Catholic World News

Archbishop Chaput: the terms of our relationship with Jesus are ‘not ours to set’

October 16, 2015

As the Synod of Bishops gives rise to “a swarm of media attention and some very different interpretations,” Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia told readers of his weekly column that “the Church can be truthful without being merciful. But she can’t be merciful without being truthful.”

“Our task as bishops at the synod this month, and frankly what God asks from every Christian all the time, is to speak the truth with patience, humility and love,” he continued. “Truth without compassion wounds and repels; mercy without truth is a comfortable form of lying.”

He added:

If being a Christian is simply about belonging to an organization, then membership can be as easy as we want to make it. But if being a Christian is about belonging to Jesus Christ, then the words of Jesus can’t be softened or ignored, because what he demands from us is a love that embodies the same total self-gift that he makes to us. We can’t negotiate for a part of Jesus. We can only have him when we give him everything. If we offer him only a part of ourselves, we get nothing – no truth, and no Jesus.

We all feel the dilemma of good people who are divorced and civilly remarried but wish the solace of Communion, and others who deal with same-sex attraction.  No one can dismiss the hardships these persons sometimes face. But it’s the Gospel that needs to guide us in our reasoning. The central issue is, do we and they want Jesus Christ on his terms or on ours? If we can’t in principle accept the possibility of discomfort, suffering and even martyrdom, then we’re not disciples. We can’t rewrite or overlook what Jesus requires in order to follow him …

We can choose to include or exclude ourselves on the path of following Jesus. He will never stop loving us, whatever we choose. But in all of today’s hard moral issues, the terms of the relationship are not ours to set.


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Oct. 17, 2015 10:28 AM ET USA

    It seems that synod fathers who think as Archbishop Chaput does are, unfortunately, in a minority.

  • Posted by: Faustina01 - Oct. 17, 2015 12:40 AM ET USA

    So eloquently explained.....please God, may we have more priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes who speak the truth like this priest.