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(LifeSiteNews) — Reflecting back on my time at the 2017 Rome Life Forum, it almost feels like a different age.

There was no COVID; there were no masks. Trump was president. There was a lot that Pope Francis and his allies were doing that was very concerning, but men like Cardinal Gerhard Müller and Cardinal Robert Sarah were still in prominent positions at the Vatican – there was still a sense, at least for me, that we could have some hope for the institutional Church. Summorum Pontificum was in full force; Traditional Latin Masses were booming and thriving.

It was magical to experience Rome as a young, bright-eyed journalist – and as an American. The food and architecture (particularly the magnificent churches) of European cities are completely different from anything we have in the U.S. So is the overall “vibe”: the pace of life, the well-dressed people, the cafés, the little cars and vespas.

St. Peter’s at night in 2017

The Rome Life Forum of 2017 was an intimate, fascinating conference, with ample time to network and meet the speakers. The lectures, delivered by some of the Church’s best minds, were cerebral and theological. Cardinal Raymond Burke called for Russia to be properly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as Our Lady of Fatima requested. Bishop Athanasius Schneider spoke about how the Catholic family is the first line of defense against our current “great apostasy.”

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, one of the four dubia signers, soberingly told us that the prophecy of the Fatima visionary Sister Lucia that the final battle between God and Satan will be about marriage and the family is being fulfilled today.

During lunch, Cardinal Caffarra greeted me very warmly. He asked about the saints on the medals I was wearing. He was all smiles. (So was I – having lunch with a cardinal is always a big deal!) Cardinal Caffarra was eager to speak with everyone, particularly a young man who was discerning the priesthood.

The author with the late Cardinal Caffarra at the 2017 Rome Life Forum

He died just a few months later.

The dubia remain unanswered – although today that seems almost minor.

READ: The ‘spiritual poisons’ of the Synod on Synodality are threatening the life of the Church

Whole bishops’ conferences are effectively in schism now, and it looks like they might take the Vatican with them. Pope Francis has honored pagan idols and partnered with some of the most tyrannical forces in the world to encourage people to be injected with experimental, unsafe drugs. The Mass of the Ages, codified at the Council of Trent, is being suppressed by the very men whose job it is to offer, promote, and protect it. In the West, any meaningful practice of Christianity is well on its way to being criminalized while sexual deviancy is celebrated and totalitarianism is aggressively implemented.

The world is a dark, dark place right now. Rather than acting as a light in that darkness, the institutional Church is, for the most part, doing its best to snuff out the few remaining candles. But there are some courageous voices left, and they are worth listening to, so that those who care about the future of the holy Catholic faith can unite. Together, we can grow in our devotion to Our Lord and work to restore what is sacred and defend what is true.

It’s against this backdrop, and with such courageous voices, that the Rome Life Forum has been reborn. It will take place this autumn, from October 31 to November 1. The two-day strategy conference will be held immediately after the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality that threatens to formalize heretical teachings on the family. Speakers will include Cardinal Müller, The Remnant’s Michael Matt, and The Fatima Center’s Chris Ferrera, as well as LifeSite’s own John-Henry Westen.

READ: Here’s your chance to meet Cardinal Müller at the Rome Life Forum this year

The 2023 Forum will focus on confronting the evils of the Deep Church and Deep State and their involvement in the Great Reset agenda. Attendees will learn and work out together how we as Christ’s faithful can combat this diabolical movement under the direction of Our Lady. Please consider going or sponsoring someone you consider a Catholic leader so that he or she may go.

The next time I returned to Rome, in 2018, was on my honeymoon – and the city was equally wonderful then, too. But today, my lifestyle and duties as a married woman make traveling to Rome a tad more difficult – and so I’ll only be joining in spirit this year. But I encourage you to go, and I wish you a happy, holy time at the Rome Life Forum!

Click HERE to buy tickets for the 2023 Rome Life Forum.

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As a journalist and editor for LifeSiteNews, Claire Chretien has written more than 1,500 articles about abortion, human dignity, bioethics, the Catholic Church, politics, and related topics. Claire holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Alabama. It was there that she first became involved in pro-life activism.