Archbishop Chaput delivers keynote for Right to Life series
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. from the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado of Denver delivered the keynote address for Right to Life’s Spring Lecture Series on Friday. His talk, entitled “Politics and the Devil: Living as Catholics in an Age of Unbelief” addressed Catholics’ abortion as the “fundamental human rights issue of our time.” The auditorium of McKenna Hall was filled almost to capacity to hear the archbishop speak.
He opened his talk by observing, “People who commit themselves to prolife work very quickly learn that there really aren’t any strangers in this movement. It’s held together by a dedication to shared beliefs and sacrifices that cuts across all differences in age or social background or distance.” He shaped his talk around the question “How do we live as Catholics in the world as it now is?” According to Archbishop Chaput, living as Catholics in today’s world means engaging in politics on some level.
Referencing his talk title, Archbishop Chaput explained that in order to understand politics, as well as the greater world around us, we must remember that “good and evil, God and the devil, are very real.” Archbishop Chaput reminded the audience that the devil “operates in time” and “attacks our memory.”
Archbishop Chaput went on to explain the importance of laws for the formation of a country’s citizens. “There is no such thing as morally neutral legislation,” he said. All laws teach and inform us, and regulate our behavior, and reflect what someone thinks we ought to do. Archbishop Chaput encouraged that Catholics must “take action to shape ideas,” because “if you or I don’t, someone else will.”
He defined politics as “power in the pursuit of ideas of the common good.” Ideas of the common good are overwhelmingly shaped by religious belief. Many Catholics express concern about expressing their religious beliefs in public, citing the separation of Church and state. However, Archbishop Chaput encouraged the audience to remain true to what they believe in what they do, because “duplicity” between beliefs and actions “is really a type of cowardice.” We need to remember that we are “intimately involved with the life of the world” and have a duty to fight for what we believe. Furthermore, the fact that politics is, fundamentally, the “exercise of power” and that “power can very easily pervert itself” does not give Catholics an excuse to be disengaged from the world around them.
For Catholics engaged in politics today, the primary issue is the right to life, which Archbishop Chaput called the “fundamental human rights issue of our time.” The separation sometimes made between social justice issues and life issues is a false dichotomy. “The rights of the poor and the rights of the unborn child flow from the same human dignity from the same God who created us,” said Archbishop Chaput. The right to life is of utmost importance to the world because “no human rights are safe if the right to life is not.”
To conclude his presentation, Archbishop Chaput provided two final pieces of advice for Catholics in the world today on how to live in the face of so many challenges. First, he said that “nothing we do to defend the human person, no matter how small, is ever unfruitful or forgotten.” God, he said, looks favorably upon the humble man.
Second, he reminded the audience that “virtue does matter.”
The traditional values of courage, humility, justice, and perseverance have value, even in a world that does not always seem to endorse them.
In closing, Archbishop Chaput stated the motto of the Texas Rangers, as a final piece of advice for pro-life advocates everywhere: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on coming.”
Christina Kuklinski is a junior Political Science major and Theology minor. She read Archbishop Chaput’s book Render Unto Caesar, and it basically changed her life. Contact her at email@example.com.