Skip to content

Some things change, some things really don't

By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap.
July 30, 2003

Some things change, and some things don't.

In the summer of 1963, a friend of mine -- she was just 11 at the time -- drove with her family to visit her sister, who had married and moved away to Birmingham, Ala. Stopping for gas in a small Alabama town on a Sunday morning, her father asked where they could find the local Catholic church.

The attendant just shrugged and said, "We don't have any of them here."

The family finished gassing up, pulled out of the station -- and less than two blocks away, they passed the local Catholic church.

Most people my age remember the '60s in the South as a time of intense struggle for civil rights. Along with pervasive racial discrimination, Southern culture often harbored a suspicion of Catholics, Jews and other minorities. Catholics were few and scattered. In the Deep South, like Alabama, being Catholic often meant being locked out of political and social leadership.

Today, much of the old South is gone. Cities like Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham are major cosmopolitan centers. Time, social reform and migration have transformed the economy along with the political system. The South today is a tribute both to the courage of civil rights activists 40 years ago, and to the goodness of the people of the South themselves.

Most people, most of the time, want to do the right thing. And when they change, they also change the world they inhabit, which is one of the reasons why the Archdiocese of Atlanta can now draw thousands of enthusiastic Catholic participants to its Eucharistic Congress each year in a state where Catholics were once second-class citizens. It also explains how a practicing Catholic, William H. Pryor, can become Alabama's attorney general -- something that was close to inconceivable just four decades ago.

I've never met Mr. Pryor, but his political life is a matter of public record. He has served the State of Alabama with distinction, enforcing its laws and court decisions fairly and consistently. This is why President Bush nominated him to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and why the Senate Judiciary Committee approved him last Wednesday for consideration by the full Senate.

But the committee debate on Pryor was ugly, and the vote to advance his nomination split exactly along party lines. Why? Because Mr. Pryor believes that Catholic teaching about the sanctity of life is true; that the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision was a poorly reasoned mistake; and that abortion is wrong in all cases, even rape and incest. As a result, Americans were treated to the bizarre spectacle of non-Catholic Senators Orrin Hatch and Jeff Sessions defending Mr. Pryor's constitutionally protected religious rights to Mr. Pryor's critics, including Senator Richard Durbin, an "abortion-rights" Catholic.

According to Senator Durbin (as reported by EWTN), "Many Catholics who oppose abortion personally do not believe the laws of the land should prohibit abortion for all others in extreme cases involving rape, incest and the life and the health of the mother." This kind of propaganda makes the abortion lobby proud, but it should humiliate any serious Catholic. At a minimum, Catholic members of Congress like Senator Durbin should actually read and pray over the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" and the encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" before they explain the Catholic faith to anyone.

They might even try doing something about their "personal opposition" to abortion by supporting competent pro-life judicial appointments. Otherwise, they simply prove what many people already believe -- that a new kind of religious discrimination is very welcome at the Capitol, even among elected officials who claim to be Catholic.

Some things change, and some things don't. The bias against "papism" is alive and well in America. It just has a different address. But at least some people in Alabama now know where the local Catholic church is -- and where she stands -- even if some people in Washington apparently don't.


Archbishop Charles J. Chaput O.F.M. Cap. - Archbishop, 661 869-1000



Archbishop Chaput, Pryor, Catholic

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

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

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.