Friday, April 3, 2015

Archbishop Cupich Wants You to Believe That Christ Died to End Gang Violence

The Archbishop wants you to pray for him. Do so.

I'm taking that from an Easter Week virtual "letter" I received from Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich. I assume he has a list of email addresses from all Chicago parishioners or from Catholic Appeal donors (I am an extremely small one) or whatever.

Here's the second paragraph:
Worldwide armed conflict, lethal gang violence in our neighborhoods, families trapped in poverty, immigrants uncertain about their future, young people robbed of a future because of drugs and poor education, and the most vulnerable among us—the unborn, the chronically ill, the secretly abused, the elderly, the dying—who have become in the words of Pope Francis "disposable"—all this suggests a dim future.
Now, this is a list of liberal bugaboos or pet causes, no different from what you would find in a fundraising letter from, say, a Democratic politician. Well, not quite. Note the reference to abortion tucked in there in between "poor education" and "the chronically ill".

But, the Archbishop goes on: For "Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Lord"--no direct reference to Catholics or the Catholic Church is made in the letter--we "dare to hope".


Here are the final two paragraphs:
We dare to hope, because the eternal Word of God dared to take our flesh and passed through death to new and glorious life. He opened the way for us to embrace eternal life. And so we dare to hope and, even more, dare to share that hope with a wounded struggling world. 
Pray for me as I pray for you that our faith and confidence in the Risen Christ will bless this world with the renewed hope that it desperately needs.
Is there anything heretical here? No. On one interpretation, it's perfectly orthodox. Despite the horrors of this bent world, in the end it doesn't matter. What we hope for is eternal life. And Christ promised eternal life for all those who "believe in him." Well, okay. It'a not explicitly orthodox in a Catholic sense. Again, there's no indication that the Church may be necessary or at least important in this. But still.

But I think that that's not what most people or most Catholics will get from the letter. What we are hoping for, exactly is never actually specified. In fact, I submit there's an intentional ambiguity. Most will get from it that Christ gave us hope that we can overcome the above listed horribles--lethal gang violence in our cities, etc.--if only Christ will bless this world, perhaps because of our faith in Him.

Not only is that false, but it's a killer for Catholic or Christian Faith. Because if that's what Christ died for, then He obviously died in vain. We've had nothing but violence and suffering for the last 2,000 years. And as bad as you think it is now for others or for you, it has almost certainly been worse for many more. And it will probably get worse in the future.

People aren't stupid. If that's how you frame the meaning of Christ's death (or His resurrection) or the purpose of Christian belief, then it's obvious you're an idiot. You want to argue that maybe this time, if we could all just pray a little more or volunteer a little more or vote the right way or whatever, then finally, finally, things would turn out okay.


Bill Maher would tell you that's delusional. And he would be right.

The truth has the virtue of not being so easily falsifiable. But it also will sound crazy. Perhaps even offensive to some.

And don't misunderstand. This is not a liberal vs. conservative thing. Christ didn't die to end gang violence. But he also didn't die to end abortion. It's much more radical than that.

Christ died to save gang members and abortionists.


Yes. That's why He died. The "liberal" Archbishop Cupich can't even bring himself to say it. But that's why He died.

And, of course, He also died for all other sinners, including you and me. Not so we could save the world, but so we could save our own souls. He died so we could see God and dwell with Him, despite everything else, and even though we don't really deserve it.

He died to save us, but in all probability, we will only be saved if we sincerely ask Him to forgive us. Many of us won't, including, no doubt, many gang members and abortionists.

But it's the Archbishop's job to get that message out. Bring back Confession in Chicago churches, among other things.

And just so you know you're not off the hook, it's your job to try to end gang violence and abortion. Not Christ's job but your job. It goes with the territory of the "love thy neighbor" thing. Christ will strengthen you in this. But it's still your job.

It's also your job to spread the Word so others can be eternally saved. And it's also the Archbishop's job. I know you're up to it.

Is he?

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