Who is new Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput?
July 20th, 2011
07:56 AM ET

Who is new Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput?

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)–The City of Brotherly love welcomed a new Catholic Archbishop on Tuesday. But Archbishop Charles Chaput arrives in Philadelphia from the Rocky Mountains during very rocky times for the archdiocese.

One of the country’s largest dioceses, with 1.5 million congregants who account for nearly a third of the city, Philadelphia is reeling from a sex abuse scandal that has indicted four priests and a parochial school teacher and that has unleashed a bevy of civil law suits.

Amid American church abuse scandal, Philadelphia stands out

Chaput, former Archbishop of Denver, Colorado, takes his new post in Philadelphia at the behest of Pope Benedict XVI following the resignation of Cardinal Justin Rigali five months after the Philadelphia scandal broke.

“I ask all of you to pray for me and this great local church which we now share,” Chaput said at a press conference Tuesday at which he shared the podium with Rigali.

Chaput (pronounced Chap-u) is considered by many to be a conservative Vatican hardliner. But he rejected both labels in a recent interview with the National Catholic Reporter.

“I try to be faithful to the church's teaching, as the church has handed it on to us,” Chaput the newspaper. “I don't feel that as a Christian or as a bishop I have a right to play with that tradition, which is the apostolic tradition of the church. I hope that I'm creative and contemporary, however, in applying that teaching and in the structural living out of it in the local church.”

John Allen, who conducted the interview for the National Catholic Reporter and who is also Senior Vatican Analyst for CNN, said Chaput is not, “one of the bishops who moves in the shadows.”

“There is no significant political controversy in recent Catholic life that he has not been involved in,” Allen said. “He was critical of Notre Dame offering an honorary doctorate for [President] Obama because he thought it legitimized Obama’s abortion stand. He was very critical of Obama’s health care law because he believed it promoted abortion. He’s taken a strong position against gay marriage and stem cell research.”

Admirers praise Chaput’s willingness to speak out.

“He is known for his ability to articulate, in a very persuasive way, the teachings of the church and to do so in a way that does not seek to curry favor with those who oppose those teachings,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami told CNN.

“You have a man who that is comfortable in his own skin,” he said. “These are jobs that are almost impossible for any human person. When we assume these positions we count a lot on the grace of God.”

Wenski and Chaput became archbishops around the same time and have worked together often.

“He has a good track record of dealing with the things he will face in Philadelphia both on the abuse crisis and on calling Catholics to coherency and their beliefs,” Wenski added.

The 66-year-old Chaput is a part of the Capuchin order and was ordained as a priest in 1970. Twenty-three years ago he was appointed Archbishop of Rapid City, South Dakota. In 1997 he headed south when Pope John Paul II installed him at helm of the Denver archdiocese.

Chaput was the first Native American to be ordained as an American bishop.

While in Denver he headed a flock of just over half a million Catholics. “He has a great young adult following,” said Jeanette DeMelo, his Denver spokeswoman. “They are going to be especially sad to see him go.”

Chaput, she said, stayed current with music and movies to remain relevant with his flock. He is an avid reader of news and consumes much of it on his Kindle and Ipad, DeMelo said.

As a young priest in Denver in the early 1980s he had served as a campus minister.

Terry Mattingly was the religion reporter for The Rocky Mountain News at the time. “He was ministering to college students and he was very interested in college culture, he was very interested in film,” Mattingly said.

“One of his first acts as archbishop in Denver was to host a national, or even global conference on the spiritual implications of the Internet,” Mattingly said. “There aren’t a whole lot of Catholic bishops who are talking about the Internet in the mid to late 1990s.”

Mattingly, who today is a religion news columnist for Scripps Howard News Service and the proprietor of GetReligion.org, said Chaput continues to skillfully use the Internet.

He has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and an email address listed on the Denver Archdiocese website. According to the site, Chaput personally answers emails to the address.

Since the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, Benedict has installed new leadership in New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

In Philadelphia, the pope gets a vocal advocate for the Vatican.

“It’s the notion that we need leaders who are going to call Catholics to a clear sense of who they are and how they differ from the rest of the world.” Allen said.

“I don’t’ know that’s the reason for the appointment but it’s clearly an indication that Benedict is himself a strong conservative and it’s not any big surprise that he’s promoting somebody who shares those values.”

Chaput celebrated mass on Tuesday in Philadelphia as part of the announcement of his new position. He begins fulltime work there on September 8.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Vatican

soundoff (178 Responses)
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    July 31, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
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    July 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  3. AvdBerg

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    July 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • .....

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      July 29, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  4. Chris

    Chaput is a hypocritical GOP mouthpiece, and a shame to my Catholic tradition. This pope's penchant for trainwrecks continues.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  5. Buddy R

    Blame the gay men who molest kids, don't blame the RCC.

    I'm not Catholic, but I know the RCC teaches gay se_x is sin, se_x with children is sin, and se_x outside marriage is sin. So don't blame the RCC, blame the gay men who molested the boys.

    July 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • OceanLight

      Buddy, a truth spoken!

      July 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • gerald

      Thank you for your voice of reason on the matter and lack of prejudice.

      July 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • chief

      awesome point but the cath church has known ands protected them against prosecution... and thats a sin

      July 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • gerald

      Hey Chief, is bearing false witness a sin? Check out exodus 20. You keep calling me a priest but I have told you many times I am not. You seem to like to poke at the sins of others. Every read the passage about the plank in your own eye? Now I would not be ashamed to be a priest as many of them are very good men but Chief makes the accusation in a derogatory sense.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • gerald

      By the way, the primary reason so many have not been prosecuted is with regard to the statute of limitations because victims have not come forward for many years. There has of course been some coverup and that should be exposed but it is not the primary reason of lack of prosecution.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  6. Reality

    "Who is the new Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput?"

    Another celibate male suffering from the Three B Syndrome i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in the flaws and falacies of his religion. In his case, Catholicism.

    July 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Buddy R

      Atheism is the most evil and destructive religion to proceed out of the dark hearts of delusional men.

      Atheist tyrants have been responsible for the deaths of over 250 million people in the past 100 years. Far more than all other religions combined for all of recorded history.

      Christianity has many thousands of ministries to help the needy. Atheism has none.

      July 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Reality

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:

      o The Muslim Conquest of India

      "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      Rank <<<Death Toll <Cause <<Centuries<<<Religions/Groups involved*

      1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

      2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

      3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

      4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

      5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

      6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

      7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

      8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

      9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

      10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

      11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

      12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

      13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

      14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

      15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

      16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

      17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Pagans)

      18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

      19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

      20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      July 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Reality

      Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are atheists.

      The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF or the Gates Foundation) is the largest transparently operated[4] private foundation in the world, founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. The foundation is "driven by the interests and passions of the Gates family".[5] The primary aims of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and in America, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. The foundation, based in Seattle, Washington, is controlled by its three trustees: Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Other principal officers include Co-Chair William H. Gates, Sr. and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Raikes.

      It had an endowment of US$33.5 billion as of December 31, 2009.[3] The scale of the foundation and the way it seeks to apply business techniques to giving makes it one of the leaders in the philanthrocapitalism revolution in global philanthropy,[6] though the foundation itself notes that the philanthropic role has limitations.[5] In 2007, its founders were ranked as the second most generous philanthropists in America.[7]

      July 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  7. Rainer Braendlein


    Of course, he (Chaput) looks a little like Bonhoeffer. Today, when the devil wants to entrap people, he turns into a being, which looks like Bonhoeffer. Wolf in sheep's clothing, devil in Bonhoeffer-body.

    For me the RCC is like a "Hydra": When you cut off one head, two heads grow again (the RCC leaders are greedy for being raised, thus, when one leader leaves, 10 want to replace him).

    I don't want to slam Mr. Chaput, but one thing is absolutely clear: His new office is totally corrupt. There are several reasons for that.

    Main reason: By the sacrament of ordination or consecration all priests, bishops and the pope together are a magical body, which is controlled by it's head, the pope. The pope displaces Christ from his office as head of the Church. That is a crime.

    Even at RCC-councils the Holy Spirit (Spirit of Christ) cannot speak, because the attendants are not allowed to discuss freely, but just have to accept the pope's pre-made decisions, which he pronounces at the council.

    The RCC should be abolished. It is just a papal bollocks.

    No RCC, no pope, no celibacy, people will not abuse children. It is very simple.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Reality

      Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems in the "reformed" Christian churches:

      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      July 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Reality


      "The onset of pe-dophilia usually occurs during adolescence. Occasional pe-dophiles begin their activities during middle age but this late onset is uncommon. In the United States, about 50% of men arrested for pe-dophilia are married. "

      And this from Wikipedia:

      Due to the stereotype that pe-dophiles are always male, it has been difficult to determine the prevalence of female pe–dophiles; however, studies in the UK and USA suggest that a range of 5% to 20% of child se-xual abuse offenses are perpetrated by women.[20]”

      So even if B16 removed the celibacy and gender requirements for the priesthood, pe-dophilia would still be a problem.

      July 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • geraldh

      Celibacy is not the cause of child abuse given the fact that protestant pastors abuse children at least as much as Catholic priests. They don't get as much attention because their church structure does not allow for such huge settlements. Tell me, do you speak for Christ in what you say? ("He who hears you hears me") That is all the popes claim. They don't claim to replace Christ and our Catechism fully acknowledges Christ's headship in many places. Christ is our King. The Pope is in the position of "prime minister" or spokesman for the king. See Is 22:22-23. You need to stop posting distortions of Catholicism. You bear false witness.

      July 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  8. Krubs

    Jesus said his true followers will be hated. Not loved by the media. In John 15: 18, 19 it says, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now, because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you." The people that Jesus has chosen will be hated by everyone. Also, Jesus also says in Matthew 7: 21,22,23, "Not everyone saying to me, 'Lord Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in heaven will. Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord Lord, did we not prophesy your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?' And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me you workers of lawlessness."

    July 21, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  9. David Crosby

    The only real evidence from Jesus' life is that he is dead..always was always will be ..Catholicism is a plague and scam...ban it as a ponzi scheme and grow up...

    July 21, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • TN

      Yea!! A Ponzi scheme!!! Nice one Crosby!!!

      July 21, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  10. POPE

    He's like...boys, come to daddy! lol 😛

    July 21, 2011 at 3:13 am |
  11. Brian OConnor

    Archbishop Chaput is truly one of the greatest men I have ever met. Denver will be sad to lose him and Philidelphia is honored to have him.

    July 20, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  12. SoundOfForest

    He looks like Dietrich Bonhoeffer...

    July 20, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.