Archbishop Chaput's column

Charles Borromeo and the work of new beginnings

Exactly 18 months ago this week, the Philadelphia Catholic family became my family, and the city became my home. I said at the time that the challenges we face as a Church wouldn't be easy, and they haven't been. Many of our pastoral, legal and financial problems still remain. So do our very serious obligations to victims of past abuse. But it's also true that a great deal of good has been accomplished in a short time. We need to thank God for that, and we need to take pride in the fidelity of our clergy and our people under very trying circumstances.

Justice, prudence and immigration reform

En español The Catholic commitment to the dignity of the immigrant comes from exactly the same roots as our commitment to the dignity of the unborn child. Any Catholic who truly understands his or her faith knows that the right to life precedes and creates the foundation for every other human right. There’s no getting around the priority of that fundamental right to life. But being “prolife” also means that we need to make laws and social policies that will care for those people already born that no one else will defend.

Preparing for the journey of Lent, 2013

More than 70 years ago the great French Catholic writer Georges Bernanos published a little essay called “Sermon of an Agnostic on the Feast of St. Théresè.” Bernanos deeply loved the Church, but he could also be brutally candid when it came to himself and his fellow believers. Above all, he had a piercing sense of irony about the comfortable, the self-satisfied and the lukewarm who postured themselves as Catholic – whether they were laypeople or clergy.

Making sense of another ambiguous ‘compromise’

One of the issues America's bishops now face is how best to respond to an HHS mandate that remains unnecessary, coercive and gravely flawed.  In the weeks ahead the bishops of our country, myself included, will need both prudence and courage – the kind of courage that gives prudence spine and results in right action, whatever the cost.  Please pray that God guides our discussions.

Catholic schools and the Christian mission

God renews the world with our actions, not our intentions. What separates real discipleship from surface piety is whether we actually do what we say we believe. Our vocation as Christians is not simply to pass along good morals to our children, or convey a sense of God’s hand in the world. These things are vital, of course, but they don’t exhaust our purpose for being here. Our mission is to bring the world to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ to the world. Each of us is a missionary, and our primary task is the conversion of our own hearts and the hearts of others so that someday the whole world will acknowledge Jesus Christ as humanity’s only savior and Lord.

Restoring the heart of Catholic life

I think it proves God’s sense of timing that whenever the world most bitterly criticizes the Church, good men step forward to rekindle her witness.  The past decade has been difficult for Catholics from every walk of life, including priests.  But it's not the first time in Church history, nor will it be the last, that God has used failure and suffering to restore the heart of Catholic life.  That renewal hinges in a special way on our priests. Here in Philadelphia we’re blessed with one of the great seminaries of the United States: St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.  The men who study there for the priesthood, and those who teach them, deserve our gratitude for their dedication, joy and unselfishness.  They also need our support and prayers for the work of revivifying Catholic life that lies ahead.  So it’s a good moment to take stock of our identity as a community of faith.

Looking back and looking ahead

On the Catholic calendar, Christmas continues through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, observed this year on Sunday, January 13.  In effect, we’re only halfway through the real Christmas season, and if we take the time to pray over the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we’ll find plenty of reasons to keep the joy of Christmas alive in our hearts.

Christmas and the reason for our joy

For believers, the Christmas season doesn’t end this week.  It begins.  So much of modern life at this time of year – its noise, its urgency, its relentless emphasis on shopping and the fatigue that always follows – can seem beyond the control of individuals.   These things can easily distract us from the real reason most Americans, even today, celebrate “the holidays,” the birth of Jesus Christ.

Advent, suffering and the promise of joy

Scripture is a love story, the story of God’s love for humanity. But it’s a real story filled with real people. It’s not a fairytale. In Scripture, as in the real world, evil things happen to innocent persons. The wicked seem to thrive. Cruelty and suffering are common. The Psalmist cries out to heaven again and again for justice; Job is crushed by misfortune; Herod murders blameless infants; Jesus is nailed to a cross. God is good, but we human beings are free, and being free, we help fashion the nature of our world with the choices we make.

Advent, a season of hope: Hearing and sharing the message

One of the best ways to experience Advent this year is to join Dr. Tim Gray for the first talk of the Archbishop’s Year of Faith Lecture Series. I’ve known Dr. Gray for many years as one of the finest young biblical scholars in North America – articulate, vividly engaging, and rich in the history and meaning of God’s Word. Scheduled for St. Charles Borromeo Seminary on Thursday evening, December 13, and designed for the general public, Dr. Gray’s theme is “Advent: A Season of Hope.” He’s the right man with the right theme at the right time, and I strongly encourage Catholics across the archdiocese to spend the $5 admission to hear and share his message. We’ve never needed it more.