Not even the Roman Pontiff can change the Church’s teaching on marriage, Cardinal Robert Sarah told an interviewer.
In a conversation with the French Catholic journal L’Homme Nouveau, responding to questions about his book God or Nothing, Cardinal Sarah addressed the question of whether Pope Francis could allow Catholics who are divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist. He said:
The entire Church has always firmly held that one may not receive communion with the knowledge of being in a state of mortal sin, a principle recalled as definitive by John Paul II in his 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia.
Cardinal Sarah concluded: “Not even a Pope can dispense from such a divine law.”
In the interview, Cardinal Sarah—who is prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship—voiced his concern about the level of confusion, even among bishops, regarding the Church’s teaching. He said:
I cannot allow myself to imagine as the cause of such confusion anything but the insufficiency of the formation of my confreres. And insofar as I am responsible for the discipline of the sacraments in the whole Latin Church, I am bound in conscience to recall that Christ has reestablished the Creator’s original plan of a monogamous, indissoluble marriage ordered to the good of the spouses, as also to the generation and education of children.
Events organized in Rome for the Jubilee Year drew 21.3 million pilgrims, Archbishop Rino Fisichella informed reporters at a November 21 briefing.
Archbishop Fisichella—who as president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization had primary responsibility for organizing the Vatican’s observance—estimated that nearly one billion people passed through a Holy Door somewhere in the world during the Year of Mercy. On a worldwide basis, he said, “the average participation among the Catholic population as a whole was between 56% and 62%.” He said that these statistics were based on reports from “some important dioceses around the world.”
The archbishop also called attention to the large number of pilgrims who traveled to Catholic shrines: 22 million to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico; 3 million in Krakow, and an all-time record at Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
In Rome, the archbishop said, the greatest number of pilgrims registered for Jubilee events were, not surprisingly, Italian. They were followed by German-speaking pilgrims, Americans, Poles, and Spanish. But the list also included visitors from China, Chad, Rwanda, Nepal, and the Cook Islands. “In short,” Archbishop Fisichella said, “we can say that the whole world has come to Rome.”
In an interview with the Italian bishops’ radio and television stations, Pope Francis looked back upon the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, including his “Mercy Friday” visits.
Commenting on his visit to a neonatal unit, he described abortion as a “very grave sin” and “horrendous crime.”
Lamenting indifference to those in need, and describing money as “the greatest enemy of God,” the Pope also spoke of his desire for a “poor Church for the poor,” in accord with Matthew 25.
Reiterating his opposition to capital punishment, Pope Francis said that prison should be, like Purgatory, a place with hope, one whose aim is reintegration into society.
In response to other questions, the Pope said he dislikes flatterers more than detractors and said he faces temptations to “impatience, selfishness, then a little laziness,” and that such temptations accompany us until our final moments.