Archbishop says public leaders, who claim to be Catholic but do not act on Gospel, are deceiving themselves

.- Political and community leaders are called to change the world with justice and charity, and with a greater love for God than for their careers, said Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., at the Red Mass in Harrisburg, Pennsylvannia yesterday.  

The Archbishop of Denver presided at the Oct. 3 Mass for several hundred members of the local legal community at the invitation of Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Harrisburg.

During his homily, he reflected on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast the Church celebrates today, and on how Francis led a spiritual revolution in the Church. The archbishop said the historical period in which Francis lived, with its injustices and its disparity between rich and poor, was very similar to the world of today.

Francis, he said, led the Church toward conversion, reconciliation and a more authentic witness of the Gospel through his personal example.

“If you and I want to be what God calls us to be in the years that lie ahead, we need to be like St. Francis,” he said. Catholics today must work to renew society through repentance, conversion, humility and willingness to serve.

“When people claim they’re Catholic but do nothing in the public square to advance the Christian understanding of each human person’s dignity, they’re deceiving themselves and other people -- but they’re not fooling God,” the archbishop said, naming areas of concern to Catholics, such as embryonic stem-cell research, abortion, assisted suicide, marriage, immigration, poverty and the disabled.

“We need to drill it into our heads that defending the sanctity of the human person and serving the common good can’t be separated,” he said. “Stuffing our Catholic faith in a closet when we enter the public square or join a public debate isn’t good manners, and it isn’t political courtesy. It’s cowardice. And we’ll be judged for that cowardice by the God who created us.”

“It’s always easier to talk about social justice or political reform when the target of the reform is ‘out there,’ rather than in here,” he continued.  

“The world does need to change, and in your vocation as public leaders, God is calling you to pursue that task with justice and charity; with a love for the common good and a reverence for human life,” he said. “The world needs committed Catholic laypeople like yourselves to lead with humility, courage and love.  

“But what it [the world] needs more than anything else is holiness – holy men and women who love Jesus Christ and God’s Word more than they love their own careers and agendas,” he challenged.

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