Thursday, September 27, 2012
The Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia, delivered the keynote address at the recent Seventh Annual John F. Scarpa Conference on Law, Politics, and Culture at Villanova University School of Law. The Law School's largest room could not nearly contain the people who came to hear Archbishop Chaput; his keynote address had to be simulcast to another large room. Among the other speakers were Gerry Bradley, Peter Steinfels, Helen Alvare, Michael J. White, H. David Baer, Fr. Bryan Hehir, and yours truly. Most of the conference papers, including Archbishop Chaput's paper "No King But Caesar," will be published in the Villanova Law Review. Below is a sneak preview of what the Archbishop had to say. It's not for the timorous -- or rather it is, in a profoundly challenging way, intended for those of us who sometimes hesitate to do what the Second Vatican Council taught (in both Lumen Gentium No. 31 and Gaudium et Spes No.43) that it is the obligation of the laity (and others) to do: "to impress the divine law on the earthly city." Archbishop Chaput said this:
"The way we lead our public lives needs to embody what the Catholic faith teaches -- not what our personalized edition of Christianity feels comfortable with, but the real thing; the full package; what the Church actually holds to be true. In other words, we need to be Catholics first and political creatures second.
"The more we transfer our passion for Jesus Christ to some political messiah or party platform, the more bitter we feel toward his Church when she speaks against the idols we set up in our own hearts. There’s no more damning moment in all of Scripture than John 19:15: “We have no king but Caesar.” The only king Christians have is Jesus Christ. The obligation to seek and serve the truth belongs to each of us personally. The duty to love and help our neighbor belongs to each of us personally. We can’t ignore or delegate away these personal duties to anyone else or any government agency."