Sydney archbishop looks to Africa for orthodoxy

Ahead of the synod on the family, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney has pointed to African bishops as a sign of hope in confused times.

Archbishop Fisher’s comments came after an address by Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia on September 24.

Archbishop Fisher, who attended the address said: “Cardinal  Sarah spoke on the family as a light in a dark world.”

“Just as in the days of St Augustine and Athanasius, we rely on the African bishops to help us steer an orthodox course in confused times,” the Sydney prelate said.

“[Cardinal Sarah] said we should not put the magisterium, the teachings of Christ and his Church, in a ‘pretty box’ as if they were irrelevant to pastoral practice and daily life.

“He said God’s law for the human person and relationships does not ‘confine’ us: it opens up exciting new possibilities and ultimate happiness.

“This is not moralising, not finger-pointing, not being judgemental towards others, but authentic family life shines as light in today’s darkness.”

Cardinal Sarah cited Pope Benedict as saying the light of family life was being “snuffed out” due to modern culture.

“Even members of the Church can be tempted to soften Christ’s teaching on marriage and the family,” Cardinal Sarah said.

Separating what comes from the magisterium with pastoral practice, changing it in “accord with certain circumstances, is a form of heresy”, the cardinal emphasised.

“Welcome the mercy of God,” he told the audience. “This mercy has a name: Jesus Christ.”

“This Spirit, the Holy Spirit charity — love until the end — can overcome all that seems humanly impossible within the family.”

“All those wounded by personal sin and the sin of others — the divorced, the separated, those who have cohabitated, who get closed in on themselves and those in same-sex unions — can and must find in the Church a place for regeneration without any finger pointed at them,” he stressed.


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