Denver’s Archbishop Samuel Aquila has been amping up his condemnation of his community in recent years.

I thought it was bad enough when he demanded that Catholic lawmakers confess their “mortal sin” of supporting pro-choice legislation — or stop taking Holy Communion.


But Aquila’s rhetoric reached a higher screech this week when he denounced modern society whole cloth.

“The culture no longer supports Judeo-Christian values,” he said, in a wide-ranging interview with the Catholic World Report.

“Our culture is similar to apostolic times,” he continued, “when Christians were confronted with a hostile pagan culture worshipping false gods. Today’s false gods are different, however. We see such false gods as secular humanism, atheism, materialism, and nihilism.”

As for Denver specifically, Aquila said the city is “very libertarian” with “socially liberal people” who have “surrendered to secular humanism.”

“The challenges for the church in this culture are great,” he wrote.

I’d love to see Judeo-Christian values modernized and expanded, but do we really live in a culture that doesn’t support, to some degree, love, accountability, compassion, respect. Those are part of Judeo-Christian values along with religious ones.

I asked Mark Haas, the spokesman for the Denver Catholic Archdiocese, if the archbishop went too. Are the times truly so dark? Is there nothing good out there for Catholics like Aquila? Is he undermining himself by hunkering in such a deep cave?

If nothing else, you’d think Aquila would see the overturn of Roe as a sign of Judeo-Christian values rising. He celebrated the ruling.

“There are no doubt many good things in our world, country, state, and communities,” Haas replied. “As Christians, we believe all good things come from God and I don’t think Archbishop was denying that are certainly many positive things in our world.  

“The bigger picture he is speaking to has been an emphasis of his for the last couple of years. A recognition that as a Church, we are called to announce the Good News of the Gospels to all people, and in our current day, we must do so in a way similar to the first apostles.”

Haas quoted an April 8 statement from Aquila: “The Church exists to extend in time the mission of Jesus to rescue all people, and through the Holy Spirit, to impart the life of Jesus to them. This reunites us with God the Father and glorifies him. It is best summed up in Jesus’ parting words to the apostles, ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.’

I interpret this as Aquila’s way of saying, go forth and make the world a Christian place; don’t be passive. Be a Christian activist.

“As Archbishop mentions in the answer you highlighted, there are a lot of competing worldviews right now – secular humanism, atheism, materialism, and nihilism – and so as Christians we must make sure the Gospel message is heard in our society as well,” wrote Haas.

I’m on board with fighting materialism and nihilism, even if I’m partial to atheism and secular humanism.

Still, there’s an overlap between the good that we pagans see in the world now and the human goodness that Jesus would see. The archbishop should try to acknowledge this, instead of saying the Judeo-Christian culture he desires is in complete ruin.