ArchBishop Chaput’s 3 Church Mandates

Denver Catholic Register – Catholics believe that the Church is the ongoing presence of Christ in the world.  So as disciples, we’re called to do as the first Apostles did; and that can be summarized in three brief mandates.  They all, unavoidably, need resources to succeed.

The Church’s first mandate is to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—even when the Gospel message is inconvenient in our own lives or unwelcome in the world around us.  So whenever we raise financial resources, which of course the ACA seeks to do, those resources need to be used in some way to preach Jesus Christ to the world around us.   The ACA plays a vital role in underwriting the formation of our future priests, and in supporting our pro-life work and our communications ministries as part of the Church’s evangelization of culture efforts.

The Church’s second mandate is to build up the community of believers. The vitality of Christian life depends not on feelings or good intentions, but on a deep and mature faith, especially in the face of adversity.  This is why archdiocesan educational and catechetical ministries, which the ACA also supports, are so important.

The Church’s third mandate, following in the footsteps of Jesus, is to care for those who are in need. Jesus didn’t require people to believe in him before he loved them, healed them or entered into their lives. As Christians, we have the responsibility to be the presence of Christ in the lives of others—even those who are not believers. Thus, an important portion of ACA resources always goes toward serving the poor through the works of Catholic Charities.

How Can We Find Security In Uncertain Times?

By Trusting In God’s Loving Providence

Archbishop Chaput-When we think of the Church, we usually think of our local parishes. This is understandable.   At our parishes we encounter Christ in the Eucharist, couples are married, babies are baptized, sins are confessed and families come together for the burial of loved ones.

But for Catholics, the Church is actually much bigger and wider than any individual parish. We may rarely think of the Archdiocese of Denver as our primary community of faith, but it really is. Each of our parishes is a local expression of the archdiocesan Church, which in turn is the local reality of the universal Church.

The Church’s first mandate is to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—even when the Gospel message is inconvenient in our own lives or unwelcome in the world around us.

The Church’s second mandate is to build up the community of believers.  The vitality of Christian life depends not on feelings or good intentions, but on a deep and mature faith, especially in the face of adversity.

The Church’s third mandate, following in the footsteps of Jesus, is to care for those who are in need. Jesus didn’t require people to believe in him before he loved them, healed them or entered into their lives. As Christians, we have the responsibility to be the presence of Christ in the lives of others—even those who are not believers. Thus, an important portion of ACA resources always goes toward serving the poor through the works of Catholic Charities.

Giving of our resources is a sign of faith. For many of us, money embodies the ideal of security. Yet, it is the message of the Gospel that we should trust in God’s provision, and that we are stewards—not owners—of the many good things God has placed in our lives. Our only real security is God’s love, and the more generously we reflect that love to others, the deeper our own happiness here and in the life to come. The Christian vocation invites all of us, priests and bishops included, to give sacrificially from our material resources back to God.

(edited by Jeff Gares)

What Does Christ Ask Us To Do This Easter Season and Every Season?

He Asks Us to be Joyful Missionaries of Truth

Without Compromise!

Archbishop Charles Chaput-Every Easter we come again to the moments that define us as a believing people. The Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection—these sacramental celebrations, far more than Christmas or any other feast of the Christian calendar, set us apart from every other religious tradition in the world.

In every reading from Scripture during Holy Week, we encountered the One who lived, suffered, died and rose again to new life so that we too might have life. Those extraordinary days of the Triduum, which we just celebrated, are like no others. They’re “holy” in the deepest sense of the word,  they are other than our daily reality. They are true, historical events that are also above and outside of history, and they are alive again in a new way at every Easter down through the centuries.

The real person who is Jesus Christ is not a plastic figure who can be molded and changed to suit the attitudes of the world. The Gospel is more than a collection of warm sentiments about a man who lived a long time ago and became a positive role model for us all. The message of Easter is far more beautiful than that—and also much more demanding.

The good news of Jesus Christ is bad news for the enemies of the God who is the source of all truth and mercy, justice and human dignity. That’s why Golgotha happened. That’s why no Christian message of hope would exist without the bloody nails of the cross. There was no “virtual reality” in the crucifixion. The blood and the dying were brutally real. And that’s also why the Resurrection is no illusion.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” and died for us, and rose again for us, so that we—our flesh and spirit—would be redeemed; so that every one of us, no matter how sinful or confused, or broken or handicapped, would be restored to the beauty God intended for each of us.

We can only be the persons that God intended, we can only be fully human, by following Jesus Christ. That means being nailed with Him to the cross and dying to our selves. But it also means Christ’s empty tomb and Easter. That’s the good news, the profoundly joyful news, for every person in every generation. That’s why we proclaim Jesus Christ. That’s why we preach Him passionately, without compromise, and with hearts on fire with hope.

That’s the meaning of witness.

That’s why we must live as missionaries. And it is missionaries Jesus calls each one of us to be.

May God grant all of us the gift of new life in His Son during this wonderful Easter season, and throughout the coming year!

Archbishop Chaput: Lessons from the Healthcare Debacle

Four Lessons Learned From The

Government Takeover of Healthcare

Archbishop Charles Chaput-As current federal health-care legislation moves forward toward law, we need to draw several lessons from events of the last weeks and months:

First, the bill passed by the House on March 21 is a failure of decent lawmaking.  It has not been “fixed.”  It remains unethical and defective on all of the issues pressed by the U.S. bishops and prolife groups for the past seven months.

Second, the Executive Order promised by the White House to ban the use of federal funds for abortion does not solve the many problems with the bill, which is why the bishops did not — and still do not – see it as a real solution. Executive Orders can be rescinded or reinterpreted at any time.  Some current congressional leaders have already shown a pattern of evasion, ill will and obstinacy on the moral issues involved in this legislation, and the track record of the White House in keeping its promises regarding abortion-related issues does not inspire confidence.  The fact that congressional leaders granted this one modest and inadequate concession only at the last moment, and only to force the passage of this deeply flawed bill, should give no one comfort.

Third, the combination of pressure and disinformation used to break the prolife witness on this bill among Democratic members of Congress – despite the strong resistance to this legislation that continues among American voters – should put an end to any talk by Washington leaders about serving the common good or seeking common ground. Words need actions to give them flesh.  At many points over the past seven months, congressional leaders could have resolved the serious moral issues inherent in this legislation.  They did not.  No shower of reassuring words now can wash away that fact.

Fourth, self-described “Catholic” groups have done a serious disservice to justice, to the Church, and to the ethical needs of the American people by undercutting the leadership and witness of their own bishops. For groups like Catholics United, this is unsurprising.  In their effect, if not in formal intent, such groups exist to advance the interests of a particular political spectrum.  Nor is it newsworthy from an organization like Network, which – whatever the nature of its good work — has rarely shown much enthusiasm for a definition of “social justice” that includes the rights of the unborn child.

But the actions of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) in providing a deliberate public counter-message to the bishops were both surprising and profoundly disappointing; and also genuinely damaging.  In the crucial final days of debate on health-care legislation, CHA lobbyists worked directly against the efforts of the American bishops in their approach to members of Congress.  The bad law we now likely face, we owe in part to the efforts of the Catholic Health Association and similar “Catholic” organizations.

Here in Colorado, many thousands of ordinary, faithful Catholics, from both political parties, have worked hard over the past seven months to advance sensible, legitimate health-care reform; the kind that serves the poor and protects the rights of the unborn child, and immigrants, and the freedom of conscience rights of health-care professionals and institutions.

Archbishop Charles Chaput (with slight editing)

Your Comments

  • What do you think will be the biggest concern with the new health bill?
  • Who disappointed you most?  Who stood tall?
  • What do you think?

Chaput, The Health-Care Bill “Is Gravely Flawed”

Three Reasons Why Archbishop Chaput Says The Bill “Does Not Meet Minimum Moral Standards”

(CNA).– In his weekly column for the Denver Catholic Register, the Archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., says the Senate health-care bill does not meet minimum moral standards and therefore, doesn’t have the support of the Catholic bishops.

sacredheart_web“The Senate version of health-care reform currently being forced ahead by congressional leaders and the White House is a bad bill that will result in bad law,”  says the archbishop in his column titled, “Catholics, health care and the Senate’s bad bill,” published today on the archdiocese’s  website.

“As I write this column on March 14, the Senate bill remains gravely flawed.  It does not meet minimum moral standards in at least three important areas: the exclusion of abortion funding and services; adequate conscience protections for health-care professionals and institutions; and the inclusion of immigrants,” Chaput writes.

In reference to pro-Obama Catholic organizations who have been claiming that the bill is “sufficiently” pro-life, the Archbishop of Denver argues that “groups, trade associations and publications describing themselves as ‘Catholic’ or ‘prolife’ that endorse the Senate version – whatever their intentions – are doing a serious disservice to the nation and to the Church, undermining the witness of the Catholic community; and ensuring the failure of genuine, ethical health-care reform.”

Such groups, Archbishop Chaput explains, “create confusion at exactly the moment Catholics need to think clearly about the remaining issues in the health-care debate.  They also provide the illusion of moral cover for an unethical piece of legislation.”

The archbishop then reminds his readers of  “a few simple facts.”

First, the Catholic bishops of the United States began pressing for real national health-care reform “long before either political party or the public media found it convenient.”  Second, the bishops have tried earnestly to craft a consensus “that would serve all Americans,” but the failure of their effort has one source:  “It comes entirely from the stubbornness and evasions of certain key congressional leaders, and the unwillingness of the White House to honor promises made by the president last September.”

Third, “the health-care reform debate has never been merely a matter of party politics.  Nor is it now.” In this regard, Archbishop Chaput praises Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and “a number of his Democratic colleagues” for showing “extraordinary character in pushing for good health-care reform while resisting attempts to poison it with abortion-related entitlements and other bad ideas that have nothing to do with real health care.”

“To put it another way,” the Archbishop says, “few persons seriously oppose making adequate health services available for all Americans.  But God, or the devil, is in the details — and by that measure, the current Senate version of health-care reform is not merely defective, but also a dangerous mistake.”

Nevertheless, Archbishop Chaput writes that the “most painful feature” in the last weeks of the debate, “has been those ‘Catholic’ groups that by their eagerness for some kind of deal undercut the witness of the Catholic community and help advance a bad bill into a bad law. Their flawed judgment could now have damaging consequences for all of us.”

The Archbishop of Denver reminds his readers that the bill “does not deserve, nor does it have, the support of the Catholic bishops in our country, who speak for the believing Catholic community.”

“Catholics and other persons of good will concerned about the foundations of human dignity should oppose it,” he says in closing.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy on Us and on the Whole World.

Archbishop Chaput Stirs the Pot

Lesbian Couple Frustrated Because Catholic Rules Are Actually Being Enforced

Catholic schools: Partners in faith with parents by Archbishop Chaput

Denver news media have reported in recent days on the case of two children of a lesbian couple in Boulder.  The couple was informed by Sacred Heart of Jesus parish school that the older child, whom they were enrolling in kindergarten for next year, would be allowed to attend kindergarten but would not be able to continue into first grade the year after.  Their younger child would be welcome to finish preschool, but not continue into kindergarten.   Many have wondered why.  Sacred Heart of Jesus parish has borne the difficult publicity surrounding this issue, but archdiocesan policy was followed faithfully in this matter, and the policy applies to all Archdiocese of Denver schools.

Some background is important.  Then we’ll turn to the human realities involved.

History

Catholic schools began in this country in the early 19th century.  Catholics started them as an alternative to the public schools of the day, which taught a curriculum often hostile to Catholic belief.  In many ways times have changed, but the mission of Catholic schools has not.  The main purpose of Catholic schools is religious; in other words, to form students in Catholic faith, Catholic morality and Catholic social values.

We take great pride in the academic excellence of our schools as well.  The reason is simple.  A strong, well-rounded academic education helps to create mature citizens who contribute to the wider community.  It’s also true that some of our schools exist as a service outreach in largely non-Catholic communities.  Many of our schools also accept students of other faiths and no faith, and from single parent and divorced parent families.  These students are always welcome so long as their parents support the Catholic mission of the school and do not offer a serious counter-witness to that mission in their actions.

Our schools, however, exist primarily to serve Catholic families with an education shaped by Catholic faith and moral formation. This is common sense.  Other religious traditions do the same according to their beliefs, and at a heavy sacrifice.  We need to remember that Catholic families pay twice for a Catholic education: through their taxes, they fund public education; then they pay again to send their children to a Catholic school.  The idea that Catholic schools should require support for Catholic teaching for admission, and a serious effort from school families to live their Catholic identity faithfully, is reasonable and just.

That’s the background.  Now to the human side of a painful situation.  The Church never looks for reasons to turn anyone away from a Catholic education.  But the Church can’t change her moral beliefs without undermining her mission and failing to serve the many families who believe in that mission.  If Catholics take their faith seriously, they naturally follow the teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals; otherwise they take themselves outside the believing community.

These Are The Teachings of Christ

The Church does not claim that people with a homosexual orientation are “bad,” or that their children are less loved by God.  Quite the opposite.  But what the Church does teach is that sexual intimacy by anyone outside marriage is wrong; that marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman.  These beliefs are central to a Catholic understanding of human nature, family and happiness, and the organization of society.  The Church cannot change these teachings because, in the faith of Catholics, they are the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The policies of our Catholic school system exist to protect all parties involved, including the children of homosexual couples and the couples themselves.  Our schools are meant to be “partners in faith” with parents.  If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.  It also places unfair stress on the children, who find themselves caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church.

Most parents who send their children to Catholic schools want an environment where the Catholic faith is fully taught and practiced. That simply can’t be done if teachers need to worry about wounding the feelings of their students or about alienating students from their parents.  That isn’t fair to anyone—including the wider school community.  Persons who have an understanding of marriage and family life sharply different from Catholic belief are often people of sincerity and good will.  They have other, excellent options for education and should see in them the better course for their children.

Archbishop Reiterates Position of School in Boulder, CO…

Parents of School Children Need To

Practice Christian Morality

BOULDER, Colorado, March 10, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colo. has stepped in to support a Boulder Catholic grade school who told a lesbian couple told they would no longer be able to enroll their children.

The parish school of Sacred Heart Church in Boulder had informed a lesbian couple that their two children – one in kindergarten and another in pre-school –  would be allowed to complete the year, but could not re-enroll, citing Archdiocesan policy requiring children’s families to practice Christian values.

Chaput addressed the controversy in his Wednesday column for the Denver Catholic Register, saying that “archdiocesan policy was followed faithfully in this matter, and the policy applies to all Archdiocese of Denver schools.”

“Most parents who send their children to Catholic schools want an environment where the Catholic faith is fully taught and practiced.  That simply can’t be done if teachers need to worry about wounding the feelings of their students or about alienating students from their parents,” said Chaput.

“That isn’t fair to anyone—including the wider school community.”

The Archdiocese of Denver’s admission policy states that “no person shall be admitted as a student in any Catholic school unless that person and his/her parent(s) subscribe to the school’s philosophy and agree to abide by the educational policies and regulations of the school and Archdiocese.”

The lesbian “couple,” who have remained anonymous, had already enrolled the children under their care in the Sacred Heart of Jesus School for the current school year when their relationship came to light.

Father William Breslin of Sacred Heart Church said that the decision not to allow the child to re-enroll was “the most difficult decision of my life,” but that his priestly vows of obedience to his bishop required him to follow the Archdiocese’s policy.

“It is not about punishing the child for the sins of his or her parents,” he said. “It is simply that the lesbian couple is saying that their relationship is a good one that should be accepted by everyone; and the Church cannot agree to that.”

In his column, Chaput agreed with Breslin’s decision, saying that “the main purpose of Catholic schools is religious; in other words, to form students in Catholic faith, Catholic morality and Catholic social values.”

He explained that while many archdiocesan schools “accept students of other faiths and no faith, and from single parent and divorced parent families,” they have welcomed them so long as they “support the Catholic mission of the school and do not offer a serious counter-witness to that mission in their actions.”

Although he recognized the “painful” situation between the lesbian couple and Sacred Heart, Chaput explained that “the Church can’t change her moral beliefs without undermining her mission and failing to serve the many families who believe in that mission.”

“The Church does not claim that people with a homosexual orientation are ‘bad,’ or that their children are less loved by God.  Quite the opposite,” said Chaput.

“But what the Church does teach is that sexual intimacy by anyone outside marriage is wrong; that marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman,” he said. “These beliefs are central to a Catholic understanding of human nature, family and happiness, and the organization of society.”

Chaput further illustrated that the archdiocesan policy was meant for the good of all parties involved: the couple, the children, and the school.

Because the parents reject or fail to respect the Church’s teachings, he explained, the situation puts “unfair stress on the children, who find themselves caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church.”

By Peter J. Smith

Our Health Care Debacle!

Archbishop Charles Chaput Reveals The Harsh Reality Facing Our Catholic Hospitals And Health-Care Professionals.

Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered an address to health care professionals in Houston, the following is a slightly edited, abbreviated version of the actual address.

Scattered through the Gospels are brief summaries of how Jesus and his disciples understood his mission. Here’s one of them from the Gospel of Matthew: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages … preaching the gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity” (Mt 9:35). Jesus redeemed the whole human person – mind, body and spirit.

Jesus gave this same mission to his Church. He told his apostles: “Whenever you enter a town … heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near you’” (Lk 10:9). Thus, wherever a local Church was founded, Christians started ministries to the sick, especially to the weak and most vulnerable. They didn’t ask permission from the civil authorities. They didn’t do these things to show good citizenship, or because it was lucrative business. They cared for the sick because that’s what Jesus did. And that’s what he commanded his disciples to do.

Catholic Hospitals Are At A Crossroads

Our mission has brought us to a crossroads with the current national debate over health-care reform . We face big economic and philosophical questions about the viability of the Catholic health-care ministry.

What Is Your Identity & Mission As A Health Care Professional?

But I want to talk about the one question that undergirds all the others. That’s the question of your Catholic identity and your mission: Who are you? And what does it really mean to be a Catholic health-care professional?

Back To Our Roots; The Hippocratic Oath

Dr. Herbert Ratner, a Catholic and a family practice doctor who devoted his life to questions of medical ethics, believed that the ancient Hippocratic Oath sworn by physicians for 2,500 years offered another path. It could serve as a cornerstone for the identity of persons working in health care. It could be a shield from what he called bullying by the state, “the dehumanization of society and the brutalization of medicine.”2 Unfortunately, the original oath is rarely used these days.

Louis Lasagna rewrote and arguably softened it in 1964. We should also remember that while the original oath barred physicians from helping with abortions – in fact, the oath specifically rejects medical aid for abortions and physician-assisted suicide — some sources suggest that Hippocrates himself may have invented surgical tools to perform abortions. Abortion, of course, was common in the pre-Christian world.

Unfortunately, we live in a time when both of those simple words – “human” and “person” – have disputed meanings, and the idea of the “sanctity” of human life is sometimes seen as little more than romantic poetry. And this cultural confusion, fueled by trends in our science and technology, is magnified in the current debates over health-care reform.

The State Is Pushing Catholic Hospitals To Perform Abortions . . .

In a number of states, the Church has faced government attempts to press Catholic hospitals, clinics and other social service institutions into violating their religious principles. This is becoming a national pattern. In Colorado, to name just one example, lawmakers recently tried to block the sale of two local hospitals to a large Catholic hospital system unless the Catholic system agreed to demands that it arrange for abortions, sterilizations, and other so-called women’s services.

The question we should ask ourselves is this: What kind of a society would need to coerce religious believers into doing things that undermine their religious convictions — especially when those same believers provide vital services to the public.

Massachusetts, A Sign Of The Future!

Massachusetts, wanting to provide emergency contraception drugs to the victims of sexual assault, pushed through a law that requires Catholic hospitals to administer drugs even if they might act to cause an abortion.

Clearly that’s bad law and bad medicine. And it sets a dangerous precedent because it allows the government to directly interfere in the doctor-patient relationship. In effect, it dictates the exact medical procedure that doctors must follow in every case, no matter what their professional judgment might be. It requires doctors and nurses to be the enforcers of state abortion ideology.

We now often see in the actions of our public authorities the opposite of what the American Founders intended for our country. The Founders worked hard to create the structures of a limited government subordinate to civil society. Civil society is much larger and much more alive than the state. And to stay that way, it depends for its survival on the autonomy and free cooperation of its parts – families, communities, churches, synagogues, and fraternal and charitable associations. All of these entities have rights completely independent of government. Rights that precede the state.

Now how does all this relate to the very practical topic of our time together today: health-care reform and the future of the Catholic health-care ministry?

I’ll answer with a few simple facts.

  1. While access to decent health care may not seem like a “right” to some people in the same sense as our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – reasonable people might reasonably disagree about that — the Church does see it as a right.
  2. A government role in ensuring basic health care for all citizens and immigrants can be very legitimate and even required. But that doesn’t justify excluding government from helping to solve chronic problems when no other solutions work.
  3. The principle of subsidiarity reminds us that problems should be solved as locally as possible.
  4. No national health-care plan can be morally legitimate if it allows, even indirectly, for the killing of the unborn, or discriminatory policies and pressures against the elderly, the infirm and the disabled. Protecting the unborn child and serving the poor are not unrelated issues. They flow from exactly the same Christian duty to work for social justice.
  5. The health-care reform proposals with any hope of advancing now in Washington all remain fatally flawed on the abortion issue, conscience protections and the inclusion of immigrants.

So what do you need to do as Catholic health-care professionals in the face of these challenges?

Have courage.  Trust in God.  Speak up and defend your Catholic faith with your medical colleagues.  Commit yourself to good and moral medicine.  Get involved and fight hard for the conscience rights of your fellow Catholics and their institutions.  Remember the Hippocratic Oath.  Dedicate yourselves again to being truly Christian and deeply Catholic health-care professionals.

You and I and all of us – we’re disciples first. That’s why you gave your heart and all your talent to this extraordinary vocation in the first place. Remember that as you go home today. Use up your lives for the glory of God and the dignity of your patients. You walk in the footsteps of the Healer of humanity and Redeemer of history.  In healing the sick, proclaim his Kingdom with the witness of your lives.

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