On the appointment of Archbishop Chaput to Philadelphia

Yesterday, June 22, Cardinal O’Malley issued a statement commending Archbishop Charles Chaput on his appointment to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. BCI also commends Archbishop Chaput and is excited to see him moving up in the proverbial “episcopal foodchain,” as it were.

Here is Cardinal O’Malley’s statement, and below you will find a few other select quotes passed on to BCI from readers from other sources:

From Cardinal Sean O’Malley:

The news of the appointment of Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., as Archbishop of Philadelphia is a source of tremendous hope and joy for me, and I wish to assure him of my prayers and the prayers of the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Boston. Archbishop Chaput and I were classmates together in the seminary. We Capuchins are very proud of the outstanding ministry of this great friar.

Our Holy Father is wise in choosing Archbishop Chaput to become the ninth Archbishop of Philadelphia. He brings with him many skills and talents that will be put to good use in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The people and the clergy of Philadelphia have suffered greatly throughout these past few difficult months. Their new Archbishop is a patient man who will work very hard to bring healing and strength to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. On behalf of the clergy and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston, I pledge our prayerful support for Archbishop Chaput and for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as they welcome their new shepherd.”

From Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia:

He is brash, outspoken and fearless — energetic, colorful, cultured…
indeed, even hard-core….he stands set to bring the most revolutionary change American Catholicism’s most traditional major outpost has known in at least a century, to begin its rebuilding from the ashes of the darkest hour in its long, storied history…

Given Chaput’s reputation as a tough, clear, no-nonsense overseer with a knack for shaking things up, that phrasing is no accident. At the same time, though, it is worth noting that for the first time since Edmond Francis Prendergast –the “Big Man” and native son who governed the Philly church from 1911-18 — a Philadelphia archbishop will have served as pastor of a parish.

A member of the Potawatomi Prairie Band tribe, the archbishop’s Native American name is Pietasen (“rustling wind”) — a moniker that led his late mother to call him “Windy.” Accordingly, for an ecclesial model that’s stood as the nation’s oldest, most enduring clone of institution-centric, clericalist Catholicism in the spirit of its roots in 18th-century Ireland, the reported move would represent nothing short of a hurricane.

The son of a small-town funeral director, the high-octane choice — a veteran of leading two intense Apostolic Visitations — would ostensibly come armed with a mandate to significantly revamp a two-century-old ecclesial culture that’s been engulfed by the damning
conclusions of the civil inquest and, just as much, by the eruptive aftermath it’s birthed on fronts ranging from the courts, budgets and pews to the all-important presbyterate, whose traditional penchant for docility, widely-known across the Catholic world, has recently undergone a serious shift…..

From writer George Wiegel, distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, in National Review Online:

 John Paul II, in his apostolic letter published at the end of the Great Jubilee of 2000, challenged the entire Church to leave the stagnant shallows of institutional maintenance and put out into the deep waters of post-modernity, preaching Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life. In his 1991 encyclical Redemptoris Missio [The Mission of the Redeemer], John Paul insisted that the Church doesn’t have a mission, as if “mission” were one among a dozen things the Catholic Church does. No, John Paul taught, the Church isa mission, such that everything and everyone in the Church ought to be measured by what the management types would call mission-effectiveness.

The old warhorses of the post–Vatican II debates, on either end of the Catholic spectrum, don’t get this; they’re still mud-wrestling within the old paradigm. But Archbishop Charles Chaput gets it, big time. That, and the effective work of his predecessor, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, is what has made the archdiocese of Denver what is arguably the model Evangelical Catholic diocese in the country: a Church brimming with excitement over the adventure of the Gospel, a Church attracting some of the sharpest young Catholics in America to its services, a Church fully engaged in public life while making genuinely public arguments about the first principles of democracy.

This is the vision that Archbishop Chaput is bringing to Philadelphia, and it has virtually nothing to do with “agendas” as the usual suspects understand agendas. Of course that vision includes addressing serious problems of sexual abuse. The old clericalism that protected perpetrators in various dioceses created serious legal problems for the institutional Church; but it was also, and even more importantly from an evangelical point of view, a terrible impediment to preaching the Gospel and attracting people to friendship with Jesus Christ. It’s his palpable commitment to the latter — to the project of unapologetic evangelism — that will give Archbishop Chaput credibility in cleaning up what needs cleaning up and in healing what can be healed in Philadelphia.

And this is something else the usual suspects miss. The usual suspects’ answer to clerical sexual abuse has been, is, and seems likely to remain the transformation of Catholicism into Catholic Lite. But in situation after situation — Phoenix and Denver being two prime examples — it’s been the Gospel without compromise, joyfully lived, that has turned abuse disaster areas into vibrant Catholic centers where public confidence in the Church’s credibility has been restored. Where Catholic Lite has been adopted as the solution to the problems Catholic Lite helped cause — as in Boston — the meltdown that began in 2002 continues.

With the appointment of Charles J. Chaput as archbishop of Philadelphia, the deep reform of the Catholic Church in the United States — the reform that is giving birth to Evangelical Catholicism even as it leaves the old post–Vatican II arguments fading into the rear-view mirror — has been accelerated.

Similar enthusiasm as described above existed when then-Archbishop Sean O’Malley arrived in Boston in 2003.  That is long-since gone.  If Boston suffers from “Catholic Lite,” then piled on top of that needs to be added ethical and moral corruption in the administration of the archdiocese, excessive six-figure salaries, deception, mismanagement, cronyism, a culture of retaliation, and a range of other problems.

BCI wishes Archbishop Chaput much success and invites all BCI readers to pray for his success in his new role.  Hopefully, Boston can learn a few things from him.

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8 Responses to On the appointment of Archbishop Chaput to Philadelphia

  1. David S. says:

    I am not sure all this excitement over Archbishop Chaput’s appointment is warranted.

    According to the Canon 915 Project, Archbishop Chaput’s position on Canon 915 is still unknown. While the Archbishop has verbally spoken out against pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians in his state, e.g., Senator Ken Salazar, he has not excommunicated them nor to my knowledge has he forbid them from receiving the Blessed Sacrament.

  2. Mack says:

    Interesting that Weigel singled out Boston as an example of “Catholic Lite”–and said the problems continue. He must be reading BCI!

  3. Mark Frances says:

    AB Chaput is the “best and the brightest”. Strangely, he was a classmate of the “Big O” as a Capuchin. There is no doubt of a coming “clash of wills”. On the one hand, you have a “used car salesman” and on the other, there is the “Last of the Mohicans”.

  4. bitsnbytes says:

    On the other side of the ledger, I worry that Abp. Chaput opened the door of his diocese to a lot of “new movements”, which are a mixed blessing somettimes.

  5. Puzzled says:

    The OFM Cap’s love the new “movements” it seems to be in their DNA

  6. Fr. Bill says:

    Am I the only one who sees the slow but steady movement of FAREWELL to the Diocesean Clergy ?

  7. Jack says:

    The reason for the selection of many Religious as bishops is due principally to the fact that the spiritual and intellectual training of the diocescan clergy in America collapsed over the course of the mid 60s to early 70s. Frankly, I have never met a priest of the Boston Archdiocese who could be considered an evangelical Catholic as envisioned by Mr. Weigel. I know of some Boston priests of great prayer and charity; but let’s face it, as a group the priests of this archdiocese are not very zealous for the Church’s official message. Many of those who went through St. John’s in its darkest years ( and the years of darkness extended well into the tenure of Cardinal Law) do not believe what the Church believes about so many different things. These men are not really in communion of heart and mind with Cardinal Sean or Pope Benedict. I do not deny that these men work long, hard hours on a weekly basis I do not deny that they care about the people that they encounter. I do not deny that they strive to be good Christians according to their own lights. I do insist, however, that they do not zealously proclaim the Church’s message to our age because they do not accept it in its fullness themselves.

    • Mack says:

      Perhaps some priests don’t accept it in its fullness, but you are painting in some rather broad strokes here. There will always be individual problem cases, but such a broad condemnation of our diocesan clergy requires some evidence to be accepted. Otherwise it is just generalizing without any real basis. I have known many faithful, faith-filled and holy priests here.

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