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Quick Hits: Chaput on the Benedict option, L'Osservatore on Obama, Reilly on dialogue with Islam

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 23, 2016

  • Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput confirms his status as the most important thinker/writer/speaker in the American hierarchy with this challenging address, delivered to an audience at Brigham Young University. The archbishop tackles head-on the fear that (as Charles Murray put it) “the American project, as originally defined, is dead.” He traces the trouble to its roots, noting the increasing diversity of the American population, the influence of our reliance on technology, and—far more damaging—the loss of belief in objective truth and natural law. How should believers respond? Archbishop Chaput nods toward Rod Dreher’s suggestion of the “Benedict option,” but argues that a better option might be the one offered by St. Augustine in his City of God. This is a speech well worth reading.

  • Jeff Mirus has already commented on the awkward little essay in L’Osservatore Romano, praising President Obama for re-opening diplomatic ties with Cuba. As my colleague observes, it is unseemly for the Vatican newspaper to lavish praise on the American president who has done so much to promote the sexual revolution, both in the US and abroad. Let me simply add that the piece in L’Osservatore also smacks of a partisan perspective that is unbecoming to the Vatican’s house organ: first with its remark about the challenge Obama faces in “a Congress controlled by Republicans,” then with a gratuitous comparison between Obama’s approach and the “new European walls constructed against migrants.” Yes, ostensibly the reference is to European walls, but in this election year, when you think of a wall barring entry to migrants, don’t you think of a particular presidential candidate?

  • In the aftermath of the terrorist bombing attack on Brussels, there will no doubt be more calls for dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Dialogue is never a bad idea, as long as the discussion is serious and informed. But Robert Reilly, who has warned about the dangers of a dialogue that ignores fundamental problems, illustrates his point by examining a joint appearance by Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego and Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America. While the bishop spent much of his time decrying “distortions of Muslim theology and teaching,” it is apparent that Bishop McElroy is actually not very familiar with Muslim thought, and (deliberately?) ignores the most troublesome facets of Islam. The trouble with such sessions, Reilly concludes, is that ‘the only ones who get confused by these ‘dialogues’ are Catholics themselves.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Mar. 24, 2016 1:48 PM ET USA

    I visited Salt Lake City and the Temple last summer. I remember how the central point of their prodigious teaching effort was how the family is the focus of God's plan for mankind. We have lost sight (although Pope John Paul II tried to revive it) that the family is the image of the Blessed Trinity, and the fullness of our being created in God's image. We have been caught up in the romantic drivel of modernity, and it shows. The strains of modernity are showing at SLC, just more slowly.

  • Posted by: shrink - Mar. 23, 2016 2:01 PM ET USA

    Chaput's article is insightful, especially when pointing to the Frankfurt School. However, he is silent on the relative health of the Mormon family in contrast to your typical Catholic family. It is a curious silence, and suggests that Chaput is ignorant of the causes of such a difference; pray tell, how does the Mormon family remain so robust in face of the secularist onslaught? Is it simply their missionary efforts? Not very likely in my view.