Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Self-referential Church

In a paper I wrote last Fall, I offered some respectful criticism of things that not a few U.S. Catholic bishops and others were saying about the HHS mandate.  In particular, I questioned the "just let us [Catholics] alone" defense stategy, and I did so by contending that the Church is (as I put it) "not a bomb shelter."  The Church's much-dicussed "liberty" is not justified on the ground that Catholics have a right to stay inside unmolested by the culture.  The Church's right to liberty is grounded in the Church's being Christ's own mystical body continued in the world by divine command.  Christ's mystical body is to be present and active in the world in order to correct and transform that world so as to save souls.  I was especially thankful, therefore, to hear Archbishop Charles Chaput just now, in his powerful homily at today's Chrism Mass in Philadelphia, take up this theme that has been so strong and clear in the recent preaching of Pope Francis. The Church is grievously failing when she is merely self-referential.  In a word, the sacristy is a starting point, not an ending point. Which is why the person who translated "Ite, Missa est" as "Go, the Mass is ended" should do hard time in purgatory.  The "Ite" is in fact a priestly command to go forth and transform the world according to the truths of the Gospel.        


Brennan, Patrick | Permalink