Archbishop Chaput: “What do we need to do as people of faith”
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, of Philadelphia, gave a great talk at Brigham Young University yesterday. Below are a couple excerpts. A link is at the bottom of the post if you would like to read the entire address.
“… At its best, America is an exceptional nation. It’s a country built on limited government, the rule of law and economic opportunity. Personal rights and liberties still actually mean something here. And our public life, while non-sectarian, is—or at least was—founded and grounded in a broadly biblical morality.
Here’s why I mention all this. I have a friend of many years, a man committed to his wife and family, well-educated and very Catholic, whose son attended West Point. Over the years he’s taken great pride in his son, and in the ideals of the military academy. He’s still proud of his son. And he still admires the legacy of West Point.
But he would never send another child to a service academy. He simply doesn’t believe that America, as it currently stands, is the same country he once loved. And, in his words, it’s not worth risking a son or a daughter to fight for it. The America he sees now—an America of abortion, confused sex, language police, entitlements, consumer and corporate greed, clownish politics, and government bullying of religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor—is different in kind, not merely in degree, from the nation he thought he knew. It’s no longer a country he considers his own. And keep in mind that this is a man of the cultural right, where support for the military has typically been strong.
Now those are harsh feelings. But I do understand them.”
“Sexual confusion isn’t unique to our age, but the scope of it is. No society can sustain itself for long if marriage and the family fall apart on a mass scale. And that’s exactly what’s happening as we gather here today. The Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision approving same-sex marriage last June was a legal disaster. But it didn’t happen in a vacuum. It fits very comfortably with trends in our culture that go back many decades, even before the 1960s. It’s useful to read or reread Wilhelm Reich’s book from 1936, The Sexual Revolution. Reich argues that a real revolution can only be made at the level of sexual freedom. And it needs to begin by wiping away institutions like marriage, family and traditional sexual morality.
What’s interesting about Reich’s work is that, 80 years ago, he saw the United States as the most promising place for that kind of revolution, despite its Puritan history. The reason is simple. Americans have a deep streak of individualism, a distrust of authority and a big appetite for self-invention. As religion loses its hold on people’s behavior, all of these instincts accelerate. The trouble is that once the genie is out of the bottle, sexual freedom goes in directions and takes on shapes that nobody imagined. And ultimately it leads to questions about who a person is and what it means to be human.”
“It’s important for our own integrity and the integrity of our country to fight for our convictions in the public square. Anything less is a kind of cowardice. But the greater task is to live what we claim to believe by our actions—fidelity to God, love for spouse and children; loyalty to friends; generosity to the poor; honesty and mercy in dealing with others; trust in the goodness of people; discipline and humility in demanding the most from ourselves.
These things sound like pieties, and that’s all they are. Until we try to live them. Then their cost and their difficulty remind us that we create a culture of human dignity in the measure that we give our lives to others. Nations change when people change. And people change through the witness of other people—people like each of you here today. You make the future. You build it stone by stone with the choices you make.”
“… Serve the poor. Help the weak. Protect the unborn child. Fight for your right to love and serve God, and for others to do the same. Defend the dignity of marriage and the family, and witness their meaning and hope to others by the example of your lives.
If you do that, you’ll inspire others to do the same. And you’ll discover in your own life what it means to be fully human.”
Read the whole thing at First Things, here.