Chaput: Pope Francis is the Medicine the Church Needs

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Is Pope Francis God’s instrument for leading us away from “tepid Christianity” and “mediocrity in our faith?”


Archbishop Charles Chaput thinks so.


Overwhelming percentages of practicing Catholics are like me — delighted with our new pope. However, there is disquiet in some quarters, mostly from people who loved the symbols of high office which Pope Francis has eschewed. The people I know who feel this way are certainly not “tepid” Catholics. They are far better Catholics than I am or ever will be. They are also people who loved the pomp and feel the loss of it keenly. 


Painful as it is for them, I think that Pope Francis is teaching us a necessary lesson. He is teaching us what the symbols mean. He is pulling back the curtain on the symbolism to show us the reality behind it, and that reality is Christ. “I didn’t come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.” Jesus said. In the same way His vicar on earth is not destroying the richness of the Church, he is teaching us what it means.

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We are faced with virulent secularism and aggressively marketed moral and social destruction in the West; violent persecution and death-dealing exploitation, poverty and war in much of the rest of the world.


We need a pope who will preach Christ. I don’t know how to say it more directly than that. This world needs Christ and Him crucified. 


The Church is a church of metaphor and symbol. In some ways, the Church itself is a metaphor. I get that. But, if people focus on the metaphor to the point that they begin to take it literally, then that becomes a kind of idolatry. The symbols and the metaphor all point to the living Christ Who was crucified for our sins and Who offers us the gift of eternal life.

Pope Francis is not only pulling away the curtain to show us what lies behind the symbols, he is talking to us about the realities of the devil and hell. I will write about this more later, but our new pope is not afraid to refer to the “evil one” as the father of lies and the machinator behind many of our worst impulses. 

Archbishop Chaput talks about the “tepid Christianity we find in the northern hemisphere.” I couldn’t agree more. The purpose of this blog is to offer whatever assistance I can in equipping Christians to stand for Jesus. As a catechism-following, Jesus-loving, pro-life Democratic office holder, I have the unique perspective of often having been the much-maligned tip of the sword on social issues. I also have the perspective of one who has seen and experienced the almost militant indifference of Christians to what is happening in the world.

“Tepid” is too kind. Snoozing in our beds and refusing to be wakened is more to the point. I love the liturgy and the mass, not because of the vestments and the beautiful Church, but because it is an hour-long (or 30 minutes long for daily mass) prayer. I love the mass because it re-enacts Calvary, because it takes us to the foot of the cross and then beyond it to our redemption. I love the mass because the healing touch of Jesus is there in the Eucharist.

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For far too many people, the form has become more important than the reality. People who focus on the form rather than the substance are too often substituting the form for the substance.

All we have to do to turn this world around is follow Christ. To do that, we need a pope, bishops and priests who preach Christ. Pope Francis is doing exactly that. I thank God for him.

Excerpts from Archbishop Chaput’s interview with Vatican Insider are below.


When he was elected Pope, Francis said that he comes from the “end of the world”. What did he mean?

“In our day and age the Gospel is preached in every corner of the Earth. God’s family of faith is one body, one people, intimately connected by the love of Jesus Christ, no matter where in the world we come from. The new Pope is living proof of this. He comes quite literally from the other side of world.”


What is the importance of him being from Argentina? Will the hispanic community play a central role in the Church of the XXI century? What changes will this imply for the U.S. Catholic Church

“Maybe God is telling us that the kind of tepid Christianity we find in the northern hemisphere is no longer vigorous enough to face the challenges the Church is faced with.”


Cardinal Bergoglio is very atypical, in that he never held a position in the Roman Curia, he has never wanted a car or a chef and he takes the bus…What does all this mean in your opinion?
 

“Less is more. Simplicity and humility, when they’re combined with intelligence and courage, make a very powerful medicine for the soul. I think this Pope is just the medicine we need as a Church.”


Why did Bergoglio choose the name Francis? Was it because St. Francis rebuilt the Church of Jesus? Does this mean that the Curia acknowledges that the Church needs to be rebuilt in some way?

“”Repair my house” were the words Jesus addressed to St. Francis from the cross of St. Damian. The issues of reform, renewal and repair: All of these things probably figured into the new Pope’s choice of a name … people have a mistaken image of Francis of Assisi … He was certainly “counter-cultural” - but only in his radical poverty; his radical obedience to the Church; and his radical insistence on living the Gospel fully, including all of its uncomfortable demands. That’s the kind of purity that leads to a genuine rebuilding of Church life …


Liberal groups, particularly here in the U.S., are really concerned about the cardinals’ choice of Pope. Even Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said that his position is reminiscent of medieval times. What you think?

“Words like “liberal” and “conservative” are hopelessly misleading when we speak about Catholic belief. There’s no way of separating love for the poor from love for an unborn child. Defense of the oppressed and marginalized and defense of the family, the nature of marriage and the unborn child spring from exactly the same Catholic commitment to human dignity. There is nothing “progressive” about killing an unborn human child in the womb. And there is nothing redeemably “orthodox” or “conservative” about ignoring the cries of the poor.”

(Read the rest here.) 



Archbishop Chaput: Catholics May Not Be Able to Support Either Republicans or Democrats

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput says that when it comes to voting, Catholics may not be able to support either the Republicans or the Democrats, now and in the coming years.

“The day may come when Catholics can support neither of the main American political parties or their candidates. Some think it’s already arrived,” Philadelphia’s archbishop wrote in a Nov. 6 essay for The Witherspoon Institute.

“Serious Catholics” who believe in the Church’s teaching on social and life issues “can’t settle comfortably in either political party,” he remarked.

But this is nothing new, Archbishop Chaput said, adding that Christians find their home and hope in heaven.

Saint Augustine, he recalled, “wrote the ‘City of God’ to remind us that we’re Christians first, worldly citizens second. We need to learn—sometimes painfully—to let our faith chasten our partisan appetites.”

The political tensions that Catholics are experiencing today flow from the cultural problems of individualism and a lack of virtue, he said. “In feeding the sovereignty of the individual, our public leaders fuel consumer self-absorption, moral confusion, and—ultimately, as mediating institutions like the family and churches wither—the power of the state.”

Archbishop Chaput concluded his column by calling on Catholics to live their faith, and so heal the culture. “In this Year of Faith, she (the Church) invites Catholics to a great new evangelization … our ambition must be to repair a culture of unbelief and to heal the inhuman politics that flows from it.”

“And if we can’t achieve that in concert with our fellow Christians, then we can at least live the Gospel more faithfully ourselves. It’s time, and long past time, to close the gap between our words and our actions; our preaching and our practice.”

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=6507#ixzz2BqcFXdNu

 

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Archbishop Chaput on Politics, and a few reflections from me

This is an interesting video, and well worth watching.

I think Archbishop Chaput is correct when he says that the reason the Democratic Party has become the party of abortion is that Catholics within that party didn’t hold it accountable. However, I don’t agree with his prescription that they should have left the party.

Many people have left the Democratic Party over abortion, and the result has been that the party has become more, not less, pro abortion. This is the effect of distillation of viewpoints.

This distillation of viewpoints and the extremism it nurtures are what created a climate inside the upper echelons of the Democratic power structure that allowed something as monstrous as the HHS Mandate to come about. When you only talk to a few people who agree with you, you inevitably move toward hubris and its corresponding bad judgement.

What could have changed things is if, back in the day, the pro life people within the Democratic Party had stood up and refused to give on the issue. Instead, they compromised their pro-life views out of existence, or they left the party outright. What is interesting is how completely people become what they do. The longer those pro life people who stayed in the party compromised themselves, the more they believed that what they were doing is right.

They changed alliances — from Christ to the Democratic Party.

The Archbishop is correct when he says that we can’t reply on the Republican Party to be pro-life in twenty years. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that we can’t rely on them to be effectively pro-life now. I’ve seen the Republican Party kill pro-life bills using the same arguments and tactics as the Democrats have for decades. This wasn’t rogue Republicans. It was the Republican elected leadership.

Everything I’ve said about the Democrats is also true of the Republicans. The Christians within the Republican Party have compromised the Sermon on the Mount to the point that they’ve begun to treat the actual words of Christ the Lord as if they were a heresy.

Anytime you remind these outspokenly political Christians of the words of Christ concerning justice and compassion, their eyes film over and they tune you out. This is the indifference and hardness of heart Jesus condemned so absolutely, and it is being practiced in order to fit the Gospels to the Republican Party Platform.

They do this because this compromise of their faith is the only way they can avoid standing up against the in-the-bag for the corporations corporatism of their party. Along they way, they’ve started making excuses for Republicans when they kill pro life bills.

I can’t emphasize enough that we need to stand and fight within our parties to change things. You can not build a culture of life with half the people. It can not be done.

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