How will Cardinal Robert Sarah of Africa react to the Synod of October 2015?

Quoted from an extensive interview with Cardinal Sarah in a forthcoming book:

“The idea that would consist in placing the Magisterium in a pretty case, by detaching it from pastoral practice — which could evolve according to the circumstances, fashions, and passions — is a form of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology. Therefore, I solemnly affirm that the Church of Africa will firmly oppose every rebellion against the teaching of Jesus and the Magisterium.”
[English | original French]

The great apostasy is very near. Soon many conservative Catholics will formally reject Pope Francis and depart from the Church. These schismatics will include some Cardinals and Bishops, more than a few priests and religious, and a large percentage of conservative and traditionalist laypersons.

Like Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Sarah is openly stating that he will reject Pope Francis as a heretic if the holy Pontiff makes any decision on discipline which the Cardinal interprets as implying a rejection of doctrine. Sarah is openly stating that he will commit formal schism.

Which disciplines are so important and so certain that rejecting them would imply a rejection of faith in God? Consider the Old Testament disciplines. These were given to the Israelites by Divine Revelation. Yet all the Old Testament disciplines (ceremonial practices, dietary laws, etc.) have been dispensed (nullified) by Christ [Council of Florence, 11th Session]. So it is absurd to claim that changes in current Church discipline, such as the form of the Mass, or rules about who may receive Communion, or roles of women in the Church, or other changes to discipline, made by the Pope, would equate to a rejection of the teachings of Jesus or His Church. Good discipline is based on doctrine, but bad discipline is not heresy.

If Pope Francis makes any seemingly unwise or imprudent changes to discipline, perhaps these changes are inspired by the Holy Spirit as an all-out no-holds-barred attempt to save souls prior to the start of the tribulation. What faithful disciple of Christ would place limits on the mercy of God for the sake of retaining some beloved disciplines? The modern-day Pharisees, that’s who. If anyone loves discipline more than Christ, he has fallen into the error of the Pharisees.

Even if a Pope were to make changes that were truly unwise or imprudent, this would not constitute a heresy or a rejection of faith in Christ. But what I would like to point out to my readers is an assumption common to many critics of Pope Francis. They assume that their understanding of Catholicism is infallible. They assume that if Pope Francis says or does anything contrary to their own point of view, he must be wrong and they cannot possibly have misunderstood, not only on doctrine, but also on discipline.

Changes to discipline, made by the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops gathered with him at the Synod, are not “a dangerous schizophrenic pathology”. However, declaring such a thing about the exercise of papal authority over discipline is a dangerous schismatic pathology. And yet this point of view is widespread among traditionalists and conservatives. Soon many of them will declare the Pope a heretic and formally commit the sin of schism. Many of these same persons also say that schismatics cannot be saved unless they repent. They are condemned by their own words.

Was the Church founded on the Rock that is the majority opinion among traditionalists? Did Christ promise that the gates of Hell would never prevail over the conservative point of view on discipline? Did the First Vatican Council solemnly proclaim, with attached anathema, that conservatism is able to teach infallibly? Whosoever rejects the Pope, rejects the Church.

Suppose that you and I disagree on some question of doctrine or discipline. I could be wrong, and you could be right. Or vice versa. Or we might both be mistaken. So how is it that, when a traditionalist disagrees with the Supreme Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ, the Head of the Church on earth, he automatically assumes — on every single point no matter how small or great — that the Pope must be wrong? Is it because Pope Francis has been labeled a liberal, and traditionalists assume liberal equals heresy? Or is it sheer arrogance? You tell me.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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