More American than Catholic?
In January of ’08 I attended the Hofinger Conference in New Orleans, which is intended to be an informative gathering of catechists featuring several speakers organized around a central theme for the purpose of improving Catholic education, and by doing so, transforming culture. At the time I had recently finished reading Spe Salvi and was filled with…hope, I suppose.
“Catholic is a word that has real meaning. We don’t control or invent that meaning as individuals. We inherit it from the gospel and the experience of the Church over the centuries. We can choose to be something else, but if we choose to call ourselves Catholic, then that word has consequences for what we believe and how we act. We can’t truthfully claim to be Catholic and then act as though we’re not. Being a Catholic is a bit like being married. We have a relationship with the Church and with Jesus Christ that’s similar to being a spouse. If a man says he loves his wife, his wife will want to see the evidence in his love and fidelity. The same applies to our relationship with God. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to show that by our love for the Church and our fidelity to what she teaches and believes. Otherwise we’re just fooling ourselves, because God certainly won’t be fooled.” (http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=953)
Whenever I see or hear Catholics, especially prominent ones or ones I think highly of, exhibiting that their loyalties lie first with some other group with which they are affiliated and only secondarily with the Church, my thoughts return to Chaput’s words. Thus, when I read Weigel’s article, my thoughts returned to Chaput’s words. This is not the first time I have thought of Wiegel as having placed his political interests ahead of his faith, but it is the most publicized instance of him having done so. Sadly, he is certainly not alone. I think that cafeteria Catholicism is much more widespread than some of us are willing to admit; yes, even among those of us who get such pleasure out of identifying others in the cafeteria.