Neumann and Chaput

Writes Fr Dwight Longenecker (and I was thinking something similar yesterday):

I believe St John Neumann was not a large man. Physically short and frail, he was nevertheless a terrier of a bishop–tireless and fervent in all that he attempted. Read more about him here and here. What a dynamo! Serving the poor, establishing parishes, building churches, building schools, learning umpteen languages. Lord, give me a portion of that energy and focus! St John Neumann pray for us!

What struck me today at Mass for St John Neumann is that he did all this in the midst of great opposition. He faced poverty and persecution (the Know Nothings) and hardship and peril. He was an immigrant and away from his home country, yet see what he did in Philadelphia!

Now the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has another “little guy” to lead it. Archbishop Chaput has taken the helm of a diocese reeling under yet more stories of corrupt priests, financial crisis and seemingly terminal decline.  Parishes and schools must be closed and consolidated. There is a shortage of priests. There is loss of faith. There is heresy and complacency and persecution and resistance. See how Chaput has begun to face this head on from the beginning by reading his letter–which Jimmy Akin fisks here. All of this St John Neumann also battled. All of this all of us have in one way or another if we seek to proclaim the gospel and be faithful to the cross of Christ. To be a priest, to be one of the faithful baptized we must battle all these things.

Abp. Chaput has gone into the storm with a firm resolve to put things right. It will be interesting to see how things go in Philadelphia. I think what we are witnessing is the beginning of a great change within the American church. The old establishment, complacent, cultural Catholic church of the great cities is dying, and if not dying, then evolving into something very different. This article by Fr. McCloskey explains what is going to be required: a leaner, more efficient and committed Catholic population. We must be “Intentional Disciples“– equipped to evangelize, sacrifice and live the faith of the apostles in a way that is, as yet, unexpected and unpredicted and unimagined by many Catholics.

We will have to have the same, astringent and invigorating missionary spirit that charged St John Neumann. I believe Archbishop Chaput has such a spirit as he begins his new task.

I hope and pray he succceeds. May St John Neumann–his saintly predecessor intercede for him.



Archbishop Charles Chaput Installed in Philadelphia reports:

To the accompaniment of prayer, a pealing pipe organ, applause, and laughter, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was installed Thursday as the new head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

“This is a big job,” he told the throng of 1,700 crowded into the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

Without mentioning the clergy sex-abuse scandal plaguing the archdiocese, the new archbishop acknowledged in his homily that “this church in Philadelphia faces very serious challenges these days. There’s no quick fix to problems that are so difficult, and none of us here today, except the Lord himself, is a miracle worker.”

But, he said, “no bishop will give more joyfully of himself than I will to renewing this great church. No bishop will try harder to help persons who have been hurt by the sins of the past. And no bishop will work harder to strengthen and encourage our priests and restore the hearts of our faithful.”

Chaput, 66, succeeds Cardinal Justin Rigali, who is retiring after eight years at the helm of the 1.5 million-member archdiocese.

A half-dozen cardinals, about 200 bishops, and 400 priests in cream-and-gold vestments preceded Chaput to the main altar of the cathedral. Rigali followed, carrying an ornate crosier, or bishop’s staff, of brass and silver.

In his final gesture as archbishop, Rigali first took his seat in the large oak-and-velvet bishop’s chair. Chaput sat in a smaller chair opposite him.

After a representative of the papal nuncio’s office read Pope Benedict XVI’s July 19 edict naming Chaput to Philadelphia, Rigali rose, crossed the altar, and escorted the former Denver archbishop to the chair in the formal act of succession.

At that, the congregation rose and applauded Chaput for more than 90 seconds.

Later, the Kansas-born Franciscan Capuchin friar took hold of the plain wooden shepherd’s staff that he had brought with him from Colorado as the symbol of his new office…

You can read on here. Theere is a photo gallery here.


You can read the full text of Archbishop Chaput homily here.



Archbishop Charles Chaput to Lead Philadelphia Archdiocese Amid Abuse Scandal

Vatican News:

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Charles Chaput to succeed Cardinal Justin Rigali as Archbishop of Philadelphia on Tuesday. Until the new appointment, Archbishop Chaput had been the head of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado. The 66 year-old Archbishop Chaput is part Native American and the first Native American U.S. archbishop. He entered the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor in 1965 and made his perpetual vows in 1968, receiving ordination to the priesthood in 1970. After a tenure as minister of the Capuchin province of Mid-America, he was elected bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota – a position in which he served for nearly a decade, before being called to Denver in 1997.

A best-selling author and outspoken defender of the Church’s place in public life, the newly-appointed Archbishop Chaput is also deeply concerned with the Church’s pastoral mission. “The Church has done a very poor job of passing on the authentic Apostolic faith to its people,” he says. “We need to get better,” at forming the lay faithful especially, “we need to get better very soon.” Archbishop Chaput comes to Philadelphia during a time of difficulty for the Archdiocese, which is struggling to deal with revelations of clerical sexual abuse that began to emerge in February of this year.

The Official Release:

The Holy Father Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the ministry of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Metro (USA), presented by His Em. Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, in accordance with can. 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law.
The Pope appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia (USA) Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, currently Archbishop of Denver.


Philadelphia The archbishop of Philadelphia has resigned just months after a Philadelphia grand jury report accused the archdiocese of failing to investigate claims of sexual abuse by priests against children.

Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Cardinal Justin Rigali as the Philadelphia archbishop, the Vatican said Tuesday.

The Vatican cited Rigali’s age as the reason. Canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation from the pastoral governance of their diocese on their 75th birthday, which Rigali did in April 2010.

The archdiocese plans to announce Tuesday that the pope has appointed Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver to succeed Rigali, it said in a statement.

Chaput was ordained a priest in 1970. He became a bishop at the age of 43 and has served as archbishop of Denver since 1997. Chaput, a member of the Prairie Band Potowatami Tribe, is the second Native American to be ordained a bishop in the United States and the first Native American archbishop.

The move comes five months after a Philadelphia grand jury report accused the archdiocese of not investigating claims that priests sexually abused children…

More here.

NCR’s John Allen held an exclusive interview with Archbishop Charles Chaput:

Love him or hate him, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Pope Benedict XVI’s choice as the new chief shepherd of the embattled Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is impossible to ignore.

Few American bishops relish public debate more than the 66-year-old Chaput, whose background is in the Capuchins, and who’s widely regarded as an intellectual leader of the “evangelical” movement in Catholicism. He’s fiercely loyal to church teaching and tradition, and passionate about taking the Catholic message to the street.

By naming him to Philadelphia, the pontiff — who is, of course, no stranger to controversy himself — effectively has handed the fiery Chaput a bigger cultural megaphone.

Benedict has also signaled confidence in Chaput’s personal integrity and administrative chops. In Philadelphia, Chaput faces the turmoil created by last February’s Grand Jury report, which found that 37 priests facing credible accusations of abuse remained in ministry.

In conjunction with the appointment, Chaput sat down for an extended, and exclusive, interview with NCR. He put no limits on the topics to be covered, which included his move to Philadelphia, his overall leadership style and vision, and his views of the sexual abuse crisis. The lone condition was that the interview not be published until the appointment became official…

More here. A good interview it is.

Also of interest is Philadelphia needs its new Archbishop here as well as Archbishop Chaput may become Cardinal here.

Wikipedia has more on Archbishop Chaput here, while the Sacramento Bee traces the career of Archbishop Rigali here.

And Rome Reports:

Our prayers are with him as he enters a Diocese reeling…