Denver Newsroom, Feb 18, 2021 / 05:28 pm (CNA).- Speakers at a virtual Theology on Tap event last week encouraged Catholics to embrace their faith – even in a hostile culture – and avoid lukewarm Catholicism.
Present in many Catholic dioceses across the country, Theology on Tap is a lecture series that takes place in bars and invites Catholic speakers to discuss topics of interest, generally aimed at young adults.
The virtual National Theology on Tap event was recorded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and broadcast on the night of Feb. 11, in collaboration with EWTN, Renewal International, and the Denver-based Augustine Institute.
It was also supported by Renewal Ministries, Intentional Disciples, and the OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation.
Peter Burak, director of Intentional Disciples, hosted the event and discussed challenges in the modern culture with experts in various Catholic fields.
Dr. Ralph Martin, president of Renewal Ministries and a professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, discussed his recent book “Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward” and highlighted some of the difficulties currently faced by the Church and society at large.
Martin noted the confusion and disorder by bishops and cardinals being at odds with each other over theology and the practice of the faith.
“Bishops are attacking bishops, cardinals are attacking the cardinals. We even have whole bishops’ conferences seriously disagreeing with each other about very fundamental issues of morality,” he said.
“We have the German Bishops’ Conference really dead set on accommodating the faith to the secular culture, deemphasizing our teaching on sexual morality … then you have the Polish Bishops’ Conference and Ukrainian Bishops’ Conference saying to the Germans, ‘please stop’.”
Martin also pointed to the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including the closing of schools nationwide and an increase in diocesan bankruptcies.
He proposed that the pandemic is an opportunity for people to realign their priorities.
“I think the Lord is allowing this to happen to get people to stop straddling the issue. You’ve got to get with the Lord or not. You’ve got to make a decision. Lukewarm Catholicism isn’t an option,” he said.
“The culture is going to really test us right now, and we really need to know who we stand for, who we believe, who we’re going to trust.”
Helen Alvaré, a law professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, talked about the importance of sexual integrity in the modern world.
In a society that emphasizes sexual freedom, she said, progress is measured by how much the culture transcends sexual taboos.
It is important for the Church to defend sexual morality and be a source of light to counter the confusion in the culture, Alvare said.
“As teenagers, as young adults, as newly[weds], we cannot forget that the radical love requirements of the Christian way are fundamental justice to our nearest neighbor,” she said.
Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia Charles Chaput also spoke at the virtual Theology on Tap, highlighting the challenges restricting the Church from being fully alive. He said the biggest issue, which has been common throughout the Church’s history, is a lack of confidence among its members.
“I don’t know how many of us really believe the Gospel is true,” he said.
“If we’re not convinced that it’s true, it’s very difficult for us to stand solidly on the Gospel in difficult times. I think that’s what’s going on today. There are so many forces that are causing people to have doubt about the Church as well as about the presence of God in the world.”
Chaput particularly addressed the controversy over President Joe Biden receiving Communion, despite his support for legal abortion, in violation of Catholic teaching. The subject has been a matter of controversy among the nation’s bishops.
“The Eucharist is the highest sign of unity, not just the sign of love with God – because he always loves us whether he received the Eucharist or not – but it’s the sign of our communion with him and with the Church,” Chaput said.
“If we don’t agree with the Church, it’s more honest for us not to pretend that we believe by receiving the Eucharist. That isn’t just true of political leaders, [it’s] also about us in our personal lives,” the archbishop reflected. “That’s why we say we can’t go to Communion if we’re living in mortal sin because that mortal sin is not coherent with true Christian faith and communion with Christ.”