Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Archbishop Chaput: "Systematic Discrimination Against Church Now Seems Inevitable"

SPISSKE, PODHRADIE, Slovakia, August 25, 2010 ( - MUST READ Excerpts from Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput's address to the 15th symposium for the Canon Law Association of Slovakia on Tuesday:

Today's secularizers have learned from the past.  They are more adroit in their bigotry; more elegant in their public relations; more intelligent in their work to exclude the Church and individual believers from influencing the moral life of society. Over the next several decades, Christianity will become a faith that can speak in the public square less and less freely.  A society where faith is prevented from vigorous public expression is a society that has fashioned the state into an idol. And when the state becomes an idol, men and women become the sacrificial offering.

We face an aggressively secular political vision and a consumerist economic model that result - in practice, if not in explicit intent -- in a new kind of state-encouraged atheism.

To put it another way:  The Enlightenment-derived worldview that gave rise to the great murder ideologies of the last century remains very much alive.  Its language is softer, its intentions seem kinder, and its face is friendlier.  But its underlying impulse hasn't changed -- i.e., the dream of building a society apart from God; a world where men and women might live wholly sufficient unto themselves, satisfying their needs and desires through their own ingenuity.

This vision presumes a frankly "post-Christian" world ruled by rationality, technology and good social engineering.  Religion has a place in this worldview, but only as an individual lifestyle accessory.  People are free to worship and believe whatever they want, so long as they keep their beliefs to themselves and do not presume to intrude their religious idiosyncrasies on the workings of government, the economy, or culture.
Now, at first hearing, this might sound like a reasonable way to organize a modern society that includes a wide range of ethnic, religious and cultural traditions, different philosophies of life and approaches to living.
… how does the rhetoric of enlightened, secular tolerance square with the actual experience of faithful Catholics in Europe and North America in recent years?

In the United States, a nation that is still 80 percent Christian with a high degree of religious practice, government agencies now increasingly seek to dictate how Church ministries should operate, and to force them into practices that would destroy their Catholic identity.  Efforts have been made to discourage or criminalize the expression of certain Catholic beliefs as "hate speech."  Our courts and legislatures now routinely take actions that undermine marriage and family life, and seek to scrub our public life of Christian symbolism and signs of influence...

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