George Dunlap, December 23, 2020. The last line in Chaput’s keynote prayer breakfast…we serve God best by living our faith with the kind of passion and joy that touches the hearts of others, and through them, reshapes the world. Are we welling to live a life of “Roland” (The Song of Roland)? Are we spiritually prepared to be the rear guard for others…?
One of the great legacies of our cultural history isLa Chanson de Roland(The Song of Roland). It was composed a thousand years ago, in the mid-11th century, and it tells the story of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. The battle took place on the border of Spain and France in A.D. 778, during the reign of Charlemagne. The story goes like this.
Charlemagne has been fighting in Spain against that country’s Muslim occupiers. The campaign has been a success. He now leads his army back to France to rest. But the pass he must use, Roncevaux Pass, is narrow and treacherous. So he leaves his favorite captain—Roland, a great Christian knight who’s beloved by his men—to command the rear guard and secure the entry to the pass. If there’s trouble, Roland will blow his horn, Oliphant, to signal his need. So Charlemagne and his army disappear into the pass.
What happens next is this. Roland’s stepfather betrays him. Roland is ambushed by a much larger Muslim force seeking to attack Charlemagne from the rear. Roland and his men fight heroically, and before they’re finally overwhelmed, Roland puts Oliphant to his lips. The sound of the great horn echoes along the pass. Charlemagne hears it, turns his army, hurries back, and crushes the enemy. But of course it’s too late for Roland and his men. They’ve done their duty and protected their friends, but they’ve given their lives doing it.
Readers may recall that during the 2004 presidential campaign, Sen. John Kerry led the Democratic ticket. As a Catholic, Kerry held certain policy views that conflicted with the moral beliefs of his Church. This led to internal tensions among U.S. bishops about how to handle the matter of Holy Communion for Catholic public officials who publicly and persistently diverge from Catholic teaching on issues like abortion. At the time, Washington’s then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, along with Pittsburgh’s Bishop Donald Wuerl, had very different views from my own regarding how to proceed.
I believed then, and believe now, that publicly denying Communion to public officials is not always wise or the best pastoral course. Doing so in a loud and forceful manner may cause more harm than good by inviting the official to bask in the media glow of victimhood. What I opposed in 2004, however, was any seeming indifference to the issue, any hint in a national bishops’ statement or policy that would give bishops permission to turn their heads away from the gravity of a very serious issue. At the time, fortunately, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith resolved any confusion about correct practice in these matters with its July 2004 memorandum to then-Cardinal McCarrick, Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles. It includes the following passage:
GEORGE DUNLAP, 12/7/2020. Do we as Pro-Life Catholics engage or sit on the side lines and allow evil to grow. Abortion is EVIL and if you and I do nothing, we too, we will be banished from the Kingdom of God. We must be part of the solution and no longer remain in the shadows. God forgive us all. The below article by Julia Terruso defines the mission of our faith.
Former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said late last week that President-elect Joe Biden should be banned from receiving communion due to his support for abortion rights, fueling an ongoing debate among Catholic leaders in the United States over how to relate to the nation’s second Catholic president.
Chaput, who led Philadelphia’s diocese from 2011 until this year, said Biden “is not in full Communion with the Catholic Church,” and criticized bishops who have spoken out in favor of letting Biden receive communion. He made the argument in a column titled, “Mr. Biden and the Matter of Scandal,” which published Friday in the Catholic magazine First Things. Related stories
Whether Biden, who supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights, should receive communion came up at a convening of the nation’s bishops last month. At that meeting, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, said he would form a working group to further discuss the “difficult and complex situation” of Biden’s presidency.
FACING THE FUTURE WITH HOPE AND JOY +Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. Pontifical College Josephinum, 3.27.19
I’m glad to be here tonight for two reasons. First, I admire – greatly admire — theJosephinum and the men it produces. The Church needs you because we urgently need more good priests, men of prudence and charity, but also of spine and courage, who understand the changing terrain of our times. In my life, the priesthood has been a deep source of joy and purpose, the gift of knowing with certainty why God made me. But it’s not a life for the weak or the lukewarm. Especially now.
My second reason is this. Cardinal Pio Laghiwas a mentor and friend who showed great kindness to me as a young bishop. When you’re a baby bishop, everything is new and a bit intimidating. Cardinal Laghi’s encouragement made a great difference in my life and ministry. He gave me my first zucchetto, pectoral cross, and mitre. I’ve never forgotten the debt I owe him. Delivering these remarks in his name is not just a pleasure, the pleasure of being with you, but also an honor. So let’s begin.
I chose tonight’s theme because it sounds better than “facing the future with confusion and anxiety,”and angerfor that matter, because I’m tempted to feel all three of those things a couple of times a week. There are days when everyone in the Church seems angry. Laypeople and priests are angry with their bishops for the abuse scandal, which never seems to end. Bishops are angry with priests for their bad example. And many bishops are also frustrated – to put it gently — with Rome for its unwillingness to acknowledge the real nature and scope of the abuse problem. Clerical privilege is not the problem. Clericalism may be a factor in the sexual abuse of minors, but no parent I know – and I hear from a lot of them – sees that as the main issue. Not naming the real problem for what it is, a pattern of predatory homosexuality and a failure to weed that out from Church life, is an act of self-delusion.
Archbishop Chaput to College Students: Following God’s Will Is Answer to Dark Times ‘There’s some good in the world, and it’s worth fighting for,’ he told them, quoting The Lord of the Rings. Catholic News Agency BISMARCK, N.D. — There’s a scene in the middle of The Lord of the Rings, a fantasy series written by Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien, where the quest to destroy an evil, all-powerful ring seems to be utterly hopeless. Darkness and danger have surrounded and hounded Frodo, the little hobbit ultimately given the mission to destroy the ring, ever since he set foot out of the Shire, the idyllic and safe home he left behind for this quest.
This was the scene Archbishop Charles Chaput set for students at the
University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, as he spoke to them about
their vocations and the purpose of their lives Wednesday evening.
In a moment of despair, Archbishop Chaput noted, Frodo turns to his
most faithful friend, Samwise Gamgee, a hobbit who has refused to leave
Frodo’s side, and asks him whether it’s even worth continuing with the
seemingly impossible mission.
Sam says yes, “because there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”