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Cardinal Sarah on Fiducia Supplicans: "We respond with the word of God"

Updated: Feb 28


Breaking news this morning that Cardinal Robert Sarah, the former Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship, the Vatican’s Liturgical Office now headed by former Bishop of Leeds Cardinal Arthur Roche, has entrusted the veteran Italian Vaticanista Sandro Magister at the Settimo Cielo blog with his reflection on the current state of confusion in the Church following the recent declaration of the dicastery for the doctrine of the faith Fiducia supplicans. 

There can be no doubt of Cardinal Sarah's opinion of Fiducia Supplicans. His comments constitute a firm rejection of the Vatican declaration, but they also reflect the dismay of many Catholics regarding the tenure, self-contradictory content and poor timing of this document.

Directly quoting Pope Francis on the devil, the Cardinal laments that at Christmas, a time when Jesus brings us peace and, as the Word of God, truth, we have error and confusion issuing from the Vatican: 

"It is precisely confusion, the lack of clarity and truth and division that have disturbed and darkened this year's Christmas celebration."

The reflection, which reads like a Papal Letter, excoriates bishops who endorse Fiducia supplicans, saying: 

"They do the work of the divider....sowing doubt and scandal in the souls of the faithful by claiming to bless homosexual unions as if they were legitimate, in conformity with the nature created by God, as if they could lead to holiness and human happiness. They only generate errors, scandals, doubts and disappointments. These bishops ignore or forget the severe warning of Jesus against those who scandalize the little ones: "Whoever scandalizes even one of these little ones who believe in me, it is better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the depths of the sea" (Mt 18.6)."

Cardinal Sarah seems to turn Pope Francis' own words against him, quoting him directly regarding the nature of division and confusion introduced by the devil. Sarah affirms the Pope's words regarding dialogue with the devil and asserts that:

"We do not enter into discussion with the declaration “Fiducia supplicans”, nor with its various uses that we have seen multiply. We simply respond with the Word of God and with the magisterium and traditional teaching of the Church." 

And he qualifies the rejection of the declaration by stating: 

"Like Jesus, we dare the first of mercies: the objective truth of deeds"

The former Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship goes on to clearly state Church teaching on same-sex attraction, highlighting the clear contradiction between what the Catholic Church has always taught and the new direction taken by the newly appointed head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Víctor Manuel "Tucho" Fernández.

Cardinal Sarah quotes Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Saint John Paul II's monumental Encyclical Veritatis Splendor as well as other sources from the CDF.

He then thanks those who have rejected Fiducia supplicans stating he shares their "firm opposition" and positively encourages other national or regional bishops' conferences and every bishop to do the same. Cardinal Sarah stops short of calling Pope Francis a heretic, instead saying that the rejection he advocates is not a rejection of Pope Francis, but a firm and radical opposition to "a heresy that seriously undermines the Church, the Body of Christ, because it is contrary to the Catholic faith and Tradition."

Cardinal Sarah then addresses the Church in Africa, reminding us of the continuing mission given to the continent by Popes from Paul VI onward as a lung for the Church, especially aware of "the necessary respect for nature created by God." He cites Benedict XVI, Opening homily of the second special assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, 4 October 2009:

“Africa represents an immense spiritual 'lung' for a humanity that appears to be in a crisis of faith and hope. But this 'lung' can also get sick. And at the moment at least two dangerous pathologies are affecting it: first of all, a disease already widespread in the Western world, that is, practical materialism, combined with relativist and nihilistic thinking. […] The so-called 'first' world has sometimes exported and is exporting toxic spiritual waste, which infects the populations of other continents, including those in Africa in particular”.

Cardinal Sarah wonderfully weaves many of Pope Francis leitmotifs into his reflection: Care for the environment, as evidenced in the previous passages, his warnings about the influence of the devil and now he turns to Pope Francis' care for the poor, stating:

"The Church of Africa is the voice of the poor, the simple and the small. It has the task of announcing the Word of God in front of Western Christians who, because they are rich, equipped with multiple skills in philosophy, theological, biblical and canonical sciences, believe they are evolved, modern and wise in the wisdom of the world. But "that which is the foolishness of God is wiser than men" (1 Cor 1:25). It is therefore not surprising that the bishops of Africa, in their poverty, are today the heralds of this divine truth in the face of the power and wealth of some Western episcopates. Because “God has chosen the one who is foolish to the world to confound the wise; he who is weak to the world, God has chosen to confound the strong; what is ignoble and despised by the world, what is nothing, God has chosen to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no one can boast before God" (1Cor 1,27-28). But will we have the courage to listen to them in the next session of the Synod on Synodality? Or should we believe that, despite promises to listen and respect, their warnings will not be taken into account, as we see today? "Beware of men" (Mt 10:17), says the Lord Jesus, because all this confusion, aroused by the declaration "Fiducia supplicans", could reappear under other more subtle and more hidden formulations in the second session of the Synod on Synodality, in 2024 , or in the arguments of those who help the Holy Father write the post-synodal apostolic exhortation. Didn't Satan tempt the Lord Jesus three times? We will have to be vigilant about the manipulations and projects that some are already preparing for this next session of the Synod."

This evidences the growing concern among senior clergy regarding the opacity and therefore the validity of the whole synodality process, which, it has been suggested, is merely a fig leaf for the progressive agenda already worked out by Pope Francis and his team. This is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that it has been reported that Cardinal Fernández had already written Fiducia supplicans before the synod.

Cardinal Sarah next directly addresses one of the most concerning dimensions of the Franciscan Pontificate, the consistent introduction of confusing sophistry and a refusal to clarify, stating: 

"Every successor of the apostles must dare to take seriously the words of Jesus: “Let your speech be: 'Yes, yes', 'No, no'; anything more comes from the Evil One” (Mt 5.37). The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers us the example of such a clear, sharp and courageous word. Any other path would inevitably be truncated, ambiguous and misleading. At this moment we hear many speeches so subtle and twisted that they end up falling under this curse pronounced by Jesus: "Whatever is more comes from the Evil One". New meanings of words are invented, Scripture is contradicted and falsified while claiming to be faithful to it. We end up no longer serving the truth."

Cardinal Sarah says it is pointless to quibble about the meaning of blessing, directly attacking the false distinction set up by Fiducia supplicans between so-called "liturgical blessings" and "spontaneous blessings". "It is obvious that we can pray for the sinner" he states, the prayer of the Church is not denied to anyone "But it can never be diverted into a legitimation of sin, of the structure of sin, or even of the proximate occasion of sin."

Cardinal Sarah makes the important point that the Church offers mercy and welcome to all, yet hardness of heart, a rejection of conversion, can only result in wrath and judgement (Rom 2:5-6).

Finally, Cardinal Sarah alludes to the fact that the direction of travel indicated by Fiducia supplicans is a direction which fears rejection from the secular world and our adherence to the truth should not be concerned with seeking the approval of those who reject Christ and His teachings.

This reflection constitutes a firm rejection of the direction of the Pontificate of Francis while avoiding an open attack on the office of the Pope. It demonstrates that the Cardinal has paid great attention to what Pope Francis has taught over the last decade and is concerned with an attempt to mitigate the Gospel message to make it seem more acceptable to the world. In the end, all that such a compromise can do is render the Gospel message impotent, which, perhaps, is just what the devil and the secular world are seeking to achieve.

By Mark Lambert

581 views9 comments


The declaration was completely unnecessary dear Pope Francis!.Why the use of the word " Couple".In 2021, you said homosexuality is a sin and the Church cannot bless sin.Why the call to bless sin in 2023 dear Pope Francis?.We the Laity are scandalized!!!...

Replying to


Cardinal Sarah no doubt understands the document very well indeed. There are only 2 options when considering this pronouncement, either Pope Francis and Cardinal Fernandez released it deliberately timing it to have the affect of causing maximum dismay, confusion and division and distracting the faithful from contemplation of Christmas. (I try to be charitable in ascribing the reasons for this) Gavin spoke his view this morning.

The alternative is they are both inexperienced in the world and the faith, which surely can't be the case.

A number of commentators are trying to twist themselves in knots to justify the document, the timing, the meaning of specific words in a way that surely shouldn't be necessary. It should be crystal clear…


I have been reading Cardinal Sarah's writings for a couple of years now and was waiting for his response. I expected it to be measured and direct as it is while not making any attack on Pope Francis or his team. He is a fine and holy man. As he implies here, it is time for the faithful of Africa and other peoples converted by missionaries from Europe and the west to re- evangelise and bring Europe and America back to a simple true faith


yBreaffirming traditional teaching on mariage, but insisting that same-sex couples are "blessable" rather than "contemptible", Pope Francis has opened a way forward that wil allow LGBT Catholics ot be listened ot on their own terms while maintaining the unity of the Church / By JAMES ALISON The new rules of the game

we are and how we live by means of negative

I receive the new document most warmly. another Dicaster eri tot

deductions from the marital act open to pro-

Let us remember that there is no major Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) doc-

creation are both wrong and damaging. This

Christian body that has been able ot deal

• ument that impacts me and

si the "synodal" path…

Replying to

I think the fact that Fr James Alison has approved of FS is no surprise given his background as an openly gay catholic priest which is a disgrace in itself. Also there is no such thing as an LGBT catholic, a person who defines their catholicity by means of their favourite sin is a terrible thing. i would suggest listening to some of the Catholic Unscripted podcasts on this issue, Gavin, Mark and Katherine explore it in some detail.


It’s blatantly obvious that poor Cardinal Sara just doesn’t understand Pope Francis and FS . It’s sad .

Replying to

Hi Denis, sorry I don't quite understand your point but I think Cardinal Sarah understands what the Pope is trying to do with FS only too well, and where it is likely to lead.

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