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Some Quotable Quotes from Render Unto Caesar

by Archbishop Charles Chaput

“When Catholics oppose abortion, they do so not because of some special Catholic religious doctrine or simply because the church says so. Rather, the church teaches abortion is wrong because it already is. Abortion violates the universal natural law by abusing the inherent human rights of the unborn child. The injustice of genocide, oppressing the poor, the killing unborn children is not a matter of religious doctrine. It’s a matter of natural law.” – Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Render Unto Caesar (2008), p. 83.

“When the U.S. bishops issued Living the Gospel of Life, they applied the best of John Paul’s encyclical to the American experience. Not surprisingly, no other document ever issued by the American bishops on political responsibility has the clarity, coherence, and force of Living the Gospel of Life. The only sadness is that so few Catholics seem to know about it. In fact, if this book does nothing more than lead more people to read and act on Living the Gospel of Life, it will have partly served its purpose.”– p.3

“There’s no special headquarters staff that handles the action side of the Gospel. That task belongs to all of us. Baptism, for Catholics, does not simply wash away sin. It also incorporates the baptized person into a new life, and part of that new life is a mandate to act; to be God’s agent in the world. Laypeople, clergy, and religious all have different tasks within the community of faith. Everybody, however, shares the basic mission: brining Jesus Christ to the world, and the world to Jesus Christ.” – p. 42-43.

“We Christians are in the world but not of the world. We belong to God, and our home is heaven. But we’re here for a reason: to change the world, for the sake of the world, in the name of Jesus Christ. The work belongs to us. Nobody will do it for us. And the idea that we can accomplish it without engaging in a hands-on way the laws, the structures, the public policies, the habits of mind, and the root causes that sustain injustice in our country is a delusion.” – p.46

“As Catholics, how can we uncouple what we do, from what we claim to believe, without killing what we believe and lying in what we do? The answer is simple. We can’t. How we act works backward on our convictions, making them stronger or smothering them under a snowfall of alibis.” – p.51

“The time for easy Christianity is over. In fact, it never really existed. We’re blessed to be rid of the illusion. We need to be more zealous in our faith, not more discreet; clearer in our convictions, not muddier; and more Catholic, not less.” – p.53

“In recent American politics, the line that divides ‘prophetic witness’ from ‘violating the separation of church and state’ usually depends on who draws the line, who gets offended – and by what issue. The line wanders conveniently. But Catholics, in seeking to live their faith, can’t follow convenience.” – p.58

“The nature of the Gospel forces the church as a community and the individual Catholic as a believer to actively engage the world. That means all of it – including its social, economic, and political structures…[T]he Gospel will always seek to penetrate and convert human affairs.” P.75-76

“Once upon a time, words had weight. Now they float. In the past, Americans understood equality as something basic that we all share before God and the law. Now it means that almost everyone feels anointed to have his or her views taken seriously, no matter how unfettered by fact, logic, civility, or common sense. Unfortunately, experience teaches the opposite. Some ideas are bad.” – p.139

“American democracy does not ask its citizens to put aside their deeply held moral and religious beliefs for the sake of public policy. In fact, it requires exactly the opposite. People are fallible. The majority of voters can be uninformed or biased or simply wrong. Thus, to survive, American democracy depends on people of character fighting for their beliefs in the public square – legally, ethically, and nonviolently, but forcefully and without apology. Anything less is a form of theft from the nation’s health.” – p.146-147

“Catholics have made themselves indistinguishable from their non-Catholic neighbors. They have the same virtues and vices. And this is why the culture isn’t more ‘Catholic’ or ‘Christian,’ even though Catholics make up 23 percent of the population. A kind of foggy worldliness has settled into the American Catholic soul. In effect, a great many Catholics keep the Catholic brand name, but they freelance what it means. The point is this: American Catholics now face a crisis of faith, mission, and leadership – and the task of fixing it falls equally on Catholic laypeople and their bishops.” – p.181-182.

“What needs to be done by Catholics today for their country? The answer is: Don’t lie. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to prove it. America’s public life needs people willing to stand alone, without apologies, for the truth of the Catholic faith and the common human values it defends. One person can make a difference – if that individual has a faith he or she is willing to suffer for.” – p.197

“In our day, sanctity-of-life issues are foundational – not because of anyone’s ‘religious’ views about abortion, although these are important; 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. It sets a pattern of contempt for every other aspect of human dignity. In redefining when human life begins and what is and isn’t a human person, the logic behind permissive abortion makes all human rights politically contingent.” – p. 207

“The church claims no right to dominate the secular realm. But she has every right – in fact an obligation – to engage secular authority and to challenge those wielding it to live the demands of justice. In this sense, the Catholic Church cannot stay, has never stayed, and never will stay ‘out of politics.’ Politics involves the exercise of power. The use of power has moral content and human consequences. And the well-being and destiny of the human person is very much the concern, and the special competence, of the Christian community.” – p. 217-218.

Click here to read Fr. Frank's column on Render Unto Caesar

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