Cardinal Sarah emphasized that individualism and a desire to create what he called a "utopian paradise" without God has had a profound impact on societies. "Rapid social and economic development in the past half century has not been accompanied by an equally fervent spiritual progress, as we witness what Pope Francis calls 'globalized indifference,'" he critiqued.
This indifference to persons can be seen in "our closing our eyes and hearts to the poor and vulnerable, and, in a very despicable way, in how we discard the unborn and the elderly," he continued.
The greatest challenges, however, he said, are the challenges facing the family. Quoting Pope Francis, Cardinal Sarah reminded the crowd that proposing less than what the Church teaches on marriage proposes less than what Christ offers the human person.
"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." These and other injuries to the family, Cardinal Sarah elaborated, can turn the family from a place of flourishing and love into "a place where human beings can be humanly and spiritually wounded."
Protecting the family is also linked to the preservation of religious freedom, Cardinal Sarah said as he urged the Americans to protect their history of religious freedom. While many Christians across the world are suffering from violence due to persecution from governments or groups like Islamic State, " violence against Christians is not just physical, it is also political, ideological and cultural," the cardinal said.
"This form of religious persecution is equally damaging, yet more hidden. It does not destroy physically but spiritually." The 'violence' of cultural and ideological pressure seeks to separate the Christian from his or her conscience and blend them into society.