“The discovery of so many sins committed gives us a better understanding of the apparent sterility of our local churches. How could we bear fruit when such cancer was gnawing at us from within? We must rediscover the meaning of penance and contrition,” he said, urging adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament “in reparation for the profanations committed against his image in the souls of children.”
Sarah added that Catholics should not let themselves be overcome by discouragement, however, because the overwhelming majority of priests are faithful, which is a cause for thanksgiving.
“Their daily and hidden fidelity makes no noise, but it silently carries deep seeds of renewal,” he said.
“It is up to us to see how the guilty priests can be punished and, if possible, cared for, healed, accompanied, so that such acts do not happen again,” the cardinal continued. “Above all, it is up to us not to let these horrors turn souls away from Christ and lock up so many innocent victims in suffering.”
Sarah’s book is dedicated to seminarians, and he said he wanted to encourage them too, because they are studying to become priests at a difficult time.
He said that he wanted to tell them that if Christ has called them to the Catholic priesthood, he will also give them the means to really follow him.
“Try to take this call seriously. The Lord who calls you is not going to leave you alone. He will support you with his grace, but you yourself must be a fully realized man, a true, honest, upright man who has all the human qualities,” he said.
Families play an important role in supporting priests, he noted, encouraging people to invite priests into their homes to pray and converse.
A strong prayer life is vital for every priest, he said, citing the example of the saints such as St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars.
When his interviewer pointed out that “the France of the Curé of Ars is not the France of the 21st century,” Sarah responded: “Indeed, but man is the same. Man does not change. He has the same ambitions, he has the same flaws, the same vices from Adam until today.”
“It is only the circumstances that we have created that can confuse us, but man does not change,” he insisted, adding that “the Frenchman of the Curé d’Ars is the Frenchman of today, with the difference that the Frenchman of today has a cell phone ... But in his ambitions, in his vices, and his faults, he is the same. We still need holy priests identified with Christ.”
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The cardinal also commented on the way that France and other Western countries have closed themselves off to God.
“If France, if the West, thanks to the ministry of priests, rediscover that God has come among us, that he loves us, that he wants our salvation, that he wants us to discover the truth and that this truth will help us will set free, then the mission will be possible,” he said.
“But there is no need to despair,” he continued. “That is why priests must rediscover their mission, priests must rediscover their identity. They are the presence of Christ in the midst of this world. If they conduct themselves well, if they are the presence of Christ, then France and the West can rediscover him little by little.”