Archbishop Chaput: In Democracies We Elect Public Servants, Not Messiahs; Warns of Spiritual Adulation

Posted: February 28, 200912:25 am Eastern

By Bob Unruh © 2009 WorldNetDaily

One of the prominent and rising archbishops in the Catholic Church is warning against a "spirit of adulation" towards President Obama, who was portrayed repeatedly during his campaign with messianic images.

WND reported during the campaign on a website called Obamamessiah which still holds images portraying the president in a "transfiguration" pose, with various haloes around his head, and the cover of a book, "Barack Obama, Son of Promise, Child of Hope."

But in a message at St. Basil's Church in Toronto recently, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput warned against following blindly.

"President Obama is a man of intelligence and some remarkable gifts. He has a great ability to inspire. … But whatever his strengths, there's no way to reinvent his record on abortion and related issues with rosy marketing about unity, hope and change," Chaput said.

"Of course, that can change. Some things really do change when a person reaches the White House. Power ennobles some men. It diminishes others. Bad policy ideas can be improved. Good policy ideas can find a way to flourish. But as Catholics, we at least need to be honest with ourselves and each other about the political facts we start with," he said.

Unfortunately when it comes to the current administration that will be very hard for Catholics in the United States, and here's why. A spirit of adulation bordering on servility already exists among some of the same Democratic-friendly Catholic writers, scholars, editors and activists who once accused prolifers of being too cozy with Republicans. It turns out that Caesar is an equal opportunity employer," he warned.

In just the issue of abortion, Obama already has started keeping campaign promises by restoring taxpayer funding for an international program supporting abortion and launching a plan to require physicians to provide various abortion advice and services – no matter how it violates their beliefs.

Chaput said while people "owe civil authority our respect and appropriate obedience," he said, "Caesar is not God."

"Only God is God, and the state is subordinate and accountable to God for its treatment of human persons, all of whom were created by God. Our job as believers is to figure out what things belong to Caesar, and what things belong to God – and then put those things in right order in our own lives, and in our relations with others," he said in comments posted on the website of the Denver archdiocese.

He said the religious have a responsibility to be politically engaged.

"Why? Because politics is the exercise of power, and the use of power always has moral content and human consequences," he said. "As Christians, we can't claim to love God and then ignore the needs of our neighbors. Loving God is like loving a spouse. A husband may tell his wife that he loves her, and of course that's very beautiful. But she'll still want to see the proof in his actions."

Chaput, who has written a book on his views, "Render Unto Caesar," noted that even before Obama was elected, he considered the now-president "the most committed 'abortion-rights' presidential candidate … since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973."

He said Obama's campaign "removed any suggestion that killing an unborn child might be a regrettable thing."

The result, he said, is that members of the church "owe no leader any submission or cooperation in the pursuit of grave evil."

"In fact, we have the duty to change bad laws and resist grave evil in our public life, both by our words and our non-violent actions," he said. "Second, in democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs. It's worth recalling that despite two ugly wars, an unpopular Republican president, a fractured Republican party, the support of most of the American news media and massively out-spending his opponent, our new president actually trailed in the election polls the week before the economic meltdown."

"Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis. That's the mandate. They gave nobody a mandate to retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life and abortion," the archbishop said.

He blasted anyone who would blend Catholicism with support for abortion.

"We can't talk piously about programs to reduce the abortion body count without also working vigorously to change the laws that make the killing possible. If we're Catholic, then we believe in the sanctity of developing human life. And if we don't really believe in the humanity of the unborn child from the moment life begins, then we should stop lying to ourselves and others, and even to God, by claiming we're something we're not," he said.

"Every new election cycle I hear from unhappy, self-described Catholics who complain that abortion is too much of a litmus test. But isn't that exactly what it should be? One of the defining things that set early Christians apart from the pagan culture around them was their respect for human life; and specifically their rejection of abortion and infanticide," he said.

The move to have an "open mind" about various issues on which the Bible speaks is seriously misplaced, too, he insisted.

"We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty – these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it's never an end itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil," he said.

Chaput also took Obama's campaign slogan of "hope" down a peg.

"Anyone who hasn't noticed the despair in the world should probably go back to sleep. The word 'hope' on a campaign poster may give us a little thrill of righteousness, but the world will still be a wreck when the drug wears off. We can only attain hope through truth," he said. "And what that means is this: From the moment Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth and the life,' the most important political statement anyone can make is 'Jesus Christ is Lord.'"

One participant on the diocese website's forum responded, "I am not Catholic but am thrilled that this church is blasting the political dogma that is trying to become the standard for right and wrong. We must not be sheep and follow this pied piper (Obama) blindly. We must search our soul prayerfully for Gods answers not rely on the arm of flesh."

Another said, "All I need comment is the ninny commentator on MSNBC who 'gets a feeling up his leg when Obama speaks.' Or the Black woman who said on local TV that now that Obama has been elected president, I will not have to pay for gasoline anymore and I won't have to pay my mortgage. This is sick."

"You still remember Jim Jones? He was a gifted very charismatic preacher and what happen[ed] to his followers?" added another.

WND recently reported when Obama was picked ahead of Jesus as a "hero" to respondents in an online Harris poll and also when Nation of Islam radical Louis Farrakhan said regarding Obama: "The Messiah is absolutely speaking."

CNN, also, likened Obama's inauguration in Washington to the "hajj," the once-a-lifetime trip faithful Muslims make to their holy city of Mecca.

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