Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia is pictured following an interview in Rome in October 2012. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Earlier this month, Abp. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, delivered an address
at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary as
part of a Year of Faith discussion series. He focused first on faith, saying,
In Porta Fidei, Benedict listed three reasons for calling a Year of Faith. He hoped Christians would be led to profess the faith more fully and with conviction; to deepen their encounter with Jesus Christ in the Liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, and to witness the faith
more credibly by the example of their lives. He stressed that “A
Christian may never think of belief as a private act. Faith [involves]
choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him.” Therefore
faith, “precisely because it is a free act, also demands social
responsibility for what one believes.”
Above all, in living the
Year of Faith, Benedict wanted the Church and her pastors to recover the
courage and zeal “to lead people out of the desert toward the place of
life,” toward the God who gives us life in abundance. ....
One of the conceits of our age is the idea that reason and science
have banished superstition and brought a new era of light to human
affairs. Faith, sin, heaven, hell, God and gracethese are throwback
ideas to a dark age of supernatural mumbo jumbo and witch burnings,
doomed to the dustbin of history. In effect, this is the atheist version
of a creation myth. It’s a sunny theory. And for people who imagine
themselves as materialists, it can be very comforting.
false. As scholars like Christian Smith and many others have shown,
there’s really no such thing as an “unbeliever.” We all put our faith in
something. In fact, we all believe in things we can’t see or prove
every day, including the premises we use to organize our understanding
of reality. Science operates off first principlesin other words,
assumptions about the nature of realitythat can never be proven by
Of Pope Francis, the archbishop said,
Anyone hoping foror worried abouta break by Pope Francis from
Catholic teaching on matters of substance is going to be mistaken. At
the same time, the tone of this pontificate will certainly be distinct
from anything in the past century. Pope Francis has been formed by
experiences very unlike the factors that shaped John XXIII, Paul VI,
John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.
Francis said shortly after his
election that the cardinals had chosen a bishop of Rome from the “[far]
end of the world.” Argentina may be the most European of Latin American
countries, but Pope Francis’ world as a priest and bishop has been the
global South, the problems that wound it and the poor who inhabit it.
Last Sunday’s reading from the Book of Amos (6:1, 4-7)“Woe to the complacent in Zion, lying on beds of ivory”would
resonate with this Pope in a uniquely vivid way. So would the Gospel
reading from Luke (16:19-31) about the Rich Man and Lazarus. In other
words, Pope Francis comes to the moral and cultural struggles of the
Church in the North from a different perspective.
And of the future and the work of the new evangelization:
I think we make a mistake when we identify the “new evangelization”
too closely with techniques or technologies or programs. It’s true that
using the new means of communication to advance the Gospel is important.
We just founded the Cardinal John Foley Chair in social communications
here at the seminary. And I’m glad we did. Today’s mass media are
reshaping society. They influence how we think, what we buy and how we
live. We need to understand the language and master the tools of the
modern world. Through them, with God’s help, we can do a better job of
bringing Jesus Christ to our people, and our people to Jesus Christ.
the main instrument of the new evangelization is the same as the old
evangelization. It’s you and me. There’s no way around those words: Repent and believe in the gospel. The world will change only when you change, when we change, because hearts are won by personal witness. And we can’t share what we don’t have.
Read the entire address on the Catholic Culture site.