Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, who made headlines during last fall’s 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 “growing hostility to the Christian faith” which he says is right in the U.S.’s backyard.
In the column, which appeared in this week’s 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 “habits of thought and action, which became culture.”
Sadly, the archbishop observes that “As the faith of European Christians has dwindled over the last 70 years…so has the soul of their culture. So has their idea of human dignity. So has their culture’s sense of hope and purpose.”
“Europe”, he says, “now 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.”
He notes however, that this cultural crisis is not limited to Europe.
Right in the U.S.’s backyard he says, “Canada has gone from a religiously active culture to a mirror of Europe’s problems. Some of this can be blamed on scandals in the Church. But the roots go deeper than that.”
“Canada, like the United States,” he points out, “is locked in a struggle of national identity and values. The rapid push for legalization of homosexual ‘marriage’ in Canada offers a useful lesson to Americans.
Archbishop Chaput points out that while “here in the United States, Catholics and other religious believers still have the freedom, energy and skills to protect the soul — and to help shape the future — of the American experiment…We can’t do that by separating our religious and moral convictions from public discourse about the issues facing our country.”
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.
“What’s unnatural and unhealthy”, Archbishop Chaput said at this year‘s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, “is 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.”
He added in this week’s column that the U.S. needn’t “look very far for a glimpse of the future” if Catholics don’t live out this faith in the public square.