ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - A cardinal is criticizing fellow Catholic leaders for promoting mass migration.
In an interview in Rome with French magazine Valeurs Actuelles, Cdl. Robert Sarah criticized Catholic leaders who use their authority to throw weight behind secular political causes. He told the magazine, "Today, many priests and bishops are literally bewitched by political or social issues."
Cardinal Sarah, the Vatican's chief liturgist, brought up the example of "men leaving their own country" — a reference to migration.
He returned to the subject of migration into Europe later in the interview, saying, "All migrants who arrive in Europe are penniless, without work, without dignity. ... This is what the Church wants? The Church cannot cooperate with this new form of slavery that has become mass migration."
"If the West continues in this fatal way," Cdl. Sarah warned, "there is a great risk that, due to a lack of birth, it will disappear, invaded by foreigners, just as Rome was invaded by barbarians."
"It is better to help people flourish in their culture than to encourage them to come to a Europe in full decadence," the Guinean cardinal opined. "It is a false exegesis to use the Word of God to promote migration."
The cardinal's comments come as Pope Francis has continued to speak out against building border walls. During an in-flight press conference on March 31, the Pope posited, "Those who build walls will become prisoners of the walls they put up."
During the interview, Cdl. Sarah addressed the crisis in the Church in general, saying, "The Church is going through a great crisis. The winds are of a rare violence. Rare are the days without scandal, real or false. The faithful can therefore legitimately ask questions. I wanted this book for them."
Valeurs Actuelles published the interview on the occasion of the publishing of Cdl. Sarah's latest book, titled Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse (Evening approaches and the day is now almost over). This comes from the disciples' words to the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:28–30).
Ignatius Press announced plans to publish an English-language version of Cdl. Sarah's book later this year.
Cardinal Sarah told Valeurs Actuelles at one point in the interview:
Today, I am not afraid to say that priests, bishops and even cardinals are afraid to proclaim what God teaches and to transmit the doctrine of the Church. They are afraid of being frowned upon, of being seen as reactionaries. So they say fuzzy, vague, imprecise things to escape criticism, and they marry the stupid evolution [read: "transience"] of the world.
Regarding how Catholics can address the problems in the Church today, the cardinal exhorted, "True reform is about our own conversion. If we do not change ourselves, all structural reforms will be useless. Lay people, priests, cardinals, we must all return to God."
He said that some Catholic priests — in his view, a minority of them — abandon authentic Catholicism and distort the Faith to accommodate the ways of the world:
Clearly, there is a strong majority of priests who remain faithful to their mission of teaching, sanctification and government. But there is also a small number that yields to the morbid and villainous temptation to align the Church with the values of today's Western societies. They want above all to say that the Church is open, welcoming, attentive, modern. But the Church is not made to listen, she is made to teach: she is Mater and Magistra, "mother" and "educator." While the mother listens to her child, she is first present to teach, guide and direct, because she knows better than her children the direction to take.
The cardinal spoke at length about the damage that bad clergy have done to the Church, saying, "I firmly believe that the situation we experience in the Church resembles in every way that of Good Friday. ... Judas betrayed Him, because the traitor wanted a Christ in his own way, a Christ concerned about political issues."
Cardinal Sarah told his interviewer that priests and bishop have much guilt for the problems facing the Church today:
I am convinced that the primary responsibility for this collapse of faith must be assumed by the priests. In Catholic seminaries or universities, we have not always taught doctrine. We taught what we liked! The catechism to the children has been abandoned. Confession was despised. Besides, there were no more priests in the confessionals! We are therefore partially responsible for this collapse. In the 70s and 80s in particular, each priest did what he wanted at Mass. There were no two Masses that looked alike; that is what discouraged so many faithful from coming there. Pope Benedict XVI says that the crisis of the liturgy has provoked the crisis of the Church. Lex orandi, lex credendi: as we pray, we believe. If there is no more faith, the liturgy is reduced to a show, to a folklore, and the faithful turn away. We were probably guilty of negligence. The desacralization of the liturgy always has serious consequences. We wanted to humanize the Mass, to make it understandable, but it remains a mystery that is beyond comprehension.
Valeurs Actuelles asked Cdl. Sarah for his thoughts on the sentencing of Cdl. Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, for crimes of covering up clerical sex abuse. Cardinal Sarah replied that he has always thought highly of Barbarin and doubts the guilty verdict.
The cardinal talked with his interviewer about the two forces that he believes are the greatest threats to Christian culture: materialism and Islam.
"It is destroying a man to say to him: 'You are free to choose your sex.' It is really the freedom to destroy oneself," he said. "But God alone makes us free! Nowadays, only human destruction, under the pretext of freedom! In the name of this same freedom, many young people are destroyed by pornography."