(CNSNews.com) -- "In your nation, God is being eroded, eclipsed, liquidated," Cardinal Robert Sarah, who was appointed as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by Pope Francis in 2014, told hundreds of prominent Catholic clergy and lay people attending the 12th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Tuesday in Washington.
In what he called "portentous times" for the Catholic Church and for the world, Cardinal Sarah condemned same-sex marriage, transgender bathroom laws, and attacks on the family as "demonic".
“All manner of immorality is not only accepted and tolerated today in advanced societies, it is even promoted as a social good,” the African cardinal said. “The result is hostility to Christians and increasingly, religious persecution.”
“This is not an ideological war between competing ideas,” Sarah told the D.C. gathering. “This is about defending ourselves, children and future generations from the demonic idolatry that says children do not need mothers and fathers. It denies human nature and wants to cut off an entire generation from God.”
“The entire world looks to you, waiting and praying to see what America resolves on the present unprecedented challenges the world faces today. Such is your influence and responsibility,” said the archbishop emeritus of Conakry, Guinea.
“I encourage you to truly make use of the freedom willed by your founding fathers lest you lose it,” he warned his American audience.
Quoting St. John Paul II that “the future of the world and the Church pass through the family,” Sarah pointed out that “this is why the Holy Father openly and vigorously defends Church teaching on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, reproductive technologies, the education of children, and much more.”
“The generous and responsible love of spouses made visible through the self-giving of parents who welcome children as a gift of God makes love visible in our generation. It makes present the perfect charity of eternity. ‘If you see charity, you see the Trinity,’ wrote St. Augustine,” the cardinal noted.
However, a broken family can also be the source of deep psychological wounds, he said.
“The rupture of the foundational relationship of someone’s life through separation, divorce or distorted imposters of the family such as co-habitation or same-sex unions is a deep wound that closes the heart to self-giving love into death, and even leads to cynicism and despair. These situations cause damage to the little children through inflicting upon them deep existential doubt about love….
"This is why the devil is so intent on destroying the family. If the family is destroyed, we lose our God-given anthropological foundations, and so find it more difficult to welcome the saving good news of Jesus Christ: self-giving, fruitful love.”
“Sadly, the advent of artificial reproductive technologies, surrogacy, so-called homosexual marriage, and other evils of gender idolatry will inflict even more wounds in the midst of the generation we live with,” said Sarah, who is also the author of God or Nothing.
“Advanced societies including, I regret, this nation, have done and continue to do anything possible to legalize such situations….This is why it is so important to fight to protect the family, the first cell of the life of the Church in every society.”
The cardinal warned that “hidden” forms of religious persecution are just as damaging to believers as physical attacks.
"Even in this yet young 21st century of barely 16 years, one million people have been martyred around the world because of their belief in Jesus Christ. Yet the violence against Christians is not just physical, it is also political, ideological and cultural.
"This form of religious persecution is equally damaging, yet more hidden. It does not destroy physically, but spiritually… This is the will of the Evil One: to close Heaven out of envy.
“Do we not see signs of this insidious war in this great nation of the United States?" Sarah asked.
"In the name of tolerance, the Church’s teaching on marriage, sexuality and [the] human person are being dismantled. The legalization of same-sex marriage, your beginning to accept contraception within healthcare programs and even bathroom bills that allow men to use the women’s restroom and locker rooms.
“Should not a biological man use the men’s restroom? How simpler can that concept be?” the cardinal asked to applause and laughter from the audience.
“How low we are sinking for a nation built on a set of moral claims about God, the human person, the meaning of life and the purpose of society, even by America’s first settlers and founders….
“George Washington wrote that the establishment of civil and religious liberty was the motive that induced him into the field of battle. Today we find ourselves before the battle of sickness…. I call this sickness the liquidation, the eclipse of God.”
The Church’s challenge today is to “fight with courage and hope… and not be afraid to raise her voice to denounce the hypocrites, manipulators and the false prophets” who would lead the faithful astray.
“The battle to preserve the roots of mankind is perhaps the greatest challenge the world has faced since its origins,” Sarah said.
“Be prophetic, be faithful, pray” for the soul of America and to “help stem the tide of evil that is spreading throughout the world,” the cardinal exhorted. “For in the end, it is God or nothing.”