Saturday, October 11, 2008

Render Unto Caesar

Archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput has written a book entitled 'Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life.'

The book is, in the words of reviewer William May, of "crucial importance for all American Catholics, who should all be struggling to combat the “culture of death” and develop the “culture of life.”

However, as a critique of the role of Catholics in society and the obligation to transform secular society by speaking out against injustice, it is a wake-up call for all men and women of goodwill around the world. His comments on abortion are particularly timely:
“Some acts are so evil that tolerating them itself becomes a poison that weakens the whole of society…..In our day, sanctity-of-life issues are foundational—not because of anyone’s ‘religious’ views about abortion…but because the act of dehumanizing and killing the unborn child attacks human dignity in a uniquely grave way. Deliberately killing the innocent is always, inexcusably wrong”.

On the issue of pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving Communion, he says:
“Catholics who actively and prominently work to advance permissive abortion or any serious violation of human dignity, persons who deliberately treat the church, her people, and her sacraments as political theater to attack Catholic convictions and faith, should never present themselves for Communion and should never be surprised at being denied if they do so”

Archbishop Chaput is bound to come under fierce attack for many of the points he raises, but the book is very much a sign of hope for Catholics active in the field of social justice. It is evidence of an understanding among the Catholic hierarchy of the seriousness of the crisis and the desire to give support and leadership to an increasingly embattled Catholic community.