Wisdom Out of Africa


ROME, October 19, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — While some say a majority of Synod Fathers support allowing different national regions to establish their own ways of dealing with contentious issues such as homosexuality and divorce, Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria has stated that the proposal is impossible for the Catholic Church to adopt.

“The Ten Commandments are not subject to national frontiers. A bishops’ conference in a country cannot agree that stealing from a bank is not sinful in that country, or that divorced persons who are remarried can receive Holy Communion in that country, but when you cross the boundary and go to another country it now becomes a sin,” he told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview in Rome on Saturday.

“You can see you then, if we did that, we have made the Ten Commandments a matter of decision according to sensitivities in each country. It cannot be so,” he added.

Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said that the Catholic Church is “one” in her faith and morals.

“In matters of faith and morals, the Catholic Church is known for her unity, a unity which is not invented by the Vatican, is not invented by the theologians. It is Christ himself who said, ‘Teach them to observe whatever I have said to you.’”

“So, we don’t have power to modify [what Scripture teaches us]. For example, St. Paul says that those who receive Holy Communion should look into themselves because the person who receives unworthily receives judgment against himself. This is Holy Scripture. This cannot be subject to voting at the level of bishops’ conferences or even voting across continental frontiers.”

“You can see, the Church is not actually a national Church, it is one body in Christ. The Son of God came down from heaven and gave us this way of salvation and prayed that all his followers may be one, as he and his Father are one,” he said.

Arinze said that while bishops conferences “are important” for examining particular “national situations” facing the local church, such as respecting local culture in liturgy or providing solutions for the poor and the sick, they do not have the power to change “faith and morals, what we are to believe and what we are to do or not to do.”

“When it comes to practical details that don’t affect faith and morals, bishops’ conferences can look into that and should,” he said.

Last week during a Synod press briefing, German Abbot Jeremias Schroder mentioned both “the social acceptance of homosexuality” and dealing with “divorced and remarried persons” as examples “where bishops conferences should be allowed to formulate pastoral responses that are in tune with what can be preached and announced and lived in a different context.”

The announcement drew strong criticism from Church heavyweights such as Cardinal Burke who called the proposal “simply contrary to Catholic Faith and life.”

“What it actually means is that the Church is no longer Catholic [universal]. It means that it’s no longer one in its teaching throughout the whole world. We have one faith. We have one [collection of] sacraments. We have one governance throughout the whole world. That’s what it means to be ‘Catholic.”

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3 Responses to Wisdom Out of Africa

  1. Mary Thomas says:

    Words of wisdom.

  2. Nancy Novicki says:

    Being Catholic is not a popularity contest! Let’s change the rules for
    the sinner! No! Right is right and sin is sin! We are one body in this
    one Lord!

    • Ron Bowers says:

      I am afraid that to some bishops it is a popularity contest, in particular because there is money at stake. In Germany they have the “Kirchensteuer” (the church tax). This is a tax charged to registered parishioners that is collected by the government and dispersed to the churches. The number of registered parishioners, and therefore the money collected through the church tax, has been decreasing. It has reached the point that some bishops have argued that they should be able to deny the sacraments if someone does not pay the tax.

      The first reason people are leaving is the same as it is here: the Church won’t accept and/or celebrate their sin. The second is more practical: atheism is simply less expensive. Don’t go to church, don’t pay a tax.

      So, the motivation for some bishops to loosen the rules is purely economic. Looser morality will yield more parishioners which will yield more Kirchensteuer. I don’t doubt that some non-German bishops also think this way, more parishioners means more money in the basket.

      The most disturbing aspect of this is that discards the mission of the Church to save souls in favor of a profitable, feel-good-about-yourself business enterprise. If I may be so bold, I think that is demonic.

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