Advent sermon by Cardinal Cantalamessa

A profession of historicism

After asserting that the faith that saves is faith in Christ, the preacher asks himself: “If the faith that saves is faith in Christ, what about all those who have no possibility of believing in him? The answer he will give is nothing less than Catholic.

He begins by noting that the world has changed, that it is now multicultural. In the past “we were, of course, aware of the existence of other religions, but they were considered false from the outset, or they were not taken into account at all. (…) All Christians shared the traditional axiom: “Outside the Church, there is no salvation”. »

But “this is no longer the case today”. These reflections are neither more nor less than historicism, this doctrine which interprets the truth according to the data of history or culture. In other words, there is no longer any stable and lasting truth, but it becomes fluctuating and relative.

Salvation outside the visible Church

The cardinal goes on to explain that, thanks to Nostra Aetate of the Second Vatican Council, there now reigns a respect, a dialogue between religions. As well as the recognition of the values ​​present in each of them. “With this recognition came the conviction that even those outside the Church can be saved,” adds the preacher.

This starting point is distorted: the Church did not wait for the Council to say that one can be saved outside the visible Church. But, on the other hand, she never said that this salvation was obtained by the values ​​of false religions, but by the merits of Christ. So a member of a false religion can save himself despite this membershipby the Church, if it is attached to it, either explicitly or implicitly.

On the strength of this erroneous basis, the cardinal affirms that if one follows the ancient doctrine “salvation is limited from the outset to a tiny minority of people”. Which “cannot leave us alone, but harms Christ above all by depriving him of a large part of his humanity. You Can’t Believe Jesus Is God, And Then Limit Its Relevance de facto to a small area. »

Reasoning which is false as we have just seen, and which judges salvation by the number of the elect. We believe we are dreaming. In addition, the cardinal forces the line, to be able to place his novelties.

The command of Christ who sends his disciples into the whole world

Without raising everything that could be, let us note the answer of the preacher on the objection he proposes. In fact, he recalls Christ’s mandate: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15) and “Make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). This mandate “retains its perennial validity, but must be understood in its historical context. » – Again historicism.

To explain it, the preacher will give Saint Francis of Assisi as an example. The holy founder envisaged two ways of approaching “the Saracens and other infidels”. He writes in the First Rule :

“Brethren who leave have two spiritual ways of behaving among the infidels. The first is to raise neither debates nor discussions, but to be submitted to every human creature for the sake of God and to proclaim oneself Christians. The second is, when they believe it pleases God, to announce the word of God, so that the infidels believe in Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Creator of all things, in the Redeemer Son and Saviour (First Rule, Ch. XVI). »

Note that the prologue of the encyclical Fratelli tutti quotes this passage to draw conclusions identical to those of Cardinal Cantalamessa. But there is deception on the merchandise.

The First Rule of the Friars Minor

The quotation is taken from what is known as the “first rule of the minor brothers”. It is in fact the second rule written by Saint Francis. The text of the first rule has been lost. The quotation is taken from the 16th chapter, entitled: “Of those who go to the Saracens and other infidels”.

Saint Francis specifies that “all those of the brothers who, by divine inspiration, will want to go to the Saracens and other infidels, go there with the permission of their minister and servant”.

The Founder continues: “The brothers who leave have two ways of behaving spiritually among the infidels. The first is to raise neither debates nor discussions, but to be submitted to every human creature for the sake of God and to proclaim oneself Christians.

“The second is, when they believe that it pleases God, to announce the word of God, so that the infidels believe in Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Creator of all things, in the Son Redeemer and Saviour, and that they may be baptized and become Christians, for no one, except he is reborn of water and of the Holy Spirit, can enter the kingdom of God. »

The end of the chapter makes it possible to understand what precedes. He insists on preaching: “This and all that pleases God they can preach to the infidels and to others, for, says the Lord in the Gospel: “Whoever confesses to me before men, I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven”; and: “Whoever blushes at me and at my words, the Son of man will also blush at him when he comes in his glory and in that of the Father and of the holy angels.” »

The saint concludes this chapter with this last consideration: “Let all the brothers remember everywhere that they have given themselves and that they have abandoned their bodies to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and that for his love they must expose themselves to all visible and invisible enemies. He supports this encouragement with quotations from the Gospel. Here is the first: “Whoever loses his life for me will save it for eternal life. The others are just commenting on it.

The word of Saint Francis distorted

It is quite clear from reading this chapter of the first rule that Saint Francis does not intend to separate the two attitudes he describes, but to unite them in a succession. It is not a question: either of living as a Christian in the midst of the infidels, and nothing else; or to preach Jesus Christ. But the first attitude can be adopted while waiting for the second to be made possible, or even obligatory in a confession of faith.

The proof of this is given by the text, and by the insistence of Saint Francis on preaching and on the total gift of self, even to martyrdom, if it is a question of communicating the way of salvation to those who are there. strangers. To say anything else distorts the thought of the saint.

This is to forget that Saint Francis wanted to go to Egypt to convert the sultan, or to die for the faith, as the life of the holy founder written by Saint Bonaventure affirms. It reduces supernatural charity and apostolic zeal to a simple “love” wanting to “embrace all men”.

All this is explained by the loss of true faith and the spirit of faith. But this loss has been recorded since the Council, and it only digs deeper the furrow of silent apostasy.

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Advent sermon by Cardinal Cantalamessa

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