Cardinal Kasper Could Learn from This African Bishop

“But they should not tell us too much what we have to do.” Such were the words used by the German theologian Cardinal Walter Kasper to describe what he thought of African contributions during the 2014 Synod on the Family as Catholic bishops and laity gathered to discuss challenges facing the family in the modern world.

It was hard not to recall that sentence while recently reading a book requiring translation into English as soon as possible. For in his best-selling 424 page Dieu ou Rien [God or Nothing] (Fayard, 2015), Cardinal Robert Sarah, the newly-appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, illustrates in conversations with the French journalist Nicolas Diat (author of a revealing book on Benedict XVI’s pontificate) precisely why the universal Church should be listening more to Catholics who come from cultures where the faith is flourishing, and much less to those preoccupied with the concerns of particular Western European churches: churches that are fabulously wealthy in material terms but spiritually-moribund by any standard.

The book’s title underscores Sarah’s central theme: societies that lose a sense of God—and not just any god, but the God who is simultaneously Caritas, Logos, Misericordia, and Veritas—and opt for nothingness cannot help but experience profound decline. This death of God/death of man theme is hardly new. It’s implied in Plato’s discussion of the three versions of atheism, and was spelt out centuries later by Nietzsche. What, however, makes Sarah’s contribution different is the sophistication with which he makes his argument. This is a man equally at home discussing the finer points of animist religions as he is with explaining the Galileo case’s more obscure dimensions.

“Man’s greatest difficulty is not,” Sarah writes, “what the Church teaches on morality; the hardest thing for the post-modern world is to believe in God” [my translation]. Drawing on sources ranging from the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, Greek philosophers, the Church Fathers, Jewish references, Russian literature to modern French thinkers, Sarah outlines a powerful case to suggest that choices against the God who reveals Himself in the Bible are laying waste to much of the world, especially the West and even more specifically Western Europe. And in doing so—for, as anyone who has met Sarah will attest, he’s a genuinely humble man—the Cardinal born in the obscure African village of Ourous inadvertently reveals a formidable intellect that’s matched by years of pastoral experience and a profound knowledge of, and direct personal contact with, the many different challenges confronting the Catholic Church throughout the world.

For Sarah, it matters little whether the nothingness is expressed via militant atheism, Marxist materialism, secular liberalism, or the politically correct non-entity worshiped by what another Cardinal, Blessed John Henry Newman, famously condemned as “the spirit of Liberalism in religion.” The denial of God, Sarah maintains, can only lead to one thing: an enormous void that’s invariably filled in destructive ways. These include self-absorption, hedonism, and techno-utopianism. Sarah isn’t afraid to draw an analogy between these trends in the West and the ways that he believes animist African religions fabricated false gods to help people divert themselves from the fear that grips man when he thinks he’s truly alone in the universe.

Significantly, Sarah suggests that another way of filling the emptiness is through the relentless embrace of egalitarianism, whether in the economy or through promoting gender theory. Making such an argument is unlikely to win Sarah many friends in our equality-obsessed world: a fixation that includes more-than-a few Catholics. Given, however, that Sarah spent much of his life as an archbishop in the former French colony of Guinea facing down one of the worst post-colonial Marxist despots ever to inflict himself on Africa, Ahmed Sékou Touré (who placed Sarah on a death-list just prior to the dictator’s death in 1984), Sarah’s unlikely to be especially worried by the fulminations of Western liberals.

Sarah’s faith-journey exemplifies in many ways African Catholicism’s twentieth-century odyssey. Born in 1945, Sarah is a beneficiary of the dynamic missionary impulse that characterized French Catholicism between the nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. An only child whose animist parents converted to Catholicism, Sarah speaks movingly and affectionately of the Spiritain Fathers who left France, in many cases forever, to live in some of Africa’s most desolate regions. Baptized by a Spiritain priest in 1947, Sarah makes a point of mentioning that he was ordained as a priest by a Spiritain bishop in 1969.

Reflecting upon Catholicism’s impact upon the Africans he knew as a boy and young man, Sarah notes that it was a liberating force inasmuch as Catholicism de-divinized the natural world, thereby freeing people from fear and superstition. To Sarah’s mind, this is a practical illustration of how the Church’s dogmas and doctrines are not in fact oppressive but rather free people by revealing to them the truth about ultimate realities. That’s not only an important message to those who imagine that turning Catholicism into something as doctrinally incoherent as, say, today’s Church of England represents progress. It also helps explain why Sarah is so insistent that pastoral practice must conform to doctrine—not the other way around.

Sarah’s vocation to the priesthood came at an early age. Embracing it involved significant hardships that would try the most fervent of believers. Apart from having to journey hundreds of miles by foot, road, and boat just to attend seminary, Sarah had to overcome illnesses that almost resulted in his dismissal from the seminary. Nor can it have been easy for a young Guinean to be sent to Sénégal, France, Rome and Jerusalem for higher studies, not knowing if he would see his father and mother again: parents who, Sarah stresses, put the security of their old age at risk by supporting their only child’s path to priesthood.

Sarah, it seems, intellectually absorbed a great deal of theology, philosophy, and scriptural exegesis during his studies in Europe and Israel. He wasn’t, however, so absorbed that he didn’t see the chaos that engulfed Western life from the mid-1960s onwards. Sarah isn’t at all shy about highlighting what he regards as the deeply negative effects of May 1968 upon the West and the Church more generally, including, he observes, in his native Guinea.

It was quite a shift for Sarah to return from some of the Church’s best educational institutions and be sent by his bishop to serve as a parish priest in one of Guinea’s most inaccessible areas. Sarah also found himself in a society whose economy was being destroyed by socialist policies and living under a government that was ruthless in its efforts to terminate any sign of opposition. At one point, Sarah was sent to reform a seminary that he describes as totally lacking in spiritual formation and in which the regime, in an effort to undermine the Church, took the rebellious seminarians’ side. When Sarah was confirmed as archbishop of Conakry in 1979 at the incredibly young age of 34, his predecessor Raymond-Marie Tchidimbo had just been released from eight years in what was effectively a concentration camp: an experience that included regular torture.

Sarah served as Conakry’s archbishop until 2001. His twenty-two years of pastoral work involved navigating not just Sékou Touré’s Marxist regime and the only marginally better governments that followed, but also the fact that he lived in a majority-Muslim country. Here Sarah stresses his good personal relations with Muslims and mentions that Muslims in Guinea viewed the Catholic Church as the one institution that enjoyed some independence during Sékou Touré’s dictatorship.

But Sarah isn’t naïve about Islam. He doesn’t hesitate, for instance, to use the expression “Islamic terrorism” when reflecting upon the turmoil plaguing today’s Middle East. Sarah underscores that Catholicism and Islam operate from largely incompatible premises. This, he claims, limits opportunities for meaningful dialogue at the level of ideas. Instead, Sarah suggests, practical cooperation in the face of common problems—one of which he singles out as the neo-Malthusian population-control programs promoted by Western NGOs and governments—is perhaps the best way forward.

In 2001, John Paul II called Sarah to service in Rome as Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. It’s evident from the book that Sarah wasn’t especially happy about this move. What, however, the change did do—as did Sarah’s subsequent transfer in 2010 to become President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which oversees the Church’s charitable work throughout the world—was to place Sarah in a position whereby he could deepen his knowledge of the life of the universal Church. Thus his analysis of the different streams of liberation theology is nuanced, and separates out the Marxist clap-trap from genuinely sound theology. Sarah’s criticisms of Western European Catholicism—the deep crisis of faith, the endless bureaucratization, the sentimental humanitarianism/NGO-ism that substitutes for religious belief—are clear, direct, and, it must be said, hard to refute.

Nor does Sarah hold back when describing the difficulties facing African Catholicism. He highlights not just external threats, such as the increasingly-violent forms taken by Islam, but also internal problems. The latter include liturgical-styles that occasionally degenerate into self-worship, and priests abandoning their vocation to enter esoteric semi-animist sects.

Then there is what Sarah poignantly calls “the heresy of activism” that afflicts many priests around the world. They have forgotten, he says, that the heart of life is only found in God. Above all, Sarah is alive to the presence of evil in the world. He singles out the Holocaust (for which, revealingly, he uses the word preferred by many religious Jews—“Shoah”) as perhaps the worst iniquity of modern times.

When it comes, however, to addressing these problems, Sarah returns again and again to people’s primordial need for the one true God. Meeting people’s material requirements, Sarah argues, is good but it’s simply not enough. To illustrate his point, Sarah tells of meeting a young Muslim boy in a Jordanian refugee camp. The boy, Sarah said, had all his material needs provided for by the camp. Yet, Sarah stresses, all the material assistance in the world couldn’t answer the boy’s doubting of God’s existence: a crisis brought on by the fact that the boy’s father had been slaughtered by Islamic terrorists.

This leads Sarah to critique those Christians who would reduce evangelization to political engagement or the promotion of socio-economic development. At one point, Sarah strongly criticizes those Westerners and international organizations that use expressions such as “eliminating poverty.” The Christian understanding of poverty, Sarah points out, differs radically from that of the secular mind. There are types of poverty, he specifies, that all Christians are actually supposed to embrace, such as detachment from material possessions. For Christians, Sarah says, it is better to speak of fighting against misery, lest one risk buying into secular conceptions of progress or pursuing utopian schemes, such as Sékou Touré’s unapologetically socialist programs which laid waste to Guinea’s economy and brought misery and death in their wake.

Much more could be said about this remarkable book. Though surely not intended as a reply to Cardinal Kasper’s now-infamous comment about Africans, Dieu ou Rien illustrates that African Catholicism has more than come of age and has profound things to say to the universal church. This especially matters in light of projections, such as suggested by the recent Pew-Templeton study, that four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa by 2050. As world Catholicism’s gravity shifts away from Western Europe and towards the developing world, listening to Africans like Cardinal Robert Sarah may be something that even the most hidebound of liberal German theologians won’t be able to avoid in the future.

(Photo credit: CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

Samuel Gregg


Samuel Gregg is Research Director at the Acton Institute. He has authored many books including, most recently, For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good (2016).

  • Carlos_Perera


    • Joseph

      Yes. He stands a good chance of becoming the next Pope. He has also been in Rome for over a decade and has not only remain unsullied, but he keeps moving up.

    • Atilla The Possum

      Please God, I hope so!
      … and send the likes of Kasper the Poltergeist, Dolan et. al. PACKING!

    • Marcelus

      Next Pope will be Poli of Argentina.

      This wonderful Cardinal may have a chance. But I know this may sound silly , and mean no disrespect by it.: The RCC papal succesion always turns out to like the soccer world cups. At the beggining, THERE IS ALWAYS the ” watch out! African teams this time may have us in for a surprise!!) Then they get to the semis maybe and that is it. Ever since Cameroun in Italy 90 it has been this way. In the end… it all comes down to Europe Vs South America.

      • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

        Don’t forget, God is full of surprises. Only he can know what is in his plan.

    • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

      God hear you.

  • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

    Papal timber? indeed he is…

  • InHisGlory

    Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the next conclave towards this man.

    I hope Mr. Gregg doesn’t mind, I plan on using the description “sentimental humanitarianism/NGO-ism that substitutes for religious belief” in future conversations when discussing Catholic Relief Services. If only Cardinal Sarah could enlighten the USCCB on matters of faith based aid!

    • disqus_qkOcYNTXOW

      Love how the western world thinks they know what’s best for Africa, like they are stupid over there

      • It’s the new international version of noblesse oblige-condescion disguished as piety.

      • St JD George

        Even more amusing along those lines, I had a raving atheist the other day telling me he was looking forward to when Africa becomes less backward and more western and enlightened then begins to shrug off the evil superstitions of Christianity.

        • disqus_qkOcYNTXOW

          And embrace the values of the western world? How lucky will they be!

    • DeaconEdPeitler

      You don’t know just how on target you are. Something needs to happen in this regard. I have faith that Cardinal Sarah will clean up the mess at various Church caritas organizations, as Cardinal Cordes before him tried to do. The Vatican knows bout the problems you are describing.

    • “sentimental humanitarianism/NGO-ism that substitutes for religious belief”.

      You mean like the people that foment their ignorant, itinerant and visceral indignations into a canon of approved sentiments and call it “solidarity”?

  • Susan

    So true- Belief in the One true God is the ONLY answer to the miseries of the world. It is so simple an answer, yet to penetrate human pride is indeed where the problems lie. The many NGO’s that one reads about and get glorified press coverage often are putting a bandaid on a hemorrhagic wound. All the material goods in the world cannot satisfy the essential need we each have in our soul, that is, to know ourselves: we can only begin this life long journey through God’s awe-inspiring Love and Mercy!

  • Scott W.

    Betting on the future of the Church: Europe or Africa? Easy:

    • Barth Okere

      Cardinal Robert Sarah, the unspeakable spiritual giant of Africa & the God willing potential future Pope of the Catholic Church. A prophetic voice of the 20th century. Ride on in your new appointment by our Holy Father, Pope Francis. You’re called like Aaron and John the Baptist to proclaim God’s salvation to the whole world.
      Assured of my prayers @ the Lord’s Eucharistic bread of the bread!

  • St JD George

    God or nothing, amazing how much can be communicated with 3 words. Praise be to God for the gift of Cardinal Robert Sarah to the world. May the humbleness of servants like him be like a contagion in the world spreading the Holy Spirit to cure the disease which robs the souls of western man and their minds.

  • jacobhalo

    Cardinal Kasper, along with Cardinal Marx, are heretics and should be defrocked.

    • pupsncats

      But Kaspar and Marx are only taking the “spirit of Vatican II’ out into the open which through its new goal of destroying the hierarchical nature of the Church because that offends non-Catholics (and we cannot offend any non-Catholic in any way), and corresponds to the new “collegiality” whereby all opinions, even those that have already been condemned by prior councils and popes, are going to be revisited, also in the “spirit of Vatican II” which is the spirit of heresy.

    • Marcelus

      NObody defrocked them before PF and I believe no Pope ever will.They will just fade away- Marx has said he will not obey the Pope in the end if it does not go his way in the synod or something like that, so who knows

    • GreggorytheGreat

      Can the Catholic Church have a Pope with a back bone like you said and defrock these terrible heretics that are out to destroy the Catholic Church. These German Heretics posing as Cardinals get BILLIONS OF EUROS each year from the STATE from taxes that Germans pay in TAXES TO THE CHURCH. These Heretics sure take the money like Judah the betrayer and teach APOSTASY to the flock. OF COURSE WITH THESE HERETICS THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS HELL !

  • Vinny

    “…societies that lose a sense of God—and not just any god, but the God who is simultaneously Caritas, Logos, Misericordia, and Veritas—and opt for nothingness cannot help but experience profound decline.” Yet, many would say that losing God is what will benefit society. Let’s see; good is bad and bad is good.

  • publiusnj

    Cardinal Sarah seems to understand that the Catholic Church is not the question but the answer. Cardinal Kasper clearly doesn’t and I’m not sure whether this pope does either.

  • Keith Cameron

    I have had the pleasure of meeting several Priests from Africa. I was impressed that to a man they were all devoted servants of God and their Parish. We ignore Africa at the peril of our Church.

    • Seamrog

      We have had the pleasure of being served by several….happy, enthusiastic, orthodox, reverent.

      I just wish I could understand them better. Happy, enthusiastic, orthodox, reverent African priests seem to come with a heavy accent!

      • Keith Cameron

        I have to agree on all points. I find the accent becomes more understandable with time. But, I’m willing to invest that ‘time’ for a great priest.

        • St JD George

          My experience with one visiting priest (1 year) in ATL as well. His passion was so infectious though that I was willing to endure the linguistic challenges because he was so full of joy, clearly moved by the Holy Spirit. If only we all had passion like his to go out into the world to spread the good news.

      • fredx2

        Personally, I love that accent. It can be a tad diffficult to understand at times, but so much joy comes along with it.

      • I’ll take that over syncretic, relativistic nonsense delivered in perfect diction anyday.

  • disqus_qkOcYNTXOW

    We already have enough division with Catholic vs Protestant. Some people in the leadership wish to divide The Church itself, from the interior.

    • St JD George

      I reflect on that often too, but I profess I am drawn towards those who unabashedly are unafraid to speak and spread God’s word without the mental malaise and cowardliness that seems to afflict the “developed” western mind. Maybe too many have simply stopped really believing and have grown comfortable merely to just coexist in this world.

      • disqus_qkOcYNTXOW

        I agree, we need the unafraid right now, perhaps as badly as the early Church did. It seems Jesus is slipping away from this world.

        • St JD George

          It seems that way because it is, but it need not be. The western mind is afflicted with a neurosis of pride in self determination, and finds itself unmoored in a turbulent, tempest sea without being anchored to the bedrock of God. We live in an age where a little more boldness to speak the truth to lies is needed now more than ever.

          • disqus_qkOcYNTXOW

            After coming back to the Church, I can now clearly see the mess we’re (and I’m) in, and the need for people to be true and faithful witnesses who preach the truth. Still being young, I’m trying to be one of those people…If the Lord wills it.

            • St JD George

              God bless you for your faith. I myself kept Christ at bay for over half a century before removing the barriers and opening myself to the Holy Spirit. There is peril I know because we live in a world full of evil so we must proceed with some prudence and caution to avoid the snares, for only the soul of a martyred saint can truly give everything including their life. Not all of us are able to do that, or not at all times in our lives. A society un-moored from God though is one without grace and lost in the world though. Be strong in your faith and a witness for Christ, he needs us to be, and we adore him. When I struggle with divisive issues including in the church, I always find solace in scripture and focus on putting Christ first.

              • disqus_qkOcYNTXOW

                I always *try* to remember that even in the face of division and possible heretics, the truth will be the truth, and in the end, will prevail.

            • MarcAlcan

              I’m trying to be one of those people…If the Lord wills it.

              If you desire it. Desire fidelity to the Lord with all your heart and He cannot possibly will otherwise.

              • disqus_qkOcYNTXOW

                He has thus far (in only a year) taken me on quite a journey. It’s hard to believe.

            • DeaconEdPeitler

              we’re going to need young Catholics like yourself to defend the Church.

              • disqus_qkOcYNTXOW

                I used to be someone who despised the CC, especially for its teachings about sex/contraceptives/etc, and I rebelled and didn’t wish to be a part of it. When I was called back to faith, learning the *truth* (not what society tells us) about those teachings has made me love our Church with all my heart. I can’t imagine being of a different denomination.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    Let us not forget also Cardinal Arinze in his younger days leading his flock and suffering with them in the horrors of the first modern African Jihad – the Biafra war. That his magnificent story goes untold is just another symptom of this arrogance.

    • fredx2

      I had always hoped Arinze would be the first Pope from Africa. Unfortunately his age virtually assures he will never be Pope now. However, we now seem to have his functional equavilent in Cardinal Sarah. One thing I admire about Arinze is his open, plain way of speaking. There is no hint of fudging things or trying to be cute. I detect the same open honesty in Cardinal Sarah.

      • musicacre

        Very humble also! When we went to a retreat at a monastery and he was the speaker, (in Canada) he later told the Monks he wanted to be in the same dining area as the kids (ours) instead of with just his hosts. He was very down-to-earth and funny and had a pic with our family!

  • DeaconEdPeitler

    A few years back I was in Rome attending a conference at the Vatican. I had the good fortune of being able to assist Cardinal Sarah at Mass at the crypt tomb of St. Peter. He was then the head of Cor Unum.

    The Synod this Fall will be faithful to Church teachings as long as Cardinal Sarah is present.

  • St JD George

    The day after publicly commemorating the Armenian genocide and risking a hostile response from Turkey, Pope Francis spoke of the need for courage to proclaim the truth boldly, no matter what the consequences.

    The way of the Church is that of “openness and speaking freely,” said Francis Monday in his homily at Mass in the Santa Marta residence in Vatican City.

    Drawing from the reading of the day from the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope pointed to the example of the apostles of Peter and John, who fearlessly preached Christ’s resurrection despite the threats from local authorities.

    According to the account, the Apostles prayed, “Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness.”

    On Sunday, the Pope announced that it was “a duty” to honor the memory of the victims of the genocide, “for whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester.”

    “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it!” he said.

    Continuing in this vein, Francis said Monday that “the path of openness and Christian courage” is still the message of the Church today. Referring to Saints Peter and John, he said that these two simple, uneducated men spoke with boldness, “without fear,” he said.

    The Pope contended that on this journey of openness the “real hero is the Holy Spirit,” because he is the only one able to give us “the courage to proclaim Jesus Christ,” he said.

    It is this courage in announcing Christ that distinguishes it from proselytizing, the Pope said. “We don’t advertise to attract more associates to our spiritual ‘business,’” the Pope said. “This is not necessary, and it’s not Christian.”

    Like Saint Paul, Pope Francis suggested that what ultimately convinces people is not clever reasoning and persuasive argumentation, but the power of the message itself, and the Holy Spirit working interiorly.

    The job of the Christian, Francis insisted, is to “courageously announce,” and through the Holy Spirit, “the proclamation of Jesus Christ provokes that astonishment that moves us.”

    In the end, he said, “only the Spirit is able to change our attitude, the history of our lives and our identity.”

    It was the Holy Spirit, Francis said, who gave “this power to simple and uninstructed people” like Peter and John, which enabled them “to proclaim Jesus Christ up to the final witness: martyrdom.”

    Francis has suggested that this Christian courage is more necessary now than ever. OnSunday, the Pope reiterated his conviction that we are living in a time of war, “a third world war which is being fought piecemeal,” in which Christians are suffering “savage crimes, brutal massacres and senseless destruction.”

    These are times of martyrdom, Francis said last week, and the martyrs of today are so many, “we can say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries.”

    Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.

    • How true.

    • Michael Cannady

      But the pope doesn’t have the courage to take on gay activists and planned parenthood.

  • Tamsin

    Sarah notes that [Catholicism] was a liberating force inasmuch as Catholicism de-divinized the natural world, thereby freeing people from fear and superstition. To Sarah’s mind, this is a practical illustration of how the Church’s dogmas and doctrines are not in fact oppressive but rather free people by revealing to them the truth about ultimate realities.

    We dearly need shepherds like Sarah in these United States. The sexual revolution has “re-divinized the natural world” insofar as each young person is pretty much being taught to worship his or her natural appetites, following those appetites wherever they may lead.

  • I think of how poor people are in Gotham, being as they are lacking a Shepherd of this stature, vigor and clarity.

  • hombre111

    Makes me want to read the book when it comes out in English. But I am also instinctively suspicious of anything written by someone deeply involved in the Acton Institute, with its effort to mix laissez-faire capitalism and our Catholic faith.

    • We’re reasonably suspicious of anything wittten by the owner of the “Hombre111”, with its effort to promote socialism, homosexuality and contraception and the inability of the writer to adhere to his promise to take leave of Crisis after declaring it a wasteland unworthy of its time.

      • Navy76

        Amen. The poser has a very real case twisting Church dogma and history.

    • TomD

      Laissez-faire is the doctrine of leaving economic activity to market forces free of government interference. It doesn’t exist in the modern world . . . in any sense or in any place. It is a strawman . . . used as a pejorative, hurled in an attempt to instantly discredit anyone who questions the current-day status quo of ever-expanding government.

      In 2014, government expenditures represented over 40% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the United States. This number has been continuously and steadily rising throughout the 20th and 21st century. Laissez-faire economics poses no credible threat to the powers that be, after 100+ years of ever expanding government in the United States.

      The Acton Institute is a whisper in the cacophony that is government interventionism of the modern political/economic world. Things have taken such a turn for the worse in the last few decades that many, if not most, in the corporate world have long given up the fight for anything even resembling economic freedom and have decided to go along with expanding government in order to get along.

      We now have an increasing form of corporate/government collusion . . . far more of a real threat to the individual citizen, most especially the poor, and the ultimate thriving and well-being of mankind, than the Acton Institute ever will represent, I assure you hombre111.

      • hombre111

        Great response. :>). Laissez-faire may not exist in a pure form, but the ideal has been as little government interference as possible. And so they turned back the reforms instituted after the Great Depression. I blame the Dems and the Repubs both for this. And so the financial “industry” went amok, creating bubble after bubble, confident that the government, ie the US people, would save them from themselves. And thus it came to pass and nobody went to jail.

        The capitalist ideal is no unions and as little government interference as possible. On top of that, the global economy enables them to go where wages, government oversight, and ecological rules are the laxest. Countries with the most oversight survived the recent Great Recession more successfully than countries that oversight. Good examples would be Canada, German, and the Scandinavian countries.

        I would agree with corporate/government collusion. Although the Acton Institute has little influence, except on readers of Crisis, it is an echo machine, a cheer-leader for what is going on.

        • TomD

          hombre111, from a practical point of view, the notion of “as little government interference as possible” has been an overwhelmingly losing notion for over a century in the United States. Those who you say have advocated for it can hardly be blamed for “what is going on.”

          At what point, at what higher level of government expenditure as a % of GDP, is ever-expanding government going to provide what its proponents have promised? It seems to me that, as government has expanded, we have a larger dependent class of people, with less economic opportunity for individuals and families, than we had in earlier times.

          Or was the idea of ever-expanding government to address our most basic challenges and problems never realistic in the first place, even counter-productive in its actual effects? One of the primary effects of expanding government, especially at the national level, has been to provide a more effective power base for the already powerful . . . just as our Founders warned that it would.

          • hombre111

            Careful about throwing around “over a century.” That takes us back to 1915. It was a lack of government oversight that helped bring on the excesses of the Great Depression, and when the breaks put on during that time were taken off again, it helped trigger a series of bubbles and finally the Great Recession, from which we have not yet recovered. Low wages have helped create a class of people dependent on food stamps, etc., which are actually subsidies for the corporations that pay those low wages.

            • hombre111

              Also, TomD, if you Googled “Ever Expanding Government,” you would see that growth in Federal, State, and Local government has fallen since the Great Recession. Some economists like Krugman would say that this is one of the reasons our recovery has taken so long.

              • TomD

                The United States has not been one of the world’s most productive economies, if not the most productive economy in the history of the world, due to the growth of government as a driver of that process.

                • hombre111

                  Krugman and other economists would disagree with you.

                  • fredx2

                    Krugman is not in any way a serious economist. There are certain people that pose as economists but are really political figures posing as economists. This is Krugman

                    • hombre111

                      Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in economics. Good Bona Fides, I think.

                    • TomD

                      Paul Krugman entered the pantheon, which includes Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and Barack Obama, of those rewarded with Nobel Prizes for their efforts on behalf of the cause, rather than for any clear, long-term, outstanding professional accomplishment in a distinct field of endeavor.

                    • He won the prize for solving an esoteric problem in international trade theory, not for being competent in any other other part of economics. Fisher Black and Myron Sholes were mathematicians who won the same prize for developing an equation to price option.
                      It’s sort of like (how you claim) to be a priest, but you ignore Church teachings whenever you want.

              • Krugman ripped up his economist card a long time time ago to serve as the clown prince of the economically illiterate. He doesn’t even agree with himself.

                Then again, he was an advisor to Enron.

            • TomD

              Whatever the past may show, and we will have to agree to disagree on the details about cause and effect, government has ultimately not delivered what those who advocated for it as the solution to our challenges and problems have promised.

            • There was no “great depression”, there were a decade long series of economic contractions ignited and worsened by nonsense like the fascist National Recovery Administration, where the Roosevelt administration felt it advisable to bring the full force of the “Justice” department against some Jewish poultry merchants for the sin over wanting to haggle of the price of chickens. If an absence of “government oversight” was such a problem, we would have heard of the great depression of 1920, but almost none have, because while shap, it was brief.

              By 1915, the administrative superstate state was already in the bassinet There was the ICC, enfanged by the Hepburn Act (Henry Carter Adams’ nocturnal emission), even that wasn’t enough-so a couple years later the federal government nationalized the railroads. There was the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the Federal Reserve and the Federal Income Tax were in their infancy.

              If economic “depressions” were caused by the absence of “government oversight”, then we would be discussion the great depression of 1920, but we aren’t because there was no Hoover (contrary to popular belief, he was an interventionist and a deficit spender) or Roosevelt to make things worse.

              • fredx2

                Government has a role to play – such as making sure that both parties to economic transactions are required to give adequate information, so that a truly economic deal can be made, rather than leaving the market to operate on bad information, based on who is more slippery and willing to lie – such behavior works against an efficient market and lowers total overall productivity. So there is a role for government. It is just that during the Great depresssion, the clowns in the government thought they should make all economic decisions, because they were “unbiased”. But they were horribly biased, and they did not have anywhere near the expertise or raw information to make decisions. So like the Obama administration in their arrogance, by the way.

                • You really need to read something more advanced that some old 7th grade civics book. Your naiveté would be almost charming if it weren’t so dangerous.

              • hombre111

                Ahh, the joys of revisionist histsory.

                • I’d tell you to look up the economic record, but even if you managed to stumble on it, you wouldn’t know how to read it.

                  Now when are you going to keep your promise and leave?

            • fredx2

              You might want to read some of the more modern analyses of the Great Depression. True, unregulated capitalism brought on the Great Depression. However, there is a growing body of knowledge that says that the Depression would have been quite short – and would have been over in a year – if not for the attempts of government to “fix things” – the new evidence indicates that all of these efforts of an activist government to get involved really screwed things up, and led to a depression that lasted nearly ten years. If government would have stayed out, things would have fixed themselves quickly and efficiently, minimizing the human suffering. Remember it was the depression where we learned to do such nonsensical things as pay farmers for not producing crops, pay people an over market wage, which merely reduced the amount available to hire other people and give them jobs, etc.

              • “True, unregulated capitalism brought on the Great Depression. ”

                • fredx2

                  There was an over emphasis on sending money to the stock market, and the average guy got in, trying to make a killing. This chewed up and misallocated funds that ordinarily been put to true productive economic use, and therefore starved the economy of the capital it needs to function. Everyone was in the market, and simply p’d their money away. Stocks were over sold by unscrupulous stock brokers, with no government requirements that the information they gave was actually true. So large numbers of people were encouraged by a wave of hysteria to invest in schemes that had zero real prospect of making a profit.
                  This is similar to the panics of 1893, and earlier railroad stock panics (depressions) which were short sharp and deep, but we recovered quickly because government did not interfere. During the Great Depression, they did interfere and merely made things worse.

                  • You don’t know what you are talking about. Part of the 1893 Panic had to do with bimetallism, the 1890 Silver Purchase Act and of alll things Barings Bank and Argentina. There was no Federal Reseve in 1893. Conditions were so different that no logical relationships can be drawn.

                    • fredx2

                      And none of that relates at all to the points that I made. My point was that the 1893 the depression was over quickly., because the government did not try to solve everything.

                      Despite the attempt to blame the 1893 panic on Argentina etc these were merely the precipitating events that kicked things off. The underlying weakness in the economy existed – again – because of an over investment in railroads etc, where, once again, everyone was sinking an irrational amount of money into railroads, hoping to make a killing. This starved regular, more sound economic investments of the needed capital, thereby causing the problem. As people started to get worried about the downward trend in the economy, they then withdrew their money from banks. further starving the economy of needed capital. They withdrew their money from banks because there was no deposit insurance, no way of getting their money back if the bank should fail. So again, an appropriate amount of government intervention to help support the banking system (FDIC) keeps these things from happening. Of course we can learn lessons from these things, regardless of the existence or non existence of the federal reserve.

                    • Stop reading wikipedia

                    • Yeah, that FDIC as well as FDICIA and Sarbox sure protected us from 2008,….

        • Laissez-faire may not exist in a pure form, but the ideal has been as little government interference as possible.

          The “bubble” (note “bubble” is the term used by people who don’t know what they are talking about, or

    • fredx2

      Hey, it can only do you good to read things from both sides. I plan on reading Cardinal Sarah’s book as soon as it comes out in English, because he seems to speak quite clearly to many questions and seems to go right to the heart of the matter. But I will also read Cardinal Kasper’s book at the same time.

      • hombre111

        Excellent plan. Reading both sides is why I spend time over at Crisis.

  • When you hear Kasper speak, you realize the echoes of the 1930’s still ring in Germany.

  • Navy76

    Cardinals Kaaper and Marx remind me of another Germany priest who decided that he was right and the Church was wrong. Martin Luther.
    Cardinal Robert Sarah seems to be a true man of God. He knows who Jesus Christ is and he’s not afraid to say it.

    • GreggorytheGreat

      Isn’t Marx a Jewish name. Carl Marx was a Jewish Communist and the Marx Brothers are Jewish and were affiliated with the Communist Party. Usually Cardinals have Christian names. Again these German Heretics keep popping up every 500 years. Now Heretics are calling other Heretics like Martin Luther a saint which is heresy in itself !

    • St JD George

      Scholarly? Hanbali (you can’t make this stuff up). Justifying canabalism, how much more peaceful can you get. The world is mad I tell you, even if this is centuries old.

  • Randy Wanat

    Catholicism didn’t free Africans from superstition; it merely replaced their homegrown superstition with a foreign superstition.

    • fredx2

      I’m afraid that is simply one of the most ignorant things I have heard in a long time. You might say that for rhetorical effect, but it is so clearly not the truth that it simply marks you as someone who is not a serious commenter.

      • Don’t feed the trolls. Just flag the comment.

      • Randy Wanat

        Superstition is the belief in supernatural causality—that one event causes another without any natural process linking the two events—such as astrology, religion, omens, witchcraft, prophecies, etc., that contradicts natural science. (Wikipedia)


        • fredx2

          Yeah, and the fact that you have a definition for superstition means nothing. If you think that Africans who practice Catholicism are indistinguishable from Africans who practice animism, you simply don’t know what you are talking about.

          • Randy Wanat

            I didn’t say they’re the exact same beliefs. I said they’re both superstitions. A car is an automobile. A motorcycle is an automobile. Does that mean I just said a motorcycle is a car? Of course not. I understand that you don’t like your religion being called a superstition, but there I nothing that disqualifies your religion from being a superstition.

            • ForChristAlone

              Why are you here?

              • Randy Wanat

                I’m sorry, I didn’t see the “sycophants only” sign at the door. If I have said anything untrue, cite it and explain how I have erred. I am unafraid of challenges to my beliefs.

                • ForChristAlone

                  Read the bannerhead. It says, “A VOICE FOR FAITHFUL CATHOLIC LAITY.”

                  So, once again, I ask: Why are you here?
                  Faithful Catholic Laity

                  • Randy Wanat

                    The site itself is a voice for them. It speaks for them. But, the site is not solely for them to read nor to discuss. Why are you afraid to hear things that are factually accurate? Do you think your faith cannot withstand the light of reality? If making true statements that correct claims made on this site is something you think should not be done, that is sycophancy. It indicates that you value who says something more than what someone says. When has that ever been a sensible position to take?

                    Now, if you disagree with what I have said, that’s fine. I am open to the possibility that I could have erred. But, simply telling someone to leave because they say something you disagree with, and that you cannot refute, is merely a result of your own cognitive dissonance. I will not, and should not, feel sorry for your inability to reconcile your religion with reality. If reality is inconvenient, trying to make it go away won’t change the facts.

                    Now, again, if I said something untrue, cite it and refute it. But, if you’re just upset because reality doesn’t conform to your wishes (if this were not the case, you could just demonstrate how I was incorrect and be done with it), that’s your problem to solve for yourself, and it’s not reality’s obligation to change for you. I have done nothing harmful nor said anything untrue. One must wonder why you are so eager to squelch facts.

                    • DeaconEdPeitler

                      Answer the question: “Why are you here?”

  • Bruno


  • Helene T. Bruch

    Can I translate the book “Dieu ou rien” for you, or do you have already a translator ?

  • Jennifer P

    Catholics in Africa will be responsible for an incredible renewal of faith and morality within the Catholic Church worldwide. This is a good thing.

    • The bad thing is that they will have to be, principally because of people like Kasper the Boast.

  • pupsncats

    A New Order church prelate who dares to speak the truth! How did he manage to be elevated to such an influential position within the counterfeit, Conciliar/Modernist church? This has to be the work of our dear Lord, Jesus Christ, who has raised up a faithful servant to preach the true Gospel within the inner circle of the apostate hierarchy.

  • GreggorytheGreat

    Cardinal Walter Kasper should retire he has done enough damage to the Holy Catholic Church. The sooner the better God Speed !

  • pbecke

    The financial references in the catalogue of his current and pending books scares the living daylights out of me. I’d hoped Mr Greg’s weird dismissal of Socialism was a negligible aberration.

    On the other hand, he gave grounds for hope, with his references to distinguishing the genuinely sound versions of liberation theology from the Marxist versions, that his perceptive admiration of the qualities of Cardinal Sarah were not an anomaly. It’s just troubles me still, the kind of American curse of seeing this through a capitalist, economic lens lingers because of his book titles.

  • Jdonnell

    It would help contextualize this article had the author known what Kasper referred to in his comment about African bishops–the scandalous breaches of celibacy and the use of concubines by African clergy and one or more bishops.

  • kentgeordie

    Great article about a great man. Many thanks.