Watch Evening News weeknights at 6:30 p.m. ET.
ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican's head liturgist is saying the current crisis in the Catholic Church is rooted in a pervasive loss of faith that the Eucharist is really Christ.
During an interview published on Monday, Cdl. Robert Sarah discussed why the Church is in crisis. The crisis of eucharistic faith, said the cardinal, was the fundamental cause.
"The decline of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus the Eucharist is at the heart of the current crisis of the Church and its decline, especially in the West," said Sarah.
The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments explained that the ignorance of God stemmed from ignoring God first in prayer and then in daily life.
"The profound crisis that the Church is experiencing in the world and especially in the West is the fruit of the forgetting of God," he said. "If our first concern is not God, then everything else collapses. At the root of all crises ... is the forgetting of the primacy of God."
"Hidden saints" in the priesthood, religious life and in the family, said the Guinean cardinal, are essential to overcoming this crisis in the Church and society by living lives centered in God. First on his list of such saints were "faithful religious who put God at the center of their lives every day."
Next to be named were Catholic families who "live the Gospel life, while the world scorns them."
"Christian parents are the hidden heroes of our time, the martyrs of our century," attested Sarah.
He then paid tribute to the many "faithful and anonymous priests who have made the sacrifice at the altar the center and meaning of their lives."
These priests "carry the Church without knowing it," the cardinal affirmed, "by offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass daily."
Sarah explained priests must remain celibate as a much-needed testimony to the world that their lives are centered on God.
"The life of a priest," he commented, "must proclaim to the world that 'God alone is enough,' that prayer, that is, this intimate and personal relationship, is the heart of his life."
The cardinal bluntly stated that that Holy Mother Church needs men who will take up their cross of celibacy.
"She needs priests who will give her the witness of the lived cross," Sarah remarked. "A priest's place is on the cross. When he celebrates Mass, he is at the source of his whole life, that is, at the cross."
The reason for the battle over celibacy at the Amazon Synod, noted Sarah, was because the world and worldly-minded clerics hate the cross proclaimed by the lives of celibate priests:
Celibacy is one of the concrete ways in which we can live this mystery of the cross in our lives. Celibacy inscribes the cross into our flesh. That is why celibacy is unbearable for the modern world. Priestly celibacy is a scandal for the modern, because the cross "is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18).
The wide-ranging interview began with questions about Sarah's latest book The Day Is Now Far Spent. It follows his two previous books God or Nothing and The Power of Silence. Sarah explained his latest book expressed his dire concern for the Church which is being torn apart and suffering in great confusion.
"This last book is a synthesis," he related. "I try to clearly describe the current situation and describe its root causes. This last book indicates the serious human and spiritual consequences when man abandons God."
The title is dark, he said, owing to the fact that "Western Civilization is crumbling" owing to the efforts of the barbarians who, this time, are coming from within. But there is also reason for hope, owing to God's fidelity and the Church's indefectibility, he noted:
Our first reason for hope is therefore God himself. He will never abandon us! We firmly believe in his promise. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Holy Catholic Church. She will always be the Ark of Salvation. There will always be enough light for the one who seeks the truth with a pure heart.