5-December-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Archbishop says Church movements curb American individualism

The energy and zeal of new ecclesial communities can help renew the Church in America and revitalize a faith necessary to balance society's individualism, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.

"For Catholics in my country to recover their vocation as a Church, they need to be awakened; they need a reason to be zealous again about their faith," he said.

"They need to hear the witness of people who live the Catholic faith with confidence and joy."

In a Dec. 1 column for First Things based on a speech that he delivered in Lima, Peru, the archbishop described the modern Church as "a seed of life embedded in layers of dead tissue," thirsting for renewal and new life.

From its beginning, he said, America has been "a country of fierce individualism and hunger for material success, tempered by widespread Christian faith and community."

The American founders understood the importance of religion in tempering the appetites of the people in a free society, he said. But now, as America's religious beliefs decline into "a kind of fuzzy moral niceness," greed and selfishness increase.

Catholic influence on the daily lives of those in the developed world is quickly declining, Archbishop Chaput said, noting that more than 75 percent of American Catholics fail to attend Mass every Sunday and about 69 percent say they would not encourage someone to pursue a religious vocation.

"For all practical purposes, American Catholics are no different from everybody else in their views, their appetites, and their behaviors," he acknowledged. And the U.S. affects the rest of the world, not only with its military, political and economic strength, but with its media presence that shapes "the appetites, aspirations, and dreams of the planet."

While the Church in America may appear strong, Catholic life is in peril, the archbishop warned.

"Catholic life needs to be reignited," he said, adding that "American culture is a new kind of mission territory," filled with noise, distracted by entertainment and worshiping commerce.

Because the Church rejects the unbridled license at the heart of a consumerist society, she is "hated as the enemy of individual privacy and personal freedom," he explained.

However, the flourishing new ecclesial communities and movements offer hope to the Church, offering a powerful witness of "community and purpose" in a world of individualism and isolation, Archbishop Chaput said.

He observed that these new ecclesial communities are marked with a "holy impatience; the passion of youth; a sober understanding of the culture that shapes us; a zeal for Jesus Christ guided by deep intellectual formation; and a demand for excellence in all things for the sake of God's glory."

Already bearing fruit, these ecclesial movements reflect the universal call to holiness and commit themselves to "living the new evangelization without compromise and at personal cost," he explained.

"They're alive in Jesus Christ, and their new life and energy spill out into the whole Church," he said.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=6662#ixzz2ECvKOoG3

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