Faith, Unity Advocated by Archbishop Charles Chaput in BYU Address
Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
- Unite with others with similar beliefs to uphold freedom of religion.
- Find hope and joy by believing in a loving God.
- Serve with charity and remain true to your beliefs.
“Our task as believers, whatever our religious tradition, is to witness our love for God and for each other in the time and place God puts us.” —Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
“You make the future. You build it stone by stone with the choices you make,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia told students and faculty during a forum at Brigham Young University on March 22. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles attended the event.
“The friendship of the LDS and Catholic communities is important,” Archbishop Chaput said. “The better we know each other’s stories as religious minorities in this country, the better we can support each other in pursuing some of the vital issues we share. And that serves not just our beliefs and concerns, but the health of our entire nation.”
Sharing some of the Catholic teachings, Archbishop Chaput spoke of the important role every individual has in making his or her community a better place.
“Our task as believers, whatever our religious tradition, is to witness our love for God and for each other in the time and place God puts us,” he said. “That means we have duties—first to the City of God, but also to the City of Man. It means working with all our energy to make our nation whole and good, even as we keep our expectations modest, and even when we experience criticism and failure. And finally, it means realizing that none of us can do this work alone.”
Archbishop Chaput told of the experience his late mentor and friend Cardinal Francis George of Chicago had when he visited the BYU campus in 2010. In Cardinal George’s address he spoke of “the possibilities of deepening our friendships through common witness and dialogue.”
Archbishop Chaput discussed many topics—such as the political or moral climate—facing society today.
“Just as optimism is very different from hope, a little pessimism—I prefer to call it realism—is a long way from hopelessness,” he said. “Optimism is a kind word for wishful thinking. Hope, as Georges Bernanos liked to say, is ‘despair overcome,’ and it’s built on the granite of faith. People who really believe in a loving God are always people of hope and the joy that comes with it.”
Although theology may be different between Mormons and Catholics, Archbishop Chaput said it is important for all to live with faith.
“Never neglect to nourish your roots and your identity as a university grounded in faith,” he said. “Faith in God is the road to life. Faith in a loving God is the light that illuminates and gives meaning to human reason and to all of life. Real excellence is a quality of the soul.”
Answering the question “What do we need to do as people of faith going forward?” Archbishop Chaput encouraged listeners to “wake each other up to see the world and … nation as they really are—the good along with the evil. We need to support each other in the work for religious freedom we share. We need to treat each other as friends, not enemies or strangers. We need to learn from each other’s successes and mistakes. And … we need to keep each other from slipping back into the narcotic haze that so much of America’s everyday life has become.
“To put it another way: It’s important for our own integrity and the integrity of our country to fight for our convictions in the public square. Anything less is kind of cowardice. But the greater task is to live what we claim to believe by our actions—fidelity to God, love of spouse and children, loyalty to friends, generosity to the poor, honesty and mercy in dealing with others, trust in the goodness of people, discipline and humility in demanding the most from ourselves.”
Nations change when people change, the Catholic leader said. And people change through the witness of other people. Drawing from the unofficial motto of BYU, Archbishop Chaput told students to “go forth to serve.”
“It’s a better exit line than anything I could ever write,” he said. “Dear friends, go forth to serve. Serve the poor. Help the weak. Protect the unborn children. Fight for your right to love and serve God and for others to do the same. Defend the dignity of marriage and the family, and witness their meaning and hope to others by the example of your lives.
“If you do that, you’ll inspire others to do the same. And you’ll discover in your own life what it means to be fully human.”
Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, speaks at Brigham Young University on March 22, 2016. Photo by Jaren Wilkey, BYU.