On Tuesday, the Vatican appointed Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput to lead Philadelphia’s Catholic population. Formerly the archbishop of Denver, Colorado, Chaput brings years of experience to the job – which he’ll need in a diocese that has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals.
“There’s a lot of hurt [in Philadelphia] and a lot of challenges he’ll have to work on,” Brian Burch, president of the Catholic political action group Catholic Vote, says. But Burch is confident that Chaput is the right man for the job.
“There could not be a better person put here to renew the life of the church at every level,” Burch says.
Chaput brings with him a bit of controversy, however: He is known for adhering to Church teachings, even in the face of unpopular reactions, and engaging in political life in the public sphere.
“Archbishop Chaput has been fearless in his defense of church teachings,” Burch says. “He is willing to confront the issues facing Americans in political life today.”
Chaput published a book in 2008, titled Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, and articles commenting on current events have appeared in opinion journals like First Things.
Chaput is the first Native American to be named an American archbishop in the Catholic Church. He is also a Capuchin—that is, a member of the religious order founded by St. Francis of Assisi in medieval Italy.
Burch says that Philadelphians could expect great things based on Chaput’s track record.
“There’s no way to summarize what he accomplished,” Burch says. “The number of seminarians and new priests…the hopeful embrace of faithfulness and of the church’s teaching on difficult questions...will be present much more profoundly now that he’s here.”
Theresa Civantos, a Collegiate Network fellow, is an editorial assistant at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.