Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Kennedy: "sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong" - Chaput

Archbishop Chaput of Denver was speaking yesterday at the Houston Baptist University on the role of Christians in public life. His talk can be read in full at the Archdiocese of Denver website: The Vocation of Christians in American Public Life. The talk was hosted with the assistance of the John Paul II Center at the University of St Thomas. Sandro Magister has commented on the talk, and published it in full. As Fr Z comments, this is remarkable given that the speech was only given last night. See: Archbp. Chaput’s HOMERUN in Houston!

The Archbishop refers to the speech given by John F Kennedy fifty years ago to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. He says of the speech:
It was sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong. Not wrong about the patriotism of Catholics, but wrong about American history and very wrong about the role of religious faith in our nation’s life. And he wasn’t merely “wrong.” His Houston remarks profoundly undermined the place not just of Catholics, but of all religious believers, in America’s public life and political conversation. Today, half a century later, we’re paying for the damage.
Archbishop Chaput explains the necessity for Christians, as Christians to engage in politics:
Relationships have consequences. A married man will commit himself to certain actions and behaviors, no matter what the cost, out of the love he bears for his wife. Our relationship with God is the same. We need to live and prove our love by our actions, not just in our personal and family lives, but also in the public square. Therefore Christians individually and the Church as a believing community engage the political order as an obligation of the Word of God. Human law teaches and forms as well as regulates; and human politics is the exercise of power – which means both have moral implications that the Christian cannot ignore and still remain faithful to his vocation as a light to the world (Mt 5:14-16).
I encourage you to read the whole of this well-crafted lecture but if you are in a hurry right now, here is another important passage:
As I was preparing these comments for tonight, I listed all the urgent issues that demand our attention as believers: abortion; immigration; our obligations to the poor, the elderly and the disabled; questions of war and peace; our national confusion about sexual identity and human nature, and the attacks on marriage and family life that flow from this confusion; the growing disconnection of our science and technology from real moral reflection; the erosion of freedom of conscience in our national health-care debates; the content and quality of the schools that form our children.

The list is long. I believe abortion is the foundational human rights issue of our lifetime. We need to do everything we can to support women in their pregnancies and to end the legal killing of unborn children. We may want to remember that the Romans had a visceral hatred for Carthage not because Carthage was a commercial rival, or because its people had a different language and customs. The Romans hated Carthage above all because its people sacrificed their infants to Ba’al. For the Romans, who themselves were a hard people, that was a unique kind of wickedness and barbarism. As a nation, we might profitably ask ourselves whom and what we’ve really been worshipping in our 40 million “legal” abortions since 1973.
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