Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Cardinal Sarah: Western Bishops & Practical Atheism

The topic of religious leaders' engagement with secular values is a complex and sensitive one, often leading to vigorous debate within religious communities. Recently, Cardinal Robert Sarah, a prominent figure within the Catholic Church, addressed this issue head-on. During a speech to the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, he expressed concern over what he perceives as a growing trend of 'practical atheism' among some Western bishops.

Cardinal Sarah, who hails from Guinea and has served as the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship until his retirement in 2021, criticized these bishops for aligning too closely with secular values, which he believes leads to a detachment from traditional Christian doctrines. He described this phenomenon as a subtle infiltration that never announces itself but gradually erodes the Church's spiritual fervor, leading to a situation where religious rites are celebrated, but the underlying faith is diluted.

The cardinal's remarks highlight a tension between the desire to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world and the need to uphold the foundational truths of the faith. This balance is particularly challenging in the context of Western societies, where secularism is more prevalent, and the Church is often seen as needing to adapt to survive.

Cardinal Sarah's comments have sparked discussions on the role of the Church in modern society and the importance of maintaining doctrinal integrity. He praised the response of African bishops, especially during the Synod on Synodality, for their steadfastness in upholding doctrinal integrity against pressures for cultural adaptations in Church teachings. He emphasized the importance of maintaining doctrinal unity, accusing some of pursuing a “dictatorship of relativism” that threatens to fragment the Church’s universal truth.

The debate is not just about the survival of traditional values but also about the identity and mission of the Church in the 21st century. Cardinal Sarah's call to action urges the global episcopate to defend the foundational truths of the Church vigorously. He sees the Church in Africa as potentially having to defend the truth of the priesthood and the unity of the faith in the near future, a role he deems critical at a time when traditional values are under challenge.

This ongoing conversation is a reminder of the dynamic nature of faith and its interaction with broader cultural and societal trends. It raises important questions about how religious institutions can remain true to their beliefs while also engaging constructively with the world around them.

For more detailed information on Cardinal Sarah's address and the implications of his statements, you can refer to the original articles and sources provided.


Cardinal Sarah denounces 'atheistic' Western bishops who prefer the world to the cross - Catholic Herald

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