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    • Joseph Paul

      Your Excellency,

      With all due reverence, I say that this essay rings hollow. Listed are numerous ill effects and spoiled fruits of American culture, but the root cause is not named nor blamed. From the publication of the Syllabus of Errors up until Pius XII, the Popes authoritatively and unequivocally condemned Liberalism in all its forms. Abortion, pornography, divorce, gay marriage, human cloning, etc. are all fruits of the Left. Until a bishop takes up the clarion call of the saintly Popes of the past 200 years, many more souls will be consumed by this monstrous hydra of a heresy which is destroying everything that is civilization. The prime proponent of Leftism in America is the Democrat Party. They need to be named and excoriated by the heirs of the Apostles. Unless those who have been given the authority to lead actually start leading, the Church will continue to become a marginalized and hunted minority. If you stand and fight, the Faithful will stand with you. Please, please defend us and our children. But most of all, please do something to save our beloved civilization, the inheritance of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome. It seems that a far more malevolent dark age is fast approaching, and I fear for the survival of many.

      With all due Reverence and Deference,
      Joseph Paul, (a 21 year-old philosophy major)

    • Don L

      I’ve lived 4x your years and all I can say is “here here” and heartily agree. When the orchid no longer produces fruit, it is usually because the farmer failed to prune – you can’t blame the apple pickers.

      The American Church since Vat II has been unrecognizable and I’m not referring to the few removed statues and icons.

    • Mark

      “The different strands in our nation’s early history had one common theme: hostility to the Catholic Church. That prejudice, in one form or another, has continued down to the present day.”

      Sadly, some of the greatest damage is caused by the enemy within: Pelosi, Biden, Kennedy, Kerry, Sebelius etc. — Oh, and many within the USCCB too.

      Until “Catholics” stop being part of the problem, it is disingeuous to cry “victim” — IMHO

    • Sean

      Thank you, Archbishop CHaput. This was an epic article. I’m glad there are still thinking bishops out there. I don’t mean that others are unintelligent, just that they don’t put much thought in what they right. This was downright educational, in the good way.

    • stmm

      I teach in a Catholic school and found this overview of Catholics in America hugely valuable. Thanks to the archbishop for an informed, articulate and challenging piece. I’ve read some Murray, but was surprised and really interested in the essay the archbishop mentions. I’ll read it and share it.

    • David Ambuul

      It isn’t a new idea that the nature possessed by humans is malleable; what is unprecedented is the attempt to change it through the American experiment. Our protestant ethic is on many levels all well and good as our nation goes through the throes any nation must when it meets an unexpected turn as, let’s say, ours did on 9/11. And for all that our response was very similar to our response at the time of Pearl Harbor. We saw what happened, we wept, we fought. And that is not terribly different from what any fifth grade boy might do when he witnesses a blatent injustice. It is what the people of Boston did over two centuries ago under different circumstances.
      Although I doubt it, perhaps this stability in human nature makes the vocation of a priest or bishop easier. I certainly envy neither their respective task. But it must be nice for a priest to candidly admit to himself, after a difficult discussion with an unruly soul, that some people are simply dishonest and nothing he said could have penetrated that obdurate soul at that particular time; his task was in the cross, and that soul under God’s watchful eye.
      The present American experience says otherwise: corporations and banks sleep with politicians and the three seem to think they have formed a new god that can form new men and women. Even our Nancy Pelosis are not free of this paganism, and she is only one among many, many catholics who sleep with the enemy.
      But human nature remains as it did even before Plato thought to tinker with it in his Republic. Men and women had kids, they ate food and learned and played instruments, they prayed and they died. And I’ll be damned if Plato isn’t still teaching us today from his spot in eternity. He is, and the masters of our universities and pressrooms sleep like dead Pharaohs in dusty pyramids far from his feet.
      And this is why the American experiment is at a juncture which will also be its demise: the Enlightment presupposes experiment within the context of relativism. And every good scientist knows that very few experiments are the last word. When they are we are face to face with a law. And no George Bush or Newt Gingrich or any other pretender to a throne can dismiss the laws of nature enshrined in our country’s founding. War, for example, always contains evil, even when necessary. And it is far less necessary than Newt Gingrich is sure to be telling us in the not so distant future. But as they say, a Prince is a Prince is a Prince. But the simple law that physical war is evil still holds. Not so for spiritual war which is a necessary good. It is both good and necessary if we want to survive the proddings of corporations such as Monsanto or Ford or GE. Because no matter how unchangable our nature may be, it is still capable of giving in to evil; evil, indeed, is the only thing that can brings about one’s death, physical or spiritual.
      While I don’t envy you your task bishop, I must say I’m grateful for how you fight. In the press, on the street, and in the confessional and on the altar. For those are the forum which strengthen human nature to its true stature. It is there that both weak and strong men and women are saved from the vultures devouring our present culture and it is a critical help in rebuilding what was lost due to the weaknesses latent in our country’s founding. As much as we have lost, human nature and the gifts of an unrelentingly good God will always prevail.

    • Deal Hudson

      After reading Archbishop Chaput’s excellent essay, I was left concerned about his overall characterization of the “Enlightenment.” Specifically, I would disagree that the Enlightenment was, at its core, anti-religion. Some distinctions could have been made here. Certainly, there were many major figures of the period who abandoned religion, and encouraged others to do likewise, but there were many others who did not give up their piety, even if they attempted to integrate it with rationalism and utilitarianism.

      Peter Gay, whom the Archbishop cites, has always been a Freudian in his approach to intellectual history, and where most scholars see the influence of religion, he sees the working out of the conflict between id, ego, and superego.

    • Mark

      “These Protestant roots have given us many good fruits”

      The current Supreme Court has six Catholics (Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor) Interestingly, the other three (Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan) are all Jewish, so there is currently no Protestant representation within the highest court in our nation.

      Catholics are in a position to lead America morally and ethically. Let’s hope that we make the sacrifices necessary to accomplish this goal and stop taking the path of least resistance (ie. the University of Notre Dame) in an effort to merely be popular.

      Thank you Archbishop Chaput for this article and all of your great work.

    • Thomas Casey

      “The role of Catholics in America is exactly the opposite of what we’ve been doing for half a century or more — compromising too cheaply, assimilating, fitting in, fleeing from who we really are as believers; and, in the process, being bleached out and digested by the culture we were sent to make holy.”

      Regarding the completeness of our assimilation–I am reminded of Thoreau’s query in “Walden”: What demon made me (us) behave so well?”

      No wonder no one takes Catholics (or most bishops) seriously any more.

    • Irma

      Your Excellency, thank you for your thoughts and comments. You are a model of courage for me. I’m one of those Catholics who try to blend-in with the secular culture, including within my own family in order “to keep the peace”. I am currently praying for the wisdom to change, & courage to make a difference for God.

    • Bob G

      Deal, I think Archbishop Chaput is correct in his characterization of the Enlightenment. Like Mike Novak, you think the British version was almost friendly to religion. I don’t. It was tolerant of religion so long as religion consented to confine itself to the “private” sphere. No Christian can accept this. As Cardinal George commented in his own remarkable recent book, even Murray’s conception was skewed in an unhealthy direction by the influence of the early Jesuit, Juarez, so that Murray seemed to agree that society can be divided into distinct private and public spheres. Hogwash. It cannot. That was an Enlightenment construction useful for getting religion out of the (public) picture. I say Archibishop Chaput is right.

      And another thing: look at that list of books he cites. This man is a profound thinker and writer. How fortunate that we have him as a spokesperson–one of the very few such leaders in the hierarchy. We cannot be grateful enough for his wonderful presence. Thank you, thank you, Archbishop Chaput. A long and fruitful life!

    • Michael PS

      Catholic writers of the Counter-Revolution were clear that the issue between Christianity and the Enlightenment was one of authority and they saw in the Enlightenment a secularised form of the Protestant principle of Private Judgment.

      Thus, Chateaubriand described Christian Rome as being for the modern world what Pagan Rome had been for the ancient world—the universal bond of nations, instructing in duty, defending from oppression.

      Lamennais argued that without authority there could be no religion, that it was the foundation of all society and morality, and that it alone enfranchised man by making him obedient, so harmonizing all intelligences and wills. And thus the Church, as the supreme authority, became the principle of order, the centre of political as well as religious stability; the only divine rights were those she sanctioned, in her strength kings reigned, and through obedience to her man was happy and God honoured.

      Joseph de Maistre argued that the Church’s very organization showed her to be the bearer and organ of divine truth, throughout adapted to secure its recognition and realization among men. For above all stood the supreme Pontiff, the spiritual Sovereign, source of unity, law, order, directing the energies, formulating the judgments, determining the faith of the Church; so much the Vicar of Christ as to be His voice become audible; gifted with speech that He might control kings and command peoples, maintain religion, and compel obedience.

      No more comprehensive denial of the principles of the Enlightenment and the Revolution could well be imagined.

    • MRD

      There is nothing in principle to disagree with in this thoughtful article by the Archbishop. The problem is that at the end of the day it deals in rather airy abstractions, and in terms or practical steps to deal with the Problems the Bishop decries it comes up empty.

      I Will begin to take it seriously when the Bishops are willing to begin to teach, not in airy abstractions but in concrete hard and fast steps. It is easy to call for us all to increase our faith, etc, but rings hollow when members of their own flock engage in morally evil behavior and they refuse to condemn the behavior as sinful.

      For example lets take abortion. Abortion is called by Vatican II an “unspeakable crime”. It is called by blessed John Paul II murder, specifically John Paul Ii states “The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder …”.

      Currently there are a great many Catholic politicians that support what a Pope on the way to Saint hood, and Vatican II call murder, unspeakable crime. And yet we still have the Bishops largely wishy washy on the public condemnation of such politicians. But lets make it even more direct, Currently the Catholic Governor of NY, Governor Cuomo supports abortion “rights” vigorously. He of course is not unique, except for the fact that his Shepperd is Archbishop Timothy Dolan who is also head of the USCCB, and in some sense represents all the Bishops. Here in the case of the Govenor we have a situation in which there is a man, whose is at least objectively guilty of mortal sin. ( Good Lord, if legally protecting and seeking tax payer dollars to support something which is an unspeakable crime, ie murder, is not a mortal sin, pray tell what is? ) It certainly appears from Evangelium Vitae this sort of political behavior is immoral, let us quote again..”In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it” So again Governor Cuomo is engaged in behavior which is never licit, promoting and protecting something characterized by the Church as “unspeakable crime” and murder. And yet.. Is there any record of Archbishop Dolan suggesting publicly that this is precisely what The Governor is doing? Is there any place where the Archbishop suggests this behavior is objectively sinful? If not what behavior is the Bishop willing to cause sinful?

      Lets not stop at Coumo, in Chicago the prior head of the USCCB has a priest who is directly responsible to him, the infamous Father Pflegger, who has promoted politicians who are vigorously pro-abortion and working to get such people elected. Indeed in violation of liturgical norms he has allowed people who are pro-abortion to speak from the pulpit, such as Al Sharpton. What does Cardinal George do in response to this… He offers to make him president of a school! So here a priest is advocating the election so one who supports “unspeakable crime, … murder” and he is not disciplined for this, not silenced, no he is offered a promotion!

      It seems to me that until The Bishops stop winking and nodding at people like Coumo, Pflegger etc.. They are not serious. When the heads of the USCCB are doing the winking and nodding they are doubly not serious.

      So here is my question: Are politicians like Governor Cuomo by promoting abortion etc.. doing something which objectively at least is a mortal sin, And if so what do you plan to do about it? Why is it not a sacrilege for them to receive the Eucharist? Are voters who put in power those who promote “unspeakable crime” guilty of any wrongdoing if there is a viable candidate who is not promoting “unspeakable crime”. If not why not.

      I will take the Bishops seriously when they give concrete answers to the above questions. It is very easy to deal with philosophical academic questions and chat about renewing the culture. In some academic seminar that would be helpful. But the hour is late, practical men expect some practical actions. When we will see some?

    • Carl

      MRD, don’t stop commenting!

    • Biagio

      MRD is right not to take the bishops seriously when they refuse to lead by setting a good example. He is wrong when he has only one issue to talk about.