25-27, and especially 32-33), and confirmed by St. John in the Apocalypse (14:4). It is clear that once the Apostles received the call, they did not lead a married life.

      The tradition of priestly celibacy was solemnly proclaimed by the Council of Nicae, the First Ecumenical Council, in 325. Canon No. 3, unanimously approved by the Fathers, admitted of no exceptions whatsoever. The Council considered that the prohibition imposed thereby on all bishops, priest, and deacons against having a wife absolute. All subsequent councils have addressed the subject have renewed this interdiction.

      It would it be a violation of the teachings of Sacred Scripture and of Sacred Tradition to blot out a custom decreed for 2,000 years to be absolutely obligatory.

      However, the leaders of the Conciliar Church has proven time and time again that they care little about the teachings of Sacred Scripture that don’t comport to their Modernist ideology and less about Sacred Tradition and so it should not be surprising if they do allow priests to marry in the future. In fact, I would suggest their clever tricks to change Church doctrines and practices was evident when they allowed married Protestant converts into the priesthood. People will get used to this abboration (if they have not already) and then won’t find anything unusual when married priests become the norm.

    • GaryLockhart

      “Celibacy for priests is not Catholic doctrine, the Word of God, Jesus’ teachings(sic).”

      “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the Church change the celibacy doctrine(sic),”

      Not quite and you’ve contradicted yourself. While celibacy is indeed a discipline, it was highly praised in Scripture as the preferred state and practiced by Christ Himself, the Apostles and St. Paul. Incidentally, there are 22 Churches sui juris which comprise the Catholic Church. The 21 Churches in the Eastern Rites already ordain married men as the norm. However, once ordained in an Eastern Rite Church a single Priest may not lawfully marry and remain in the clerical state and Bishops in all 21 Eastern Rite Churches are selected from the ranks of celibate Priests, exclusively. By the way, all 21 of those Churches have a shortage of Priests.

      “Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother’s womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.” Matthew 19:11-12

      “Then Peter answering, said to Him: Behold we have left all things, and have followed Thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the seat of His majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting. And many that are first, shall be last: and the last shall be first.” Matthew 19:27-30

      “Then Peter said: Behold, we have left all things, and have followed Thee. Who said to them: Amen, I say to you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive much more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” Luke 18:28-30

      “But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit: not to cast a snare upon you; but for that which is decent, and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord, without impediment.” 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

      “There are married, Protestant ministers who converted to Catholism , studied for the priesthood and were ordained.”

      All of whom agreed, prior to ordination, that if their spouse precedes them in death they will then adopt the discipline of celibacy for the remainder of their life. No agreement, no ordination.

      Suggest you obtain and read “The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy” by Christian Cochini, S.J. Doing so will prove to be extremely edifying

  • Kathy

    Brilliant article! I would like to address of the sentence: “Christians themselves, on many occasions, have settled into a silent apostasy” I absolutely agree with this assessment. Because I am not a person who is easily silenced, through ministries in my parish, I have the ability to raise awareness, promote caring and encourage fellow parishioners to join in. It is many times frustrating, because the result is not one that is encouraging, however, my conviction is that we are each called to follow our Lord in our own unique way. What He does with the rest of it, is His holy will. Even in the midst of the many ministries, we as the Christian people, need the rudder of our priests and hierachy to speak the truth in plain words. That does not translate in being less than kind to each of our fellow men (and women). But it means shedding light into the darkness and apathy of this secular world. Yes, we may be great in number, and yes, we each have our own unique gifts, but what comes from the pulpit as our guide and our truth means everything. The Church needs to step up to the plate NOW.

  • Lancelot Blackeburne

    The more I read about Cardinal Sarah, the more I like him. I’ll be buying the book to read more.

    And I say that as someone who is barred from Communion because I’m divorced.

    • MSDOTT

      LB, you may want to check, but I don’t think you can be barred from Communion because you are divorced but only if you are divorced and remarried, without a declaration of nullity.

    • rodlarocque1931

      I don’t think its being divorced that prohibits taking communion – its taking up another spouse.

    • Diane

      Divorce is not a problem that precludes one from Communion. Remarriage outside of the Church without an annulment is what precludes one from Communion.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      If you haven’t remarried and are single confession may be necessary if you contributed to the divorce and or initiated it. Meeting that you can receive.

    • GaryLockhart

      1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”158 The Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence. Catechism of the Catholic Church

      If you have not remarried without a declaration of nullity and are chaste in your current state, you are not barred from receiving Communion in accordance with the teaching of the Church.

    • Rosemary58

      Dear Lancelot,

      You are not barred from receiving the Holy Eucharist because you are divorced. This is a sad misunderstanding. The issue here is about allowing those who married in the Church, divorced, and then remarried outside the Church to receive the Holy Eucharist.

      As long as you are living in a chaste manner, please enjoy the fruits of a holy Confession and Communion.

      Your sister in Christ,

    • ThirstforTruth

      No one who is divorced is barred from Holy Communion. Those who have divorced and entered into an second marriage without the benefit of an annulment is barred from Communion. I hope you understand the difference from what you have stated here.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    What is missing in our responses to Fr Murray’s pertinent article, as a priest I am compelled to say this, are signs of compassion in our willingness to pray for and offer our suffering for the salvation of persons like David Bowie and all those who like him live promiscuously, use drugs, are taken to deviate sexuality, those who lack faith and on the road to perdition. Reading more books and reaffirming our faith is good not the end all for us. The Cross of Christ is our standard. By suffering with Him for love of others we experience the exquisite good of Divine love and receive manifold grace. We strengthen our faith immeasurably. We express definitively what it means to be Roman Catholic.

    • samton909

      The point is that people were not giving a measured view of Bowie and all that he did. Instead, the Vatican (Ravasi) appeared to be simply praising him, despite all the damage that he caused.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.


      • Faustina11

        David Bowie and others like him are not our enemies as such. Satan is. I would love to see every mass followed with the St Michael prayer. The Basilica of St John the Evangelist in Stamford, Ct, does this after every Mass! And there is confession before EVERY Mass.

    • kathleen

      Thank you, Fr. Morello. I really like Fr. Murray and I liked his article and sent it on to my friends. I have read many of Father Murray’s articles on TCT and find them very helpful. I agree with you; prayer and fasting, offering our sufferings, etc. is what God is asking of us. Every time we pray the Rosary and all those Hail Marys we ask Our Lady to pray for US sinners – that includes the David Bowies and Michael Jacksons, et al, of this world. And the powerful Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Every time we assist at Mass we have the opportunity to join our prayers with everyone else at Mass for the salvation of souls, including our own. The Holy Catholic Church – the pearl of great price.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Just a note to say I too think very highly of Fr Murray Kathleen. What I wrote is more spiritual reflection on us than critique.

  • lwhite

    Praying daily.

  • GaryLockhart

    “the next step is an effort to introduce married clergy into the Church via another Synod.”

    Correction: the next step is to make the ordination of married men to the Priesthood in the Latin Rite as the norm via another Synod.

    Ordaining married men is already the norm in the 21 Churches sui juris in the Eastern Rites which, along with the Latin Rite – Western Church – comprise the Catholic Church.

  • DebraBrunsberg

    Amazing book. Amazing man. Read it. Then, come back and comment.

  • Rosemary58

    Sometimes I pray the Our Father without much attention but this issue of the latest secular creep into the Church had me pause at the part “Thy Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”.

    Before people pick up stones and start throwing them at Christ (the Church), we might consider what we are doing now and if it would also be done in heaven.

    And what has the married clergy done for the Protestants, anyway? They have a divorce rate that reflects the general population’s but also they are leaving their ministries in significant numbers, as I recently read. Not to be overly practical here but what would be do if a priest divorced, was not eligible for an annulment, yet remarried outside the Church? Already we have a dearth of priests because the laity keeps contracepting them.

  • Thank you to all of you who commented on my original posting a day ago. If you noticed in my opening statement I said I accepted the Church teaching on marriage and divorce. And that’s the way I have lived since I was divorced.I closed with the comment that not all of the situations outlined seemed to be handled equally by the Church. Or put another way is adultery considered a graver sin than murder, abortion, sexual abuse of minors etc? I’m also not saying the Church should accept adultery. Not surprisingly comments have strayed into celibacy for priests and couples living as brother and sister in invalid marriages. Does the Church have a problem with sex and how to guide people in our sex is everything world? Just wondering.
    The quote from Fr. Murray “the sacred nature of the sacraments has been swallowed up in a humanistic view….” That would seem pretty human and natural to most people trying to live in this world. I guess that’s why we look to the Church and scriptures to help us even when we wonder about some teachings.

    • Diane

      According to the Catholic Church, sex is to be only between one man and one woman in marriage and opened to life. Sex in any and all other situations is a mortal sin. This is what the Church has always taught and it hasn’t changed in this ‘sex is everything world’. One would think that there isn’t anything else. Where is the love in all of this? If everyone would live this way, the world would be a lot better and a lot happier because God would come first in all things. Just sayin!

      • Mark

        If we all obeyed the teachings of Jesus and His Catholic Church, the world would be a wonderful place. It would be heaven on earth.

  • Redigo Gubernatio

    The decay of Western societies began in the 1500s with people like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli et el who began to protest and rebelled against the Church which also happen to be one with the state. The protestants spread heresies that broke up the Church and opened the door to also tear down the state. Such a break from God exploded with the violent and satanic French Revolution in the late 18th and early 19th century and ushered in Marxism, Fascism and Nazism of the 20th century. Fast forward to the 21st century and the Western states and culture are typified by the French and British government who are godless, humanist, relativist institutions run by corrupt and godless career politicians and judges. In just 200 years the pendulum has swung from the Church and state as one to the Church and state as opponents and combatants (e.g. Obamacare, the GayKK, political correctness, multiculturalism, coexist etc). Some people in the West are finally seeing our godless institutions in need of another reformation. Will it soon be that we the people start another revolution against the godless state to bring the state back to one with the Church which is the one truth?

  • texasknight

    Ask yourself, why are so many Catholics flirting will eternal damnation by using contraceptives and or partaking any of its evil fruits? Surely, they do not want to go to hell. No one wants to go to hell. Therefore, we must rightly conclude that they don’t believe that hell exists or that hell doesn’t apply to them for some reason.

    Why do Catholics believe that hell doesn’t exist (or maybe that only truly evil people go there)? Some falsely teach that we may have a reasonable hope that no human are in hell. We might be able to have a reasonable hope that any one individual is not in hell, but not the whole lot of humanity? In 1917 Our Lady of Fatima showed 3 little children a vision of hell and they described seeing souls falling into hell so numerous that it look like snowflakes. Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

    For at least the last 50 years, the vast majority of our priests have decided that they do not need to teach like Jesus. There is no mention in the homilies of the 2nd most popular topic in the Gospels, that of the last things. They are all but silent from the pulpit on these topics. Paragraph 57 of Casti Connubii indicates that we have had the problem of guilty silence for much longer than 50 years. And there you have your reason for the apostasy.

  • Steven Barrett

    What an excellent post, and thank you Dr. Richmond. For most of my life, I’ve always been a Catholic, even when my family was younger and we attended my wife’s local Anglican parish. We left the parish for a decade after deciding many of the liberal changes TEC was taking, especially in western Mass. where we live, were just too much and I got caught up in the more stripped down Evangelical mode of worship, (although we had joined a “fairly moderate by today’s evangelical standards.) Over the years we grew apart theologically from our congregation’s direction and I eventually rejoined the Catholic Church. Quite “triumphalistically” I must embarrassingly add. Heck, I was right there with all the other returnees and converts, esp. from the Anglican churches in the UK and US until I could take no more of the “more Roman than the Pope” nonsense. Unfortunately, this is only increasing. I’m far from a theological genius, though I did take several years worth of courses at my college alma mater, St. Thomas University, (Biscayne College) outside of Miami, when it was then owned and operated by the same founding Augustinians who also founded Villanova University and what used to be Merrimack College. One thing I surely recalled and still believe in till my dying day; there are ways to display one’s displeasure with a Pope or the way things are going during his reign. Neither the sometimes snooty and off-standish protests of American and German academics attracted me during their hey day of snubbing their noses at both Popes Paul, John PaulII and especially their favorite bete noire, Joseph Ratzinger, later Benedict. I think you’ve done a far greater service towards my soon-to-be fellow (and decidedly more conservative) Catholic critics of Pope Francis and demonstrated how respectful disagreements can best be served before they become outright expressions of sedition. I can’t even recall Hans Kung, et al displaying the same kind of arrogance as Cardinal Sarah has displayed recently. And I believe he’s up to more than putting on mere displays of very misdirected official petulance.
    I will always consider myself Catholic in my heart. But I wonder how much longer would it take for me to wait for the day when my wife and I could officially receive Communion at the same altar in a (Roman) Catholic parish so long as the Cardinal Sarahs and other archconservatives are able to continue blocking the agenda of the best pope to come along in ages? I could go on forever. While I’m delighted that the Episcopal Church means what it says when it puts out those welcome signs we see in towns and cities. Why does the Vatican Curia and other apparatchiks of the old order working hard to stymie Pope Francis’ far more compassionate agenda? Not “intellectual” enough for them? Well, now, after the old older finally figure out how many angels will fit on the proverbial nail’s head … will they undertake new investigations to “discern” who’s with the (current) pope, and who’s in with today’s reactionaries? What a hell of a sight it’ll be one day to open up a respectable newspaper’s editorial pages to see a cartoonist’s depiction of such a scene.

  • liz stewart

    I would like to share with you my
    Song of Truth

    Lord you came to me
    I did not understand
    The Comforter came
    I am happy again
    As I am the work of Your hands.

    Lord you are the Way
    Let me walk with You each day
    I’ve had blessings untold
    Worth so much more than gold
    Keep me ’til I leave this land.

    The friends you send my way
    Give them Your Blessings each day
    Touch their hearts make them whole
    As it was foretold
    In Isaiah the Good Book of old

    Then Love will rule the world
    Love will rule the world
    Our God of Love from Heaven above ,will rule the world.

  • Evangeline1031

    It is the Cardinals, the Bishops, who are silent in the face of apostasy. It is awful, just terrible, frankly, to watch what this pope is doing. But it is beyond that, very much beyond that, to see the pale and weak response by the Bishops. Many have signed on. Mainstream Catholic media has largely signed on. We see them as sycophants.
    Until and unless the words “Pope Francis” and “heresy” are combined into the same sentence, then no Bishop or Cardinal has defended the Church or Christ, and certainly the sheep have been all but abandoned by their earthly shepherds.
    Do these men fear the loss of their positions so much they will not do it? How terrible, to be so comfortable they will not do even that much!