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Rise of the Evangelical Catholic Bishops (Gospel without compromise replaces Catholic Lite)
National Review ^ | 07/21/2011 | George Weigel

Posted on 07/21/2011 7:05:23 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

When Pope Benedict XVI appointed the archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M.Cap., as the new archbishop of Philadelphia on July 19, the usual suspects were trotted out to say the usual things that the usual suspects say.

Thus David Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, continued his nine-year rant against the Catholic Church by pronouncing Chaput’s record on abuse (which virtually everyone else finds admirable) “dismal.” But then David Clohessy would likely have found St. John Chrysostom, St. Charles Borromeo, or Chaput’s 19th-century predecessor in Philadelphia, St. John Neumann, “dismal,” because if you’re the New York Times’s go-to guy for anti-Catholic-hierarchy sexual-abuse soundbites, that’s what you say. As for Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., the former editor of America magazine made his own priorities rather clear in fretting to the Philadelphia Inquirer that Chaput would “be a real pain in the neck for the Democratic Party.” (Bob Casey the Less, you have been warned!)

Just about every story on the Chaput appointment identified the archbishop as a “conservative” (because he believes and teaches as true what the Catholic Church believes and teaches to be true); just about every story claimed that Chaput was a tough guy when it came to holding Catholic politicians accountable for their votes on abortion and the nature of marriage (while completely missing the fact that Chaput had consistently made genuinely public arguments, not uniquely Catholic theological claims, about the inalienable right to life and marriage rightly understood); and of course every story emphasized abuse, abuse, abuse (as if this were the only reality of Catholic life in America).

All of this is tiresome, if wholly predictable; both its tediousness and its predictability help explain why it’s the rare discerning reader who turns to the mainstream media for serious reportage about and analysis of the Catholic Church. In this case, however, the same-old-same-old also obscured what is truly important about the Chaput appointment — which is not the archbishop’s Potawatomi ancestry (interesting as that is) but his place as one of the most vigorous exponents of what might be called Evangelical Catholicism.

Archbishop Chaput put it best himself in an exclusive interview with Catholic News Agency: “The biggest challenge, not just in Philadelphia but everywhere, is to preach the Gospel. . . . We need to have confidence in the Gospel, we have to live it faithfully, and to live it without compromise and with great joy.”

That formulation — the Gospel without compromise, joyfully lived — captures the essence of the Evangelical Catholicism that is slowly but steadily replacing Counter-Reformation Catholicism in the United States. The usual suspects are living in an old Catholic paradigm: They’re stuck in the Counter-Reformation Church of institutional maintenance; they simply want an institution they can run with looser rules, closely aligned with the Democratic party on the political left — which is precisely why they’re of interest to their media megaphones. Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and other rising leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States are operating out of a very different paradigm — and in doing so, they’re the true heirs of both the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II.

The Council put the Gospel and its proclamation at the center of Catholic life. John Paul II, in his apostolic letter published at the end of the Great Jubilee of 2000, challenged the entire Church to leave the stagnant shallows of institutional maintenance and put out into the deep waters of post-modernity, preaching Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life. In his 1991 encyclical Redemptoris Missio [The Mission of the Redeemer], John Paul insisted that the Church doesn’t have a mission, as if “mission” were one among a dozen things the Catholic Church does. No, John Paul taught, the Church is a mission, such that everything and everyone in the Church ought to be measured by what the management types would call mission-effectiveness.

The old warhorses of the post–Vatican II debates, on either end of the Catholic spectrum, don’t get this; they’re still mud-wrestling within the old paradigm. But Archbishop Charles Chaput gets it, big time. That, and the effective work of his predecessor, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, is what has made the archdiocese of Denver what is arguably the model Evangelical Catholic diocese in the country: a Church brimming with excitement over the adventure of the Gospel, a Church attracting some of the sharpest young Catholics in America to its services, a Church fully engaged in public life while making genuinely public arguments about the first principles of democracy.

This is the vision that Archbishop Chaput is bringing to Philadelphia, and it has virtually nothing to do with “agendas” as the usual suspects understand agendas. Of course that vision includes addressing serious problems of sexual abuse. The old clericalism that protected perpetrators in various dioceses created serious legal problems for the institutional Church; but it was also, and even more importantly from an evangelical point of view, a terrible impediment to preaching the Gospel and attracting people to friendship with Jesus Christ. It’s his palpable commitment to the latter — to the project of unapologetic evangelism — that will give Archbishop Chaput credibility in cleaning up what needs cleaning up and in healing what can be healed in Philadelphia.

And this is something else the usual suspects miss. The usual suspects’ answer to clerical sexual abuse has been, is, and seems likely to remain the transformation of Catholicism into Catholic Lite. But in situation after situation — Phoenix and Denver being two prime examples — it’s been the Gospel without compromise, joyfully lived, that has turned abuse disaster areas into vibrant Catholic centers where public confidence in the Church’s credibility has been restored. Where Catholic Lite has been adopted as the solution to the problems Catholic Lite helped cause — as in Boston — the meltdown that began in 2002 continues.

With the appointment of Charles J. Chaput as archbishop of Philadelphia, the deep reform of the Catholic Church in the United States — the reform that is giving birth to Evangelical Catholicism even as it leaves the old post–Vatican II arguments fading into the rear-view mirror — has been accelerated.

— George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. His weekly column, “The Catholic Difference,” is syndicated by the archdiocese of Denver.


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Evangelical Christian; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: bishops; catholic; evangelical

1 posted on 07/21/2011 7:05:28 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
<snip> is what has made the archdiocese of Denver what is arguably the model Evangelical Catholic diocese in the country: a Church brimming with excitement over the adventure of the Gospel, a Church attracting some of the sharpest young Catholics in America to its services, a Church fully engaged in public life while making genuinely public arguments about the first principles of democracy.
I am interested in knowing more about this... Can anyone cite some concrete examples of what George is implying?
2 posted on 07/21/2011 8:31:45 AM PDT by GirlShortstop
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To: SeekAndFind

Excellent.

I’ve maintained that Vatican-II was the right idea, but was poorly implemented. Good to see that some bishops are trying to get it right.

Even better to see that its coming from liberla Philly.


3 posted on 07/21/2011 8:44:00 AM PDT by kidd
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To: SeekAndFind

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2751147/posts


4 posted on 07/21/2011 8:50:53 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: GirlShortstop

During the dim convention in Denver, Bishop Chaput spoke out against their party and the plank in the dim party that supports abortion.

They were not happy with him, so say the least.


5 posted on 07/21/2011 8:53:23 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

I should have said “plank in the dim party platform”


6 posted on 07/21/2011 8:55:52 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: GirlShortstop; Salvation
I am interested in knowing more about this... Can anyone cite some concrete examples of what George is implying?

A couple of examples:

From a recent Catholic News Agency article, Archbishop Chaput warns about Catholic institutions losing religious identity:

“The more that Catholic universities or hospitals mute their religious identity; the more that Catholic social ministries weaken their religious character ... the less useful to the Gospel they become,” he said.

(snip)

At a June 21 address to the Catholic Social Workers National Convention in Denver, he said that civil society consists “not just of autonomous individuals” but communities as well.

“Those communities also have rights. Catholic institutions are extensions of the Catholic community and Catholic belief,” he emphasized. “The state has no right to interfere with their legitimate work, even when it claims to act in the name of individuals unhappy with Catholic teaching.”

(snip)

“And if the state refuses to allow those Catholic ministries to be faithful in their services through legal or financial bullying,” he added, “then as a matter of integrity, they should end their services.”

“Catholic social ministry begins and ends with Jesus Christ,” he said. “If it doesn’t, it isn’t Catholic.”

“And if our social work isn’t deeply, confidently and explicitly Catholic in its identity, then we should stop using the word 'Catholic.' It’s that simple.”

And from his book, Render Unto Caesar (available from Amazon):

Catholics and Partisan Politics
Neither party fully represents a Catholic way of thinking about social issues. The sooner Catholics feel at home in any political party, the sooner that party begins to take them for granted and then to ignore their concerns. Party loyalty is a dead end. It's a lethal form of laziness.

Catholic Teaching on the Sanctity of Life
One of the pillars of Catholic thought is this: Don't deliberately kill the innocent and don't collude in allowing it.

Pro-Choice Catholic Politicians and Communion
The debates over denying Catholic politicians communion are marked by ignorance about the church and disregard for the real nature of the Eucharist. If we ignore or deny what the church teaches, we are not "in communion" with the Catholic faith. We separate ourselves from the community of believers. If we receive communion anyway, we engage in a lie.

Separation of Church and State
Catholics strongly support a proper and healthy separation of the civil and religious dimensions of our national life. Of course, everything depends on how we define "proper" and "healthy." No one in mainstream public life wants to force uniquely Catholic doctrines into federal law. But the "establishment clause" does not mean that religious believers, leaders or communities should be silent in public affairs. In fact, healthy democratic life requires the opposite.

Catholics and Conscience
The Catholic faith does not hold, and the Second Vatican Council did not teach, that respect for conscience means that individuals have absolute sovereignty in determining their own truth, or that anyone's choice of beliefs is as good as any other. Even the secular order admits that some choices are good and others bad. Every person has a duty to seek and serve the truth.

Cafeteria Catholicism
We can choose to treat our faith as a collection of comforting pieties and file Jesus away as a good teacher. Or we can choose to be real disciples and accept Jesus for who he says he is: our redeemer and the only Son of God. What we can't honestly do is select our Catholic faith from a cafeteria menu while failing at the task Christ himself gave us: a root-level transformation of ourselves and the world around us.


 

Pluralism, Tolerance and
the Common Good

Pluralism is a demographic fact. Nothing more. It is not a philosophy or ideology or surrogate creed. It does not imply that all ideas and religious beliefs are equally valid, because they are not. Pluralism never excuses us from speaking and acting to advance our beliefs about justice and the common good in the public square.

Tolerance is a working principle that enables us to live in peace with other people and their ideas. It is not an end in itself, and it is not a Christian virtue. Catholics have the duty not to "tolerate" other people but to love them, which is a much more demanding task.

The common good is that which constitutes the best source of justice and happiness for a community and its members in the light of truth. It is not another name for what a majority of people may think they want right now.

Anti-Catholicism
The crude anti-Catholic bigotry of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has mutated into an elitist contempt for religion in general, but Christianity in particular. Anti-Catholicism is now a kind of background radiation to much of our daily life created by America's secularized leadership classes: the media, the academy and political action groups.

What many critics dislike most about the Catholic Church is not her message, which they can choose to dismiss, but her institutional coherence in pursuing her message, which is much harder to push aside.

Adapted from Render Unto Caesar by Charles J. Chaput (Doubleday, August 2008)

A brilliant man.

7 posted on 07/21/2011 9:20:08 AM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good-Pope Leo XIII)
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To: SeekAndFind

Wonderful post.

Catholicism is tough and sometimes we forget to live it with our joy showing. When young people meet a Catholic who lives the Gospel joyfully they are deeply moved.

I was raised Catholic and knew lots of firm, serious Catholics. It was when I saw the film “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” about the life of St. Francis and St. Clare, that I first contemplated what it meant to live the Catholic life joyfully. I recommend the film to anyone and challenge them not to be inspired. I saw it when I was 17 and I’ve never forgotten it. It is also beautifully filmed.

Another great resource is the book “Mr. Blue” which is a story about the life of a more modern version of St. Francis. It also challenges us to live the ideal. I read it in my 20’s and was touched by the story of a “fool for Christ.”

Finally, the sheer numbers of young people who flocked to JPII’s appearances showed that young people are searching for a beautiful ideal that is lived fearlessly and joyously.

This is our challenge as Catholics: to live the gospel in happiness without fear in front of the whole world. As St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”


8 posted on 07/21/2011 9:29:29 AM PDT by Melian ("I can't spare this [wo]man; [s]he fights!" (Apologies to Abe Lincoln) Go, Sarah!)
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To: markomalley; Salvation
A brilliant man.  Well said.  Thank you both for your posts. Pax et bonum.
Catholics and Conscience
The Catholic faith does not hold, and the Second Vatican Council did not teach, that respect for conscience means that individuals have absolute sovereignty in determining their own truth, or that anyone's choice of beliefs is as good as any other. Even the secular order admits that some choices are good and others bad. Every person has a duty to seek and serve the truth.

9 posted on 07/22/2011 7:12:18 AM PDT by GirlShortstop (Every person has a duty to seek and serve the truth. Abp Charles J. Chaput, OFMCap)
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To: GirlShortstop; markomalley
This is one quote I am saving!

“Catholic social ministry begins and ends with Jesus Christ,” he said. “If it doesn’t, it isn’t Catholic.”

Archbishop Chaput


10 posted on 07/22/2011 9:35:07 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Amen!


11 posted on 07/23/2011 12:16:38 AM PDT by RobbyS (Pray with the suffering souls.)
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