Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Render unto Caesar...


Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has just released a new book- Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life. L'Osservatore Romano, the official paper of the Vatican published a review, which you can find in English through Chiesa. Do read the review. Here are some snippets:
One can read the book on several levels, each illuminating the other. The first level is indicated by the book’s subtitle: “serving the nation by living our Catholic beliefs in political life.”
...Archbishop Chaput’s own conviction finds expression with these words: "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 (pp. 217-218).

Thus the second level at which the book may be read is as an appeal to American Catholics to recover a robust and comprehensive understanding of their own faith tradition.
...In effect, Archbishop Chaput is setting before his compatriots the same challenge that St. Paul posed to his fellow citizens of the Roman Empire. “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable, and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

Lastly, the third level at which the book may be read is as a reading of the Second Vatican Council.
...The Archbishop declares: “The Catholic Church is a web of relationships based on the most important relationship of all: Jesus Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist for our salvation. None of us earns the gift of Christ’s love. None of us ‘deserves’ the Eucharist” (p. 223). In a final chapter the author engages some pressing pastoral issues regarding access to the Eucharist on the part of public figures who advocate positions the church holds to be intrinsically evil, like abortion. The Archbishop’s approach is both pastorally sensitive and theologically cogent. It will help bring clarity to the ongoing conversation and discernment in this delicate matter – one which must be addressed for the sake of the integrity of the faith.
I'm buying my own copy. Do yourself and your country a favor and buy it.

No comments: