Robert Sarah is a name virtually everyone who describes themselves as a traditionalist catholic knows. In a world where almost every headline relating to the church hierarchy is either about corruption or clergy sanctioning some sin under the banner of inclusivity, any article about something Sarah said was comforting. It’s exceedingly challenging to appreciate and stand by our clergy in many ways when there is constant disappointment. Time and time again, the faithful have been betrayed and suffered at the church’s hands, inflicting terrible abuses. For most, it’s an almost numbing experience to the point we are not even surprised anymore when stories come out about bishops being corrupt or covering up all sorts of sin. Too often, we focus solely on the bad as it can be addicting to discuss and criticize others’ evil. For all these reasons, we must recognize the good. Robert Sarah wasn’t just a good priest; he was a man who, despite all odds, became a cardinal and fought harder than anyone in the Vatican for tradition. Its no secret that the Vatican has been struggling with corruption, both internal, and its effects can be seen externally. Nowhere is this more present than in the modernization of teaching liturgy and even aesthetics. One doesn’t need to look farther than the Vatican’s nativity set from this year to understand modernism has a stronghold over much of the clergy.
So for a traditionalist outsider to thrive in such an environment is truly a miracle. Cardinal Sarah has been an outspoken critic of evil even when it threatened his life, as seen when he was first inducted into the priesthood. He was an outspoken critic of Ahmed Sékou Touré, an Islamic dictator who ruled Guinea’s nation where Sarah resided as archbishop. Sarah was appointed cardinal in 2010 by Benedict and would go on to speak out against the utter disregard for tradition with the Vatican. For most traditionalists, Sarah represented hope for very few cardinals who are as outspoken as he is when speaking against the errors of the modern world.
Although his resignation seems to be a reason to despair, hope remains. The generation that Sarah was a part of is infamous for its modernist influences and corruption. If we can have a cardinal as good as Sarah come out from that generation, imagine how things could be with the youth of this generation aspiring to traditionalism as many are already. This is why it is so vital for Catholics not to stand idly by while things spiral out of control. Cardinal Sarah’s resignation should be another reason we all need to be doing our best to live our lives according to Christ to convert others. No matter the damage that has been done, the church has something no other institution has, and all we need is a single generation of good clergy to return it to its former glory. So if any of you are struggling to see how things can improve with Sarah gone, I leave this Tolkein quote
“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something. That there is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for”