As leaders from around the world raise their voices on the crisis that so far has infected at least two and a half million people and killed nearly 170,000, the words of Cardinal Robert Sarah, a top Vatican official, ring out with compelling clarity and insight: In an interview on April 13, he observed, “This virus acted as a warning. In a matter of weeks, the great illusion of a material world that thought itself all-powerful seems to have collapsed…. A virus, a microscopic virus, has brought this world to its knees…. The economy has collapsed and the stock markets are crashing. Bankruptcies are everywhere.”
Suddenly, continued the cardinal, the word “epidemic,” previously “an outdated, medieval word,” is in everyday usage to describe a phenomenon wreaking catastrophe across the globe—while at the same time opening our eyes to dangerously forgotten realities. “This epidemic has dispelled the smoke of illusion. The so-called all-powerful man appears in his raw reality” with all “his weakness and vulnerability… Being confined to our homes will hopefully allow us to turn our attention back to the essentials…. When everything collapses, only the bonds of marriage, family and friendship remain.” And “above all, we have rediscovered that we are dependent on God.”
This timeless truth about family has been emphasized by sages through the ages, as expressed by the likes of Confucius when he declared that only when the ancients “regulated their families” were “their states… put into proper order,” whereupon “the whole world became peaceful and happy.” Or Cicero when he observed that “the family, itself the basic natural human association in which all things are held in common, is the foundation of the city and the nursery of the state.” Or Winston Churchill when he insisted that “it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained.” Or the wise drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when they called the family “the natural and fundamental group unit of society” and “entitled to protection by society and the State.”
With so many throughout the world now confined to home, never has there been a more opportune time to strengthen the family and provide the protection to which it is entitled, especially in light of what Pope Francis warned before COVID-19 became a reality: “Marriage and the family are in crisis. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings.” Never has the work of the International Organization for the Family been more urgent. We invite you to join us at this critical time.