Cardinal Robert Sarah has told the Synod of Bishops they should respond to the twin threats of Western and Islamic radicals by helping the world realize the beauty of the Christian family.
“To use a slogan, we find ourselves between ‘gender ideology and ISIS.’ Islamic massacres and libertarian demands regularly contend for the front page of the newspapers,” the cardinal said last week in his intervention at the synod. “From these two radicalizations arise the two major threats to the family.”
He compared the twin challenges of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and Islamic fundamentalism to two “apocalyptic beasts.”
Cardinal Sarah, the Guinea-born head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said he hoped the synod would help Pope Francis “enunciate clearly truths and real guidance on a global level.”
He especially advocated that the Church promote the “epiphany of the family.”
“We must proclaim the truth without fear,” he said, stressing God’s plan for the family as monogamous, conjugal love that is open to life.
“Together with a strong and clear word of the Supreme Magisterium, pastors have the mission of helping our contemporaries to discover the beauty of the Christian family.”
The Synod of Bishops is meeting in Vatican City Oct. 4-25 to discuss the mission and vocation of the family in the Church and the modern world.
In Cardinal Sarah’s judgment, the family in the West faces “subjectivist disintegration” through easy divorce, abortion, homosexual unions, and euthanasia. He specified the threats of the gender theory, the LGBT lobby, International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the radical feminist group Femen.
He also criticized “the pseudo-family of radical Islam” which he said legitimizes polygamy, female subservience, sexual slavery, and child marriage. He named as threats Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and Al-Qaeda.
For Cardinal Sarah, the Spirit of Truth promotes “communion in distinction.” By contrast, these negative global trends encourage confusion about marriage.
“Furthermore, they demand a universal and totalitarian rule, are violently intolerant, destroyers of families, society and the Church, and are openly Christianophobic,” said the cardinal, according to a translation of his remarks by journalist Diane Montagna.
Cardinal Sarah suggested these two trends have a demonic origin, alluding to St. Paul’s words of Ephesians 6: “We are not contending against creatures of flesh and blood…”
“We need to be inclusive and welcoming to all that is human; but what comes from the Enemy cannot and must not be assimilated,” the cardinal advised. “You cannot join Christ and Belial! What Nazi fascism and communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today.”
For Cardinal Sarah, the marriage crisis is “essentially a crisis of God, but also a crisis of faith.”
“We bishops have the urgent duty to recognize and promote the charisms, movements, and ecclesial realities in which the family is truly revealed, this prodigy of harmony, love of life and hope in eternity, this cradle of faith and school of charity.”
The 2014 Extraordinary Synod was marked by tensions among some bishops and controversy over some proposals to change Catholic practices in order to better accommodate Catholics in irregular relationships.
The cardinal said that he sensed in the 2014 synod “the temptation to yield to the mentality of the secularized world and individualistic West.” He warned against approaches that mean “giving up hope in the transforming power of faith and the Gospel.”
“The Gospel that once transformed cultures is now in danger of being transformed by them,” he said.
Some 2014 synod procedures did not seem aimed to advance discussion and communion, he said. Rather, they seemed to “promote a way of seeing typical of certain fringe groups of the wealthiest churches.”
“This is contrary to a poor Church, a joyously evangelical and prophetic sign of contradiction to worldliness.”
He also questioned why some statements not granted a consensus of a two-thirds majority at the 2014 synod were included in the mid-synod relation and the working documents for the 2015 synod. He said these documents ignored other pressing issues like gender ideology.
For the 2015 synod, the cardinal proposed more transparency and respect among the synod fathers. He suggested the summaries of their interventions be published to help discussion.