Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Sandro Magister

7/20/2011 (3 years ago)

Chiesa (chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it)

I could give you three or four good reasons why I'm an implausible choice for a place like Philadelphia, which is really one of America's great cities with a great Catholic history. But I don't make those decisions. The Holy Father does

I'm coming from a little diocese a long way from Rome. I can't imagine the burdens carried by this or any other man in the Chair of Peter. I do know that Benedict XVI is a great pastor and a great disciple of Jesus Christ; a man who knows the meaning of suffering and who still radiates the joy of the Gospel. The right "style" for any priest is to live in persona Christi. And I think Benedict embodies what those words mean in a very moving way.

Archbishop Designate of Philadelphia Charles Chaput

Archbishop Designate of Philadelphia Charles Chaput

Highlights

By Sandro Magister

Chiesa (chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it)

7/20/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Archbishop Charles Chaput, Philadelphia, Cardinal Rigali, Sandro Magister


PHILADELPHIA, PA. (Chiesa) - Q: You came to Rome on June 29 to attend the pallium ceremony for your friend Josť Horacio Gůmez, new Metropolitan Archbishop of Los Angeles. Next year you will have to come for Philadelphia. Were you expecting this?
 
A: Archbishop Gomez is a good friend from our days serving together in Denver. I don't think anyone can "expect" a responsibility like leading the Church in Los Angeles or Philadelphia. But in some ways Archbishop Gomez must have been a logical choice for the Holy Father because of his abilities and background. I'm not sure that's true about me.
 
I'm still processing the appointment to Philadelphia. In some ways it's unreal. I did live and teach in Pennsylvania for years as a young priest. It was a very happy time in my life. But my whole ministry as a bishop has been spent in the American West, in South Dakota and Colorado. The style of Church life there is somewhat different from the East; more direct and informal; less clerical. I could give you three or four good reasons why I'm an implausible choice for a place like Philadelphia, which is really one of America's great cities with a great Catholic history. But I don't make those decisions. The Holy Father does. I trust his judgment, and I'm very grateful for his confidence.
 
Q: The impression might be that Benedict XVI, by personally appointing you, expects from you great things.
 
A: I think he expects from me what he expects from every one of his brother bishops: the humility and courage to serve the local Church well; to preach Jesus Christ without embarrassment; and to deepen the faith of the people. The Church is not defined by her problems. These need to be acknowledged and dealt with honestly, and anyone hurt at the hands of persons representing the Church deserves the support and special assistance of the Catholic community.
 
But the character of the Church everywhere, in every age, is determined by the quality of her priests and people. The Church in Philadelphia has a huge reservoir of goodness. I've known and worked with Philadelphia priests, and I very much admire them. A bishop needs to be a brother to his priests, not just in word, but in substance, and I'll do everything I can to be present to the men who share the gift of priesthood. I've tried to do that in Denver. Denver has a great presbyterate, so many really good men; and I know the same is true of Philadelphia.
 
I've also had the benefit, throughout my priesthood, of many lay friendships and colleagues - I suppose that's partly my personality and partly my Capuchin formation. Either way, I'm eager to meet the people in the parishes of Philadelphia. That's where the life of the Church really resides. I have a lot of trust in the ability and good will of the lay faithful, in Philadelphia and everywhere else.
 
Q: It seems that a new brand of bishops is solidifying in the United States, neither "liberal" nor afraid of the world, orthodox but "proactive." Are you too one of those?
 
A: I hope I'm what God wants and the local Church needs. Labels are misleading. They give people an excuse not to think.
 
Q: "Better rejected than ignored," as Cardinal Camillo Ruini once said?
 
A: Well, I suppose that's true. Cardinal Ruini is a great churchman with a pretty keen grasp of human nature. But it's even better to be "effective and forgotten." We'll all of us be forgotten anyway, so we might as well be effective. The only one who needs to remember us is God, and the only thing that finally matters is to be effective in the way we love.
 
Every few years I reread the last lines of Thornton Wilder's novel, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey." Look them up. They're worth the search.
 
Q: Catholics are a quarter of the population in the United States. How much impact do they have in society, culture and the media?
 
A: Catholics have played a very big role in shaping America, from Charles Carroll - the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence - onward. But it hasn't been easy. America has never really been comfortable with the content of Catholic belief. Catholics have tended to be accepted by the American mainstream in inverse proportion to how seriously they live their faith. Obviously lots of exceptions exist to that rule, but it's still too often true.
 
Q: And in politics?
 
A: Especially in politics. Pennsylvania's late Governor Robert Casey is one of my great heroes. The country could use a lot more Catholic men and women like him in public service.
 
Q: The Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, who is also President of the United States Catholic Bishops' Conference, is usually very present in the media. You as well write, debate and even confront political authorities. In Europe this would be called the Church's "interference," and some would protest.
 
A: Europe is shaped, in part, by the Wars of Religion, as well as the legacy of the French Revolution, its anti-clericalism and its basic distrust of religion. That's a burden most Americans don't understand. The American Revolution was a different creature, and it took place in a deeply Protestant Christian environment. Many of the Founders were themselves Christians. John Courtney Murray once observed that even when Americans don't believe, it's a friendly kind of disinterest. The vivid hostility to religion you find in Europe is alien to America. Or at least it has been until recently.
 
Q: In comparison with Europe, the United States seems to me much more religious. Is it really so? Or the desert of incredulity also advances?
 
A: On the surface, that's true. Americans are generally much more inclined to religious faith than Europeans. And it's not just superficial. Many millions of Americans do take their faith seriously and do sincerely practice their Christianity. You really can't understand the United States outside its Christian-influenced roots.
 
But there's a pragmatism to the American character, an underside of materialism and acquisitivness, that works against the Gospel. So a lot of Americans have the habit of belief without understanding its implications and without letting their faith really shape their lives.
 
Q: How would you describe Catholicism in the US? What would be its distinctive characteristics?
 
A: It's always been an immigrant, minority faith. That accounts for both its vigor, and its over-eagerness to assimilate and fit in. American culture has a huge capacity to homogenize and digest newcomers. That's not all bad. America is fundamentally a nation of immigrants. But it can result in a population with bleached-out beliefs.
 
Q: The "new evangelization" is one of Pope Benedict's key programs. Is it valid also for the US? With what specific characteristics?
 
A: Denver is almost an icon for the "new evangelization." To his credit, my predecessor in Denver, Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, saw that very early. Denver is a deeply secular environment: educated, young, modern, independent-minded, with a history of weak religious roots. It's a new kind of mission territory, with many people who are either disinterested in religion, or who think they're "post-Christian" without ever really encountering the Gospel. America is generally trending in that direction. Evangelizing that environment will be the task of the next generation of believers.
 
Q: In the "courtyard of the gentiles" in the United States, are there nonbelievers with whom there is a fruitful, friendly dialogue? Could you mention any names?
 
A: I'm sure there are many such persons, but other bishops are far more experienced than I am in that kind of dialogue.
 
Q: Who are your "teachers" of reference, those who have influenced you the most?
 
A: Augustine and Francis. You can't do better than that.
 
I'm deeply grateful to Father Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap., who taught me philosophy in college. He had a very big impact on my thinking. When I studied theology as a seminarian, I learned a great deal from Father Robert McCreary, O.F.M. Cap., who also made the same kind of significant impact on my life and my thinking.
 
In terms of Church leadership, as a young Capuchin priest, I had a great respect and reverence for Pope Paul VI, and still honor him as one of my heroes. And, of course, I'm deeply grateful to both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict for their extraordinary magisterium and apostolic energy.
 
Q: What impresses you the most in Pope Benedict's magisterium?
 
A: The consistent genius of his thought - I really don't know how he sustains it -- and the organic development of his life from peritus at Vatican II to his service now as Pope.
 
Q: And regarding his style for guiding the Church?
 
A: I'm coming from a little diocese a long way from Rome. I can't imagine the burdens carried by this or any other man in the Chair of Peter. I do know that Benedict XVI is a great pastor and a great disciple of Jesus Christ; a man who knows the meaning of suffering and who still radiates the joy of the Gospel. The right "style" for any priest is to live in persona Christi. And I think Benedict embodies what those words mean in a very moving way.

---

Chiesa is a wonderful source on all things Catholic in Europe. It is skillfully edited by Sandro Magister. SANDRO MAGISTER was born on the feast of the Guardian Angels in 1943, in the town of Busto Arsizio in the archdiocese of Milan. The following day he was baptized into the Catholic Church. His wifeís name is Anna, and he has two daughters, Sara and Marta. He lives in Rome.



Comments


More U.S.

Obama could have been killed! Pierson steps down over lax security Watch

Image of Julia Pierson, who became director of the Secret Service in March, 2013.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The first female director of the Secret Service has resigned from her position after two separate incidents where intruders were able to slip through lapses in security. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Julia Pierson resigned on October 1 following the incident ... continue reading


A political warning against high taxes: Northest losses 40% of its House seats Watch

Image of High taxes have dropped the population of 11 Northeastern states dramatically, cutting their number of seats in the House of Representatives by 40% since 1950.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Census Bureau has reported that the Northeast is losing power in the U.S. as many citizens leave the high-tax region, heading south or west to states with lesser tax burdens. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Population growth has shifted, primarily to the ... continue reading


Is Ebola here to stay? Second patient being monitored for Ebola in Dallas Watch

Image of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed earlier this week that a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas was the first person to be diagnosed in the U.S. with the Ebola virus.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A second person who had been in close contact with a person infected with Ebola is now being closely monitored in Dallas. Health officials here are treating the situation here with great seriousness, as this is the first example of an Ebola-infected person ... continue reading


How Can We Overcome Fear? Watch

Image of Perhaps we are no longer as crippled by our fears as we were when we were younger, but they still lurk in the background, robbing our freedom and preventing our human flourishing. They harm our relationships and can impede our growth.We can be set free!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Unable to overcome fear by our own effort, we are often overcome by it. Though we may develop coping mechanisms over time, or learn to hide the interior reactions caused by fear, inside, it can paralyze us and impede us from living our lives to the full. The ... continue reading


'Political correctness' could have cost lives in White House Security breach Watch

Image of It was later revealed that the fence-jumper made it all the way to the East Room of the White House, on the second floor.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Political correctness" is a hot-button term that has come to mean irrelevance as applied to any given situation. According to Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "political correctness" ... continue reading


Watch out Saudi Arabia! U.S. oil production expected to rapidly increase Watch

Image of A Saudi Arabian oil refinery.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The International Energy Agency says that U.S. production of petroleum is set to exceed that of Saudi Arabia's for the first time since 1991. A growing sign of the future of the American energy sector. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The production of oil and ... continue reading


Latinos run from Obama en mass after president punts immigration reform Watch

Image of Latino activists have turned their back on President Obama after he dropped immigration reform until the midterm election.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama has bowed to worried Senate Democrats, delaying executive actions on immigration until after the midterm elections, fearing that using executive actions would make immigration reform a partisan issue which would hurt Democrats. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


As thousands of illegals enter U.S., who's stuck with the education bill? Watch

Image of Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have flooded into the U.S. during 2014 alone, mostly from South America. While they await immigration trials, schools are responsible for teaching them.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The large numbers of unaccompanied minors who have been illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in ever greater numbers have caused American schools to scramble in an attempt to provide services. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The children and teens who ... continue reading


St. Michael the Archangel, Defend Us in Battle: Pope Francis Takes on the Devil Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Now the new People of God is the Church. That is the reason she considers him her protector and support in all her struggles for the defense and expansion of the kingdom of God on earth. It is true that "the powers of death shall not prevail", as the Lord assured ... continue reading


Need milk? Eggs or flower? The Post Office may have you covered Watch

Image of Amazon partnered with the USPS to provide daily grocery deliveries to people in the San Francisco Bay area, a program the USPS wants to extend to the rest of the country.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Postal Service has revealed a new plan to reverse its six-year streak of billion-dollar losses, which is as ingenious as it is simple. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The USPS wants to deliver your groceries to you, and the agency sent this proposal to ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Exodus 23:20-23
20 'Look, I am sending an angel to precede you, to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 10-11
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 18:1-5, 10
1 At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Leger
October 2: Leger was raised at the court of King Clotaire II and by his ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter