Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Archbishop Charles Chaput

9/27/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Philly (catholicphilly.com/)

First, we need to be very careful in taking mass media coverage of the Catholic Church at face value. Second, we need to actually read the Holy Father's interview for ourselves, and pray over it, and then read it again, especially in light of the Year of Faith.

The modern heart can only be won back by a radical witness of Christian discipleship - a renewed kind of shared community life obedient to God's Commandments, but also on fire with the Beatitudes lived more personally and joyfully by all of us.

Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap.,D.D.
Archbishop of Philadelphia

Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap.,D.D. Archbishop of Philadelphia

Highlights

By Archbishop Charles Chaput

Catholic Philly (catholicphilly.com/)

9/27/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Archbishop Charles Chaput, Philadelphia, Pope Francis, Intervew, mission territory, missionary age, Catholic Philly


PHILADELPHIA,PA (Catholic Philly) - I had the gift of two unusual blessings last week.  The first was a moment to greet Pope Francis in Rome after his Wednesday, September 18, general audience.  We had met and served as delegates to the 1997 Special Assembly for America.  Sixteen years have passed, but this Pope has a remarkable memory to match his generous spirit.  He recalled a friendly conversation we'd had in great detail, and the events of those days that helped shape both of us as young bishops.

The second blessing was being away from the United States on September 19 when Jesuit magazines around the world released the Pope's remarks to Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J.  Thanks to my schedule, I couldn't read the full interview until I was on the plane home, four days after it appeared.  But the emails I received about it - some of them happy; some of them angry; some of them gloating; some of them from Catholics feeling confused or even betrayed - were instructive.

Some people grasped at the interview like a lifeline - or a vindication.  One person praised the Holy Father for stressing that the "Church must focus on compassion and mercy, not on enforcing small-minded rules."  She added that "we're at last free from the chains of hatred that have ruled the Catholic Church for so many years and led to my unease in bringing my own children into that Church."

More common though were emails from catechists, parents and everyday Catholics who felt confused by media headlines suggesting that the Church had somehow changed her teaching on a variety of moral issues.

I heard from a mother of four children - one adopted, another disabled from birth - who'd spent years counseling pregnant girls and opening prolife clinics.  She wanted to know why the Pope seemed to dismiss her sacrifices.  A priest said the Pope "has implicitly accused brother priests who are serious about moral issues of being small minded," and that "[if you're a priest,] being morally serious is now likely to get you publicly cast as a problem."  Another priest wrote that "the problem is that [the Holy Father] makes all of the wrong people happy, people who will never believe in the Gospel and who will continue to persecute the Church."

We can draw some useful lessons from these reactions.  First, we need to be very careful in taking mass media coverage of the Catholic Church at face value.  Second, we need to actually read the Holy Father's interview for ourselves, and pray over it, and then read it again, especially in light of the Year of Faith.  A priest here in Philadelphia asked for a show of hands at a Mass last Sunday, and nearly everyone in the church, which was full, had heard about the Pope's interview.  But only five persons had actually read it.  Third and finally, we need to open our hearts - all of us - and let God lead us where he needs us to go through the words of the Holy Father.

Pope Francis does not at all turn away from Catholic teaching on matters such as sexuality and the sanctity of human life.  How could he?  We should remember that Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day - two women with an intimate, passionate devotion to the poor - also saw abortion as a brutal crime against the poorest and most defenseless of the poor: the unborn child.

Among the many vital things the Pope reminds us of in his interview is the new and drastically different condition of the modern world that God seeks to save.  It's one thing to argue about abortion and sexuality when both disputants in the debate share the same basic moral framework and language; the same meaning to words like "justice;" the same set of beliefs about the nature of the human person.  But it's quite another thing when we no longer have that common vocabulary.  The modern world is mission territory.  It's morally fractured.  Our politics, as Alasdair MacIntyre once famously wrote, is civil war pursued by other means.  The modern heart can only be won back by a radical witness of Christian discipleship - a renewed kind of shared community life obedient to God's Commandments, but also on fire with the Beatitudes lived more personally and joyfully by all of us.

There's a passage from the Pope's interview we need to remember in a special way in the weeks and years ahead:

"Proclamation of [Jesus Christ] in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things:  This is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn as it did for the disciples at Emmaus.  We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel . . . The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives."

The Holy Father asks none of us to abandon the task of bringing the world to Jesus Christ.  Our witness matters.  Every unborn child saved, every marriage strengthened, every immigrant helped, every poor person served, matters.  God calls on us to help him sanctify every aspect of our shared lives - at home, at work and in the public square.

But if, as the Pope describes her, the Church is a "field hospital" for the wounded in a cruel world, then the goal of our witness is to create a space of beauty and mercy; to accompany those who suffer; to understand the nature of their lives; to care for and heal even those who reject us.  We need to speak the truth, and work for the truth, with love.  And we need to realize that nothing we do - either as individuals or parish communities - will bear fruit unless we give ourselves to the whole Gospel with our whole heart.

---

CatholicPhilly.com is the web site of The Catholic Standard and Times, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which ceased publication in June 2012. Founded in 1895, The Catholic Standard and Times won numerous awards for outstanding journalism as it published weekly until September 2011, when it converted to a monthly. At that time it also launched the award-winning Phaith magazine.



Comments


More U.S.

No Catholic or other Christian Should Support the Candidacy of Bernie Sanders Watch

Image of Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America, denies the fundamental Human Right to Life of children in the womb.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Legalized abortion on demand is an open rejection of the entire ethic of being our brothers (and sisters) keeper. There can be no enduring lasting solidarity upon which to build a secure future in a culture that kills its own children and calls it a right. No ... continue reading


Mardi Gras' several names and traditions: How is it celebrated around the world? Watch

Image of Mardi Gras is famous for its colors, masks, beads, food, floats and more (Pixabay)!

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

People around the world celebrate Fat Tuesday each year with regional traditions - but did you know it is a celebration with roots in Christianity?  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Fat Tuesday" is English for the French "Mardi Gras," and is traditionally ... continue reading


7 Fun facts about Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras celebrations Watch

Image of Mardi Gras first became a holiday in 1582.

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday; it comes directly before Ash Wednesday. "Mardi Gras is a raucous celebratory affair that serves as a final shebang before the 40-day abstinence of Lent," explains The Huffington Post. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amidst all ... continue reading


605,000 undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses in California Watch

Image of California driver's licenses do not bestow any federal benefits to the recipient. State sources say the law is intended to make California roadways safer.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Thanks to a new California law known as AB60, which took effect on January 2, 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV has handed out 605,000 driver's licenses to undocumented workers. It is estimated that 1.4 million migrants will receive licenses under ... continue reading


Center for Medical Progress releases another Planned Parenthood video despite injunction Watch

Image of Pro-life CMP stands against abortionists NAF (imgsuccess).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

After ousting illegal actions performed by Planned Parenthood clinics, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), and its founder Daniel Daleiden, have been ordered to cease further distribution of illegally-obtained Planned Parenthood footage. Unfortunately for the ... continue reading


Huff Po Gestapo, beats down Trump, First Amendment with editorial billy club Watch

Image of Huffington Post has found a way to turn the First Amendment into a billy club for their PC police duties.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Liberal mouthpiece, The Huffington Post (not to be confused with an actual news organization) is pandering to liberal readers by posting an addendum at the end of every story about Donald Trump. The addendum labels Trump a "racist" and a "serial liar." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Lower Your Nets For a Catch! We Are All Called to Evangelize Watch

Image of Lower your nets for a catch

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The New Evangelization is meant to bring about an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can then undertake a new missionary outreach to the whole world. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical ... continue reading


'Church ladies' finally force phony priest in Los Angeles to authorities Watch

Image of Erwin Mena  was arrested by Los Angeles police for allegedly impersonating a Roman Catholic priest and on suspicion of grand theft (Los Angeles Times).

By Mary Rezac, CNA/EWTN News

For months, Erwin Mena donned vestments, called himself "Padre," and convinced Southern California Catholics that he was a priest, police say. Los Angeles, Calif. (CNA/EWTN News) - He was good at it, too, reportedly. He attended seminary in El Salvador for a time ... continue reading


Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis to Meet in Cuba in Historic Move of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of Orthodox Christian Patriarch Kirill and Catholic Christian Pope Francis

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that ... continue reading


'Deeply disturbing': ANOTHER Planned Parenthood video has been released by the Center for Medical Progress (Warning: Graphic Content) Watch

Image of Yet another undercover video featuring the horrors of Planned Parenthood's illegal acts has been released (Leda Oreskovich).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released another video featuring Planned Parenthood officials casually - and even happily - discussing the revolting practice of murdering infants in the womb then mercilessly cutting them to pieces for profit. Meanwhile, after ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Stations of the Cross - Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
  • Take this thought provoking Stations of the Cross survey
  • 10 important things to consider during Lent
  • St. Scholastica: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
  • Palm Sunday HD Video
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 8:22-23, 27-30
22 Then, in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, Solomon stood ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5, 10, 11
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a nest to place its ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 7:1-13
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 9th, 2016 Image

St. Apollonia
February 9: St. Apollonia, who died in the year 249, was ... Read More