What does Archbishop Chaput's smaller, holier church mean?

by Mary Ann McGivern

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After what he said last week, I wonder if Archbishop Chaput would have complained about Jesus eating with tax collectors. I'm writing to express my frustration — a frustration I imagine many NCR readers feel. Sure, a leaner, holier church has its attractions. We — or maybe they — could form a phalanx challenging the death penalty, unrenounced first use of nuclear weapons, a trillion dollars budgeted for the F-35 fighter bomber, a million black men in jail or prison or under corrections supervision.

But I suspect the archbishop is thinking more narrowly about gay marriage and abortion. Perhaps he identifies birth control and sex outside of marriage as cause for exclusion from the One Holy Catholic Church. Drug use? Drunkenness? Explosively angry internet comments? What about cheating on taxes? Petty theft?

Does telling racist jokes exclude one from church membership in the archbishop's eyes? How about redlining property and limiting minority opportunities? Is voting against new school bond issues a sin that would put one outside the pale? Is there no point to prison chaplains in this leaner church?

I would guess that Archbishop Chaput does not consider the United States possessing nuclear weapons a mortal sin. He's probably not into the notion of institutional or structural sin.

I wonder if he prays, "O Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof." But now I'm being mean. I'm sure the Archbishop strives to be humble. My mother would say he's blind to the glory of a sinful church because he hasn't had our advantages. My task, then, is to welcome that we stand together in the light of God. I'll keep working on that.

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