Columbus, Ohio, Mar 28, 2019 / 02:45 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Philadelphia told seminarians March 27 that Catholics are called to renew the Church through lives of holiness, humility, and love.
“All of the great Catholic reformers in history had three essential qualities: personal humility; a passion for purifying the Church starting with themselves, and a fidelity to her teaching, all motivated by unselfish, self-sacrificing love,” Archbishop Charles Chaput said Wednesday, during the Pio Laghi Lecture at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.
“God calls all of us, but especially his priests, not just to renew the face of the earth with his Spirit, but to renew the heart of the Church with our lives; to make her young and beautiful, again and again, so that she shines with his love for the world. That’s our task. That’s our calling. That’s what a vocation is – a calling from God with our name on it.”
“To borrow from St. Augustine, God made us to make the times, not the times to make us. We’re the subjects of history, not its objects. And unless we make the times better with the light of Jesus Christ, then the times will make us worse with their darkness,” Chaput added.
The Josephinum is a college-level and major seminary directly accountable to the Holy See, and overseen by the apostolic nuncio to the United States. More than 200 seminarians study at the seminary. The Cardinal Pio Laghi Lecture is named for the papal representative to the U.S. from 1980 to 1990.
During his address, Chaput told seminarians that confusion, anxiety, and anger have in recent months become common experiences for Catholics, including bishops.
The archbishop said that he had titled his talk “Facing the future with hope and joy” because “it sounds better than ‘facing the future with confusion and anxiety,’ and anger for that matter, because I’m tempted to feel all three of those things a couple of times a week.”
“There are days when everyone in the Church seems angry. Laypeople and priests are angry with their bishops for the abuse scandal, which never seems to end. Bishops are angry with priests for their bad example.”
“And many bishops are also frustrated – to put it gently — with Rome for its unwillingness to acknowledge the real nature and scope of the abuse problem. Clerical privilege is not the problem. Clericalism may be a factor in the sexual abuse of minors, but no parent I know – and I hear from a lot of them – sees that as the main issue. Not naming the real problem for what it is, a pattern of predatory homosexuality and a failure to weed that out from Church life, is an act of self-delusion.”
“My own frustration over the past few weeks has been fed by German bishops who seem willing to break what remains of Church peace and unity with bad ideas about sexual morality and impressive array of other issues. But that’s a topic for another day,” Chaput added.
While “much of the anger in the Church today is righteous and healthy,” Chaput said, “what we do with that anger…determines whether it becomes a medicine or a poison.”
The archbishop counseled that holiness would lead to a renewal of the Church’s life.
“Twenty centuries after the resurrection of Jesus, the Church continues her mission. She survives and continues through the grace of God. But that grace works through people like you and me,” he said.”
During difficult times, the archbishop said, fear can also become a toxic element in the lives of Catholics.
“Do we really believe in Jesus Christ or not? That’s the central question in our lives. Everything turns on the answer. Because if our Christian faith really grounds and organizes our lives, then we have no reason to fear, and we have every reason to hope.”
“Hope depends on faith. It can’t survive without a foundation of passionate belief in something or Someone higher and greater than ourselves. Without faith, ‘hope’ is just another word for the cheap and cheesy optimism the modern world uses to paper over its own – and our own – brokenness.“
“But God is here with us, and because he is, this time of ours, like every other difficult time in history, is a good time to be a Catholic and especially to be a priest — because every priest has the privilege of holding the Source of love, the God who made all creation, in his hands.”
The archbishop added that as the Church becomes absent “from the center of today’s Western culture,” Catholics are becoming disoriented, and many are “leaving the pews.”
“This ongoing cultural realignment will shake many of our Church institutions, from urban parishes, to schools, universities, hospitals, and other agencies – even seminaries. They were founded in a different era in accord with social and political conditions that no longer exist. But for committed believers it’s an exhilarating time, too, because we’re being pushed back onto the foundations of our faith, the enduring sources of truth and life.”
“We still need budgets, and we can’t escape meetings. The Church was instituted by Christ, which means she’s an institution, a living body of the faithful ordered toward worship of God and service in the world. But in this time of sifting, a great deal of dead weight is being stripped away. We’re being driven closer to the one, simple truth from which the Church draws her purpose and strength: God incarnate in Christ, the author of our salvation and life eternal,” he said.
As he concluded, Chaput encouraged faith amid difficulty.
“The gift of this moment, the blessing of our disestablishment, is that we’re being exposed to the world as followers of Jesus Christ, even as we stumble and fall. And through the witness of the faithful who trust, and serve, and endure in his love — despite all our failures and weaknesses — God will make the Gospel new and more radiant. History is a record of that story again and again. God doesn’t lose.”
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I would like to feel joyful, that after this Great Falling Away, we will have to hold fast to Christ, but my own beloved children are losing the Faith and no longer believe what a Catholic must believe with Divine and Catholic Faith, due to those who have been permitted by the Bishops to remain within Christ’s Church physically, having left His Church spiritually, causing much chaos and confusion as they intentionally misrepresent The Deposit Of Faith.
My own adult daughter, who I Love dearly, developed a same sex sexual attraction in college, as the result of the perfect storm, and she informs me that several years ago, when visiting Rome, during Confession, she was told by a priest that God Created her this way.
How can I tell my own children about the beauty of God’s teaching on sexual morality, which serves out of respect for the inherent Dignity of all God’s beloved sons and daughters, when so many Faithful Bishops, unlike you, Archbishop Chaput, are not willing to offer the fraternal correction that is necessary, including informing those who no longer believe what a Catholic must believe, with Divine and Catholic Faith, that they have ipso facto, separated themselves from Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, outside which, there is no Salvation, and are in grave danger? Do they no longer believe that Christ Has Revealed, Through His Life, His Passion, And His Death On The Cross, that to Love one another as Christ Loves us, is to desire Salvation for our beloved?
Dear Archbishop Chaput, I have no doubt that you are being Called to speak out against this Great Apostasy and I Pray that you will continue to “Be not afraid”.
“My House Is a House Of Prayer.” It is not a den of thieves, for those who deny Christ’s teaching on sexual morality, and thus do not respect The Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, and The Sanctity of The Sacrament Of Holy Matrimony.
Pray for Holy Mother Church!
Archbishop Chaput has been my hero for 3 decades. This article is a case in point as to why. On a whim when he was still in Denver, I sent him an e-mail asking if I could become a member of his fan club. I actually got a reply–he said the only fan club worth joining is that of Jesus Christ! Always principled, always true. Archbishop, many thanks for your continued excellent leadership!
Haaalllllooooo Catholic Church. Is anyone home upstairs over there? Your primary problem is not sexual corruption at all, it is near complete personal invulnerability to God in church officials from top to bottom. Personal sanctity, necessary holiness results only from the unqualified communion with God in which all of you are almost completely lacking, and lacking that the door has been for half a century or more in the very bowels of the church to the most unimaginable of predatory corruption. You lack honesty not only in identifying the true nature of the corruption, but far more importantly, in it’s true cause. You will never be free of the corruption you inflict upon yourselves and other by attempting to stamp out all of those isolated forest fires while the forest burns down around you. Your abdication of the one mission for which you exist which is to encourage the communion with God in yourselves and in the faithful that will enable our entry into heaven could not speak to us and to cry out to God more loudly. Only fools, as all of you have been in allowing the corruption of Christs Church for a very long time would think otherwise.
I truly wish Archbishop Chaput were Pope.
I agree with you Martin!!
Thank you again Archbishop Chaput for humble piety and TRUTH. I continually feel we are standing in the “Way of the Cross” and watching as Christ falls under the weight, all alone. Did His knees bleed? Does that mean He was not God? Was it painful for GOD? Is He bleeding now as our children leave? (Mine too) are we being asked to carry some cross for the world. Are they worth it to us? I feel we are being asked to really walk with Him, in season and out of season. I pray daily for the grace to live out what comes to me, my part. He fell three times, maybe this crisis is #1, it’s not the time to get weak. IF we are being asked to join Him, I only am breathless that it has come to our time.
I, too, wish Archbishop Chaput were Pope.
As I read the opening words “All the great reformers,” Saint Peter Damian came immediately to mind! I only recently became aware of him and his writings – specifically his book “Book of Gomorrah – when I read a post by a gentleman on Dynamic Catholic. St. Damian addressed these very issues almost one-thousand years ago! I have yet to receive this man’s permission to use his name (as I like to give credit to the proper source), but T.S. not only shared about the book, but also DID something about it – he gave a copy to his bishop!! When I shared what he did with some close friends, one gentleman suggested that we start a “foundation” to send a copy to EVERY bishop! That way, none could say – as Pope Francis suggested – that they are not “aware” of the problem. (I found a wonderful PDF synopsis at “Saint Peter Damian’s Book of Gomorrah – A Moral Blueprint for Our Times” by Ms. Randy Engel at isidore.co)
When will our Church hierarchy ever learn?! I have worked as a psychotherapist for four decades. During this time, I have worked with countless (because somehow, quite by accident, I became known as an “expert” on childhood sexual abuse) victims of sexual abuse. Though all were difficult, the MOST difficult were those who suffered abuse at the hands of clergy. During my career, I identified a surprising pattern among this population: the vast majority could cope better with the abuser (writing it off as anyone who would hurt a child is “sick”) than the one who was supposed to PROTECT them (usually their mother or whoever their primary caregiver was)!
The cover-up, in many ways, is more egregious than the crime. Some historians have maintained that Richard Nixon would never have been impeached if he just stated that it is common for each party to spy on the other – instead of lying to the American public. Similarly, the public was not as outraged with Bill Clinton for what he did in the Oval Office, but that he lied to us.
So, From Pope Francis on down, PLEASE STOP LYING TO US, honor your vow of celibacy, and cleanse our Holy Mother Church so that she may be restored to the place of dignity and respect that she deserves!
While his Grace Archbishop Chaput is right that God will not lose, and the Church will endure, it will be at a great cost. The current crisis is akin to the sacking of Rome by the armies of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, at the height of the corruption of the Renaissance era.