On March 25, Pope Francis, in a public ceremony in Rome, consecrated the world, and Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The central meaning: we should renew our faith in Christ…

Why does the West want to annihilate what it built in the first place? The real enemy of the West is the West itself, its imperviousness to God and to spiritual values, which resembles a process of lethal self-destruction.” —Cardinal Robert Sarah, from his profound book The Day Is Now Far Spent (published September 22, 2019)

“There is great concern that the destinies of the peoples of the world is in the hands of an elite that is not accountable to anyone for its decisions, that does not recognize any authority above itself, and that in order to pursue its own interests does not hesitate to jeopardize security, the economy, and the very lives of billions of people, with the complicity of politicians in their service and the mainstream media.” —Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, from his controversial 24-page March 6 essay on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine

The brutal war in Ukraine since Russia’s February 24 invasion — but also the terrible injustice in our increasingly “post-Christian” culture worldwide, our secular culture’s increasing acceptance of a “culture of death” which Pope John Paul II repeatedly pleaded with us to reject in favor of a truly Christian “culture of life” — has marked these recent weeks, and prompted much debate about what path we ought to take.

Pope Francis, shocked by the launching of the war, took the decision in mid-March to call for the Consecration on March 25 by all the Catholic bishops of the world of Russia and Ukraine, and all humanity, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In essence, this was a call to heaven to intervene, to act and provide the grace which would enable the Russians, but also all peoples, to repent of sins and seek God’s forgiveness and blessing.

Then, on Easter Sunday, April 17, in his “Urbi et Orbi” Easter message, Francis called for renewed faith in Christ. “We need the crucified and risen Lord,” he said, “so that we can believe in the victory of love and hope for reconciliation. Today, more than ever, we need him to stand in our midst and repeat to us: ‘Peace be with you!’”

Francis calls on Christians to remember that peace is the fruit of faith in the risen Jesus: “Only he can do it. Today, he alone has the right to speak to us of peace. Jesus alone, for he bears wounds… our wounds. His wounds are indeed ours, for two reasons. They are ours because we inflicted them upon him by our sins, by our hardness of heart, by our fratricidal hatred. They are also ours because he bore them for our sake; he did not cancel them from his glorified body; he chose to keep them forever. They are the indelible seal of his love for us.”

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò on March 6 issued a 24-page letter in which he argued that the conflict in Ukraine is a “trap set for both Russia and Ukraine, using both of them to enable the globalist elite to carry out its criminal plan” — a plan to introduce a “New World Order” by a “Great Reset” which will involve a definitive break with traditional Christian faith and practice. Viganò’s effort to set the Ukraine conflict within this larger framework was much criticized, even by conservative Catholics. Then, on April 18, in a thoughtful essay entitled “The Ignored Views of Cardinal Sarah on Russia and the West” on the Crisis magazine website, Jeffrey D. Salyer, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a freelance writer, used the eloquent and deeply moving thought of African Cardinal Robert Sarah to set the conflict within this wider framework.

“Rather than add to the already sizable volume of commentary either for or against Archbishop Viganò, it seems to me more interesting to note that in one sense he is not alone,” Salyer wrote. “That is, he is not the only Churchman — or even the high est ranking — who has, on occasion, ‘looked East’ to remedy ‘the errors of the West.’” And, he notes, “Sarah’s worldview clashes with that of America’s conservative Catholic establishment.” Salyer writes: “Back in 2019 when Cardinal Sarah’s book The Day Is Now Far Spent came out, this writer was struck not only by the book’s emphatic and repeated condemnation of finance capitalism and globalization but also by the utter lack of interest reviewers exhibited toward this part of the book. Pointed statements like ‘globalized humanity, without borders, is a hell,’ were unambiguous… It was almost as if most Catholic journalists were simply ignoring statements like the following, which could by no means be rendered into safe, conservative-establishment boilerplate: ‘In Russia, the Orthodox Church has to a great extent resumed its pre-1917 role as the moral foundation of society. This arouses political opposition, but also a deep hatred on the part of the post-Christian elites of the West, not only vis-à-vis Russia, but also against the Russian Orthodox Church and, by extension, against Orthodox Christianity itself.’”

He cites Cardinal Sarah: “John Paul II was convinced that the two lungs of Europe had to work together. Today, Western Europe is employing extraordinary means to isolate Russia. Why persist in ridiculing that great country? The West is displaying unheard-of arrogance. The spiritual and cultural heritage of the Russian Orthodox Church is unequaled. The reawakening of faith that followed the fall of Communism is an immense hope.”

Salyer writes, “Sarah takes for granted that the preservation of a nation’s Christian heritage is a good thing, regardless of how shallow the motives of politicians.” He cites Sarah: “The West seems happy to see its churches turned into gymnasiums, its Romanesque chapels fall into ruin, its religious patrimony threatened by a total desacralization.”

“Just to be clear,” Salyer concludes, “my real point here is neither to advocate a particular view of the war, nor to treat Cardinal Sarah as an infallible prophet… No, the point is that a high-profile Churchman believes that the West’s greatest enemy has never been al-Qaida, ISIS, or China, much less Russia, but rather the West itself — and none of those professing to admire him have seen fit to notice.”

In short, the conclusion of the matter: the West itself needs to return to faith in Christ.

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