Here continues the Oct. 26, 2007 address of Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput at St. John's University School of Law in Queens, New York. The talk is titled "Church and State Today: What Belongs to Caesar, and What Doesn't." It is well worth reading and saving:
“We don't usually think of Plato and Aristotle endorsing abortion or infanticide as state policy. But they did. Hippocrates, the great medical pioneer, also famously created an abortion kit that included sharp blades for cutting up the fetus and a hook for ripping it from the womb. We rarely connect that with his Hippocratic Oath. But some years ago, archeologists discovered the remains of what appeared to be a Roman-era abortion or infanticide "clinic." It was a sewer filled with the bones of more than 100 infants.
“If you haven't done so already, I'd encourage you to pick up a little book written about 10 years ago, "The Rise of Christianity" by the Baylor University scholar Rodney Stark. You'll find all of this history in its pages and more.
“But what does ancient Rome have to do with my topic tonight, the relationship of Church and State today?
“Let me explain it this way: People often say we're living at a "post-Christian" moment. That's supposed to describe the fact that Western nations have abandoned or greatly downplayed their Christian heritage in recent decades. But our "post-Christian" moment actually looks a lot like the pre-Christian moment. The signs of our times in the developed nations—morally, intellectually, spiritually and even demographically—are uncomfortably similar to the signs in the world at the time of the Incarnation.
“Drawing lessons from history is a subjective business. There's always the risk of oversimplifying.
“But I do believe that the challenges we face as American Catholics today are very much like those faced by the first Christians. And it might help to have a little perspective on how they went about evangelizing their culture. They did such a good job that within 400 years Christianity was the world's dominant religion and the foundation of Western civilization. If we can learn from that history, the more easily God will work through us to spark a new evangelization.
...continued next week