Sunday, October 24, 2010

Multiculturalism and Moral Decay

Archbishop Chaput's powerful address to a tri-diocesan catechetical congress held in Victoria, British Columbia on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15 and 16, 2010.

Describing a teacher's experience of student responses to the short story, The Lottery,how they changed from shock and indignation in the 1970s to multicultural sensitivity and understanding in the 1990s, Chaput notes that
Our culture is doing catechesis every day. It works like water dripping on a stone, eroding people’s moral and religious sensibilities, and leaving a hole where their convictions used to be.
Without a strong confident Catholic catechesis to enable young people to swim against the stream, they lose their moral bearings. Speaking of the teacher, Kay Haugaard, who wrote an essay on her experience of teaching The Lottery over decades, Chaput says,
Haugaard’s experience teaches us that it took less than a generation for this catechesis to produce a group of young adults who were unable to take a moral stand against the ritual murder of a young woman. Not because they were cowards. But because they lost their moral vocabulary.

Haugaard’s students seemingly grew up in a culture shaped by practical atheism and moral relativism. In other words, they grew up in an environment that teaches, in many different ways, that God is irrelevant, and that good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood can’t exist in any absolute sense.
The problem, he argues, lies with the adults--parents and teachers--who fell into easy accommodation with the new barbarism, surrounding, increasingly amoral culture, were embarrassed by their faith, and so unable to teach or model it convincingly.
Instead of changing the culture around us, we Christians have allowed ourselves to be changed by the culture. We’ve compromised too cheaply. We’ve hungered after assimilating and fitting in. And in the process, we’ve been bleached out and absorbed by the culture we were sent to make holy.
His remarks are a call to courage, humility, obedience, and zeal.
We need to stop calling ourselves “Catholic” if we don’t stand with the Church in her teachings – all of them. But if we really are Catholic, or at least if we want to be, then we need to act like it with obedience and zeal and a fire for Jesus Christ in our hearts. God gave us the faith in order to share it. This takes courage. It takes a deliberate dismantling of our own vanity. When we do that, the Church is strong. When we don’t, she grows weak. It’s that simple.

Here is the full address:
ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: Repentance and renewal in the mission of catechesis

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