The USCCB Committee on Doctrine co-sponsored the event, which may explain why it sounds so much more like an offering of Mother Goose than that of Mother Church.
Among the speakers that addressed the Symposium was Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia whose presentation has been blazing quite a trail on social media over the last several days.
As expected, the address is being met with much applause from Chaput’s neo-conservative fan base – with some hailing it as a pivotal moment for Catholic citizens of the United States, and others as an exercise in episcopal bravery.
In reality, it is nothing of the kind.
That’s not to say that Chaput’s address isn’t noteworthy – it is, but only insofar as it testifies to the putrid state of the post-conciliar hierarchy, their collective lack of Catholic vision, and their utter inability to effectively address the needs of an increasingly godless society.
The broader culture here in the United States, just as in many other places throughout the world, is quickly deteriorating into a wasteland of immorality, violence and injustice.
With this in mind, the rhetorical question asked by Archbishop Chaput in his address is an important one: How did we get here?
His answer merits our closest attention:
Many of us Catholics are largely assimilated to, and digested by, a culture that bleaches out strong religious convictions in the name of liberal tolerance and dulls our longings for the supernatural with a river of practical atheism in the form of consumer goods.
So far so good!
Let’s talk about “strong religious convictions” and “supernatural longings” then, shall we?
“Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: ‘His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ.’” (cf Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas)
Fine, Christ reigns over every individual. Not even the heretics can argue with that, but what about society itself? What about nations, and associations, and families and the like?
“Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society.” (ibid.)
OK, but what about heads of State and other civic leaders who are called to serve Christian and non-Christian citizens alike?
“Not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ.” (ibid.)
These, my friends, are not just “strong religious convictions” and “supernatural longings;” they are objective, immutable truths that are inextricably linked to the mission of the Holy Catholic Church. They are the key to solving all of society’s problems, and the Successors to the Apostles have a solemn duty to preach them, in season and out.
Why, then, are men like Archbishop Chaput unwilling to do so?
To borrow his manner of speaking, they have been “bleached out” of the mouths of post-conciliar prelates in exchange for the conciliatory language of “liberal tolerance.”
Speaking at Notre Dame just weeks earlier at the Tocqueville Lecture on Religious Liberty, Chaput said of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton:
I presume that both [Clinton and Trump]… intend well and have a reasonable level of personal decency behind their public images.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Archbishop Charles Chaput presumes that Hillary Clinton – a woman whose party is actively engaged in fomenting a “revolution” in Christ’s Church, and who is rabidly determined to promote the mutilation of babies in their mother’s womb – “intends well and has a reasonable level of personal decency.”
And he is so convinced of this that he chose to make his presumptions known publicly. (For the record, he has no business citing the “personal decency” of either one!)
Now you tell me – is this a man with “strong religious convictions” and “supernatural longings,” or is this a man so spiritually blind that he cannot see the hypocrisy of dealing in precisely the “liberal tolerance” he calls others to resist?
To be fair, Chaput certainly isn’t alone.
“Liberal tolerance” has come to infect nearly every last member of the sacred hierarchy – including the popes – since it was formally espoused in various ways at Vatican II; not the least of which includes the Council’s treatment of religious liberty.
Having adopted the American pluralistic approach, our churchmen not only tolerate falsehood; they treat it like it’s an equal to the truth. They speak as if the one true Faith established by Christ enjoys no more rights and prerogatives in society than the many false religions of the world.
These men no longer conduct themselves according to the belief that the Holy Roman Catholic Church is the very soul of society (cf Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei), much less are they willing to call the State to account for its duty to defer to the Sovereign Rights of Christ the King.
This is the reason why human society is withering right before our very eyes, but men like Charles Chaput simply have not the ability to diagnose the fatal illness that has befallen us.
While Chaput rightly finds cause to criticize “America’s cultural and political elite” who only pay lip service to “equality, opportunity and justice,” he does so saying:
They behave like a privileged class with an authority based on their connections and skills. And supported by sympathetic media, they’re remaking the country into something very different from anything most of us remember or the Founders imagined.
This, my friends, isn’t Holy Mother Church speaking through a Successor to the Apostles; this is the Council speaking through an Americanist prelate who does not embrace immutable Catholic doctrine concerning the Social Kingship of Christ.
Chaput evidently believes that a nation ordered as “the Founders imagined” is the pathway to “equality, opportunity and justice,” but is it really?
The Founders, in the Declaration of Independence, insisted that a government acting upon “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind … deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” makes for a State well-ordered for the promotion of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
[For a more detailed examination of the anti-Catholic nature of the Founders’ vision, see HERE.]
The Holy Catholic Church, by contrast, rejects the notion that governments and rulers derive their power from the people; rather, she insists that “all public power must proceed from God; for He alone is the true and supreme Lord of the world.” (cf Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei)
And not just any god, mind you (e.g., the generic “Nature’s God” of the Founders), but rather the one true God whose only begotten Son has received “all authority in Heaven and on earth.” (cf Mt. 28:18)
As for the true pathway to “equality, opportunity and justice,” the Holy Catholic Church insists:
“When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.” (cf Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas)
As for respect for “the opinions of mankind,” Catholic common sense alone is enough to tell us that is precisely how we got here.
Not surprisingly, however, sense such as this is evidently incompatible with the liberal tolerance that leads one to publicly extol Hillary Clinton’s personal decency and good will.
So, if immutable doctrine and Catholic common sense isn’t the lens through which men like Charles Chaput view the world, what is?
At this, we have come to the heart of Chaput’s address to the “Reclaiming the Church for the Catholic Imagination” Symposium and the solitary valuable insight it provides for those who are interested in discerning the vaunted “sings of the times” through a truly Catholic lens:
Even the so-called “best and brightest” in the post-conciliar hierarchy are ultimately nothing more than leaders of what, since Vatican Council II, has effectively become just one more Protestant denomination among many.
Chaput makes this all-too-evident when he turns his attention to “what we need to do.”
Too many of us have welcomed the good news of Vatican II without carving its demand for conversion onto the stone of our hearts … If we want to reclaim who we are as a Church, if we want to renew the Catholic imagination, we need to begin, in ourselves and in our local parishes …
Did you get that? The good news of Vatican II…
Even if unintentionally, these words were very well-chosen indeed.
Our post-conciliar churchmen (many, no doubt, in ignorance) have set aside the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the authentic “good news” expounded upon with piercing clarity by the popes and councils of tradition – in exchange for the pseudo good news of Vatican II.
And make no mistake, these are two very different things.
The former insists upon the Sovereign Rights of Christ the King; placing emphasis on Him as the “true Light that enlightens every man” (cf John 1:9) and He who alone can lead all men, societies, and nations on the way of perfection.
The latter, by contrast, insists upon the rights of man and respect for his opinions; placing emphasis on his supposed ability to dispense power to those in civil authority in such way as to perfect the society in which they live.
The fundamental difference between the two is to be found in the warning issued at Fatima by Our Lady and commented upon by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, when he said:
“The Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God.”
More subtly, however, the problem with Chaput’s worldview can be understood in terms of his failure to recognize the Church for who she truly is, which is an extension of his failure to recognize Christ as Sovereign and King.
As his prescription for “reclaiming who we are as a Church” makes plain, Chaput evidently sees the Church as a collection of individual believers who, if only they get serious about the business of personal holiness, will somehow move the direction of society by urging those in civil authority to govern according to the Divine Law from the bottom up.
Now, this may be a wonderful theory, but it’s a denial of reality.
It is a manner of thinking that is tantamount to a rejection of both the hierarchical structure of the Church and the hierarchical structure of human society as established by God Himself.
In other words, power and authority simply do not flow from the bottom up. Period.
It is also a denial of the reality of the Church as more than just a collection of individual believers, but rather as the Mystical Body of Christ and she who speaks and rules in the voice, and with the all-encompassing authority, of Christ the King; i.e., it is she who presses those in civil authority to order all things rightly with a power that flows from the top down.
To be very clear, let it be said that the “call to holiness” (often misrepresented as a “breakthrough” of Vatican II when, in fact, anyone who has ever read the Bible knows better) is real and it’s important. Striving for sanctity is, in fact, the duty of every individual person.
That said, it isn’t synonymous with the mission of the Church.
Archbishop Chaput apparently doesn’t grasp as much, which is presumably why he went on to insist:
The “new evangelization” is fundamentally not so different from the “old evangelization.” It begins with personal witness and action, and with sincere friendships among committed Catholics…
Like the rest of his post-conciliar brothers, Chaput seems to have lost all sense of the mission of the Church; namely, to Christianize the nations and to call all men – and perhaps even especially those who exercise civil authority in the various nations – to account for their obligations toward Christ the King and the Divine Law that comes to us from Him through His Holy Catholic Church. (Once again, the epitome of power rightly ordered from the top down.)
This is the very nature and purpose of the “old evangelization” (better known as actual evangelization); the “new” is but a protestant imposter.
Archbishop Chaput’s advocacy for the latter, though apparent enough already, is further evidenced by the following assertion:
Losing people who are members of the Church in name only is an imaginary loss. It may in fact be more honest for those who leave and healthier for those who stay. We should be focused on commitment, not numbers or institutional throw-weight.
We shouldn’t focus on “institutional throw-weight”?
Though I suspect that he is far too disoriented to even realize it, Chaput is belittling the Social Reign of Our Lord; as if to concede that institutions will do what institutions will do and Christ has no say in the temporal affairs of man.
In reality, Chaput is essentially insisting that the Church need not be concerned with the degree to which she effectively safeguards the common good as she insists upon the Sovereign Rights of her Founder, Christ the King, in the face of those earthly rulers who would dare to encroach upon them.
At this, it is high time for us to dispense with the widespread and idiotic suggestion that a “smaller, more faithful Church” is something we should welcome.
It is, in fact, a grave insult to Jesus Christ to suggest that “numbers” don’t matter.
Those numbers aren’t just numbers; they represent the souls for whom Our Lord laid down His life! It was He, after all, who charged His Church with the mission of baptizing the nations – all of them.
The Church, therefore, must be focused on “numbers” and on faithfulness and on what Archbishop Chaput flippantly dismisses as “institutional throw-weight.”
As for the departure of Catholics in name only, if that happened, there’d be hardly a bishop left!
In conclusion, I am reminded of Fatima once more…
In his 850-page magnum opus, The Third Secret, Brother Michael of the Holy Trinity wrote:
Having reached the end of our inquiry, we are able to discern, with near certainty, the essential elements of our Lady’s final secret: While ‘in Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved,’ in many nations, perhaps in almost the entire world, the Faith will be lost.
The pastors of the Church will fail gravely in the duties of their office.
Through their fault, consecrated souls and the faithful in great number will let themselves be seduced by pernicious errors spread everywhere.
This will be the time of the decisive battle between the Blessed Virgin and the Devil. A wave of diabolical disorientation will be hurled over the world. Satan will introduce himself even to the highest summit of the Church. He will blind the minds and harden the hearts of pastors. And God will deliver them to themselves as a chastisement for their refusal to obey the requests of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This will be the great apostasy predicted for the ‘last times’; ‘the False Lamb’ and ‘False Prophet’ will betray the Church to the profit of ‘the Beast,’ according to the prophecy of the Apocalypse.”
The “smaller Church” is already here, folks, and it is “smaller” for one reason and one reason alone; a lack of faithfulness on the part of her pastors.
If Archbishop Chaput deserves any credit at all, it is for making it plain that the days of apostasy are most surely upon us.