Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Archbishop Charles Chaput

9/27/2013 (1 year 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 (1 year 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.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Memorial Day: Honor Those Who Died in Service. Thank Those who Serve. Pray For the Nation Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I am always drawn to these words of Jesus on Memorial Day weekend, - No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13) Military service which leads to laying one's life down is certainly an expression of this kind of heroic ... continue reading


Memorial Day: Chaplains - A Reminder that We Are One Nation Under God Watch

Image of

By Fr. Randy Sly

The work of our chaplains extends much farther than the post chapel. They labor on land, at sea and in the air. There are 1.4 million Catholics in the military; wherever they are stationed, the chaplain is there. These chaplains can be found bringing Jesus Christ to ... continue reading


Memorial Day: Honor Those Who Honor Our Nation with Heroic Sacrifice Watch

Image of Thank you, to every man and woman who has fought and is currently fighting for our homeland.  Thank you for doing everything within your power to make sure I and my children can sleep safely tonight.  I love and appreciate you and I pray God's blessing on you and your families.  Godspeed, and come home soon.

By Jennifer Hartline

Thank you, to every man and woman who has fought and is currently fighting for our homeland.  Thank you for doing everything within your power to make sure I and my children can sleep safely tonight.  I love and appreciate you and I pray God's blessing on you ... continue reading


MASSIVE OIL SPILL: Santa Barbara declares state of emergency over massive oil spill in Pacific Ocean Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

About 9 miles of the Pacific ocean, across a popular spot on the California coast, was damaged after a pipeline leaked massive amounts of oil in the water earlier this week.     MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - According to officials, up to ... continue reading


UC Santa Barbara massacre survivor speaks on the day's events and his journey to recovery Watch

Image of www.thisischriswhite.com

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The fateful night of May 23, 2014, Antoine Cherchian managed to survive being shot by the virgin killer, Elliot Rodger, during his killing spree at UC Santa Barbara. While Cherchian sustained fatal injuries, along with six other students murdered, he is thankful for ... continue reading


Crackdown by federal agents on 'Pill Mills' in four southern states Watch

Image of An average of 44 people in the U.S. dies every day from opioids. These drugs include Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Drug Enforcement Administration and other authorities are raiding pharmacies, pain clinics and other facilities in four southern U.S. states. It is all part of an aggressive crackdown on prescription pain drug abuse. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Matt C. Abbott: Why I wrote Pope Francis about an exorcist

Image of Father William S. Bowdern, S.J. Father Bowdern was the chief exorcist in the 1949 exorcism of Robbie, the teenaged boy whose case inspired William Peter Blatty's 1971 novel The Exorcist, which subsequently was made into a feature film.

By Matt C. Abbott

Here's one name I haven't heard mentioned in regard to possible canonization, yet it seems he'd be a good candidate: Father William S. Bowdern, S.J. Father Bowdern, who was born in 1897 and died in 1983, was the chief exorcist in the 1949 exorcism of "Robbie," ... continue reading


FBI lectures High school students on resisting ISIS recruitment Watch

Image of The FBI is planning to take its message to other schools in the Tri-State Area to reach kids at critical adolescent ages.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

High school students at Bergen County School, in Bergen County, New Jersey got a surprise lecture from FBI agents. They warned students away from sophisticated new techniques used by Islamic State to join their ranks. In particular, a new ISIS-produced video ... continue reading


Bin Laden's secret files: What we found and what's been released Watch

Image of The U.S. Department of National Intelligence has released a report of documents that were captured during the May 1, 2011 raid in Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. government has begun declassifying and releasing documents that were captured during the 2011 raid of Osama bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan, and some of what has been released shows that America's number one enemy for almost a decade was obsessed with ... continue reading


Are there weapons aboard? U.S. Air Force space shuttle's secret contents no longer a secret Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Air Force's X-37B space shuttle, launched into Earth's orbit, was revealed not to contain weapons as many feared. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - According to the published manifest, the space shuttle carries a new form of Hall ion-powered ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 17:19-27
19 Their actions are all as plain as the sun to him, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7
1 [Of David Poem] How blessed are those whose offence ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 10:17-27
17 He was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 25th, 2015 Image

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
May 25: It would be easy to concentrate on the mystical experiences God ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter