Archishop Chaput on the years since Kennedy’s election

Archbishop Chaput and Dr Bonicelli at HBU March 2010

The conclusion of an essay by Archbishop Chaput in First Things:

In the years since Kennedy’s election, Vatican II and the cultural upheavals of the 1960s, two generations of citizens have grown to maturity. The world is a different place. America is a different place—and in some ways, a far more troubling one. We can’t change history, though we need to remember and understand it. But we can only blame outside factors for our present realities up to a point. As Catholics, like so many other American Christians, we have too often made our country what it is through our appetite for success, our self-delusion, our eagerness to fit in, our vanity, our compromises, our self-absorption and our tepid faith.

If government now pressures religious entities out of the public square, or promotes same-sex “marriage,” or acts in ways that undermine the integrity of the family, or compromises the sanctity of human life, or overrides the will of voters, or discourages certain forms of religious teaching as “hate speech,” or interferes with individual and communal rights of conscience—well, why not? In the name of tolerance and pluralism, we have forgotten why and how we began as nation; and we have undermined our ability to ground our arguments in anything higher than our own sectarian opinions.

The “next America” has been in its chrysalis a long time. Whether people will be happy when it fully emerges remains to be seen. But the future is not predestined. We create it with our choices. And the most important choice we can make is both terribly simple and terribly hard: to actually live what the Church teaches, to win the hearts of others by our witness, and to renew the soul of our country with the courage of our own Christian faith and integrity. There is no more revolutionary act.

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