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Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, on the Tragedy in Newtown, CT

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HH: On a very sad day as no doubt many of you know of the 27 people murdered in Connecticut, including 20 children. I will cover the updates throughout the day. I had scheduled earlier in the week to speak with Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and old friend and a great moral force in America. And I’m sorry to do so on this day, Archbishop. Welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. I’m sorry it’s on such a sad and grief-filled day.

CC: Well, I understand that, and Hugh, if you want to cut things short, I understand that, too, if you need to do other things.

HH: Oh, absolutely. I think it’s fortuitous that you can talk to us about this.

CC: Well, I’m very happy to do it.

HH: You were in Denver when Columbine happened as the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Denver. So I don’t know if you are reliving that nightmare now. But what are you reactions to today?

CC: Well, actually I am kind of reliving it. I remember I was in Wichita, Kansas for the installation of the new Catholic bishop there on that day when Columbine happened, and I came out of the ordination Mass, and was just shocked by the news, and caught a plane as quickly as I could back to Denver, because it really was an event that shaped the whole life of the community for a long, long time to come, just a tragedy for everybody.

HH: Who is your brother bishop in Connecticut? I thought Bishop Lori was there for a while.

CC: Bishop Lori was there, and he’s been transferred, of course, to Baltimore. And there’s no new bishop assigned yet to that Diocese.

HH: What is your advice, Archbishop Chaput, for people that are one or two removed from victims and their families, you know, priests, pastors, friends, family members?

CC: To make themselves available without being intrusive on the sadness of the families. You know, I went around and visited some of the families, Catholic families in the Columbine tragedy, and it was obviously the most important thing for them were friends and pastors being available. Not to say a lot, because what can you say in the face of such a tragedy, but you know, show love and support by just being present.

HH: I resist reporting on them within hours of them happening, because details are often subject to change. They’ve changed many times today already, and they will change again. But obviously, the execution of 20 children is going to have a powerful impact. It’s also going to remind us just about evil. Any comments on that?

CC: Well you know, often, experiences like this often lead people away from God, because they ask the question how is it possible that if God is good and just when people suffer, especially when children suffer. That often happens with parents when their children have a disease like cancer and the like. But equally happening, from this kind of experience, is a return to God. People take life seriously again when they were maybe living shallowly, and they experience how fragile life is, and begin to wonder about what can moor me down, what can give me deeper foundations in the face of this kind of experience. So I think it can lead either direction. So it’s important for those who’ve dealt with the question of evil in their own life, or theologically or in other ways, to be available to listen and then articulate the faith of the Church.

HH: Archbishop Chaput, in terms of just practical stuff, as the leader of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, and previously Denver, there are two very practical issues I want to ask you about. Obviously, you are the head of a school system. You have lots of kindergarten children and first graders and young children in your care as the head of that school system. What do you do, what you think about attacks like this? I don’t really know what you can do.

CC: Well, in Denver, it led us to review our security issues. I think sometimes especially in private school situations, we don’t worry about security as much as we would in other situations in the public school systems. So I think it led us to review our security issues. And I think as time goes on, sometimes people get a little less focused than they should be on those issues. So I hope that all of us here in Philadelphia and elsewhere across the country will review the security of our schools, because this is just happening so often. You know, I just heard your own program earlier this week talking about the incident in Oregon.

HH: Yes.

CC: And so this is happening just way too often. And we need to focus on the security of our schools again, I think.

HH: And that brings me to the other practical aspect. As bishops in large, urban communities, you have under your domain mental health services. I’m sure you take care of a lot of people who are mentally ill. They’re often among the lost and the least. And I’m not going to categorize any particular illness here. I always hear from the mental health community, please don’t judge everyone with a mental health issue after one of these savage attacks. But what is your experience with the way American handles the mentally ill now?

CC: Well you know, I don’t know that we handled it any better than we did when I was a young priest forty years ago. And in fact, maybe we handled it less well in the sense that we take it less seriously, because everybody goes to a psychiatrist/psychologist. I’m just joking, but it’s more common. And I don’t know that we worry enough about the possible dangers that are involved with psychological illnesses. I think it’s really important for those of us who are involved in that kind of service to people to have our antennas sensitive to that kind of thing so that we can do our best to prevent things from happening. And of course, we also need to make this kind of psychological assistance available to families, and you know, in our schools, other children are going to be frightened now to go to school, and to make sure that we pay attention to those kind of issues, and not spiritualize the problem of evil so much that we don’t deal with the day to day deals of children and their parents.

HH: Yeah, fear is going to be a big issue that people won’t be able to articulate. John Paul II used to say fear not quite a lot in all of his writings. But it’s awfully hard for parents of small children not to. And it’s very, it’s impossible for small children to catch a whiff of this not to be impacted.

CC: That’s right. You know, his call, fear not, really was a call to have confidence with God in the face of this kind of evil. And I think we can say that with as much surety and clarity as he did even today. You know, ultimately, we have God who loves us, who’s our father, who cares for us. And although we have to be attentive and very, very careful, we can have confidence in God’s providential care for His children.

HH: And one last question on this, Archbishop. In your long life as a priest and bishop, you’ve been a grief counselor to many people. I know you’ve walked along a lot of people who are suffering. To those in the not near immediate aftermath of this, but years down the road, do you talk to people about their losses? Do you bring them up?

CC: I think it’s important to bring them up, and even bring them up quite quickly after an event like this. Not the first moment, you know, because people have to get through the immediate grieving and the funerals and the like. But I think very quickly after that is important for pastors to approach people who they’re responsible for to see if they can be of assistance in dealing with the fear and tragedy of these moments.

HH: Now I want to, and again, I assure the audience…

CC: And friends should do that, too, Hugh. I don’t think it’s just the prerogative of priests and clergymen and professionals. I think friends just need to be available to listen to people’s fears.

HH: Years ago, I interviewed Rabbi Harold Kushner, the author of When Good Things Happen To Bad People. And his number one rule for the PBS special was show up and shut up.

CC: That’s exactly right. That’s good advice.

HH: It was. I’ve always thought that was succinct. Archbishop, there’s a lot to cover. And I assure the audience if there is news, I will bring it to you. And all of next hour, I’ll take some calls, and Congressman Campbell will be with me, and then I’ll come back to other guests. But there’s a lot I want to talk to you about. One of those is another tragedy, the aftermath of Philadelphia after Sandy blew in. How is it doing? Is it recovered from the storm in the way that perhaps Staten Island and New Jersey haven’t?

CC: It certainly has. When it was happening, I think we were as frightened as they would have been anywhere in New Jersey or New York. People lost their power, for example, for just a week here compared to other places. But nonetheless, to loser your power, lose your food, you know, to lose your home in some sense, is tragic. But compared to those other places, we just had a really, really bad storm that did a lot of damage, but didn’t take life and in the same sense as it did in New Jersey and New York. So we’re grateful to God for that. And people have been very generous with us here through Catholic charities and other things. And we’ve been redirecting those gifts to areas where people have been much more seriously harmed.

HH: Oh, that’s good to know. Tell us a little about your first year at Philadelphia. I don’t even think it’s been a year. Has it been a year?

CC: It’s been a year and three months.

HH: Wow, that’s typically the way time flies. So how have you adjusted from going to the Mile High City to Philly?

CC: Well, the only thing I still haven’t adjusted to is, well, there’s two things. One is the humidity, believe it or not. It’s been pretty hard for me to get into human country after living in Colorado. The second thing is that you know, the pace in the East is so much different than it is in the mountain region in terms of the way people drive, the way they talk to each other. I mean, there’s a certain kind of aggressiveness here that I didn’t experience in the center part of our country. But I’m getting used to it, you know, and I hope I’m learning to respond in a way that’s appropriate for Philadelphia that’s quite different.

HH: You know, my law partner, Gary Wolensky, is a Philadelphia native, and the way he approaches sports, I just grieve for the way that you must have to deal with Eagles and Phillies fans.

CC: You know, you’re pretty bad yourself, though, sometimes.

HH: But I’ve got truth and justice on my side. I root for the good people. I don’t root for the Eagles. How is your knee by the way?

CC: Well, I had knee surgery ten days ago, and it hurts like heck. People told me this was going to be a terribly difficult rehabilitation, and I kind of said to myself well, that’s what they think, but I’m strong. But it’s tough. Really, it’s really very painful.

HH: It’s a complete knee replacement, right?

CC: Complete knee replacement, yeah.

HH: And so everyone who’s out there that prays for the Archbishop realizes a very specific prayer there. Have they got you up and rolling around and walking?

CC: I’m walking everywhere. I’m using a cane most of the time right now. I’ve graduated from the walker already. And if it weren’t for that kind of constant pain, I would be feeling I’m getting through this quite quickly. But you know, I think the pain’s going to last for another week or so, they say. And then I’ll be okay.

– – – –

HH: Archbishop, I wanted to ask you at the top of the show, and obviously we had to cover the news of the day and the terrible sorrow, but I don’t want this to get away. A lot of people want to know your reaction. A majority of American Catholics, if exit polls are to be believed, voted for President Obama, despite the discussion about the HHS regulations. And I want to talk both about the election and those regulations with you, but generally your reaction to the down the middle divide among American Catholics.

CC: Well you know, I’ve worried about this for a long time that the bishops haven’t been effective in challenging our people to take their voting seriously from a Catholic conscience perspective. One of the things that we have to take into account very seriously is we only, I think the national average might be just 32% of our Catholic people go to church on Sunday, which is lower significantly from black Protestants, lower significantly from Evangelical Protestants, and lower even from mainline Protestant groups now, that we have less church attendance in those groups on a weekly basis. So when they say 50% of Catholics go one way, 50% the other, the polls also show that the majority of church-going Catholics, the majority, not a huge majority, but a majority take the teachings of the Church on life and medical issues very, very seriously. And religious freedom, of course, is the primary focus of the Church as we face our life in the American community these days. And we spent a lot of time in the summer trying to bring this to the attention of our people. I don’t know effective we were. It certainly wasn’t a big issue in the election. And partly, that might be partly because the candidates themselves, neither the President nor Mr. Romney spoke about it very much. I was disappointed that it wasn’t part of the public debates. And if they don’t speak about it, many people just don’t think it’s a lively issue, and it is for the bishops. It’s the most important issue, because all the moral principles that we stand on are premised on the principle that we have the freedom to act out of what we believe. And if we’re forced by the government to act contrary to our beliefs, religious freedom is undermined, and our whole moral life as a Catholic community is undermined.

HH: I was given today an advanced reader’s copy of a new book, Persecuted: The Global Assault On Christians, quite by coincidence. Lela Gilbert gave it to me. Lela will be on later in the program. Its forward is by Eric Metaxas, but its afterward is by you. And you know, people pick up Persecuted: The Global Assault On Christians, and they might assume it’s only about the third world or dictatorial regimes, or the Islam world. But in many respects, we’re talking about America here, and the assault by an ever-expanding government on the right of Catholics and others, Evangelicals. My good friend, Bill Armstrong, who runs CCU, points out to me CCU is suing on the HHS regulations as well.

CC: He’s a great man, Senator Armstrong. I admire him very, very much. You know, when I was appointed to the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom some years ago, and I served for three years, and our responsibility was to focus on the lack of religious freedom in other countries around the world that would determine our foreign policy as a country. That was our mission to report to the State Department and the President on those kind of things. But one of the things I quickly discovered early on in my time with the Commission was that Western Europe was beginning to act in ways that really were threatening to religious freedoms of other people. And even this last week, Hugh, I read somewhere that the interior minister of France announced a new government surveillance policy aimed at shutting down religious groups, including traditionalist Catholics, that show signs of religious pathology.

HH: Oh, my gosh.

CC: And so, but who determines what is religious pathology?

HH: Right.

CC: You know, if it’s a government’s authority to do that, or power to do that, religious freedom is very seriously jeopardized. And I kept saying to people if it’s happening France, it’s happening in Western Europe, it’s going to be happening here. But it’s happened here so much more quickly than I would ever have imagined.

HH: And it may happen in the aftermath of these regulations. Do you have an update for us on how the bishops are examining…it’s so many lawsuits. Some have been won at the district court level, some have been lost at the district court level. It inevitably is going to have circuit court decisions, and I assume a Supreme Court decision. But I don’t know that it will come in time before you and your fellow bishops have to make choices about compliance or shutdown.

CC: I think it might. I don’t, either, but you know, we have to make those decisions by August. And that’s, we keep talking about it at a bishops group. We haven’t come to a common decision, yet, because we have time. And of course, that time can be the enemy of a good decision, I think. But you know, there’s two options that we have. We can either refuse to comply, and that could take different forms. We could divest ourselves of those Catholic institutions that we have that serve others besides Catholics, and would have the freedom then not to embrace those kinds of insurance. We could pay the fines by not purchasing the insurance. Or we could decline to pay the fines, and act out of civil disobedience. And the other option, of course, is to compromise.

HH: You know, it’s the 50th anniversary, or just past, of Martin Luther King’s letter from a Birmingham jail, which was all about civil disobedience in defense of religious conviction.

CC: Right.

HH: I don’t know that many people still read it or are aware of it, but it will be, it will be very interesting. Tell me about just an authority issue, you’ve got one of the great Catholic institutions in the world close by you, Villanova University.

CC: Right.

HH: And again, I go back to Wolensky, who went to Villanova, and Villanova Law. So I’ll never hear the end of having admitted that. But you’ve got Villanova right down the road. Does Villanova consult with you and follow your guidance? Or is it independently chartered, and therefore it can make its own decision on this?

CC: It’s independently chartered, and I think most Catholic universities are very jealous of guarding their independence, unless they’re owned by a diocese. And there are only two or three of those. And the Catholic University of America in Washington is owned by the bishops as a body, so really, they do not consult us. I think they would have a sense of their fraternal responsibility to listen to what we say. And they would really try their best to stand with us. But I don’t have direct control over any of those kind of universities.

HH: I know that…

CC: We have eleven Catholic universities in Philadelphia, and I have no direct control over any of them.

HH: But over the school system, you would. And I’m sure the school system insures its employees.

CC: Yes, absolutely.

HH: How many people work for you, directly or indirectly, at the Archdiocese in Philadelphia, Archbishop Chaput?

CC: Well you know, I don’t know exactly, but if you count our Catholic social services, which is the largest in Southeast Pennsylvania, maybe the largest in the state of Pennsylvania, actually, and our Catholic school system, it would certainly be in excess of 10-12,000, more than that, I think.

HH: And how goes the Diocese? We’ve got a minute to the break. Is it thriving?

CC: In no way are we thriving. We’re having financial problems, we have a bleeding of membership, there’s a priest morale problem, because we’ve had so many problems with sexual abuse in the past. And two grand juries reported against priest of the Archdiocese. So the morale of my priests is down. And I came in at a very low and difficult time.

HH: Yeah, I’m not sure if you’re talking to his Holiness. I’m not sure you’re very…Denver was a really nice seat.

– – – –

HH: Did you ever get to talk about forgiveness with the victims of Columbine, Archbishop?

CC: I did. And many of them talked to me about it. And they arrived at a point where they really wanted to forgive, and were wonderful teachers of forgiveness by what they said and the way they lived their lives. And there were of course others who just found it very hard to emotionally forgive. But you know, one can forgive in faith, and really desire to forgive, even though he or she doesn’t feel like it and be a person of forgiveness. Real forgiveness doesn’t depend on our feelings. It depends on our act of will. And I was always, I tried my best to point that out to people that what God wants from them isn’t they give up their feeling of anguish or anger, but to give up the revenge aspect of wanting to do damage to the persons who had hurt them so much.

HH: Now I want to go back to what we were talking about, the election. And in light of, I was very encouraged by the bishops and many of the organizations in Catholicism sending letters to the pulpit, speaking out about the HHS regulations. I was very encouraged. But I also thought it was a little late in the game to start, that political messages, there was a reason President Obama was running his anti-Bain ads very early in the year and repeatedly, because messaging is so routine. But then I got an email after I posted that you would be on with me today from an old friend that lives down in Orange County, California, and attends there the Our Lady Queen of Angels, and she writes that at the last Mass before November’s election, the congregation was encouraged to “go out and vote for the poor, not to go out and vote for the unborn. So many priests are economically illiterate, and they believe they are preaching good, but the policies they espouse only create more poverty, more state control and less freedom. How can this be turned around?” She asked me pose that question to you.

CC: Well, who’s poorer than the unborn and have no one to speak for them, and have no way at all of defending themselves in the face of a possible abortion? So I mean, that’s bringing up a needless conflict. We’re always responsible for the unborn, and we’re always responsible for the poor. And it’s never either/or. It’s both. And. You know, you have to support both. The right to life is foundational. You can’t be poor unless you’re alive.

HH: Yup.

CC: You know, and so I think that there’s a certain logic to the foundational issue of life. How can you trust somebody who’s willing to let people kill unborn children? How can you trust them with foreign policy? Or how can you trust them with the economic policy of your country? I mean, these are real issues. I think so much of the problem today is people don’t know how to think, and they don’t think when it comes to religious liberty. People who aren’t religious have a hard time understanding the issue, because why would they value something that they know nothing about or have not experienced? And if you look at the foundations of our country, though, you see that religious freedom isn’t something that we can do without because we’re not believers. It’s a basic foundational principle of our Constitution. And if we really are people who want to live by our Constitution, whether we’re religious personally or not, it’s important for us to commit ourselves to that.

HH: How about the priests and their knowledge of politics? I know your Denver seminary was deeply engaged in making sure that the seminarians who were there were prepared for a complex public and social life, understanding the difficulty of some of these issues, and the interconnectedness of it. We’ll talk about immigration in a little bit. But do you think that that’s generally the case? Or is this correspondent of mine correct that a lot of priests have great hearts, but really don’t know their economics very well?

CC: I would suspect the priest she’s talking about is my age, a little bit older or a little bit younger. It’s a generational thing, Hugh. It’s not a matter of education. I think that priests of my generation were trained, and their early ministries were in a day very different from our own, where they saw that the most important thing was economic justice for the poor. And they became irritated, my generation of priests, with the pro-life folks that sprang up after Roe V. Wade, because many of them didn’t seem to take care for the poor as seriously as they took care for the unborn. And so they reacted against them. And we kind of have two different kinds of Catholics in the Church today – the pro-life Catholics and the social justice Catholics. And real Catholics are both pro-life and social justice, and they don’t allow political parties to move them in one direction away from the other. We do both together.

HH: At the same time.

– – – –

HH: And on a general issue, Archbishop, the nature and tenor of American political discourse, I’m sure must trouble you.

CC: It does, because of the violence of it, which is a different kind of violence. We can be violent with our words and the way we paint our opponents, and we pain them as enemies rather than opponents. And I think in some sense that there’s a certain kind of violence in the way we have so much of our public discourse today, that again pulls out of this worry I expressed earlier about people not being trained to think and to ponder and reflect. And our politicians aren’t, they don’t pride themselves on being statesmen where they really try to bring people together on principles. You know, they just to just beat each other out.

HH: Do you get the sense that anyone is listening to the Catholics on the HHS regulations, really listening to what they have to say or care about religious freedom? Or is it just we must win, we must beat them?

CC: I think that’s right. I think that there’s a danger now that the election has taken place, and religious freedom wasn’t seen to be a very big issue, that those who were concerned about, who’d made the decisions that concern us will take us even less seriously. Of course, the other option is maybe they feel, they don’t have to prove themselves to their own constituency, and they will take us more seriously. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do know that it would be hugely, a huge mistake for the bishops to simply comply with the government coercion.

HH: And your colleague, and I believe your fellow seminarian, Cardinal O’Malley in Boston, won a big victory. Not all news was bad in November as he campaigned against euthanasia and rallies people and really stood in the gap there and made an argument. And I think that’s a model for constructive engagement on these issues. But it has to be sustained. And do you see the bureaucracy of the Church sustaining that in the Catholic conference? I know you and Cardinal Dolan have been very outspoken on this, but I wonder if the leadership will flag.

CC: Well, you’re right. There is a danger. We have a huge bureaucratic system. The Church is huge in this country, and because of that, it moves very slowly. Cardinal O’Malley is a classmate as you said, and he had a great victory there. And he has a lesson to teach us. But he and I, you know, had dinner together shortly after the election when we were at the bishops meeting in Baltimore. And his biggest worry was the ability of the Church to engage these issues in the public realm because of the cost of doing that.

HH: You know, he’s way ahead of you on Twitter, Archbishop.

CC: I know he is.

HH: Just pointing that out. Here’s another problem. The media amplifies dissent within the Church, and I bring up nuns on the bus…

CC: Right.

HH: …not to solicit from you a comment about them unless you’re so inclined, but to just simply…

CC: Well, I’ll be happy to comment if you’d like me to.

HH: Yeah, they’ve got this amazing platform, and I love sisters. I was taught by sisters. But I know that sisters are diverse, and that they don’t speak for the Church in the way that the bishops do.

CC: That’s right. They don’t speak for sisters the way they pretend to speak sometimes. And they certainly don’t speak for the Church. And you know, Catholics in the past would generally understand that in the way we believe, and the way the authority of the Church is part of our life, is that the bishops in union with the Holy Father are the ones who are the official teachers of the Church on matters of faith and morals. And when it comes to the issues like abortion and even like economics, nobody else can speak for the Church like the bishops can. And the sisters, you know, they certainly have good intent. I trust that I kind of know some of these good women, and I don’t distrust their motivation. But they’re that generation I was talking about earlier of religious and priests. I’m from that generation. They’re really stuck in the past, and sometimes because of that, have a very narrow view of where the Catholic Church really stand on these matters.

HH: Now Archbishop, I know for a fact that many federal judges listen to this program, and I know that some of those on the highest court do, and sometimes read the transcripts. I know that. In fact, Justice Breyer has been in this studio talking to me. What do you want them to know about this particular debate over the HHS regs in a way that the brief won’t be able to communicate to them?

CC: Well, that if we’re forced to purchase insurance that allows for medications that might lead to abortion, and certainly do sometimes, and if we’re forced by the laws to violate our principles on medical moral issues like contraception, our religious freedom is taken away. We have a right to object to that, not just the institutions like the Catholic Church, but individual Catholics and the individual employers, who we all have a right not to be coerced by the government to acts that are contrary to our moral principles. And I don’t see how the Court could side with anyone but religious people on this matter if they’re going to be faithful to the Constitution.

HH: There are a lot of judges who haven’t, though, and I’m startled by it. I thought this was a slam dunk, but we find politicized judges in places saying you can make an accommodation. And I think there are a lot of people on the political left in American who believe it’s just not that big of a deal, go ahead and write the script and pay for the insurance, and find a pretend workaround.

CC: I know that, and there is a temptation on the part of the Church leadership, the bishops, to go along to get along, really. But I think it would be tragic, because it would be a lesson by our example to the faithful of the Church that we don’t have to be all that serious about the carrying of our moral principles into the public sphere. I think it’s so important for the Church not to comply. You know, St. Thomas More is always a great example to me of how to deal with threats to conscience. You know, he refused to acknowledged the right of Henry VIII to be the head of the church in England. He tried to find every way possible not to go to jail and not to be executed. And I think we ought to, as bishops, find, look for every way possible to get around these requirements. But in the end, if we’re going to be forced to comply, we just say no, and we take the consequences of that, which is either the penalty of paying fines, or refusing to do that, acts of civil disobedience. If we do that together as a group, I think there will be a change of heart on the part of the administration and the courts, because they see that we take it seriously. We take religious freedom seriously.

– – – –

HH: I’m concluding this hour with Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. Archbishop, when I was last in New York, I went to Father Rutler’s Church. I can’t remember the name of it on Park Avenue in New York, and I walked in, and there was a portrait of Thomas More. And I thought to myself I wonder how long that’s going to last the sequel to Wolf Hall before Catholics start turning their Thomas More pictures upside down, because this brace of novels, this novelist is on an attack on Thomas More. Are you surprised by that? Have you read Wolf Hall?

CC: I read Wolf Hall a couple of years ago already. It’s on my Kindle, I think. And I love historical novels, as you do.

HH: Yes.

CC: And because of that, I read it. It’s, I thought, you know, in terms of the book itself, that it’s strange, the style. But after reading it, I looked up a little bit about this woman, Hilary Mantel, who wrote it, and she does have a certain kind of hostility towards the Catholic Church. Recently, she said that she thought the Catholic Church is not an institution for respectable people. And she was responding to the sex abuse crisis in the Church, I think, when she said that. So I can understand her anger over that. But she certainly does paint a picture of Thomas Cromwell being an extraordinarily good man, and not an extraordinarily good man, but at least a good man, and Thomas More being just the opposite, which is I think the opposite of the truth. And I think that the damage that she could do isn’t just to Thomas More’s reputation, but to objective history. You know, just like Dan Brown did so much damage by the Da Vinci Code…

HH: Yeah.

CC: You know, novels can be very effective, and certainly her writing is popular now.

HH: And Archbishop, I want to finish by going back to Newtown. The President said our hearts are broken today. And what’s the word you speak into that situation, because it’s clearly the case that people are driving home tonight in Philadelphia and Los Angeles and Hawaii and Florida, grief-filled and worried and full of fear.

CC: Well, I hope people allow their hearts to be broken, and because our hearts aren’t broken often enough. You know, we don’t take life seriously, whether it being the individual human life or our own life in a general sense of our day to day life with our spouses, our children and the like. And the more we take life seriously, not sadly, but seriously, the more we’ll live a transformed life that does good. And I hope this tragedy, the good that can come of it, and it’s hard to imagine any good coming from it, but the only good that could come from it is somehow the breaking open of the heart of the people of our country for a long period of time. You know, it happened with 9/11. I experienced it happening of course in Columbine in Colorado. But you know, for a month or two, and then we’d go back to the way it was, and we don’t get very far along down the road before the Devil tempts us again.

HH: We were supposed to, today, to talk about immigration, Archbishop. That will have to be another time, but perhaps…

CC: It’s important, so I hope we do. I’m anxious to talk to you about it.

HH: Absolutely, and with this attitude, perhaps, of open heart. Maybe that’s the best way to set that conversation up. I look forward to that conversation in the future. Thank you, Archbishop.

End of interview.


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Friends and Allies of Rome