2016 Tocqueville Lecture on Religious Liberty

"Sex, Family, and the Liberty of the Church: Authentic Freedom in Our Emancipated Age"

Delivered by Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia

Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 3:30 pm
Carey Auditorium in Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame


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+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
2016 Tocqueville Lecture
University of Notre Dame, 9.15.16

I want to thank Dr. Muñoz and Father Jenkins for inviting me to speak this afternoon.  It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be here.

A lecture named after Alexis de Tocqueville will naturally involve politics.  That’s a good thing, and we’ll have plenty to talk about.  But I don’t want to begin there today.

I spent much of last week helping my brother and his wife with the funeral of their daughter Allison, my niece.  Allison was 32.  She was intelligent, beautiful and set to be married on October 1.  In May she was diagnosed with cancer.  Last week she discovered that her medical treatments had failed.  She died a few days later.  I mention this not to cast a shadow on our discussion today – in fact, quite the opposite.  Allison had a great life.  She loved well, had a lot of joy and was very well loved.  And that love will continue to live in the people who knew her.

I mention Allison because the farthest thing from anyone’s mind as she and we measured her life last week was politics.

Leon Bloy, the great French Catholic convert, once said that -- in the end -- the only thing that matters is to be a saint.  That’s the ultimate task of a place like Notre Dame.  It’s not to help you get into a great law school, or to go to a great medical school, or to find a great job on Wall Street, as good as those things clearly are.  It’s to help you get into heaven – which is not some imaginary fairyland, but an eternity of life in the presence of a loving God.  If you don’t believe that, you’re in the wrong place. 

Life is a gift, not an accident.  And the point of a life is to become the kind of fully human person who knows and loves God above everything else, and reflects that love to others.  That’s the only compelling reason for a university that calls itself Catholic to exist.  And it’s a privilege for Notre Dame to be part of that vocation.

My comments this afternoon are simple.  They come in three parts.  I want to speak first about the impending election. Then we’ll move to the theme of today’s talk: sex, family and the liberty of the Church.  Then we’ll touch on a few things we might want to remember going forward as Catholic Christians. 

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