Why I am happy with +Chaput to Philly: Because this guy is upset.

I was asked by a non-Catholic friend what I thought of the appointment of Archbishop Chaput to Philadelphia. I had begun a post, but really didn’t get far on it. Little did I know that a professor at the Catholic University of Dayton would take of it for me.

Sort of…

Cardinal Newman Society ran an excerpt of his op-ed on their blog. As I read it, one of “those smiles” crept across my face. All of the things that have him madder than a wet hen are the exact reasons why I’m thrilled with the appointment.

So without further ado, I present an excerpt from a photo-negative-version of the column I would have written had I had more time…

It was announced last week that his [Cardinal Rigali’s] successor will be Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, one of America’s most outspoken Catholic conservatives. The appointment shows that the Vatican accepts the strange idea that the church’s problems in this country have come about because Catholics are too American – too tainted by America’s “culture of death” – and because U.S. bishops and priests are too sensitive to what lay people and non-Catholics think.

What is needed, the Vatican seems to believe, are leaders who “put the church first,” assert the authority of bishops and priests, and make no pastoral or political concessions on supposedly nonnegotiable Catholic teachings about abortion, homosexuality, and female priests.

This winter will see the introduction of a revised liturgy produced by the Holy See, whose handpicked committee made some 10,000 changes to the version approved by the vast majority of bishops in the English-speaking world. Locally, bishops and priests can make use of lay ministers and advisers, but they are required to make the difference between laity and priests very clear – as if this were somehow in doubt. Restoration of hierarchical and clerical power in the church, under the guise of “real Catholicism,” appears to be the order of the day.

Chaput fits this pattern. His promotion most likely came about because of the support of Americans with influence at the Vatican. The most powerful of these is Raymond Burke, now head of the Vatican’s highest court, who regularly makes the restorationist agenda clear. Chaput is cut from the same cloth as Burke, who launched the church’s continuing campaign to humiliate Catholic Democratic politicians when he denied Communion to a respected Catholic congressman, David Obey of Wisconsin, in 2003.

Chaput thought that was a great idea, and he made it clear that then-presidential candidate John Kerry should not appear at the Communion rail in his jurisdiction. He wrote a book arguing that real Catholics would reject John Kennedy’s famous distinction between his religion and his public service, and would always support legislative efforts to enforce Catholic moral teaching.

Like Burke, Chaput makes no secret of his disdain for outspoken Catholic reformers, especially women, and he played a leading role in reducing the influence and resources of the national bishops’ conference. Chaput is, in short, a company man – a churchman.

Like the Americans who serve at the Vatican, Chaput puts the institutional church first, and he seems to think everyone else should, too. According to this view, the church is not the “people of God” – a biblical idea restored by Vatican II that conservatives think has done much damage. For them, the church is the hierarchy, and especially the pope.



  • JohnE

    Professor: “Restoration of hierarchical and clerical power in the church, under the guise of ‘real Catholicism,’ appears to be the order of the day.”
    Professor: “…and he played a leading role in reducing the influence and resources of the national bishops’ conference.”

    I guess he’s not quite sure what complaint to make. In all, he sounds like a whiny adolescent who has just been told that that the cafeteria will no longer be serving Cheetos for breakfast. Way to be a role model perfesser.

  • pammiejean

    Tom, I’m very disappointed that you would feel glad that this guy is upset about +Chaput’s appointment. The only thing this will lead to is this person being pushed further from the Church, and that is not something that any CATHOLIC should want. At the very least, you should have said that you respected his opinion and then given him the reasons why you think he is wrong and why Cahput’s appointment is good for the Church, you did neither. Instead you chose to mock and belittle him. I don’t see how this helps anyone and it certainly isn’t a response that Jesus would have advocated. I know it’s trite and very 90’s, but I would call on you to reflect – WWJD?

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      Heh. You’re funny. I’d invite you to reflect more on why the disappointment of this man might be a good thing.

    • Another Michael

      I don’t believe any Catholic wants the professor or anyone to be driven away from the teachings of the Catholic Church. We would want him to fully embrace the Church and all its teachings. The professor’s post shows that his antipathy to some of the Church’s teachings predates the Archbishop’s appointment. In so far as the professor rejects teachings of the Church, he is in an imperfect communion. Perhaps this will spur a reexamination on the part of the professor.

    • Whitney

      If he’s an unrepentant Catholyc who repeatedly rejects true Catholic dogma, we SHOULD push him away before his liberal thoughts poison the minds of right-thinking Catholics. Better to lose one person whose views are corrupted, than to try and retain him and corrupt 100 more in the process.

  • Duboce

    This is the most dissapointing things I’ve ever seen posted. This isn’t even a Christian response, much less a Catholic one.

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      You’re funny, too. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. If someone espouses such obviously Catholic-challenged positions then their disappointment is something to be welcomed.

      • Fran

        This is your view of how Jesus calls on us to lead our lives? Being snide, sarcastic, and abrasive? Either find some respect or stop representing yourself as Catholic. Frankly, it’s becoming embarrassing.

        • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

          Hi, Fran. I’m being light and frank, not snide or sarcastic. I’m quite honest and up-front, not concealing anything. That this man is upset is objectively a good thing, considering his positions. I write this with a smile on my face—not a smirk, since I, who have a very sensitive conscience, have no compunction about being happy that this man is put-out by Chaput’s appointment. Your disdain notwithstanding. Cheers!

          • Fran

            You are not. You are being degrading an condescending. And you know it.

          • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

            Fran— Degrading? Condescending? I belittle no one. This man proposed his ideas. I point out how I hold the almost exactly opposite positions. You will not find a single instance of ad hominem, calumny, or even a mean joke. I ask you, since you see it so clearly, to show me where I am degrading to, or look down upon, this man. Please use quotes.

          • Lucy

            Tom, if I win a tennis match against my opponent and I experience pleasure at my opponent’s disappointment or anger at losing, it’s not my conscience driving me but rather my false pride. At that point, I know it’s time for me to search deeply within to determine what is causing me to diminish my opponent rather than to simply be joyful in my win. Your pleasure, it seems to me, is a dis-connection from your conscience rather than a connection.

          • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

            Lucy— A tennis match this is not. I do not view him as an opponent, and I am not diminishing him: he diminished himself.

          • Lucy

            Your pleasure in his anger is a dis-attachment from your own humanity. I hope you’ll review this with others whom you are close to. All the best.

          • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

            Lucy— Thank you for your concern for my well-being.

          • Jen

            Lucy, I respectfully suggest that you may be misreading the original post. I did not see pleasure in the man’s anger itself, as in “Woohoo! I made him mad!” But rather in the positions taken, as in “Woohoo! The opposing point is using the exact same arguments I would use, but assigning them as negatives rather than as the positives I would have given them. This is a sign that in this battle with evil, we are winning.”

        • JohnE

          Wow, by the same criteria, right back atcha Fran.

      • Anon

        @Tom – your funny, too. I think Duboce may have been speaking about being disspointed by the posted op-ed by the Catholic University of Dayton professor. Not sure from they context of what he wrote.

        Don’t be so defensive until you know exactly what he’s referring too.

        On the other hand I think it’s charming to laugh at (semi)”catholics” who just don’t get it.

        Especially when they are distressed by Chaput. As I said when the news broke…en guarde ye liberal Catholics of …en guarde.

        • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

          Anon— You may be right, in which case your advice is well-taken.

    • JohnE

      I agree. You’d expect more from a professor of faith and culture at a Catholic college.

    • Whitney

      I don’t see what the problem is. If an action angers a liberal, the action must have been good and is therefore cause for praise. We should rejoice every time we see a defeated or dejected liberal, as it is a sign that God’s work is coming to fruition. We are not celebrating the liberal’s demise (not officially anyway, though it does gladden the heart to see evil liberals in a miserable state), but rather the actions that caused it.

  • Davide

    @TomCrowe Thank you so much for another outstanding post. Within the last 5 years or so I have come to realize that “conservative” is synonyms with “organic”; “faithful”; “orthodoxy”; “traditional” at least in matters of faith. When the media or whomever calls a Bishop “conservative” they are saying the man is a orthodox and faithful teacher of the Gospel. I am not talking about his personal life or sin. I am strictly speaking of his office. I also came to the realization that “liberal”, “progressive” & “modernist” are antonyms. In Other words a “liberal”, “progressive” or “modernist” Bishop is a contradiction to his office, hence a betrayer to Gospel of Jesus Christ. The rest of us who are not Apostles but disciples of Jesus Christ these same thoughts and ideals apply to us. What I am saying is a “conservative” Catholic is intellectually and spiritually greater than those who are “liberal”. Not better or superior but greater.

  • BobbyC

    – I just got one of “those smiles” myself, Tom! How funny is it that the written word can be interpreted more than one way?

    (Thank you Magisterium, again, on that note)…

    Philadelphia is in a bad way. I am so saddened for those victims affected by the abuse, words cannot express it fully. I am also saddened for those in the Church that will suffer unnecessarily as a result of the actions of those offenders.

    Abp Chaput is a wonderful choice, mostly because of his integrity and his concern over doing what is right, and doing it right. A good man sent to try to heal a bad situation. Prayers for him are going to be required (and will be assured).

    You can always tell how good a job someone is doing based on how many of the wrong (or right) people they are upsetting…

    • Greg Smith

      Hey all: Maybe I’ve just had a hard day and my brain isn’t too swift right now (being retired is hard work!) but, I don’t get how Bobby C’s post got -10 dislikes. Tom, is something wrong with the site’s program? Pax vobiscum ~ Greg

      • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

        Greg Smith— I’m not sure. I noticed the same thing on a previous post. I think we’ve attracted the ire of a certain segment who specifically targets certain posts or comments and gets a bunch of people to dislike a comment. The site administrators (I am not one of those) were able to set it back to zero, however.

        • Fred

          I think your site is being hacked. I saw 100 dislikes for someone the other day. Maybe the administraters should give up he whole like dislike thing. It’s tacky anyway.

          • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

            Heh. Perhaps… Or perhaps someone on a college campus goes into a computer lab and goes from one computer to the next just to dislike a post from multiple IP addresses.

        • BobbyC

          Set back to zero, and now again already at a negative 6? Wow. I can only hope this means I am doing the same kind of “good job” based on the number of people I am upsetting. I also had no issues (as some past me have posted) in thinking you were being snide or self-righteous, Tom. Then again – they may think I am being this, as well. Peace.

  • Joe M

    I would be interested to learn where O’Brien gets the idea that Vatican II diminishes the hierarchy of the church or the authority of the pope.



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