Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez warned Thursday that as U.S. politics and culture become more “aggressively secular,” America risks losing its soul.
“Sadly, some of our leaders seem to want to close our society off from Christian ideas and values,” Archbishop Gomez said in an online keynote address to Catholic advocates gathered at the Minnesota state capitol.
“I am troubled by the growing censorship of Christian viewpoints on the internet and social media and the marginalization of believers in other areas of our public discourse,” the archbishop said. “These trends and directions in our society amount to a rejection of America’s founding principles, and the consequences are not healthy for our society.”
“America’s founders were wise; they understood the realities of human weakness and sin,” he continued. “The democracy they built depends on the virtue and morality of citizens.”
“The founders presumed that our public morality would be grounded in individual religious beliefs and practice,” he said. “And they knew that without solid religious and moral foundations, America’s commitments to human equality and freedom could not be sustained.”
The archbishop’s words addressed a growing effort to silence Christians by labeling them as “white supremacists,” “Christian nationalists,” “theocrats,” and “religious extremists” — simply for embracing a biblical worldview.
They also followed on a worrisome trend in Big Tech and elsewhere to stifle the Christian viewpoint on marriage, the right to life, religious freedom, and gender.
The loss of religious faith both in its private and public dimensions does not bode well for the future of Western society, the archbishop warned.
“When we lose the sense of God, when we lose the sense that human life is the gift of a loving Creator, then we lose sense of the true meaning of human life and the common good,” he stated. “Without God, our politics is reduced to a kind of power struggle among competing interests.”
“To put it simply, unless we believe in a God who is our Father in heaven, then we have no necessary reason to treat one another as brothers and sisters on earth,” he said.
Catholics need to “insist that the Church has a vital contribution to make in promoting social justice and helping to shape the direction of American society,” he declared. “We cannot allow the Church to simply be treated as a charitable organization or a place where people pray.”
This means proclaiming a vision of the human person as “made in God’s image and likeness and endowed with equal dignity, rights, and a divine purpose,” he said. “This beautiful vision is the gift that the Church has to offer to our society’s ongoing conversation about the kind of America we want.”
Gomez also insisted that Christians must not abandon their Christian identity as they work for the common good of society.
“We are followers of Jesus Christ! We are not liberals or conservatives. The Church is not a political party and we are not activists,” he said. “Before everything else, this is our identity, this is who we are.”
Because of this, “our vision for social justice is distinctive,” he asserted. “It is distinctive because we believe that the human person is a child of God, and because we believe that God has a beautiful plan of love for every human life.”
“Even though America has become very secular, the religious impulse has not died,” Gomez noted. “In fact, among our cultural and political leaders and some of our neighbors, politics has become their new religion. That’s one reason our politics has become so cruel and uncompromising, and so lacking in mercy and hope.”
The underlying problem is “the loss of God,” he said. “When we deny God, we lose the truth about what human life is for, we lose the truth of human transcendence.”
“True social justice is about building a society where people can be good, a society where people can love one another and take care of one another, where they can find God and know that they are made for heaven,” he said. “And true social justice can never be obtained without simple human kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.”
“As Catholics, we also believe that the most basic purpose of government and policy is to protect the sanctity and dignity of the person, from the moment they are conceived until the moment they draw their dying breath,” he observed.
“This project is far greater than politics. But this is what we are here for. If we live our faith with generous and grateful hearts, we can renew the soul of our nation,” he concluded.