NCR Reviews Archbishop Chaput’s
'Strangers in a Strange Land'
NCR’s Michael Winters reviewed Chaput’s new book (here), saving me the trouble. Winters opening paragraph notes, “the book leaves the reader wondering why a bishop would feel compelled to pen such a thing, reliant as it is on virtually every right-wing thread of cultural and political analysis.” This has not stopped previous Christian reviewers from praising it effusively. It also got 4 ½ stars (out of a possible 5) in Goodreads/Amazon.
For those unacquainted with Archbishop Chaput, his book flap says he is the first native American to be made bishop. His mentor was Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict. Ratzinger was known as Pope John Paul’s Rottweiler; Chaput was Ratzinger’s Rottweiler. He made his mark by helping the Church escape its financial responsibilities to victims of its child abuse, saving the Church hundreds of millions, and further screwing those it had already victimized. This is an area Mr. Winters does not address. The archbishop also manages to avoid it, as it fits poorly with his sanctimony.
Two key paragraphs from the review:
Some of Chaput's assertions are less sweeping but involve the kind of cultural analysis that is bizarrely right-wing. "A brief glance at the twentieth century destroys the myth [of progressivism]," Chaput writes. "In just a few decades, 'progressive' regimes and ideas produced two savage world wars, multiple murder ideologies, and the highest body count in history." Huh? What was "progressive" about Hitler and Mussolini? Stalin claimed the mantle of progressivism but it was a sham, as even the Old Bolsheviks quickly realized.
Or consider Chaput's take on the presidency of Barack Obama. ‘The White House elected to power in November 2008 campaigned on compelling promises of hope, change, and bringing the nation together,’ he observes. ‘The reality it delivered for eight years was rather different: a brand of leadership that was narcissistic, aggressively secular, ideologically divisive, resistant to compromise, unwilling to accept responsibility for its failures, and generous in spreading blame.’ I am no cheerleader for Obama, but that is all nonsense. Does not Sen. Mitch McConnell share at least some of the fault for the resistance to compromise? Indeed, did not Chaput himself, who loudly proclaimed Obama unfit to speak to the graduates at the University of Notre Dame in 2009, deserve some of the blame for the divisive quality of politics and culture in the past eight years?
Archbishop Chaput is part of the Catholic right-wing that Pope Francis’ allies recently denounced (Vatican Attacks Trump and Right-Wing Catholics). The archbishop has criticized that Vatican message. He rarely mentions differences with the Vatican, but his favorite ox was gored.