Friday, May 20, 2005

Remarks of Archbishop Chaput at Today's National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

The full text is here.

Excerpts:

'Catholics spent the first 200 years of our nation's life trying to fit in and be accepted. Well, congratulations, we did it. We made it. We've arrived. But we should remember St. Paul's words: "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord" (2 Cor 10:17).

'Have we really examined the cost of our fitting in? Since the 1960s, many American Catholics have been acting like we're lucky just to be tolerated in the public square. In other words, we'd better not be too Catholic or somebody will be offended. That's a mistake....'

'What we really believe, we conform our lives to. And if we don't conform our lives to what we claim to believe, then we're living a lie. When public officials claim to be "Catholic" but then say they can't offer their beliefs about the sanctity of the human person as the basis of law, it always means one of two things. They're either very confused, or they're very evasive. All law is the imposition of somebody's beliefs on somebody else. That's exactly the reason we have debates, and elections, and Congress - to turn the struggle of ideas and moral convictions into laws that guide our common life....'

'We need to understand that in the early Church, those words - "Jesus is Lord" - were a political statement. The emperor claimed to be Lord both in the private and public lives of the citizens of the empire. When Christians proclaimed Jesus as Lord, they were proclaiming the centrality of Jesus not only in their personal lives, but in their public lives and their decision-making as well. That took real courage. And it had huge consequences for their lives. Jesus was hung upon the cross because of his claim of Lordship. Christianity was illegal for the first 250 years of the Church's life because Christians proclaimed, "Jesus is Lord."'

'"God" need not be on our lips every minute of every day. But He should be in our hearts from the moment we wake, to the moment we sleep. Only Jesus is Lord. The Church belongs to Him; not to us, but to Him. And there's no way -- no way -- that we should ever allow ourselves to be driven from the public square by those who want someone else, or something else, to be Lord....'

'St Augustine, who had such a deep influence on the mind of our new Holy Father, once wrote that, "Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are." Are we angry enough about what's wrong with the world -- the killing of millions of unborn children through abortion;
the neglect of the poor and the elderly; the mistreatment of immigrants in our midst; the abuse of science in embryonic stem cell research? Do we really have the courage of our convictions to change those things?

'The opposite of hope is cynicism, and cynicism also has two daughters. Their names are indifference and cowardice. In renewing ourselves in our faith, what Catholics need to change most urgently is the habit and rhetoric of cowardice we find in our own personal lives, in our national political life, and sometimes even within the Church herself...'