Archbishop Samuel Aquila, 71, is celebrating his tenth anniversary as Archbishop of Denver, the archdiocese in which he was ordained in 1976. He was born in Burbank, California, served as a priest in Denver for 25 years, and then served as Bishop of Fargo, North Dakota from 2001 to 2012. He returned to Denver in 2012. (He was interviewed in 2011 by Catholic World Report when he was Bishop of Fargo.)
CWR: How would you describe Denver’s people, culture and geography?
Archbishop Samuel Aquila:
Earlier this year, our state legislature passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, one of the most progressive and liberal abortion laws in the country. It stripped away the rights of the unborn child, which they refer to as the embryo or fetus, and made it legal to abort the child in the womb up to birth.
When I was ordained in 1976, Colorado was a Red State, where family values were strongly reinforced. (Although it had already begun to change. Colorado was the first state that liberalized abortion laws under Governor Dick Lamm in 1967.) The recent decades have seen many people from the West Coast and East Coast come to live here, and their presence has changed our culture tremendously.
CWR: How receptive has the Denver population been to the message of the Church in the past decade?
Archbishop Aquila: Our church population is in decline, but not by a huge amount, maybe 2 or 3% in recent years. That said, we do see some real pockets of revitalization, particularly in the area of Catholic education. Our archdiocesan school system is very strong, an area I’ve emphasized in the decade I’ve been archbishop, continuing the work of my predecessors, Archbishops Stafford and Chaput.
We continue our work of evangelization by going out to the peripheries, inviting people to accept the truth of the Gospel and proclaiming Christ. We have strong Neocatechumenate communities here whose members evangelize. We’re also blessed to have Christ in the City to help and evangelize our homeless; they do incredibly good work carrying out the corporal works of mercy for them. And, we have other great groups. These groups go back to the basics, helping people experience an encounter with Jesus Christ.
We also have wonderful revitalization going on in our parishes, where it all boils down to the leadership of the pastor. We discover that when the Gospel is presented wholly, truthfully and charitably, and people are being accompanied in their encounter with Jesus Christ, we see tremendous growth. We need to ask these people: Who truly is my God? Have I surrendered my life completely to Jesus Christ? This means your entire heart, mind, will and soul.
We also need to help people encounter Christ in the sacramental life of the Church and the community of the parish.
CWR: How are vocations to the priesthood and religious life?
Archbishop Aquila: We have been blessed. In the years I have been archbishop, we have been ordaining classes of three to eight to the priesthood. We have between 50 and 60 seminarians, and have been as high as 70. We definitely need new priests; I have opened two new parishes because of population growth. Whereas parishes in years past had two, three or four parochial vicars, they are now fortunate to have one or two. Many parishes have one priest only.
As far as religious life, we’ve had men enter the Disciples of Jesus and Mary, the Jesuits and the Capuchins, who are present in the archdiocese. Our young women have been entering the Sisters of Life, the Nashville Dominicans, the Religious Sisters of Mercy, the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Benedictine Contemplative Nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga. The Benedictines are a cloistered community, and they spend their lives praying, farming and ranching.
CWR: Do you have any major initiatives occurring in the archdiocese?
Archbishop Aquila: As an archdiocese, we’re really trying to understand what it means to be a disciple of Christ in today’s world. I asked our people to read an essay from the 2020 book From Christendom to Apostolic Mission from the University of Mary to start this discussion. The supports for Christianity in our culture have deteriorated. The culture no longer supports Judeo-Christian values. How do we evangelize? Our culture is similar to apostolic times, 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.
So our greatest initiative is seeking the conversions of mind and heart to Jesus Christ. That is what it means to have apostolic mission and to have a common mission within the archdiocese. Our mission is that in Jesus Christ all might be rescued and have abundant life for the glory of the Father. From there, we need to look at what it means to have a biblical world view. As Christians, we have to ask ourselves, do we really have a Christian world view? Are we completely surrendering all to Jesus Christ?
This past Advent, from Christ the King Sunday through Christmas, I asked our parish priests to preach on kerygma.
CWR: Can you explain that a bit more?
Archbishop Aquila: Kerygma is a Greek term meaning proclamation and herald. It sums up the basic Gospel message.
We are created by God. In His love, He has created us. Creation is beautiful. But there was the fall. Humanity was captured by the devil who entered into the world. Humanity listened to the father of lies. But, the Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ has rescued man from being captured. In our encounter with Jesus Christ, we are freed from sin, death and the devil. It encompasses the basic Christian message….
The above comes from a July 8 interview in Catholic World Report.
All the morons who moved from California to Colorado to escape the hellhole that they made California into have ruined Colorado because they imported their left-wing nuttiness. Democrats are a cancer on society.
Sounds like a good way to avoid a bunch of progressive liberals from moving to your state is outlawing abortion.
I dunno… there’s a ‘turn Texas blue’ movement.
God bless and protect Archbishop Aquila, “May he fly up on the wings of an eagle.” Exodus 19:4,
Liberalism is a mental disorder.
Sigmund, you may be correct with your notion that “liberalism is a mental disorder.” It’s hard to tell, however, unless you define what you mean by liberalism. Perhaps it’s time to explain what we mean by some of the words we use. This country was founded on what were then pretty liberal ideas. Democrats were once the conservative party and the east coast Republicans were pretty liberal. Then, of course, we have progressive conservatives (I know it sounds like an oxymoron) and progressive democrats. Some people tend to be conservative on social issues and liberal on economic issues or the opposite for others. Our country is experiencing a massive divide on too many issues. But most of us can’t explain what we mean by the terms we use anymore. We are becoming a cult of personalities rather than a nation of ideas and ideals. So, what do you mean by “liberalism?”
Today’s liberals tend to be mentally unstable, leftist extremists, fanatics who believe in and promote very unstable, radical, immoral and irresponsible ideas, rejecting traditional American beliefs and values, and patriotic ideals of our Founding Fathers. They reject traditional beliefs in God, religion, and morality, and promote an “anti-Christian,” “anti-society,” “anti-Traditional Marriage and Family,” way of life. They desire an immature and immoral “lifestyle” of “freedom without responsibility,” particularly, unrestricted sex outside of Marriage Vows, birth control and abortion without restrictions, homosexual pervert sex acts and Gay “Marriage,” irresponsible “free speech” in regards to immoral, pornographic and obscene material, and illegal drugs. Although they despise the “Establishment,” they want big government programs to provide money for their radical, immoral endeavors, and schools and universities to indoctrinate kids as recruits for their “new liberal society,” with no moral nor religious beliefs nor restrictions, glorifying irresponsible, unrestricted individual pleasures and pursuits. Theirs is the Culture of Death, whose leader is Satan, the Arch-Deceiver and Father of Lies, Death, and Destruction.
As Christians, we have the duty to conquer and destroy the Devil’s evil Culture of Death, and help Christ establish His Kingdom, with the Culture of Life.
Liberals cannot see the truth, that sex belongs solely as part of a lifelong marriage, of a loving husband and wife. In the holy Sacrament of Marriage, Christ is King, it is a Sacrament of Love, in Christ, Divine Love. Sex is only a small part of the total life of a married couple. It is a sacred part of their Marriage Vows, in which they lovingly embrace any children which God may bless them with. The misuse of sex, outside of Marriage Vows– with no understanding that sex is meant only as part of a loving, lifelong, sacred union of husband and wife, to bring children into the world — is extremely degrading, selfish, evil, immoral, and a serious, deadly mortal sin.
God should send some assistance if he’s serious about that being our job.
We have a duty not to participate in the Culture of Death and to help create Culture of Life. You do not fight the devil. You let the angels do that.
Our duty is to pray and do good works, works of life.
We need to be like the first Christians, ready to die for the faith.
You do know the Book of Revelation, right?
And the pro-abortion, Gay agenda, transgenderism, atheists are indoctrinating their Marxist immorality on all levels of eductions — down to the pre-kindergarten level.
1) Legalize marijuana
2) Elect a homo as Governor, who minces all over with his “husband”.
3) Flood a once beautiful State with people and have zero interest in building an infrastructure to handle it.
What could go wrong?
God has started to separate the sheep and the goats (by state).
The Last Judgement: …”and before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another, as the shepherd separated the sheep from the goats; and he will set the sheep on his right hand but the goats on the left. Mt. 25: 32-33.
What is the criteria that Christ uses to separate them?
Well now liberals are proposing abortion cruise ships that would be in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, beyond the reach of state laws. Devilishly clever.
They can be sunk.
The Gulf is big enough to get away easily.
Pro-life pirates? Is that what you’re suggesting?
In Europe, for many years, there have been abortion ships, like Marie Stopes International (re-named MSI International) and Women on Waves, giving abortions on ships. Pro-life countries have refused to allow them to dock at their ports.
What have the conservatives wrought? A desire to prevail politically at any cost (lying, cheating), a proliferation of military grade weapons in the hands of young people on our streets, economic inequality at a rate unseen previously (trickle down economics just did not work- it was a sham), sending good jobs to China in the name of the almighty corporate profits, immigration policies and economic conditions that provide big businesses with a pool of cheap labor, disregard for Humane Vitae, anti-constitutional politicians (e.g. MTG) that attack the very foundations of our beloved country, media outlets and personalities that spew untruth, racism and hate; Christian white nationalism that that in no manner reflects the way of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, contempt for the Holy Father, making an idol out of the TLM, blatant disregard for the social teachings of the Church, contempt for the teachings of Vatican II, glorification of materialism (bigger cars, bigger houses, fine wines and expensive cigars) and narcissism (me first), “alternative facts,” ivermectin, contempt for the poor and disabled, anti-science,…and the list could go on and on. Extreme liberalism and extreme conservatism are both SPIRITUAL disorders.
Look at the loud mouthed liberal who thinks liberal are the font of Truth and Life.
“immigration policies and economic conditions that provide big businesses with a pool of cheap labor” this is the mirror world of Left, who is charge and letting mass immigration at the southern border, with zero controls, its not republicans of course their fallback cry of racism and hate, but will not provide any proof. Yes contempt for Vatican 2, liberals will defend this failed council at all costs, reason it is the bedrock of their revolution in the Church. On nearly every single continent the Church has been in retreat for the past 60 years, yet their limited thinking cannot make a correlation that maybe just maybe Vatican 2 is a big part of the Church’s surrender to the world. When I read idiotic posts like William Robert (known liberal loudmouth) I must conclude that civil war is not only inevitable but necessary
We don’t need your civil war.
OH we need it more than you know.. the Left needs to be disposed of..
bohemond, when you say things like “Left…is letting mass immigration with zero controls”, you prove William Robert’s point. there are lots of controls at the borders. Lots of them. Yet you call that Zero but not providing any proof. As to the Church being in retreat…that’s a complicated subject, but it’s certainly not the fault of the “Left”. The Church, but not Christianity, is in retreat in South America because protestants are more charismatic than we are. Church is in retreat in Europe, as it has for over a hundred years. In the US, it’s because we are immigrating non-catholics yet not replacing our own with young catholics. In Africa and I think in Asia the Church is growing. Do you seriously think civil war is going to make the Church in the US fill the pews? I’m trying to figure out that math in my head, and nothing I learned in school says civil+war=more+churchgoers.
“there are lots of controls at the borders. Lots of them.” another YFC lie, tell that to cartels trafficking young women over the border. The Church being in retreat is NOT complicated. The Church has been betrayed from the inside by modernist leftist who are more concerned with dialogue with the world then converting. The original Vatican 2 documents drawn up by Cardinal Ottaviani were deal with 3 things Communism, modern day psychotherapy and Hollywood and their influence on the culture. Those documents were discarded. part of the reason being is those 3 subjects have a certain group of people in common who cannot be criticized no matter what and in the wake of WW2 this was not going to happen. So were given the current mess caused by Vatican 2, yes I said it.
Oh so look William Robert prayed in front prisons where criminals met their just ends, probably thinks child murderers, molesters and rapist are worth praying for… I know they are not.. I will pray for the victims instead, the people that William and his ilk believe are the guilty party..
Narcissism isn’t “me first.” It is “me above.” Many narcissists, especially if they are Christian, pride themselves on serving others and sacrificing for others.
Narcissism is “me alone,” extreme admiration and worship of the “great me” and my desires– no recognition of others at all.
That is just selfishness. Narcissism is pride. They don’t worship themselves. They usually loathe themselves and they are constantly looking for others to treat them with admiration. They brag about themselves and in Christian circles, where the highest value is service, that is what they do. The worst thing you can do is criticize them or make them feel like someone is better than they are.
The dictionary states that “narcissism” is excessive interest in and admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.” Psychologists also use the word “narcissism” in their definitions of mental disorders.
I am referring to the personality disorder.
Many gays are narcissists.
Bohemond: ad hominem attacks may help you feel better but they do nothing else. So I am a “known liberal?” You had better check your sources. I’ve prayed the rosary in front of Planned Parenthood clinics, state prisons where executions have been conducted and in front of assault rifle manufacturing facilities. It is embarrassing when you do not know the facts!
Bohemond: you are the poster boy for what is wrong with some aspects of the conservative movement. Extreme conservatives whine and wail when people do not agree with them and then threaten violence (civil war) when they do not get their way. Hardly Christlike! Real patriots do the hard work of meeting with people and sharing their opinions and the facts that support said opinions in an effort to convert hearts and minds. Time to grow up and take responsibility for oneself.
I’d say people who have attended tambourine Masses with felt banners and puppets might have more charity.
I have done more growing up in 1 hour that you could in 3 lifetimes. I am not a conservative, I am not definable. Tell me Bernard 2 summers ago who was burning the cities around the country because some degenerate drug addict was killed by a cop answer Black Lies Matter and Antifa Who were then bailed out of jail by our current vice president . But they did not dare enter my neighborhood they would not have left alive you can bet on that. Leftists like you and the others on this page spilled more of innocents in the past 100 years than the Nazi’s and Fascists could have dreamed of and they NEVER brought to justice.
I have lived in the same place for 40 years and I do not call it my neighborhood.
I have a question and it is curiosity and feel free to ignore?
Do you believe in the American Dream of upward mobility?
Hmmm…does anyone else wonder if Bohemond is the moderator for this site? How are his responses posted prior to the actual post to which he is responding?
There already exists a culture war, since the 1960s. Liberal-leftist, anarchist, immoral, young juvenile delinquent “hippies,” blindly following extremely degenerate, anarchist rock “music” guru leaders, trying to destroy their parents, homes, families, and communities, with anti-society and anti-Christian, barbaric, “Me-Generation” narcissistic degeneracy. They tried to destroy Marriage with free sex, abortion, and feminism, destroy traditional roles of men and women, emasculate men, promote gay sex, wear bizarre, ugly rags in place of good, decent, attractive clothing, promote drugs, pornography and obscene language, with many living homeless and drug-addicted, in the streets, “worse than animals,” igniting violent riots nationwide, refusing to be drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. Many unbalanced, immature, liberal-leftist adults in academia joined the barbaric kids, instead of teaching, guiding, and disciplining them properly. When the nasty kids grew up, they tried, lifelong, to create a repulsive, anarchist, filthy, immoral, leftist-liberal society, in place of our God-given, Judeo-Christian, excellent– decent and normal!– American society, which we all are so blessed to have inherited. Extreme right-wingers are very similar, raging violently and irresponsibly in their backlash against liberal-leftist filth– as in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots.
Culture Wars: I agree with much of your analysis of the 60’s and 70’s. Having come of age in the late 50’s and early 60’s I can attest the 50’s were not all that great either. Much of what you write about was underground in the 50’s: sexual abuse, pornography, drug use, infidelity, clerical sex abuse, etc. it was all happening… just not above board.
There have always been criminals and immoral “bad guys,” as well as mentally unstable “losers” on the fringes of society, all through history. However, the “losers” were always laughed at. During the filthy, violent 1960s, angry hippie youths and liberal-leftist “losers” on society’s fringes, tried to violently force their evils on the public. There were also some anti-American, outside, paid political activists, that went in and recruited impressionable, poorly-educated college kids, stirring them up emotionally to question our country, and find everything in our great country to be “wrong,” and revolt, and eventually destroy our “terrible America.” No brains.
There was a lot wrong and there still is.
It wasn’t filthy violent angry hippie youth that killed the President, the Senator, the civil rights activist. They are also not the ones who dropped napalm on children. Nor are they the ones who shot and killed students. They were not the ones who caused cancer by poor disposal of chemicals. They were not the ones who ramped up the nuclear arsenals. They didn’t break in to hotels and offices to steal documents and medical records.
Oh yeah. But they had sex without being married.
We are Catholic. Our culture is the same no matter what the secular culture is like. Ideally. In reality, since we baptize as infants and people do not make the choice of whether they really want to live the Faith before they join the Church, many members do conform to various aspects of the secular culture. There are also adults who live the Faith well but then have a situation where they change their beliefs.
The answer is to do as Christ said (and did.) Be in the world but not of the world. And spread the Gospel.
Christ told people to reform their lives because the Kingdom of God was at hand. Then he moved on to the next town.
Many people convert when they get scared about the future or the end of the world or when their sins have left them completely broken.
Culture Wars, there really were not a lot of hippies. Maybe you lived in SF. The changes in sexual mores was spread through the media influenced by celebrity culture (including rock music.)
never trust a man with two first names