Archbishop Chaput: ‘exhausted’ US political system needs spiritual renewal
[His comments on the 2016 presidential race repeat those of his August 12, 2016 column in the Philadelphia archdiocesan newspaper: “A pox on both your houses”]
Catholic World News – September 16, 2016
In a major address on American political affairs, Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput lamented that this year’s presidential election features “two such deeply flawed” candidates, but went on to say that American society as a whole is facing a crisis.
“We’ve reached a moment when our political thinking and vocabulary as a nation seem exhausted,” the archbishop said. Delivering the Tocqueville Lecture at the University of Notre Dame, he said that Christians must take action to revive a moral vision for American society.
Without naming the two major presidential candidate, Archbishop Chaput delivered a powerful negative judgment:
One candidate, in the view of a lot of people, is a belligerent demagogue with an impulse-control problem. And the other, also in the view of a lot of people, is a criminal liar, uniquely rich in stale ideas and bad priorities.
However, the archbishop went on to say that the problems facing the American political system run deeper than the year’s presidential choices. Speaking from his perspective as a priest who has heard confessions for nearly 50 years, he reported:
.. a huge spike in people – both men and women – confessing promiscuity, infidelity, sexual violence and sexual confusion as an ordinary part of life, and the massive role of pornography in wrecking marriages, families and even the vocations of clergy and religious.
The archbishop concluded that today’s Americans are living in “a dysfunctional culture of frustrated and wounded people increasingly incapable of permanent commitments, self-sacrifice and sustained intimacy, and unwilling to face the reality of their own problems.” A self-governing nation cannot be sustained by that sort of people, he said; the nation’s future “belongs to people who believe in something beyond themselves, and who live and sacrifice accordingly.”
Archbishop Chaput welcomed the emphasis that Pope Francis has placed on God’s mercy. But he cautioned that the term “mercy” can be misunderstood. God’s mercy is dispensed in the confessional, he said, but penitents come to confession only “when they already understand, at least dimly, that they need to change their lives and seek God’s mercy.”
The archbishop said: “Mercy means nothing– it’s just an exercise in sentimentality– without clarity about moral truth.”