.- Denverâs Archbishop Charles Chaput, who made headlines during last fallâs presidential election for speaking out on the role that U.S. Catholics should play in government and public life, warned in his recent column about a âgrowing hostility to the Christian faithâ which he says is right in the U.S.âs backyard.
In the column, which appeared in this weekâs Denver Catholic Register, the archbishop discusses the fall of Christian culture in Europe, which, he wrote, inspired much of the great European art, music, philosophy and architecture of the last 15 centuries.
He notes that this profound cultural impact happened because the faith of Catholic believers translated into âhabits of thought and action, which became culture.â
Sadly, the archbishop observes that âAs the faith of European Christians has dwindled over the last 70 yearsâ¦so has the soul of their culture. So has their idea of human dignity. So has their cultureâs sense of hope and purpose.â
âEuropeâ, he says, ânow faces its biggest population decline since the Black Death. All across the continent, Christians who practice their faith must deal with a growing, unfriendly secularism that has resulted in legal infanticide in the Netherlands, the redefinition of marriage in Spain and a complete exclusion of Christianity from any mention in the recently proposed European Constitution.â
He notes however, that this cultural crisis is not limited to Europe.
Right in the U.S.âs backyard he says, âCanada has gone from a religiously active culture to a mirror of Europeâs problems. Some of this can be blamed on scandals in the Church. But the roots go deeper than that.â
âCanada, like the United States,â he points out, âis locked in a struggle of national identity and values. The rapid push for legalization of homosexual âmarriageâ in Canada offers a useful lesson to Americans.
Archbishop Chaput points out that while âhere in the United States, Catholics and other religious believers still have the freedom, energy and skills to protect the soul â and to help shape the future â of the American experimentâ¦We canât do that by separating our religious and moral convictions from public discourse about the issues facing our country.â
The Archbishop received staunch criticism over the past year for his strong beliefs that Catholic citizens and politicians should not separate their faith from their public life.
âWhatâs unnatural and unhealthyâ, Archbishop Chaput said at this yearâs National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, âis the kind of public square where religious faith is seen as unwelcome and dangerous. But that seems to be exactly what some people want: a public square stripped of God and stripped of religious faith.â
He added in this weekâs column that the U.S. neednât âlook very far for a glimpse of the futureâ if Catholics donât live out this faith in the public square.