Will the Holy Father tackle the tough issues when he visits the United States? . . .
by Judy Roberts
As excitement builds for Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States in September, many Catholics are hoping the Holy Father will seize the opportunity to speak out on the issues that most concern them.
During his six-day trip, Pope Francis will address Congress and the United Nations, meet with President Obama, and preside over the first World Meeting of Families to take place in North America. Each venue would seem to offer him a platform for concerns like the plight of persecuted Christians, threats to religious freedom and the family, and the dangers inherent in embracing contraception and abortion.
Meeting with Obama
What the Holy Father will say remains to be seen. According to a White House statement, the Pope’s Sept. 23 meeting with President Obama will cover such issues as “caring for the marginalized and the poor, advancing economic opportunity for all, serving as good stewards of the environment, protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities.”
However, parts of the Pope’s conversation with President Obama are likely to be private, giving the Holy Father an opportunity to discuss concerns that are not necessarily on the agenda.
Leonard Leo, a member of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter, said the Pope and the President obviously share some similar perspectives on economic and immigration issues. However, Leo said he hopes the meeting will focus on areas where there is not agreement, such as the sanctity of human life, the natural moral order in relation to marriage, and freedom of conscience.
“We’re having a crisis in our country on the issue of conscience,” Leo said. “I think that the Holy Father having a dialogue with the President on that issue would be very useful. It may or may not have an impact, but I think it’s important.”
Leo, who is executive vice president of the Federalist Society and co-founder of the Catholic Association and the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, said he also thinks the Holy Father will be in a good position to articulate the underpinnings of the Church’s teachings on life and traditional marriage, which are not widely understood.
Leo said he also hopes that Pope Francis will be able to discuss religious freedom with President Obama.
“The President’s vision is freedom of worship,” he said. “He’s perfectly happy to have us say our prayers in the pews. He’s not particularly happy with seeing religion in the public square, and America has a long history of embracing freedom of religion, which pertains to freedom of conscience.”
Religious freedom and the U.N.
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, said he expects that the Holy Father will challenge President Obama on a broader understanding of religious freedom and freedom of conscience.
“Religious freedom is certainly ripe for conversation,” he said, both in the context of Christian businesses that want the right to refuse participation in same-sex weddings and those that object to providing abortifacient contraceptives in their health plans.
Ruse, whose group monitors and seeks to affect social policy debate at the United Nations, said when Pope Francis visits the U.N. on Sept. 25, he would not anticipate him talking about abortion, population control and contraception — concerns that are known to roil the international body. At the same time, he said, he will be disappointed if the Pope doesn’t mention them.
“He already says that we shouldn’t obsess on these types of issues, so I suspect that he will follow his own advice, which will be unfortunate because the African countries in particular are most upset at the imposition of this radical sexual ideology on their countries by U.N. agencies and western non-governmental organizations.”
Ruse said Pope Francis will likely talk about the environment, poverty, global inequality, human rights, and perhaps the plight of Christians in Africa and the Middle East — issues of concern to the U.N. on which the Holy Father has spoken.
“All these are very good things,” Ruse explained. “Tucked in among them I would love to hear him talk about what he himself has referred to as the gender ideology, which is being imposed on the developing world by western elites.”
On his return flight from the Philippines earlier this year, the Pope warned wealthy western nations against forcing this ideology — which holds that gender is not biological, but cultural — on developing nations by tying it to foreign aid and education.
Leo said the most important issue the Pope can address at the U.N. concerns what the international community is going to do about the persecution of Christians around the world. Neither the U.N. Council on Human Rights nor the General Assembly is doing enough about it, he said. “That’s what the Church can bring to bear at a meeting of the U.N. because we can speak with persuasive force and expertise.”
World Meeting of Families
Archbishop Charles Chaput
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia — where the Pope will take part in the World Meeting of Families from Sept. 26-27 — told Legatus magazine it’s obvious that family life is a signature concern of Francis’ pontificate.
In light of that, he said, “I think the Pope will press Catholics to take their faith more seriously and to conform their hearts and their behaviors to the truth of Catholic teaching about the family. That’s the only guarantee of a healthy family, and healthy families are the only guarantee of a healthy and humane society.”
Added Ruse: “I think it’s going to be a remarkable moment for him to speak to American Catholics about the importance of family and religious belief.” Ruse said he hopes the Pope is in a “rally-the-troops” mood because it’s a time when the American people are in need of leaders who will lead, particularly in the wake of court actions that have overturned the will of the people expressed in votes to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Archbishop Chaput said he thinks Francis’ popularity means his U.S. visit will have a positive effect on Catholics who have drifted from the faith.
“Our work will begin after the Pope returns to Rome,” he said. “We need to live the kind of Christian witness that will draw alienated people more deeply back into the Church.”
Napa Institute: Archbishop Charles Chaput challenged common conceptions of Pope Francis . . .
Archbishop Charles Chaput
I’m a Capuchin Franciscan, and I’ve often found that people think of Francis of Assisi as a kind of 13th-century flower child.
St. Francis was certainly “countercultural,” but only in his radical obedience to the Church and his radical insistence on living the Gospel fully — including poverty and all of its other uncomfortable demands.
Jesus, speaking to him from the cross of San Damiano, said, “Repair my house.” I think Pope Francis believes God has called him to do that as pope, as God calls every pope. And he plans to do it in the way St. Francis did it.
Pope Francis took the name of the saint of Christian simplicity and poverty. As he has said, he wants “a Church that is poor and for the poor.” In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, he grounded this goal in Jesus Christ, “who became poor and was always close to the poor and the outcast” (186). That’s a very Franciscan idea.
The Holy Father knows poverty and violence. He knows the plague of corrupt politics and oppressive governments. He has seen the cruelty of human trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
Pope Francis expected to visit Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families . . .
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput knows well what a papal visit can do for the local church.
He witnessed it in Denver after the 1993 visit of St. John Paul II, and now he is hoping to see it again in Philadelphia following the anticipated visit of Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families, Sept. 22-27, 2015. Its theme: Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.
Building joy and renewal
Although the Holy Father’s participation in the meeting will not be officially confirmed until spring, the Pope typically attends the triennial gathering, which celebrates and aims to strengthen Christian marriage and family worldwide. The 2015 gathering will be the eighth since John Paul started the World Meeting and the first in a U.S. city.
“Denver saw a huge outpouring of apostolic energy after World Youth Day 1993 — not miraculously or immediately, but building steam over the following decade,” said Archbishop Chaput, who became Denver’s archbishop after the papal visit to that city.
“The local church found a whole new spirit of confidence, with many more clergy and lay vocations, a new seminary and lay graduate school, and an influx of new movements, resources and charisms. Denver became a magnet for Catholics, especially young Catholics, who wanted to make a difference as disciples of Jesus Christ.
“Philadelphia,” he continued, “is ripe for that same sort of experience.” After a painful decade marked by financial troubles and fallout from the clergy sexual abuse crisis, Archbishop Chaput said he thinks a visit from Pope Francis has the power to spark a renewal in the archdiocese.
Philadelphia Legate Tim Flanagan, founder of the Catholic Leadership Institute, said his organization will be putting packages together to encourage institute alumni to come to the World Meeting. “We’ll do whatever we can to get a large number of people to participate.”
Flanagan said he, too, hopes the city and archdiocese will be revitalized by the World Meeting and papal visit. Even more, though, he thinks the event has the potential to reverberate beyond Philadelphia.
“We see it as a time of building joy and renewal in our community as well as the rest of the United States,” he said. “As people go back to their respective countries, parishes and dioceses, they’re going to be beacons of hope in bringing back the good news they’ve learned. They will be a catalyst to re- energize the Church and build on the hope Pope Francis is putting forth.”
The Francis effect
Archbishop Charles Chaput
Father Bill Donovan, chaplain of Legatus’ Philadelphia Chapter, is currently in Rome as Archbishop Chaput’s representative to the Vatican for the World Meeting. He told Legatus magazine that Pope Francis has captured the imagination of people everywhere, regardless of religious affiliation.
“Many who seem disaffected with formal religion and many people of diverse faith traditions seem genuinely interested in what the Pope has to say. His message of challenging us to live the gospel with simplicity seems to resonate with many. So, initially attracted to him, men and women are invited to open their minds and hearts to hear the full message of God’s gracious plan for humanity.”
Father Donovan said the World Meeting reflects Pope Francis’ attention to the family in his young papacy. In February, he summoned the College of Cardinals into a consistory to discuss the family, and he has called two synods of bishops on the family to meet in October and again in 2015.
“The World Meeting of Families will be a unique moment for the Holy Father to directly encounter families from all over the world, listening, speaking and sharing,” he explained. “In this way, it will have a special place in the heart of the Pope over and above the three meetings with his brother bishops.”
Donna Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting and a member of the delegation that traveled to Rome in March to invite Pope Francis to Philadelphia, said the Holy Father seemed to light up when meeting their group. She said everything he has done in approving the meeting’s theme and expressing his support through the Pontifical Council for the Family indicates he is engaged in the event.
“We have every indication that the Holy Father very much wishes to come to Philadelphia,” Father Donovan added. “So we’re making plans accordingly.”
Pope Francis is tentatively scheduled to arrive Sept. 25 and to take part in the Sept. 26 Festival of Families, a cultural event that will include dialogue with one family from each continent. He would also celebrate the Sept. 27 closing Mass. A team of 15-20 business and community leaders has begun planning the event, but Farrell said she anticipates up to 10,000 volunteers will eventually be involved.
As a member of the archbishop’s finance council, Deacon Alvin Clay, president of Legatus’ Philadelphia Chapter, said he expects to be involved in some capacity in the meeting and papal visit. In 1979, the last time a pope visited the city, he remembers finding a spot on the sidewalk so he could see John Paul II.
“All I saw was him zip by in a car, but it was really exciting. The whole city was buzzing and it was very uplifting.”
Supporting the family
Deacon Alvin Clay
The World Meeting will open with a theological-pastoral congress in which experts will give presentations designed to deepen understanding of the truth of families, to enhance appreciation for the beauty of families, and to strengthen the goodness of families.
Father Donovan said the congress will address a full range of challenges and concerns facing families today. “We will have the opportunity to hear from people from every continent. Every nation and every diocese in the U.S. will send an official delegation, which will be headed by a bishop, a priest and a married couple. So we anticipate about 150 international delegations and 200 national delegations.”
Asked what a meeting like this could do to restate the Church’s teaching on marriage at a time when it’s under attack, Fr. Donovan said he believes the meeting will be a graced moment for the Church to renew God’s saving plan for humanity, which passes through the family.
“So many of our societal problems can be traced back to the failure in family structures and support,” he explained. “Getting the family right can lead not only to spiritual renewal in the Church and transformation of the world, but advances in the health and welfare of people — including promoting better culture, economics, education and a just society. All follow as evening follows the day.”
Tim Busch’s Napa Institute has a mission to catechize through its various programs . . .
For four days every July, Catholic leaders gather in California’s Napa Valley to learn from theologians, bishops, philosophers and others how to live and defend their faith in a world that is increasingly hostile to religious belief and practice.
The Napa Institute is the brainchild of Orange County Legate Tim Busch, who was inspired by the annual Legatus Summit as well as by the secular Aspen and Vail Leadership institutes.
Busch, CEO of Pacific Hospitality Group and co-founder of Busch & Caspino, began envisioning the Napa Institute, after a 2006 Legatus conference at his Meritage Resort in Napa.
Connect and learn
Busch’s plan was to create a place where Catholic lay and ordained leaders could connect with each other and learn about new and growing movements in the Church. In an atmosphere enhanced by opportunities for prayer, Mass, devotions and Eucharistic adoration, participants would listen to academically trained speakers whose presentations would be published after each conference.
Response to the idea was positive from day one, Busch said, and has grown in intensity, as reflected by the attendance and requests from those who want to speak at the event.
“It’s a great joy to bring all of these people together,” Busch said. “I saw it as an opportunity to develop an experience that I personally would enjoy. I wanted something really engaging that makes faith not only fun but passionate to be involved with.”
The institute’s motto is “Equipping Catholics in the Next America,” a phrase drawn from Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput’s article “Catholics and the Next America.” He spoke at the 2012 Napa Institute and will return this year.
In the article, the he warns Catholics about a growing trend toward secularization in American culture, one in which they face a dwindling relevance that threatens their ability to be heard.
“The ‘next America,’” he writes, “has been in its chrysalis for a long time. Whether people will be happy when it fully emerges remains to be seen. But the future is not predestined. We create it with our choices. And the most important choice we can make is both terribly simple and terribly hard: to actually live what the Church teaches, to win the hearts of others by our witness and to renew the soul of our country with the courage of our own Christian faith and integrity. There is no more revolutionary act.”
Busch said the Napa Institute seeks to provide courage and an example to Catholic leaders to help them deal with the challenges of life in an America where faith is no longer encouraged in the public square. The effort is rooted, he said, in what he has learned through his 25 years in Legatus — and from Legatus founder Tom Monaghan, whom he considers a mentor.
“We’re trying to stop the flow of faith from the public square and put it back in the public square and business,” said Busch, who has been instrumental in founding 10 of Legatus’ 79 chapters.
Faith and reason
Legate Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press and a Napa Institute board member, said the conference has shown people that the Catholic faith has something to say regarding the modern world and contemporary scene.
He credits Busch with generating enthusiasm for the project when it started. “People see Tim as a solid Catholic leader who is quite a bridgebuilder.”
Board member Liz Yore said the institute exudes a confidence in Catholicism. “That, for me, is an example of how each of us as Catholics needs to incorporate our faith in a real, substantive way into our work and lives.”
Each year, the Napa Institute focuses on three themes, one of which is always faith and reason. This year, the other two will be economic justice and faith and beauty. Busch said economic justice is a timely topic in light of what Pope Francis has been saying on the subject, although speakers also will address it from the perspective of the Bible and what the Church has taught through the centuries.
The institute —which drew 235 attendees last year — also has a component for young leaders under 40. And this year it will offer a special panel on faith and the feminine genius as articulated by St. John Paul II.
“It’s going to be fun and interesting to see what comes out of it,” said Yore, who will moderate the panel. “My sense of the Napa Institute is that initiatives come out of it, things start happening, and people start working together on projects that they’re exposed to or create as a result of the institute.”
In addition to the summer conference in Napa, the institute holds an annual pilgrimage and other off-site events. This year’s events also include a conference on free markets and Catholic social teaching, and a symposium on Christians in the Middle East.
Kevin Hand, a member of Legatus’ Hollywood Chapter, has attended all three Napa conferences and plans to be at this year’s July 24-27 event. The institute, he said, has helped him grow spiritually by giving him a better understanding of the Church’s teachings. He cited in particular his participation in the institute’s 2013 pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
“It was such a gift from God,” he said, adding that it helped him better understand the perspective of migrating people from all over the world. “It’s fascinating how the Church has assisted in taking care of them.”
Yore said she finds the institute to be a perfect blend of the intellectual, spiritual and social. In addition to having a wide range of choices for Mass and prayer, Yore said she most enjoys the exchanges with speakers and other participants in the smaller breakout sessions. The way the institute is set up, she said, attendees have an opportunity to meet almost everyone who is there.
“That’s unusual because I’ve been involved in lots of conferences where you don’t have that sense of meeting the whole group of people and really discussing in depth the issues presented at the conference,” she explained. “It’s very stimulating on a lot of different levels and I always feel like I’m coming home refreshed, with a new set of friends as well as Catholic compatriots.”
Brumley said he believes the institute is influencing people who might not be reached through other avenues.
“They may be involved in the academic world or the creative cultural world like filmmaking, screenwriting or poetry and have a kind of leadership role in their universe, but they don’t find places to connect and to have this kind of high-level intellectual, spiritual, cultural engagement in the context of the Church.”
Speakers at the annual event asked Legatus members to bring Jesus to a hurting world . . .
Legatus’ 2014 Summit was a rally cry for Catholic business leaders to activate their faith and change the culture for Christ. Both speakers and attendees voiced concern for the way America is slipping further away from the Christian ideals it was founded on.
The three-day annual conference, hosted by Legatus’ Orlando Chapter, drew nearly 500 Legates and guests from across the country to the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla., from Feb. 6-8.
Speakers from former Sen. Rick Santorum to Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput called on attendees to embrace the Legatus mission statement to live, learn and spread the Catholic faith. In his Feb. 7 homily, Archbishop Chaput exhorted Legates to exercise their rights of faithful citizenship to create a culture for Christ.
“When we do that, the Church will change because the leadership of the Church will be multiplied thousands upon thousands of times,” he said. “Rather than waiting for the bishops to act, you can act on your own — in union with the bishop, of course, and encouraged by him.”
In his Saturday evening address, former presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum challenged Legates to mobilize and save America before it’s too late. He pointed out that the vast majority of Americans are conservative Christians, but the liberal secularists who make up less than 20% of the population are highly organized, passionate and relentless in changing hearts and minds.
“America is broken,” he said. “We have to take responsibility for that. It was [on] our watch. America is broken because we’re afraid to fight. We must be committed, be all in. We must know what is on the line — souls, eternal souls. We don’t live in a time in America when we can afford to stop fighting.”
Archbishops Wenski, Aquila and Chaput
Santorum called on Legatus members to repair the damaged culture by activating their faith. “This organization, the people in this organization, can have a profound effect, can move the needle,” he said. “You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to be all in. You can do it. I have no doubt.”
Legates also heard from Football Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz, Bill Donohue from the Catholic League, author Matthew Kelly, pro-life activist John Smeaton, CEO and business author William Thorndike, Canadian author and journalist Michael Coren, fitness pioneer Dr. Kenneth Cooper, and the hosts of EWTN’s The Catholic View for Women. Motivational speaker Ross Shafer served as the master of ceremonies.
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gómez celebrated the opening Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Orlando Bishop John Noonan celebrated the closing Mass.
Call to evangelize
Other speakers urged attendees to bring their faith boldly into a culture that has rejected Christian values. Members of a three-bishop panel — Archbishop Thomas Wenski (Miami), Samuel Aquila (Denver) and Chaput (Philadelphia) — said that kind of evangelization can only happen when we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Curtis Martin — a member of Legatus’ Denver Chapter and founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students — told attendees that discovering Jesus and coming into right relationship with him is akin to the parable of the buried treasure (Mt 13:44).
“To have that kind of passion — because we discovered the treasure first — that unleashes a power in the world that will transform the world,” he said. “When we allow God’s grace to transform us through our wounds and brokenness, nothing is impossible.”
Picking up on that theme, 40 Days for Life founder David Bereit assured Legates that abortion will end.
“History books are going to document how it ended,” he said. “I believe they’re going to point back to 2014, the tipping point when people realized it was a spiritual battle and the revival that broke out as a result. They’re going to read about how business people brought their best practices into the fight.”
Engaging the culture
Summit co-chair Troy King of Legatus’ Orlando Chapter said he was thrilled not only by the speakers, but by Legatus members’ determination to engage the culture as a result of the conference.
“The highlights were seeing the passion for the faith in all the speakers, seeing the new-found fire for the New Evangelization, and seeing how much emphasis they’re placing on putting us all into action,” he said. “I can’t wait to get home and put these things into action.”
Baton Rouge Legate Sam LaVergne, attending his second Summit, said the event far exceeded his expectations.
“Rick Santorum brought the house down, but the speaker that most intrigued me was Stephen Ray,” he said. “He made us think that visiting the Holy Land is something we need to do.”
Bishop John Noonan
LaVergne said that Legatus has been a blessing to him and his wife Sally.
“The most important thing that Legatus has done for us — even thought my wife and I have been Catholics for a long time — is the amount of education we’ve gotten to defend our faith,” he explained. “Legatus has empowered us with a lot of information to help us live our faith.”
In his Feb. 7 homily, Archbishop Chaput gave Legates all the advice they need to do just that. “Be embraced by the Lord Jesus,” he said. “Put on the Lord Jesus, as St. Paul says. Make him all of your life. When we do that, we will transform the face of the earth.”
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor-in-chief of Legatus magazine. This article contains reporting from LifeSiteNews.com.
2013 Award Winners
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Fr. Thomas Berg writes that we are not necessarily called to be successful . . .
Fr. Thomas Berg
Arriving at the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars annual conference in Philadelphia last September, I was delighted to find out that Archbishop Charles Chaput would be the main celebrant and homilist at Mass the following day.
I have long been a fan of the archbishop, not least of all for the depth of his message, the clarity of his thought — and for his candor. True to form, he opened his homily with the following reflection (paraphrased): As he now reflects back on his years of priesthood and episcopacy, the one thing that has surprised him is that during these years things have not gotten any better in the Church!
How’s that for candor?! The archbishop’s point, of course, was not to throw a wet towel on our conference, nor to get us all depressed. He certainly did, however, intend to reconnect us with what we might call the realism of the Gospel as it applies to our efforts at personal holiness and at evangelizing the culture.
He went on to remind us that the reality is that Christ’s resurrection was preceded by Calvary — and that in the paradoxical ways of grace, the grain of wheat must fall in the ground and die before it bears fruit. It reminds us that we are called not to lay aside our cross and follow Jesus, but to pick it up, drag it, and struggle under its weight. Gospel realism also tells us that it might often seem that things are not getting better, but worse!
Of course, there are victories in the struggle to evangelize the culture — and plenty of them. For example, the fruits of the right to life movement over the past 40 years have resulted in the continued decline of abortion rates in the U.S., the passage of Women’s Right to Know laws with 24-hour reflection periods, partial birth abortion bans, bans on abortion of 20-week-old unborn infants capable of experiencing pain, and education efforts that have moved so many young people to take a stand every year at the March for Life in cities across the nation.
Yet no matter how often we remind ourselves of the victories, we are at times overwhelmed by a sense of paralysis — perhaps even a sense that our efforts seem to go one-step forward and two-steps backward, and even that we’re losing the culture wars.
What to do then? In those moments we need to recall Gospel realism — that the life of every committed Christian and the life of the Church as a whole, by God’s own unfathomable design, must experience Calvary through struggle, setbacks, opposition, contradictions and cross. We must remember that if we are faithful, our own Christian experience as disciples and evangelizers will necessarily be cruciform.
Christ on the cross — stretched in all directions — gives definitive form to the Christian life of the members of his Body as we follow Him in the present state of life, still alien-residents and sojourners, still making our way — ever so arduous most of the time — to our true homeland. This explains why we feel stretched to the point of breaking at times — and why an archbishop might honestly sense that “things don’t seem to be getting better.”
This realism of the cross reminds us that we are not good judges of “success,” “progress,” and “victory,” which ultimately must be assessed over time and according to the ways of God’s inscrutable providence and paradoxical designs. More importantly, Gospel realism also reminds us that the Holy Spirit, in spite of appearances to the contrary, is always at work in the world. And His work does obtain victories on a daily basis. But more often than not, those victories happen one soul at a time. Yes, it’s that changing-heartsand-minds-one-at-a-time thing. It’s not a cliché; it’s a reality!
As Lent draws near, let’s remember that when Jesus calls us to follow him and engage in the work of evangelization, he does not promise palpable success. On the contrary, he assures us that “all will hate you on my account,” that our efforts will all be molded in the mystery of the cross, and that consequently, the “mystery of iniquity” resists Christian goodness. We will struggle on a daily basis with our own inadequacies, sinfulness, and many apparent failures in his service.
Jesus does not promise that we will actually see the promised land of a more thoroughly Christianized culture. The important thing today and always will not be the apparent “victory,” but the intensity of our love — genuine Christian agape love — with which we engage the world one heart and one mind at a time.
A group of Legates come to the rescue of Philadelphia’s inner-city schools . . .
Embroiled in turmoil and allegations of scandal for much of the past decade, the Philadelphia archdiocese has witnessed a mass exodus of parishioners and staggering deficits.
Appointed in 2011, Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., has overseen property liquidation and last year’s final press run of the archdiocese’s 117-year-old newspaper. Despite budget and staffing cuts, the archdiocese still faces a budget deficit of more than $5 million for the 2013 fiscal year.
Archbishop Charles Chaput
Slowly the tide is beginning to turn. Doing their part, Philadelphia Legates are easing the strain by rescuing some of the archdiocese’s poorest inner-city schools under the umbrella of Independence Mission Schools (IMS).
“The Independence Mission Schools effort has been more than innovative, it’s been vital to keeping Catholic education alive in Philadelphia’s economically challenged communities,” Archbishop Chaput told Legatus magazine. “Jack Donnelly, James Broussard, and Bill Curtis have shown extraordinary leadership matched only by their generosity.”
Led by Donnelly, the three Legates serve on the 15-member board of this new nonprofit organization that the archdiocese entrusted last summer with managing 14 elementary schools enrolling some 4,000 students — two-thirds of them non-Catholics.
“We’re doing this because we are Catholic,” explained Donnelly, CEO of a construction management company. “These inner-city children — their public schools are so bad — they have no opportunity to succeed. What we’re doing fills a desperate need.”
Even though “we’re blind to the faith of the students,” Donnelly says the Independence Mission Schools are authentically Catholic, using the archdiocesan-approved religious curriculum and welcoming religious teaching orders. The archdiocese appoints one member to each of the 14 individual IMS boards, which works in tandem with the IMS executive board to promote academic excellence and greater self-sufficiency.
For the three Legates, IMS is a labor of love forged in friendship and collaborative efforts that began far from Philadelphia.
About 10 years ago, fellow Legates from Louisiana introduced Broussard to St. Augustine High School, a top-ranked Catholic school in New Orleans that was then headed by Fr. Joseph Doyle, SSJ, a Legatus chaplain.
When it came time to build an extension, Broussard called upon his friend Donnelly, who regularly made site visits to ensure the school got fair deals from building contractors. After Hurricane Katrina, Broussard, an insurance executive, helped negotiate insurance claims, calling upon the help of Bill Curtis, whom he also introduced to Legatus.
“Jim [Broussard] is a legend in the Philadelphia insurance business,” said Curtis, partner in the insurance brokerage Porter & Curtis. “I was happy to help.”
After all of Donnelly’s assistance, Broussard said he was “indentured to Jack.” So when Donnelly asked Broussard to help with a project closer to home, he was happy to return the favor.
That project was supporting an elementary school, St. Martin de Porres, which Donnelly’s suburban Wayne parish had taken under its wing. Located in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, which is among the poorest in the country, the school was in bad financial straits, straining the already cash-strapped archdiocese.
To help put it in the black, Donnelly founded the Friends of St. Martin de Porres, bringing Broussard and Curtis on board. Five years ago the archdiocese agreed to let the Friends run St. Martin de Porres as an independent school on the condition it remain Catholic.
“The principal is a nun of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and another six nuns are involved in the school, so there was no question about the school’s continuing Catholicity,” Donnelly explained. With the support of the Friends, who have worked with the school’s board to institutionalize fundraising and maintain good business practices, the school now has a $5 million endowment, maximum enrollment at 450, a new preschool program, and its eighth graders are scoring at a 10th grade level in reading and language skills.
“It’s been such a success that when the archdiocese’s ‘Blue Ribbon Commission’ last year slated 13 inner-city schools for closing or merger, Jack asked Archbishop Chaput if we could run them under a structure similar to the Friends of St. Martin de Porres,” Curtis explained. “I said to Jack, I’ll do anything I can to help.” Broussard followed suit, and Independence Mission Schools was created to shepherd these 13 almost-lost schools to greener pastures.
Accountability, ecumenical appeal
The annual IMS budget is about $18 million, of which students’ parents pay about half. IMS gives $4 million in scholarships, most of which is generated by donors taking advantage of Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, which allows a company paying state taxes to divert them to scholarships. The rest is raised from individual donors and foundations.
“I’m working on our development initiatives in this area,” said Broussard. “As a former salesman, I always end up on development.” He explained that it’s important to “make this project more ecumenical from the standpoint of contributions.” Some foundations, for example, are wary of supporting causes they see as parochially Catholic. Marketing IMS to non-Catholic sources of funding means stressing the positive impact the schools are having on society, educating poor children in bad neighborhoods, and instilling virtues in them.
“Not only that, but we’re bringing good business practices to these schools,” he said. “We’re bringing an element of accountability that’s important because most of our donors are demanding performance.”
IMS is already having an ecumenical appeal, Broussard noted. A Jewish supporter recently gave $250,000, the Philadelphia School Partnership’s Great Schools Fund has awarded IMS a $500,000 planning grant, and one IMS school received a $600,000 grant to institute the Phaedrus program — a blended-learning model incorporating technology into classroom instruction.
Overseeing day-to-day operations is IMS president Al Cavalli.
“These schools are sanctuaries — the only meaningful way these children will get to the eighth grade academically prepared for high school,” he told Legatus magazine. “We’re also creating quality people who know they have the obligation to be decent human beings.”
Cavalli hopes the IMS model of entrepreneurial lay leadership will be adopted by other dioceses that operate beneficial, yet financially burdensome inner-city schools.
But IMS should not get too much credit, remarked Bill Curtis. “We’re just continuing the efforts of 100 years’ worth of people who have gone before us,” he said. “We’ve been entrusted with a legacy worth saving. We’re just as interested in evangelizing these children as we are in educating them.”
MATTHEW A. RAREY is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.
Philadelphia archdiocese hopeful that Pope Francis will attend 2015 gathering . . .
Now that Pope Francis has been installed as the 266th successor of St. Peter, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is hopeful the Holy Father’s first visit to North America is only two years away.
The Vatican officially announced on Feb. 25 that the City of Brotherly Love had been officially chosen to host the eighth World Meeting of Families in 2015.
This marks the first time that the event, established by Blessed John Paul II in 1994, will be held in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world are expected to attend. The event was last hosted in 2012 by Milan, Italy, where more than 1 million people from 153 nations gathered for a Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.
The announcement represents positive news for an archdiocese that has been unsettled recently by sexual-abuse scandals and Catholic school closings.
Archbishop Charles Chaput
Faithful Catholics, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput explained, long for an opportunity “to show their love of God and his Church to the world, to deepen God’s presence in their own families and to share Jesus Christ with a world that urgently needs him.”
The meeting, which seeks to celebrate the good news of the family and its intrinsic value to the good of society, will be held Sept. 22-27, 2015.
“The more we encourage and support the integrity of families, the healthier society becomes,” said Archbishop Chaput.
In a standing-room-only conference room crowded with cameras and media, Archbishop Chaput, in response to a question, stated that he fully expected the new pope to attend the meeting in Philadelphia.
Not just for Catholics
In 1979, John Paul II visited the Philadelphia region, which is home to an estimated 1.5 million Catholics. But, as the Philadelphia archbishop pointed out, the meeting isn’t only for Catholics.
“The World Meeting of Families is meant to be a gift not just to Catholics in Philadelphia, but to every person of good will in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and surrounding areas,” the archbishop said. “Everyone with a generous heart is welcome to be a part of it.”
Archbishop Chaput, in a lighthearted moment, said, “I’ve been asked why the Holy Father picked Philadelphia. The answer is simple. His Holiness didn’t tell me.”
But he quickly pointed out Philadelphia’s “uniquely rich” history as one of the birthplaces of the political ideals of human rights, religious freedom and human dignity. The issue of religious liberty was close to Emeritus Pope Benedict’s heart for many years, and he spoke about it many times throughout his pontificate.
“He’s always seen the strength of the family as a guarantee of human maturity and freedom,” noted Archbishop Chaput of the now-retired Pope. “The more we encourage and support the integrity of families, the healthier society becomes.”
He also pointed to Philadelphia as being home to two great American saints — Mother Katharine Drexel and Bishop John Neumann, whose legacies of Catholic education and service continue today in Catholic ministries.
Archbishop Chaput told reporters that the cost of the event in Milan was in excess of $15 million, and that a lay board would be working in coming months with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to raise funds for the expenses associated with the meeting.
The logo for the eighth World Meeting of Families was also unveiled on Feb. 25 — a bell with a cross and five distinct figures, designed to reflect “family unity, the city itself and also the city’s role as the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States,” according to a statement by the archdiocese.
MATT ARCHBOLD is a Philadelphia-based journalist. This article has been updated from the original version, published at NCRegister.com on Feb. 25. Reprinted with permission.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput’s inspiring address to the Napa Institute . . .
Archbishop Charles Chaput
A friend of mine, a political scientist, recently posed two very good questions. They go right to the heart of our discussion today. He wondered, first, if the religious freedom debate had “crossed a Rubicon” in our country’s political life. And, second, he asked if Catholic bishops now found themselves opposed — in a new and fundamental way — to the spirit of American society.
I’ll deal with his first question in a moment. I’ll come back to his second question at the end of my remarks. But we should probably begin our time together today by recalling that even at the height of anti-Catholic bigotry, Catholics have always served our country with distinction. More than 80 Catholic chaplains died in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. All four chaplains who won the Medal of Honor in those wars were Catholic priests.
Time and again, Catholics have proven their love of our nation with their talent, hard work and blood. So, if the bishops of the United States ever find themselves opposed, in a fundamental way, to the spirit of our country, the fault won’t lie with our bishops. It will lie with political and cultural leaders who turned our country into something it was never meant to be.
So, having said that, let’s turn to my friend’s first question.
The Rubicon is a river in northern Italy. It’s small and forgettable, except for one thing. During the Roman Republic, it marked a border. To the south lay Italy, ruled directly by the Roman Senate. To the north lay Gaul, ruled by a governor. Under Roman law, no general could enter Italy with an army. Doing so carried the death penalty. In 49 B.C., when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his 13th Legion and marched on Rome, he triggered a civil war and changed the course of history. Ever since then, “crossing the Rubicon” has meant passing a point of no return.
Caesar’s march on Rome is a very long way from our nation’s current disputes over religious liberty. But “crossing the Rubicon” is still a useful image. My friend’s point is this: Have we, in fact, crossed a border in our country’s history — the line between a religion-friendly past and an emerging America much less welcoming to Christian faith and witness?
Let me describe the nation we were and the nation we’re becoming. Then you can judge for yourselves.
People often argue about whether America’s Founders were mainly Christian, mainly Deist or both of the above. It’s a reasonable debate. It won’t end anytime soon. But no one can reasonably dispute that the Founders’ moral framework was overwhelmingly shaped by Christian faith. And that makes sense because America was largely built by Christians. The world of the American Founders was heavily Christian, and they saw the value of publicly engaged religious faith because they experienced its influence themselves. They created a nation designed in advance to depend on the moral convictions of religious believers and to welcome their active role in public life.
The Founders also knew that religion is not just a matter of private conviction. It can’t be reduced to personal prayer or Sunday worship. It has social implications. The Founders welcomed those implications. Christian faith demands preaching, teaching, public witness and service to others — by each of us alone and by acting in cooperation with fellow believers. As a result, religious freedom is never just freedom from repression, but also — and more importantly — freedom for active discipleship. It includes the right of religious believers, leaders and communities to engage society and to work actively in the public square. For the first 160 years of the republic, cooperation between government and religious entities was the norm in addressing America’s social problems. And that brings us to our country’s current situation.
Americans have always been a religious people. They still are. Roughly 80% of Americans call themselves Christians. Millions of Americans take their faith seriously. Millions act on it accordingly. Religious practice remains high. That’s the good news. But there’s also bad news. In our courts, in our lawmaking, in our popular entertainment and even in the way many of us live our daily lives, America is steadily growing more secular. Mainline churches are losing ground. Many of our young people spurn Christianity. Many of our young adults lack any coherent moral formation. Even many Christians who do practice their religion follow a kind of easy, self-designed Gospel that led author Ross Douthat to call us a “nation of heretics.” Taken together, these facts suggest an American future very different from anything in our nation’s past.
There’s more. Contempt for religious faith has been growing in America’s leadership classes for many decades, as scholars like Christian Smith and Christopher Lasch have shown. But in recent years, government pressure on religious entities has become a pattern, and it goes well beyond the current administration’s HHS [Health and Human Services] mandate. It involves interfering with the conscience rights of medical providers, private employers and individual citizens. And it includes attacks on the policies, hiring practices and tax statuses of religious charities, hospitals and other ministries. These attacks are real. They’re happening now. And they’ll get worse as America’s religious character weakens.
This trend is more than sad. It’s dangerous. Our political system presumes a civil society that pre-exists and stands outside the full control of the state. In the American model, the state is meant to be modest in scope and constrained by checks and balances. Mediating institutions like the family, churches and fraternal organizations feed the life of the civic community. They stand between the individual and the state. And when they decline, the state fills the vacuum they leave. Protecting these mediating institutions is therefore vital to our political freedom. The state rarely fears individuals, because, alone, individuals have little power. They can be isolated or ignored. But organized communities are a different matter. They can resist. And they can’t be ignored.
This is why, for example, if you want to rewrite the American story into a different kind of social experiment, the Catholic Church is such an annoying problem. She’s a very big community. She has strong beliefs. And she has an authority structure that’s very hard to break — the kind that seems to survive every prejudice and persecution and even the worst sins of her own leaders. Critics of the Church have attacked America’s bishops so bitterly, for so long, over so many different issues — including the abuse scandal, but by no means limited to it — for very practical reasons. If a wedge can be driven between the pastors of the Church and her people, then a strong Catholic witness on controversial issues breaks down into much weaker groups of discordant voices.
The theme of our time together today is “building a culture of religious freedom.” How do we do that?
We can start by changing the way we habitually think. Democracy is not an end in itself. Majority opinion does not determine what is good and true. Like every other form of social organization and power, democracy can become a form of repression and idolatry. The problems we now face in our country didn’t happen overnight. They’ve been growing for decades, and they have moral roots. America’s bishops named the exile of God from public consciousness as “the root of the world’s travail today” nearly 65 years ago. And they accurately predicted the effects of a life without God on the individual, the family, education, economic activity and the international community. Obviously, too few people listened.
We also need to change the way we act. We need to understand that we can’t “quick fix” our way out of problems we behaved ourselves into. Catholics have done very well in the United States. As I said earlier, most of us have a deep love for our country, its freedoms and its best ideals. But this is not our final home. There is no automatic harmony between Christian faith and American democracy. The eagerness of Catholics to push their way into our country’s mainstream over the past half century, to climb the ladder of social and economic success, has done very little to Christianize American culture. But it’s done a great deal to weaken the power of our Catholic witness.
In the words of scholar Robert Kraynak, democracy — for all of its strengths — also “has within it the potential for its own kind of ‘social tyranny.’” The reason is simple: Democracy advances “the forces of mass culture which lower the tone of society … by lowering the aims of life from classical beauty, heroic virtues and otherworldly transcendence to the pursuits of work, material consumption and entertainment.” This inevitably tends to “[reduce] human life to a one-dimensional materialism and [an] animal existence that undermines human dignity and eventually leads to the ‘abolition of man.’”
To put it another way: The right to pursue happiness does not include a right to excuse or ignore evil in ourselves or anyone else. When we divorce our politics from a grounding in virtue and truth, we transform our country from a living moral organism into a kind of golem of legal machinery without a soul.
This is why working for good laws is so important. This is why getting involved politically is so urgent. This is why every one of our votes matters. We need to elect the best public leaders, who then create the best policies and appoint the best judges. This has a huge impact on the kind of nation we become. Democracies depend for their survival on people of conviction fighting for what they believe in the public square — legally and peacefully, but zealously and without apologies. That includes you and me.
Critics often accuse faithful Christians of pursuing a “culture war” on issues like abortion, sexuality, marriage and the family and religious liberty. And, in a sense, they’re right. We are fighting for what we believe. But, of course, so are advocates on the other side of all these issues — and neither they nor we should feel uneasy about it. Democracy thrives on the struggle of competing ideas. We steal from ourselves and from everyone else if we try to avoid that struggle. In fact, two of the worst qualities in any human being are cowardice and acedia —and by acedia I mean the kind of moral sloth that masquerades as “tolerance” and leaves a human soul so empty of courage and character that even the devil Screwtape would spit it out.
In real life, democracy is built on two practical pillars: cooperation and conflict. It requires both. Cooperation, because people have a natural hunger for solidarity that makes all community possible. And conflict, because people have competing visions of what is right and true. The more deeply they hold their convictions, the more naturally people seek to have those convictions shape society.
What that means for Catholics is this: We have a duty to treat all persons with charity and justice. We have a duty to seek common ground where possible. But that’s never an excuse for compromising with grave evil. It’s never an excuse for being naive. And it’s never an excuse for standing idly by while our liberty to preach and serve God in the public square is whittled away. We need to work vigorously in law and politics to form our culture in a Christian understanding of human dignity and the purpose of human freedom. Otherwise, we should stop trying to fool ourselves that we really believe what we claim to believe.
There’s more. To work as it was intended, America needs a special kind of citizenry: a mature, well-informed electorate of persons able to reason clearly and rule themselves prudently. If that’s true — and it is — then the greatest danger to American liberty in our day is not religious extremism. It’s something very different. It’s a culture of narcissism that cocoons us in dumbed-down, bigoted news, vulgarity, distraction and noise, while methodically excluding God from the human imagination. Kierkegaard once wrote that “the introspection of silence is the condition of all educated intercourse” and that “talkativeness is afraid of the silence which reveals its emptiness.” Silence feeds the soul. Silence invites God to speak. And silence is exactly what American culture no longer allows. Securing the place of religious freedom in our society is therefore not just a matter of law and politics, but of prayer, interior renewal — and also education.
What I mean is this: We need to re-examine the spirit that has ruled the Catholic approach to American life for the past 60 years. In forming our priests, deacons, teachers and catechists — and especially the young people in our schools and religious-education programs — we need to be much more penetrating and critical in our attitudes toward the culture around us. We need to recover our distinctive Catholic identity and history. Then we need to act on them. America is becoming a very different country, and as Ross Douthat argues so well in his excellent book Bad Religion, a renewed American Christianity needs to be ecumenical, but also confessional. Why? Because: “In an age of institutional weakness and doctrinal drift, American Christianity has much more to gain from a robust Catholicism and a robust Calvinism than it does from even the most fruitful Catholic-Calvinist theological dialogue.”
America is now mission territory. Our own failures helped to make it that way. We need to admit that. Then we need to re-engage the work of discipleship to change it.
I want to close by returning to the second of my friend’s two questions. He asked if our nation’s Catholic bishops now find themselves opposed — in a new and fundamental way — to the nature of American society. I can speak only for myself. But I suspect that for many of my brother American bishops the answer to that question is a mix of both No and Yes.
The answer is No in the sense that the Catholic Church has always thrived in the United States, even in the face of violent bigotry. Catholics love and thank God for this country. They revere the American legacy of democracy, law and ordered liberty. As the bishops wrote in 1940 on the eve of World War II, “[We] renew [our] most sacred and sincere loyalty to our government and to the basic ideals of the American republic … [and we] are again resolved to give [ourselves] unstintingly to its defense and its lasting endurance and welfare.” Hundreds of thousands of American Catholics did exactly that on the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific.
But the answer is Yes in the sense that the America of Catholic memory is not the America of the present moment or the emerging future. Sooner or later, a nation based on a degraded notion of liberty, on license rather than real freedom — in other words, a nation of abortion, disordered sexuality, consumer greed and indifference to immigrants and the poor — will not be worthy of its founding ideals. And, on that day, it will have no claim on virtuous hearts.
In many ways, I believe my own generation, the “boomer generation,” has been one of the most problematic in our nation’s history because of our spirit of entitlement and moral superiority; our appetite for material comfort unmoored from humility; our refusal to acknowledge personal sin and accept our obligations to the past.
But we can change that. Nothing about life is predetermined except the victory of Jesus Christ. We create the future. We do it not just by our actions, but by what we really believe — because what we believe shapes the kind of people we are. In a way, “growing a culture of religious freedom” is the better title for this talk. A culture is more than what we make or do or build. A culture grows organically out of the spirit of a people — how we live, what we cherish, what we’re willing to die for.
If we want a culture of religious freedom, we need to begin it here, today, now. We live it by giving ourselves wholeheartedly to God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ — by loving God with passion and joy, confidence and courage. And by holding nothing back. God will take care of the rest. Scripture says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). In the end, God is the builder. We’re the living stones. The firmer our faith, the deeper our love, the purer our zeal for God’s will — then the stronger the house of freedom will be that rises in our own lives and in the life of our nation.
Archbishop Charles Chaput is archbishop of Philadelphia. He delivered this address at the Napa Institute on July 26. An abridged version of this address was published in the September issue of Legatus magazine.
 For patterns of religious belief in various age groups, see Barna Group and Pew Research Center data. For the state of moral formation among young adults, see Christian Smith, editor, Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011. For an overview of American religious trends and their meaning, see Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, Free Press, New York, 2012
 See Christopher Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, W.W. Norton, New York, 1995; and Christian Smith, editor, The Secular Revolution: Power, Interests and Conflict in the Secularization of American Public Life, University of California Press, Los Angeles, 2003
 “Secularism,” a pastoral statement by the Administrative Board of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, on behalf of the bishops of the United States, November 14, 1947; as collected in Pastoral Letters of the American Hierarchy, 1792-1970, Hugh J. Nolan, editor, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN, 1971
 Robert Kraynak, “Citizenship in Two Worlds: On the Tensions between Christian Faith and American Democracy,” Josephinum Journal of Theology, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2009; see also a more extensive discussion of this theme in his book, Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN, 2001
 C.S. Lewis, see his “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” in The Screwtape Letters, HarperCollins, New York, 2001
 Soren Kierkegaard, The Present Age: On the Death of Rebellion, HarperPerennial, New York, 2010, p. 44-45
 Douthat, Bad Religion, p. 286-287
 “The American Republic,” a statement by the bishops of the United States, November 13, 1940; as collected in Pastoral Letters of the American Hierarchy, 1792-1970
Archbishop Chaput gives clear, concise teaching on Catholics’ political responsibility. . .
Render unto Caesar: Serving the nation by living our Catholic beliefs in political life
Doubleday, 2008. 272 pages, $21.95 hardcover
Every four years we hear how the presidential election is the most important in history. The truth is that the stakes are higher with every year that passes. Denver’s archbishop pulls no punches in exploring the intersection of morality, reason and politics. This important book is a call to American Catholics (and all Christians) to serve the highest ideals of their nation by first living their faith deeply and authentically.