Good Counsel Homes
Current News from:
American Life League
A Catholicism of Resistance:
Archbishop Charles Chaput's Prophetic Voice
Deacon Keith Fournier
August 31, 2010 -- -- Catholic Online
He warned of the rise of 'inhuman humanism' and called for a Catholicism of Resistance
There are prophetic addresses which can change human history. This is one of them. We need to heed Archbishop Chaput's call for a Catholicism of Resistance. "We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things. Only the Truth can set men free. We need to be apostles of Jesus Christ and the Truth he incarnates."
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - I have long believed that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is one of the preeminent Churchmen of our age. He calls all Catholics to live with what Pope Benedict XVI refers to as "moral coherence". This is not easy under the oppressive boot of what the same Pope called "the Dictatorship of Relativism." He challenges us to avoid what the Second Vatican Council called the "greatest error of our age...the separation between faith and life". His book "Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by living our Catholic beliefs in Political Life" is already a classic. It succinctly addresses the vital obligation of integrating our Catholic faith into our obligations of citizenship.
His leadership of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado is evidence of his leadership gifts. I had the privilege of participating in their "Living the Catholic Faith" Conference in 2010. I found a Diocese which is a shining example of the "New Evangelization". The seminaries are full, the parishes are growing (in fidelity and number) and the ecclesial movements are flocking to find a missionary outpost. The Catholic Church is being demonstrated to be what she is, the continued presence of the Risen Christ in our midst. I left that Conference filled with hope for the Catholic Church in the United States. I am not naive, I am well aware of the challenges we face both within and without. What I experienced in Denver reminded me that Jesus Christ truly lives and His Church is His Plan!
However, my respect for this Bishop has taken a quantum leap forward. I now believe that he is more than a good Bishop and a good teacher, as important as both of these are. I believe he is a prophetic voice for our time. On Tuesday, August 24, 2010 he addressed the first session of the 15th symposium for the Canon Law Association of Slovakia. The address, entitled "Living within the Truth: Religious Liberty and Catholic Mission in the new order of the world" is of the stature of historic addresses such as those given by people like the late Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, whose "Men Have Forgotten God", given upon his receipt of the Templeton Award, are still quoted.The title of these kinds of addresses are enough to recall their powerful message. So it will be with this address given by Archbishop Chaput. His call to all to "Live within the Truth" and to form a "Catholic Resistance" must be heard and lived, informing a response which can effect genuine and lasting change.
Archbishop Chaput chose a venue which provided an amazing backdrop for his prophetic address. In giving an extraordinary account of the reasons for the decline of Western culture he began with these words, "Tertullian once famously said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. History has proven that to be true. And Slovakia is the perfect place for us to revisit his words today. Here, and throughout central and eastern Europe, Catholics suffered through 50 years of Nazi and Soviet murder regimes. So they know the real cost of Christian witness from bitter experience -- and also, unfortunately, the cost of cowardice, collaboration and self-delusion in the face of evil. I want to begin by suggesting that many Catholics in the United States and Western Europe today simply don't understand those costs. Nor do they seem to care. As a result, many are indifferent to the process in our countries that social scientists like to call "secularization" - but which, in practice, involves repudiating the Christian roots and soul of our civilization."
He then honestly assessed the true state of the West with a rare and sober clarity, warning, " We face an aggressively secular political vision and a consumerist economic model that result - in practice, if not in explicit intent -- in a new kind of state-encouraged atheism. To put it another way: The Enlightenment-derived worldview that gave rise to the great murder ideologies of the last century remains very much alive. Its language is softer, its intentions seem kinder, and its face is friendlier. But its underlying impulse hasn't changed -- i.e., the dream of building a society apart from God; a world where men and women might live wholly sufficient unto themselves, satisfying their needs and desires through their own ingenuity. This vision presumes a frankly "post-Christian" world ruled by rationality, technology and good social engineering. Religion has a place in this worldview, but only as an individual lifestyle accessory. People are free to worship and believe whatever they want, so long as they keep their beliefs to themselves and do not presume to intrude their religious idiosyncrasies on the workings of government, the economy, or
Borrowing a trenchant phrase from the late Cardinal Henry de Lubac he warned of the rise of "inhuman humanism" and called for a Catholicism of Resistance: "Today's secularizers have learned from the past. They are more adroit in their bigotry; more elegant in their public relations; more intelligent in their work to exclude the Church and individual believers from influencing the moral life of society. Over the next several decades, Christianity will become a faith that can speak in the public square less and less freely. A society where faith is prevented from vigorous public expression is a society that has fashioned the state into an idol. And when the state becomes an idol, men and women become the sacrificial offering. Cardinal Henri de Lubac once wrote that "It is not true . that man cannot organize the world without God. What is true, is that without God, [man] can ultimately only organize it against man. Exclusive humanism is inhuman humanism."
"The West is now steadily moving in the direction of that new "inhuman humanism." And if the Church is to respond faithfully, we need to draw upon the lessons that your Churches learned under totalitarianism. A Catholicism of resistance must be based on trust in Christ's words: "The truth will make you free." This trust gave you insight into the nature of totalitarian regimes. It helped you articulate new ways of discipleship. Rereading the words of the Czech leader Václav Havel to prepare for this talk, I was struck by the profound Christian humanism of his idea of "living within the truth." Catholics today need to see their discipleship and mission as precisely that: "living within the truth."
Like all prophetic men, the Archbishop of Denver uses language in this address which is inspired, in the true sense of the word. He also pulled no punches. The words and phrases contained in this speech will go down in history. It contains the most searing and insightful analysis of what is rotting western civilization from within which I have read. The entire address is a must read for Catholics, Orthodox, all Christians, indeed all people of faith and good will. We cannot face this challenge without honestly understanding what it is. However, also like truly prophetic Christian men, the Bishop did not leave us there. He proposed a heroic response of living faith and sacrificial action.
"We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things. Only the Truth can set men free. We need to be apostles of Jesus Christ and the Truth he incarnates. So what does this mean for us as individual disciples? Let me offer a few suggestions by way of a conclusion.
"My first suggestion comes again from the great witness against the paganism of the Third Reich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "The renewal of the Western world lies solely in the divine renewal of the Church, which leads her to the fellowship of the risen and living Jesus Christ." The world urgently needs a re-awakening of the Church in our actions and in our public and private witness. The world needs each of us to come to a deeper experience of our Risen Lord in the company of our fellow believers. The renewal of the West depends overwhelmingly on our faithfulness to Jesus Christ and his Church.
"We need to really believe what we say we believe. Then we need to prove it by the witness of our lives. We need to be so convinced of the truths of the Creed that we are on fire to live by these truths, to love by these truths, and to defend these truths, even to the point of our own discomfort and suffering. We are ambassadors of the living God to a world that is on the verge of forgetting him. Our work is to make God real; to be the face of his love; to propose once more to the men and women of our day, the dialogue of salvation.
"The lesson of the 20th century is that there is no cheap grace. This God whom we believe in; this God who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to suffer and die for it, demands that we live the same bold, sacrificial pattern of life shown to us by Jesus Christ. The form of the Church, and the form of every Christian life, is the form of the cross. Our lives must become a liturgy, a self-offering that embodies the love of God and the renewal of the world."
There are prophetic addresses which can change human history. This is one of them. We need to heed Archbishop Chaput's call for a Catholicism of Resistance. You can read the entire address here. He is a much needed Prophetic Voice for the West.
- - -
Deacon Keith Fournier asks that you join with us and help in this vital mission by sending this article to your family, friends, and neighbors and adding our link (www.catholic.org) to your own website, blog or social network. Let us broadcast, we are PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC!
Visit Ignatius Press
alternative to AARP