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.



  • Jordan

    “What is needed, the Vatican seems to believe, are leaders who ‘put the church first,’… ”

    NO WAY! Get right outta town.

  • Paula

    Nicely done. You merely held up facts that the opposition holds and stated these facts are what you support. I see nothing mean or cruel. Certainly, no detraction, calumny or rash judgments are included. I too smile at Archbishop Chaputs assignment. The NE is filled with much liberal dissent and needs wise and loving guidance. God bless you!

  • Fred

    Well I wonder if the whole thing wont be good for all? I mean Chaput is hard core conservative. He’s being shipped to one of the most liberal cities in the country. It should be an interesting meeting. I wonder if Chaput at times wont feel like he’s heading a losing battle? I think maybe that would be what his ego needs. At the same time, maybe he’ll do some good in getting the Word of God out more. Time will tell. Philadelphia isnt Denver. Or will it be? That’s the test of time I guess.

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

      Fred— I don’t detect much of an ego in Chaput. And it isn’t like Denver is a conservative town.

      • Jen

        Having met my former arch-Bishop on my than one occasion, I can say I have never detected a hint of ego from him. He was happy to wave and smile at little boys who were jumping over big, tall, important type people to see the bishop. He had a warm smile, and a welcoming conversation for everyone, even at my small backwoods type parish. He spoke with everyone, even the Deaf, the poor… you may think that is what should happen, of course, but it rarely does. At least, it rarely does in such a warm style without condescension.

  • NickH

    Thanks for posting, Tom!

    Am I the only one who thinks this guy’s rant makes little sense?! I realize these are merely excerpts from a blog(?), but seriously… has no one thought about correcting him on his absurdities here? “His appointment likely came from American influence in the Vatican…” (obviously, a paraphrase) The poor guy doesn’t even understand how bishop assignments work! Chaput has been a bishop for over 20 years! And who is the Holy Father going to talk to -the Kenyan bishops?! Japanese? German?? Of course he talks with Americans, geesh. Cardinal Rigali was retiring and SOMEONE was needed to fill the role. Fact is, Archbishop Chaput had a sweet gig in Denver; he spent many years building relationships with the faithful there. Except for one thing -he is obedient. So, now he’ll be in Philadelphia and, with the grace of God, will do amazing things. And I hope we all keep Chaput and retiring Cardinal Rigali in our prayers!



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