Archbishop Chaput was Bishop of Rapid City from 1988 to 1997 when he was named Archbishop of Denver. He is widely known for his outspoken defence of Catholic teachings. After giving a sketch of the basic principles in his New York Times Bestseller Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, the archbishop offered his insights on the need for an honest assessment of the situation of the Church in the public square.
"I like clarity, and theres a reason why," said the archbishop. "I think modern life, including life in the Church, suffers from a phony unwillingness to offend that poses as prudence and good manners, but too often turns out to be cowardice. Human beings owe each other respect and appropriate courtesy. But we also owe each other the truth -- which means candor."
Archbishop Chaput spoke about some of the challenges facing Catholics in the United States under the newly elected President Barack Obama. "President Obama is a man of intelligence and some remarkable gifts. He has a great ability to inspire, as we saw from his very popular visit to Canada just this past week. But whatever his strengths, theres no way to reinvent his record on abortion and related issues with rosy marketing about unity, hope and change. Of course, that can change. Some things really do change when a person reaches the White House. Power ennobles some men. It diminishes others. Bad policy ideas can be improved. Good policy ideas can find a way to flourish. But as Catholics, we at least need to be honest with ourselves and each other about the political facts we start with."
Archbishop Chaput concluded his talk with some remarks on the misunderstanding of the word "hope." "For Christians," he explained, "hope is a virtue, not an emotional crutch or a political slogan. Virtus, the Latin root of virtue, means strength or courage. Real hope is unsentimental. It has nothing to do with the cheesy optimism of election campaigns. Hope assumes and demands a spine in believers. And thats why at least for a Christian -- hope sustains us when the real answer to the problems or hard choices in life is no, we cant, instead of yes, we can." | Photo courtesy Joshua Lanzarini, Salt and Light Television | Read full transcript
February 24, 2009, Toronto -- Over 700 people packed St Basil's Church on February 24th to hear Archbishop Charles Chaput speak about how Catholics should live out their faith in the public square. The lecture was co-sponsored by the University of St Michael’s and Salt and Light Television. Among those present for the occasion were the Chancellor of the University, Archbishop Thomas Collins, the President of the University, Sister Anne Anderson, and the Chair of the Collegium, Hugh MacKinnon.