Exactly 20 years ago, in U.S. Senate testimony just weeks after the Columbine High School massacre, I offered these thoughts:
The real problem [of Columbine-like violence in our culture] is in here, in us . . . In the last four decades we’ve created a culture that markets violence in dozens of different ways, seven days a week. It’s part of our social fabric. When we build our advertising campaigns on consumer selfishness and greed, and when money becomes the universal measure of value, how can we be surprised when our sense of community erodes? When we glorify and multiply guns, why are we shocked when kids use them?
When we answer murder with more violence in the death penalty, we put the state’s seal of approval on revenge. When the most dangerous place in the country is a mother’s womb and the unborn child can have his or her head crushed in an abortion, even in the process of being born, the body language of that message is that life isn’t sacred and may not be worth much at all. In fact, certain kinds of killing no longer even count officially as “killing.” Certain kinds of killing we enshrine as rights and protect by law. When we live this kind of contradiction, why are we surprised at the results?
The Columbine murders will mark my [Denver] community
for years to come. They’re a wound felt by the entire country — but I
don’t think they’ll be the last. We live in the most violent century in
history. Nothing makes us immune from that violence except a relentless
commitment to respect the sanctity of each human life, from womb to
natural death. The civility and community we’ve built in this country
are fragile. We’re losing them. In examining how and why our culture
markets violence, I ask you not to stop with the symptoms. Look deeper.
The families in Littleton and throughout the country deserve at least
In separate incidents over the past two weeks, gunmen have
killed three persons and wounded 13 others in Gilroy, CA; killed at
least 20 and wounded 26 others in El Paso TX; and killed at least nine
and wounded 27 others in Dayton, OH. These are just the latest in a
long pattern of mass shootings; shootings that have blood-stained the
past two decades with no end in sight. Now begins the usual aftermath:
expressions of shock; hand-wringing about senseless (or racist, or
religious, or political) violence; bitter arguments about gun control;
heated editorials, earnest (but brief) self-searching of the national
soul, and eventually – we’re on to the next crisis.
I buried some of the young Columbine victims 20 years ago. I sat
with their families, watched them weep, listened to their anger, and saw
the human wreckage that gun violence leaves behind. The experience
taught me that assault rifles are not a birthright, and the Second
Amendment is not a Golden Calf. I support thorough background checks
and more restrictive access to guns for anyone seeking to purchase
them. But it also taught me that only a fool can believe that “gun
control” will solve the problem of mass violence. The people using
the guns in these loathsome incidents are moral agents with twisted
hearts. And the twisting is done by the culture of sexual anarchy,
personal excess, political hatreds, intellectual dishonesty, and
perverted freedoms that we’ve systematically created over the past
So I’ll say it again, 20 years later. Treating the symptoms in a
culture of violence doesn’t work. We need to look deeper. Until we’re
willing to do that, nothing fundamental will change.
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.”
Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap, the archbishop of Philadelphia, will present the 2019 Pio Cardinal Laghi Lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 in the Jessing Center at the Pontifical College Josephinum, 7625 N. High St. His topic will be “Facing the Future With Confidence and Joy.”
Archbishop Chaput, 74, has been a member of the Capuchin Franciscan order since 1965 and a priest since 1970. He became bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1988, and archbishop of Denver in 1997 and was installed as archbishop of Philadelphia in 2011.
As a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, Archbishop Chaput was the second Native American to be ordained a bishop in the United States and the first Native American archbishop.
He is a co-founder of the national Catholic Association of Latino Leaders and helped in the founding of ENDOW, a leadership initiative of Catholic women. He also was instrumental in creating the Denver-based Augustine Institute, an independent, lay-run graduate school for forming lay Catholic leaders.
In February 2014, he was appointed to the Pontifical Council for the Laity by Pope Francis. In 2015, he hosted the World Meeting of Families and the visit of the pope to Philadelphia. He participated in the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family in Rome and has served the Holy See on several occasions. He also has been a member of several committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Pio Cardinal Laghi Chair was inaugurated at the Josephinum in 1992. At the time, Cardinal Laghi was prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. American cardinals and presidents of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops promoted the funding of the chair in recognition of Cardinal Laghi’s dedicated service to the Catholic Church in the United States.
As virtually the whole world now knows, Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal nuncio to the United States, has published a blockbuster 11-page letter, naming names of people involved in sexual abuse and cover-ups in America, and their enablers in Rome, up to the very highest levels, including Pope Francis. He provides dates and details and information on where the relevant documents may be found; speaks of persons who can corroborate his story; and has called on everyone implicated, including the Holy Father (who already knew about McCarrick in 2013 and did nothing, he says), to respect the Church’s Zero Tolerance policy, become an example to others, and resign.
I knew Viganò somewhat in Washington and always liked him; he was the best Vatican ambassador we’ve had in recent years. My esteem had grown, even prior to this letter. At Rome’s Marcia per la Vita (March for Life), bishops do not participate (the Italian bishops’ conference, displaying deeply misplaced faith, thinks it should work through elected politicians, not public demonstrations). At the last one, I saw Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider; as for other bishops – only Viganò.
Many call him as a man of honesty and integrity. This comes through clearly in passages from his letter such as this:
My conscience requires me also to reveal facts that I have experienced personally, concerning Pope Francis, that have a dramatic significance, which as Bishop, sharing the collegial responsibility of all the bishops for the universal Church, do not allow me to remain silent, and that I state here, ready to reaffirm them under oath by calling on God as my witness.
Defenders of the pope have already raised questions about specific details of the letter. Those will all be settled in good time. But no one has disputed the overall picture, which can be easily confirmed – and probably will be, if there’s any real accountability. The Vatican has so far been silent; Francis declared that he would not say a word for now on the flight back from Dublin to Rome.
Today, I’d intended to give a wrap-up of the papal trip to Ireland (I left as he was arriving because it’s actually easier to follow the pope’s movements via electronic media than in the mob). One Irish journalist was already lamenting before the pope even arrived that “this visit feels too much like a ceremonial procession.” Given the destruction that sexual abuse has caused not only to numerous individuals and families in Ireland, but Chile, America, Honduras, Australia, and many other nations, I suggested weeks ago that the World Meeting on Families should be canceled and a penitential procession, to be repeated annually, should take its place.
That all seems like ages ago now on a planet far away. Just Friday, at the alternative conference on the family sponsored by the Lumen Fidei Institute in Dublin, somewhat to my own surprise, I played the prophet and predicted that more major revelations, in addition to the McCarrick case, were going to erupt within weeks.
And it’s just at the beginning.
We are in for a long string of painful days now, but I believe it will become a “cleansing fire.” Many in the Church hierarchy, especially in Rome, are still under the delusion that they can manage this monstrosity. They can’t.
The American bishops took a while, but finally realized that they had to take at least some action after the McCarrick revelations. In his letter to American victims of abuse – and in remarks during his visit to Ireland – Pope Francis basically expressed his confidence that existing safeguards can deal with the various situations. No need to create special tribunals, etc. This is fantasy and will soon be widely seen as such, to the further detriment of the pope’s credibility if he doesn’t take serious, large steps. As one commentator put it: “Pope to U.S. Church: You’re on your own.”
Pope Francis already found in Ireland that expressing the Church’s sorrow and shame over failures placates no one. People want action – and answers. To begin with, Viganò says McCarrick was 14thon the list to become archbishop of Washington. Who in Rome moved him up to the top? Cupich and Tobin were not on the lists of bishops submitted to the Vatican for Chicago and Newark. Who promoted them? And why?
We also have to start asking the right questions about the mess as a whole. It wasn’t “the Church” that committed crimes and abused power. Neither was the problem a general “clericalism,” but the acts of specific individuals and others who protected them. Unless, as the anti-Catholics say, the Church is really a criminal syndicate, we want to separate the sheep from the goats now.
According to Viganò, McCarrick and Honduran Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga (himself under suspicion for financial misdealings and widespread scandal at his seminary), were instrumental in the appointments of Cardinals Cupich and Tobin (Newark), as well as Cardinal Farrell to the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. And in the election of Jorge Bergoglio as pope.
At the very least, every one of those named now – and the list goes one – is under a cloud, given that the Catholic bishops themselves have, sadly, put in question their own right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. How for instance, was Cardinal Tobin just appointed by Pope Francis as one of his personal choices to participate in the upcoming Synod on Youth? Tobin, it should be recalled, said he knew nothing about payouts and settlements over McCarrick in the very diocese he currently heads. Same with Farrell. Same with Cardinal Wuerl, though Viganò provides convincing evidence and says Wuerl is lying shamelessly.
His whole letter is worth studying carefully. One episode I find quite revealing: when Viganò first met the Holy Father as Nuncio, Francis asked him in conversations about McCarrick and Wuerl, what they were like or whether they were good. (Francis also said American bishops must not be “ideologized” [sic] – neither right nor left, but he specifically mentioned “Philadelphia,” i.e., Archbishop Chaput.) Viganò only realized later that Francis was really asking whether he, Viganò, would support McCarrick and Wuerl, despite the damning information he’d just provided.
The pope had never been to America before his trip in 2015, knows little about us, and relies on figures like McCarrick and Maradiaga, and others like Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa, who have expressed a quite laughable view that traditional Catholics and evangelicals have forged an “ecumenism of hate” in America. Even liberal Catholic outlets were embarrassed by that spectacle. In fact, if you put together the various names in Viganò’s letter, almost all of Francis’ closest advisors lie close to the heart of the problem, not its solution.
If there is a solution now, it’s going to come primarily from lay people and the few bishops – so far – willing to speak candidly and do something. All Catholics everywhere now must firmly keep pressing the Church to come clean. Completely. No one gets a partial or plenary indulgence. No one. Nothing else will do.
As for those who are compromised: it would be wise to be careful what you say and do next. The old days of deception and delay, even in Rome, have ended. People are watching who steps forwards and who doesn’t; who tries to spin obvious facts and hide behind pious platitudes; whether heads roll or it’s all talk.
Much of what was hidden – including any further lies or actions – will become known now. Stonewalling will only make the ultimate day of reckoning even worse.
*Image:Catherine of Siena escorted pope Gregory XI at Rome on 17th January 1377 by Giorgio Vasari, c. 1550 [Sala Regia, Apostolic Palace, Vatican]