a voice of one crying in the desert

Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 24, appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of Conakry in December 1979 at the age of 34, the youngest ever elevated to the Episcopacy. Pope Saint John Paul II at the end of his three day visit to Guinea in 2001 appointed him Secretary for the Evangelization of Peoples. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Cardinal in 2010.

I just wanted to pray.

I just wanted to pray.

His is a remarkable story of faith, hope and love and he has much to teach us of the love of God, unshakable faith, the importance of prayer, and the necessity to speak out forcefully and with conviction against evil no matter the personal cost.

Reading God or Nothing, a marvelous book styled as an interview between Nicolas Diat and Cardinal Sarah, you quickly come to understand just how central prayer is and has been in his life. A humble servant of God, Cardinal Sarah speaks with a refreshing candor. “In my life“, he says, “God has done everything; for my part, I just wanted to pray.” 1

In his farewell speech at a state banquet given in his honor upon his appointment to Rome in 2001, Cardinal Sarah spoke out:

“I am worried about Guinean society, which is built on the oppression of the insignificant by the powerful, on contempt for the poor and the weak, on the cleverness of poor stewards of the public good, on the bribery and corruption of the administration and the institutions of the republic…I am speaking to you, Mister President of the Republic, even though you are not here. Endowed by the Lord with all sorts of natural and culture resources, Guinea, paradoxically, stagnates in poverty…I am concerned about the young people; they have no future because they are paralyzed by chronic unemployment. I am also concerned about national unity, cohesion, and harmony, which are greatly compromised by the lack of political dialogue and the refusal to accept differences. In Guinea, the law, justice, ethics, and human values no longer provide a frame of reference and a safeguard to regulate social, economic, and political life. Democratic freedoms are taken hostage by ideological trends that can lead to intolerance and dictatorship. In the past, giving your word was something sacred. It is true that a person’s merit is measured by his ability to be faithful to his word. Today, the media, demagoguery, mind conditioning, and all sorts of other methods are used to sway public opinion and manipulate minds, giving the impression of a collective rape of consciences and a serious confiscation of freedoms and of thought.” 2

If one were to simply replace references to ‘Guinea’ with ‘America’ Cardinal Sarah’s words ring as frighteningly true here as they did for his beloved country of Guinea. Not one for pious evasions, he speaks equally as frank on public issues such as gender theory, abortion, and euthanasia. From his perspective these issues stem from a Western culture that has chosen to “live as though God did not exist” allowing our feelings, experience, and personal desires—rather than moral principles and revealed truths—to rule the day.


1    Bianca Czaderna, Reviews: Angelic Stubbornness. First Things, June/July 2016, pp. 56-57.
2    Robert Cardinal Sarah, Nicolas Diat, God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith, Ignatius Press, August 1, 2015.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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