Links for 02/14/17

At America, an important essay by James Keenan of Boston College about the particular way Americans have failed to develop our Catholic understanding of conscience. This is key: Some of the opponents of Pope Francis seem to suggest that recognizing the role of conscience in moral decision-making let's people off the hook, when in reality, it is the checklist spirituality that evidences a kind of minimalism about Christian discipleship. 

Speaking on spiritual minimalism, check out the interviews with Cardinal Raymond Burke at the Catholic Action website. Moral enforcement is the sum total of spiritual discernment in his view. It is appalling.

At the Hugh Hewitt radio show, an interview with Archbishop Charles Chaput. I could not disagree more with the overall dystopian vision presented but this passage was frankly outrageous:

HH: You quote John Paul II, be not afraid again and again and again. So let’s talk about where the good folks are. You, this is also a very good introduction to Augustine’s City of God. Tell people about that book, and why you chose to begin with Augustine from the 4th Century, the Bishop of Hippo. Why begin there?

CC: Well, part of it is because since becoming a bishop, I have found him to be a great partner in helping me to understand my responsibilities as a bishop. You know, it seems like the time that he, where he wrote this book, towards the end of his life, was a time quite similar to our own. The Roman Empire, which had been so much a part of people’s self-understanding at that time, was beginning to collapse from all kinds of pressures, including immigration, you know, which is a big issue today, and Augustine was trying to face the reality. How do you be a good Christian in the midst of a world that is at minimum a huge challenge for you? And he talked about the importance of being aware that the city of man is not the city of God, and that we should do our best to live in this world, but not expect too much. You know, he talked about this importance for Christians to have modest expectations about changing the world through changing the government, but that we have a duty to one another and to God to take our responsibilities here very seriously. You know, he talked about the contrast between love of God and love of self. Love of self would be, of course, be the City of Man, and love of God is symbolized by the city of God, and that we who are serious Christians have a responsibility to be involved in God’s rescue mission, which is a redemptive mission in the world that we can’t just throw up our hands in despair, but we should be part of God’s plan to bring things back to Himself. But at the same time, you know, be modest in our expectations, because we are to sow amid the weeds, and we have Jesus’ words to us that you know, grow up together, and it’s important for us to understand that the harvest is really at the end, and not in the middle of things.

So, immigrants are a problem, eh? And, I do not see much similarity between the collapsing Roman Empire of Augustine's time and our own cultural and political situation, although watching the White House these days, one if reminded of Gibbons' line about "the pliant cupidity of sycophants." 

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here