Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia shared a message on the importance of preserving religious freedom to students, faculty and administrators at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, on Friday, January 23, 2015. The university is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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Archbishop Chaput addressed a noon gathering in the Wilkinson Student Center’s Varsity Theater. “Brigham Young University is an extraordinary university not just because of its academic excellence — or the fact that it occasionally beats Notre Dame (a comment that drew chuckles from the audience) — but because it’s a center for learning enriched by its religious identity. Please never lose that.”
Archbishop Chaput said Mormon and Catholic communities share common concerns and “have a duty to seek common ground where possible.”
“We need to work vigorously in law and politics to form our culture in a godly understanding of human dignity and the purpose of human freedom,” he stressed.
“The differences in our doctrine and practice are obvious,” Archbishop Chaput elaborated. “Ignoring them wouldn’t serve the truth. But that doesn’t preclude friendship. It doesn’t preclude working together. And it doesn’t obscure the fact that we face many of the same problems and share many of the same convictions about marriage and family, the nature of our sexuality, the sanctity of human life and the urgency of religious freedom.”
Archbishop Chaput discussed the significance of the Great Charter, or Magna Carta, that dates back 800 years in England, which promised the protection of church rights. “It started the process of carving out space for what would become civil society.”
“Its impact can be seen on the charters of the American colonies, on the First Continental Congress, on the Bill of Rights of the United States, on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and on national constitutions around the world,” he added.
“The Founders clearly understood the value of the past,” said Archbishop Chaput. “Most were Christians. Nearly all were religious believers.”
“In 2015 we’re a nation of many faith communities and no single church. That’s a gift, not a burden,” he concluded. “But as the Founders knew, and we forget at our peril, the American project of ordered liberty can’t work without the support of a moral people — a people formed by a living faith in a loving God.”
Archbishop Chaput also met with BYU faculty and administrators and visited the J. Reuben Clark Law School while on the Provo campus. On Friday evening, he will attend a special dinner with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City before returning to Philadelphia. Pope Francis is expected to visit Philadelphia in September for the Eighth World Meeting of Families.