“Sex is their weapon of choice,” Chaput said, “a kind of Swiss Army knife of gender confusion, sexual license, and ferocious moralizing against anything that hints of classic Christian morality, purity, modesty, fertility, and lifelong fidelity based on the sexual complementarity of women and men.”
“To put it another way: The real enemies of human freedom, greatness, imagination, art, hope, culture, and conscience are those who attack religious belief, not believers.”
Chaput said that American society increasingly rejects the faith in God which was once its distinctive trait, calling faith the lost source of American “decency and vitality.”
“Unbelief– whether deliberate and ideological, or lazy and pragmatic – is the state religion of the modern world. The fruit of that orthodoxy is the starvation and destruction of the human spirit, and a society without higher purpose.”
“Whatever our nation once was, today it risks becoming more and more obviously a new Rome with all of the inhuman flaws that implies,” he said.
The archbishop said that Christians are not called to be passive witnesses to the times. He reminded Catholics that each person is both the subject and author of their place in history.
Christians, he said, have the duty to remake society in the image of Christ by standing in firm contradiction to the prevailing culture, remembering that each person’s actions have consequences.
“To the degree we try to fit into a culture that’s more and more hostile to what Catholics have always believed – which is what we’ve been doing for decades now – we repudiate by our actions what we claim to hold sacred with our words,” Chaput said.
“No person, and no Church, can survive for long with divided loyalties.”
Chaput told the audience that Catholics had the duty to “serve the truth by telling the truth as joyfully and persuasively as we can.”
“Our faith changed the course of history and gave meaning to an entire civilization. And in the Risen Christ, God is now calling us, right now, starting with those of us here tonight, to do the same.”
The archbishop said that it was through faith in God that society appreciated the dignity of human nature and the freedom of the human soul. If American Catholics no longer know their faith, or their privilege of discipleship, or their call to mission, then “we have no one to blame but ourselves,” he said.
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“The problem in American Catholic life is not a lack of money or resources or personnel or social influence,” Chaput said.
“The central problem in constructing a Christian culture is our lack of faith and the cowardice it produces. We need to admit this. And then we need to submit ourselves to a path of repentance and change, and unselfish witness to others.”
“Your diocese, your wonderful seminary, and each of your lives, needs to be an engine of that renewal. That’s our purpose. That’s our vocation. That’s why God made us and put us here.”
Editor's note: A previous version of this article indicated that Archbishop Chaput's remarks were made in Winona, rather than Rochester, Minn.