Cardinal Robert Sarah’s recently published book – “with contributions of Benedict XVI,”—Des profondeurs de nos cœurs (From the Depths of Our Hearts) (Fayard), a defense of ecclesiastical celibacy, places Pope Francis in a delicate position.
Will the current sovereign pontiff who, after the Synod on the Amazon, must make public his apostolic exhortation, accede to the requests of the synod fathers in favor of the ordination of married men, and will he ignore the reminders of the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, supported by his predecessor on the throne of Saint Peter? It is true that he did not take any account of the Dubia formulated, in 2016, by Cardinals Brandmüller, Burke, Caffarra and Meisner, concerning the exhortation Amoris lætitia authorizing communion for the divorced and “remarried,” after the synod on the family. Will he do the same with regard to ecclesiastical celibacy?
Furthermore, if, hypothetically, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller associated himself with the approach of Cardinal Sarah, who has launched an appeal “to all bishops, priests, and laity,” so that they “would no longer be intimidated by the bad pleas, theatrical smokescreens, diabolical lies, and fashionable errors that want to devalue priestly celibacy,”—if the German prelate supported this appeal, could Francis say that he who advocates for a “Church with an Amazonian face,” that is endowed with a married clergy, prefers to follow the German “synodal path”?
A progressive bishop such as Msgr. Erwin Kraütler, a very militant supporter of the ordination of married men, said in his book, Renewal Now: Impulses from the Amazon for the Reform of the Church (Tyrolia, 2019), how Francis would manage surreptitiously to get out of it: “the pope could, as he did at the synod on the family, open a door by saying, “now you bishops have the opportunity to do what you think is right.”
It’s a case of “cat door pastoralism”: the doctrinal door is closed, priestly celibacy is maintained everywhere, but a “merciful” opening is practiced on the sly, locally. The risk is that the cat is too big and will get stuck.
Cardinal Sarah precisely denounces this overly clever scheme. He calls a spade a spade and the ordination of married men “not an exception, but a breach, a wound in the coherence of the priesthood. To speak of an exception would be an abuse of language or a lie.”
Fr. Alain Lorans