Saturday, March 21, 2009

Archbishop Chaput's sober reckoning of U.S. Catholicism

Today in Detroit Archbishop Chaput attacked Catholics' indifferent complacency and warned Catholics not to delude ourselves about "what we have allowed ourselves to become."

"November showed us that 40 years of American Catholic complacency and poor formation are bearing exactly the fruit we should have expected," he began, continuing:

...too many Catholics just don’t really care. That’s the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn’t need to waste each other’s time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow ‘balanced out’ or excused by three other good social policies.

Comforting statistics also should not cloud our vision:

We need to stop over-counting our numbers, our influence, our institutions and our resources, because they’re not real. We can’t talk about following St. Paul and converting our culture until we sober up and get honest about what we’ve allowed ourselves to become...

Referring to St. Paul's preaching before the Sophists of the Areopagus, he added:
When Catholics start leading their daily lives without a hunger for something higher than their own ambitions or appetites, or with the idea that they can create their own truth and then baptize it with an appeal to personal conscience, they become, in practice, agnostics in their personal lives, and Sophists in their public lives.

Archbishop Chaput also broke through the dodgy descriptor "post-Christian," calling apostasy by its real name:

"If Paul felt so fiercely compelled to preach the Gospel -- whether ‘timely [or] untimely’ -- to a pagan world, then how should we feel today, preaching the Gospel to an apostate world?”

Nonetheless, he counseled courage, saying: "Fear is the disease of our age."


Upcoming decades are likely going to be difficult for Catholic Christianity in the U.S. They will be even more difficult without clear recognition and repudiation of the apathy found among clergy and laity both.


In related news, American Papist reports that the Archbishop in his comments encouraged his audience "write charitably" to the President of Notre Dame University to protest its invitation of President Obama to deliver its commencement address.

1 comment:

Kamilla said...


This is wonderful.

Last year, shortly before the election, I attended the Catholic book club of Denver's meeting where they discussed the Archbishop's book. It was a sobering experience to be the only nonCatholic there and yet the only one arguing *against* voting for Obama. Unfortunately, there was also one woman in attendance who thought "improving our reputation in the world" was standing enough to vote for him.

One thing puzzles me about this. If one speaks in terms of intrinsic and contingent evils - how can a Catholic in good conscience support someone who will uphold the agenda in regard to contringent evils (how on cares or not for the poor, just or not war, etc.) when he makes it perfectly clear by his record and his rhetoric that he will increase the incidence of an intrinsic evil (abortion)?

I just don't understand that.