Released late in 2015, Robert Cardinal Sarah’s book God or Nothing relates the story of his upbringing in very humble circumstances, his education and formation, and his tenure in a very dangerous part of Africa at a precarious time. It is good for the Church and the world that his very timely book is starting to find a wider audience. As Monsignor Barreiro said in his review of the book last December, “… Cardinal Sarah not only reaffirms great theological insights in the midst of the contemporary crisis of the Church, in particular on life and marriage, but also gives us wise spiritual counsel.”
A Shepherd Telling the Truth
His Eminence has become a beacon to many of the faithful in a confusing time. His bearing is that of a true shepherd of the Church. He cares little for the opinions of the leaders of this world. His concern is clearly on how the Final Things impact our lives today, and his pastoral love shows in his readiness to unflinchingly tell the uncomfortable truths that people need to hear.
Steve Jalsevac of LifeSiteNews has published a series of articles quoting from God or Nothing. It is worth checking out the series, just as it is worth your time to buy the book itself to get the whole picture. Due both to his fidelity to the Church’s social and moral doctrine and his origins in Africa, much of Cardinal Sarah’s perspective echoes and expands upon what HLI has been saying since Father Paul Marx launched this great mission over 30 years ago. This is because these truths come from the heart of the Church, in response to the reality of the ongoing assault on the poor by wealth secular nations. Truth does not change, though it may feel new to us at times, and it certainly needs to be rearticulated anew in every generation.
A Brutal Colonialism
Gender ideology has become the perverse condition for cooperation and development…. I have noticed the existence of international programs that impose abortion and the sterilization of women. These policies are all more hideous because most African populations are defenseless, at the mercy of fanatical Western ideologues. The poor are asking for a little aid, and some people are cruel enough to poison their minds. Africa and Asia absolutely must protect their cultures and their own values. International agencies in fact have no right to practice this new Malthusian, brutal colonialism. Out of ignorance or complicity, African and Asian governments would be guilty of allowing their people to be euthanized. Mankind would lose much if these continents were to fall into the huge, formless magma of a globalization, which is directed toward an inhumane ideal that is in fact a hideous, barbaric oligarchy. (p. 159)
A brutal colonialism, indeed. It isn’t only HLI that has been raising this alarm for decades, however. The Church has long known that wealthy nations have been using “aid” and “development” funding and NGOs to implement their radical agenda on Africa and the entire developing world. In Humanae vitae 17 Blessed Pope Paul VI famously predicted that governments would use contraception to control populations; in Evangelium vitae 16, Pope Saint John Paul II noted the Church’s awareness that this had in fact come to pass:
The Pharaoh of old, haunted by the presence and increase of the children of Israel, submitted them to every kind of oppression and ordered that every male child born of the Hebrew women was to be killed (cf. Ex 1:7-22). Today not a few of the powerful of the earth act in the same way. They too are haunted by the current demographic growth, and fear that the most prolific and poorest peoples represent a threat for the well-being and peace of their own countries. Consequently, rather than wishing to face and solve these serious problems with respect for the dignity of individuals and families and for every person’s inviolable right to life, they prefer to promote and impose by whatever means a massive programme of birth control. Even the economic help which they would be ready to give is unjustly made conditional on the acceptance of an anti-birth policy.
From the Heart of the Church
Since this passage was entered into the Magisterium of the Catholic Church the priority of population control has been joined by the LGBT poison, as Cardinal Sarah notes, creating a destructive cocktail that sadly is at the core of our nation’s foreign policy. The great pro-life congressman Chris Smith confirms that this was the case concerning American foreign policy in Africa:
Many of these countries deeply resent it because they are profoundly pro-marriage and profoundly pro-life. But when your foreign aid is being limited or conditioned on those two issues, there are some, but thankfully not many, in these governments who begin to weaken.
Among informed people, there is no debate about this fact, though few know how it is hurting our country in the eyes of those who are supposedly “helped.” Our foreign policy has become a weapon of mass destruction laying waste to poor countries, accentuating poverty rather than alleviating it. It seduces the leaders of corrupt governments with a deluge of your tax dollars, with the goal that these nations would reshape their own laws and structures to eliminate the poor and destroy marriage and the family. It has been denounced by Pope Francis as “ideological colonization” on more than one occasion
Maybe this will help many understand that when HLI and other organizations ask why Catholic agencies are involved in funding many of the “aid” and “development” programs that everyone knows are used to hide truly destructive agendas, we are on solid ground. A question we’ve never heard answered satisfactorily is how such an agency can be a middle man between the US federal government and on-the-ground partners chosen by the government to combine legitimate efforts with destructive ones. And when these agencies accept the government’s mandate that the Gospel be excluded from all such efforts (after all, who is paying the bill?), we can’t be surprised when unintended consequences multiply.
It has never been our contention that these efforts began in the Church out of anything less than the best intentions, only that it is clear that things have gone very wrong. The Church has always taught the better way of solidarity—of serving and of bringing the Gospel to the poor, in ways that truly liberate rather than promote aid dependency and corruption. Christ-centered charity is radically different from government-funded “aid.”
Cardinal Sarah knows this as well as any leader in the Church today. He has not criticized any agency by name, so we will not imply that he has here out of respect for him. But let’s finally understand, with the Church and with Cardinal Sarah, what our fallen world is really calling out for. Beneath the victory chants of the sexual revolution there is an incredible cry of pain and brokenness. We fail the poor, those who are confused and buy into the sexual revolution, and ourselves, if we do not hear this cry and respond in love and truth.
It does no one any favors to find new ways to accommodate this pain rather than identifying and pointing towards the only Person who can heal it, Our Lord Jesus Christ.