Napa Institute conference emphasized formation, freedom, faith

From the National Catholic Register‘s recent article about the 2012 Napa Institute Conference:

Individual formation as a Catholic is integral to making the collective Church stronger and better able to engage the increasingly secular culture.

Several speakers stressed this important factor at the Napa Institute’s second annual prayer-and-apologetics conference.

The theme was “Equipping Catholics in the Next America” — an emerging secular America that is much more hostile to Christian faith and witness than it has been in the past.

Held July 26-29 at Catholic entrepreneur Tim Busch’s elegant Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif.’s wine country, the conference’s mission was to equip lay and religious leaders to defend and advance the faith in today’s increasingly secular society.

Consecrated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the conference drew more than 300 Catholic religious and lay leaders, including priests, nuns, monks, entrepreneurs, educators, lawyers and media from throughout the United States and five foreign countries.

The piece, written by Sue Ellen Browder, provides a synopsis of each of the major addresses given by speakers including Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wis., Magis Institute President Father Robert Spitzer, Augustine Institute President Tim Gray, entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Hanna III, Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft, radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt and Father Robert Barron.
Browder reports, “EWTN videotaped the conference, and many of the talks will be available on DVD in mid- or late-September. Beginning Oct. 6 on Saturdays at 2pm, selected talks from the Napa Institute conference will also air on EWTN.”
Archbishop Chaput’s talk is available in full on the Register‘s site. Here are a couple of excerpts:
Critics of the Church have attacked America’s bishops so bitterly, for so long, over so many different issues — including the abuse scandal, but by no means limited to it — for very practical reasons. If a wedge can be driven between the pastors of the Church and her people, then a strong Catholic witness on controversial issues breaks down into much weaker groups of discordant voices. …
We also need to change the way we act. We need to understand that we can’t “quick fix” our way out of problems we behaved ourselves into. Catholics have done very well in the United States. As I said earlier, most of us have a deep love for our country, its freedoms and its best ideals. But this is not our final home. There is no automatic harmony between Christian faith and American democracy. The eagerness of Catholics to push their way into our country’s mainstream over the past half century, to climb the ladder of social and economic success, has done very little to Christianize American culture. But it’s done a great deal to weaken the power of our Catholic witness. …
Critics often accuse faithful Christians of pursuing a “culture war” on issues like abortion, sexuality, marriage and the family and religious liberty. And, in a sense, they’re right. We are fighting for what we believe. But, of course, so are advocates on the other side of all these issues — and neither they nor we should feel uneasy about it. Democracy thrives on the struggle of competing ideas. We steal from ourselves and from everyone else if we try to avoid that struggle. In fact, two of the worst qualities in any human being are cowardice and acedia —and by acedia I mean the kind of moral sloth that masquerades as “tolerance” and leaves a human soul so empty of courage and character that even the devil Screwtape would spit it out.

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About Carl E. Olson 1197 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.