30 January 2021

Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., on Not Being Silent

"In 1787, at the age of eighty-one, Benjamin Franklin addressed the Constitutional Convention: 'I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and byword down to future ages.'

"What he said is still true. As a nation, the United States is built on a religious anthropology. It presumes a moral architecture shaped deeply by biblical thought and belief.

"Yes, Franklin was a Deist, and he's better known for his romantic escapades than for his religious piety. It's also true that classical and Enlightenment ideas played an important role in the founding. But the Enlightenment itself is inconceivable outside the Christian culture from which it emerged, and from which it borrowed its moral vocabulary.

"What we believe - or don't believe - about God profoundly shapes what we believe about the nature of the human person and the purpose of human society. It follows that the more we remove God from our public life, the more we remove the moral vocabulary that gives our public institutions meaning. The more secularized we become, the more we undermine the common good and the more we feed the problems that are hurting us as a nation."

In a 2014 commentary that is still worthy of consideration, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop (now Emeritus) of Philadelphia, reflected on how the ideals of the United States are "incoherent and unsustainable without their religious grounding" and how, as "we lose that grounding, our problems become worse."

To access complete article, please visit:

First Things: We Can't Be Silent by Charles J. Chaput (May 2014)

No comments:

Post a Comment