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He’s said it before, and today he said it again:
In a speech Thursday at the University of Notre Dame, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput called presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton “very bad news for our country.” Chaput said that since he first voted in 1966, “the major parties have never, at the same time, offered two such deeply flawed candidates.” He said he believes each candidate is detrimental to the nation in different ways. “One candidate, in the view of a lot of people, is a belligerent demagogue with an impulse-control problem. And the other, also in the view of a lot of people, is a criminal liar, uniquely rich in stale ideas and bad priorities,” Chaput said. It was not the first time the archbishop criticized the Republican and Democratic nominees. Last month he wrote that Trump and Clinton “both have astonishing flaws.” Also characterizing his descriptions as the views of “a lot of people,” he said Trump was “an eccentric businessman of defective ethics whose bombast and buffoonery make him inconceivable as president.” And in the view “of a lot of people,” Chaput wrote that Clinton “should be under political indictment.” The religiously conservative Chaput has often been outspoken and at times has sparked controversy with his views. Earlier this year, when Chaput insisted that Catholics living in sinful relationships may not receive Holy Communion or hold positions of responsibility in parishes, Mayor Kenney denounced the decision as “not Christian.” Though Chaput was at Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind., to deliver the 2016 Tocqueville Lecture on Religious Liberty, the university was not spared from his criticism. He said many Catholics were deeply troubled that Notre Dame honored Vice President Biden this year with the prestigious Laetare Medal. The event was open to the public and was held in the Hesburgh Library. “For the nation’s leading Catholic university to honor a Catholic public official who supports abortion rights and then goes on to conduct a same-sex civil marriage ceremony just weeks later, is – to put it kindly – a contradiction of Notre Dame’s identity,” Chaput said.
The complete text of his remarks is on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia website. He also spoke about mercy and confession—and sex:
I’ve been a priest for 46 years. During that time I’ve heard something more than 12,000 personal confessions and done hundreds of spiritual direction sessions. That’s a lot of listening. When you spend several thousand hours of your life, as most priests do, hearing the failures and hurts in people’s lives – men who beat their wives; women who cheat on their husbands; the addicts to porn or alcohol or drugs; the thieves, the hopeless, the self-satisfied and the self-hating – you get a pretty good picture of the world as it really is, and its effect on the human soul. The confessional is more real than any reality show because nobody’s watching. It’s just you, God and the penitents, and the suffering they bring with them. As a priest, what’s most striking to me about the last five decades is the huge spike in people – both men and women — confessing promiscuity, infidelity, sexual violence and sexual confusion as an ordinary part of life, and the massive role of pornography in wrecking marriages, families and even the vocations of clergy and religious. In a sense, this shouldn’t surprise. Sex is powerful. Sex is attractive. Sex is a basic appetite and instinct. Our sexuality is tied intimately to who we are; how we search for love and happiness; how we defeat the pervasive loneliness in life; and, for most people, how we claim some little bit of permanence in the world and its story by having children. The reason Pope Francis so forcefully rejects “gender theory” is not just because it lacks scientific support — though it certainly has that problem. Gender theory is a kind of metaphysics that subverts the very nature of sexuality by denying the male-female complementarity encoded into our bodies. In doing that, it attacks a basic building block of human identity and meaning — and by extension, the foundation of human social organization. But let’s get back to the confessional. Listening to people’s sexual sins in the Sacrament of Penance is hardly new news. But the scope, the novelty, the violence and the compulsiveness of the sins are. And remember that people only come to Confession when they already have some sense of right and wrong; when they already understand, at least dimly, that they need to change their lives and seek God’s mercy. That word “mercy” is worth examining. Mercy is one of the defining and most beautiful qualities of God. Pope Francis rightly calls us to incarnate it in our own lives this year. Unfortunately, it’s also a word we can easily misuse to avoid the hard work of moral reasoning and judgment. Mercy means nothing – it’s just an exercise in sentimentality – without clarity about moral truth. We can’t show mercy to someone who owes us nothing; someone who’s done nothing wrong. Mercy implies a pre-existing act of injustice that must be corrected. And satisfying justice requires a framework of higher truth about human meaning and behavior. It requires an understanding of truth that establishes some things as good and others as evil; some things as life-giving and others that are destructive. Here’s why that’s important. The truth about our sexuality is that infidelity, promiscuity, sexual confusion and mass pornography create human wreckage. Multiply that wreckage by tens of millions of persons over five decades. Then compound it with media nonsense about the innocence of casual sex and the “happy” children of friendly divorces. What you get is what we have now: a dysfunctional culture of frustrated and wounded people increasingly incapable of permanent commitments, self-sacrifice and sustained intimacy, and unwilling to face the reality of their own problems. This has political consequences. People unwilling to rule their appetites will inevitably be ruled by them — and eventually, they’ll be ruled by someone else. People too weak to sustain faithful relationships are also too weak to be free. Sooner or later they surrender themselves to a state that compensates for their narcissism and immaturity with its own forms of social control.