The Rover interviews Archbishop Chaput before September 15 talk on family

Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles J. Chaput will deliver a lecture at Notre Dame entitled “Sex, Family, and the Liberty of the Church: Authentic Freedom in our Emancipated Age.”

Archbishop Chaput was ordained a priest in 1970 and Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota in 1988. Pope St. John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Denver in 1997, and in 2011 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI appointed him Archbishop of Philadelphia. Since his installment as a bishop, Chaput has had as his episcopal motto: “As Christ Loved the Church” (Ephesians 5:25).

The archbishop has frequently commented on current events and social issues, such as education, sexuality, the presidential campaign, and living the Christian life in public society. He has written and spoken both as a Church authority—such as in his regular Sunday homilies—and, according to one of his weekly columns, as “a brother in the faith, not as teachings from an archbishop.” Archbishop Chaput has also delivered various keynote addresses, most recently at Brigham Young University in March. In addition, he has written two books, and his third, entitled Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World, will be published in February of 2017.

Shane Jenkins, a junior from Siegfried Hall, told the Rover, “I used to hear about Archbishop Chaput back when he still worked in Denver, but I haven’t followed his activism recently. I am excited to what he has to say to our students and to learn more about him than I ever knew back in Denver.”

The Rover had the opportunity to interview Archbishop Chaput by email regarding his upcoming lecture and related topics.  

The Irish Rover: Why is it so important and compelling to explain the principles of marriage and sexuality within the context of authentic freedom?

Archbishop Chaput: Real freedom comes from a sense of purpose. Purpose always involves obligations. We submit ourselves to something higher than ourselves to accomplish something more than ourselves. The problem with Americans is our individualism. We tend to think of liberty as a collection of freedoms from burdens rather than freedoms for goals. Christians who really understand their faith see human freedom in a very different light. Our sexuality has a purpose, and if we thwart or distort it we can never be genuinely happy or free. Likewise with marriage. It’s not merely a contract, but a covenant, a seal, with public meaning and higher purpose. We’re free and fruitful when we give ourselves to that purpose.

Universities often serve as great platforms of discussion and discovery, but often students find that their peers are hesitant to discuss the true meaning of marriage, family, or gender identity. Do you have any suggestions for what students can do to help promote the truth, as the Church teaches, in a more effective way?

Catholics spend too much time trying to win the approval of the world. We need to get over it. It won’t happen. People who live the Gospel, including what the Church holds to be true about human sexuality, are going to be scorned, even by persons who imagine themselves as “Catholic.” So what? In the long run, what matters are personal witness and the example of strong Christian friendships; these are hugely persuasive. So as believers, we need to be much more confident in playing a much longer game, which includes young Catholic couples having more children and raising them in the faith.

It’s curious how many Catholic college students will admire the character and modesty of a young Muslim woman for wearing the hijab, but then try to avoid being labeled as “too” pious or “too” Christian themselves. There’s something deeply confused in that kind of behavior.

In this election year, debates have arisen concerning how voters (especially Catholic voters) should respond when presented with candidate options that raise moral doubts. How would you advise voters to proceed, and are there any resources that can help us—particularly students who may be voting for the first or second time—make well-formed decisions?

There’s no easy answer to your question this year. Both presidential candidates are very seriously flawed, though for different reasons. The best brief guide to thinking politically as Catholics is “Living the Gospel of Life,” the 1998 pastoral letter of the U.S. bishops–especially paragraph 22. People should read it, reread it and let it guide their conscience. And then they need to act according to their own best reasoning.

Sponsored by the Tocqueville Program, the archbishop’s lecture will take place on September 15 at 3:30 p.m. in the Carey Auditorium of Hesburgh Library.

Sophia Buono is a junior majoring in PLS and minoring in ESS. Her favorite ice cream flavor is Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, but she recently found out the Ben & Jerry’s discontinued this flavor and replaced it with Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch in the spirit of fighting against GMOs. Contact Sophia at