Archbishop Chaput's column

The nature of marriage and the source of human thriving

In late March the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in two cases – Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor – with big implications for the future of marriage. Perry involves California’s Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment. Prop 8 restored to California law the principle that marriage is the conjugal union of husband and wife. Windsor involves DOMA, the federal Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA defines marriage in the same way for the purposes of federal law. It also authorizes states to decline to recognize same-sex “marriages” entered into in other states.

Easter and its implications, here and now

En Espanol In many ways over many years, the Church in Philadelphia has protected the weak and served human dignity with exceptional skill – feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, comforting the sick and elderly, helping the immigrant. No similar organization comes close to matching the service provided to the general public by the Catholic community in our region. Yet it’s also true that our witness has been bitterly undermined by cases of sexual abuse of children in the past. These sins, these failures to protect innocent young people, have no excuse; they’ve resulted in terribly wounded lives -- survivors to whom we owe continuing help for their healing. I can and do apologize for this hurt on my own behalf and on behalf of the Church, with all my heart. But the obligation remains to prevent this kind of damage in the future.

Holy Week and the path to Easter, 2013

A friend once described the spiritual life in this way:  Each of us is a child with an instinct for beauty, and God, who is the Beauty behind all beauty, is the hidden presence we naturally seek to touch. We spend our lives reaching for that beauty. But creation is so very great, and we’re so very small, that we can accomplish very little -- until God stoops down to provide us with a stool to stand on, so that we can stretch out and touch his face.

A new holy Father and the legacy of a name

En espanol Francis is the name of several extraordinary saints. But the Francis most people remember when they hear the name, including many non-Christians and non-believers, is the Poverello, “the poor one” – St. Francis of Assisi. This is the saint whose name our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, has chosen. So it’s good to know a little bit about him.

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.