Posts Tagged ‘archbishop chaput’

Quick break today from the “gay Mass” scandal at St. Cecilia in Boston for this excellent column by George Weigel about the appointment of Archbishop Charles Chaput as the new Archbishop of Philadelphia.

I was hoping we might have gotten Archbishop Chaput for Boston, to deal with the problem of “Catholic Lite” that Bryan Hehir and Cardinal Sean O’Malley have promulgated here in the past 7 years and continue promulgating. The scandal at St. Cecilia is a good example of that. Weigel refers to Boston’s problem with “Catholic Lite” near the end of his column. Let’s hope Chaput is in line for a red hat in the future!

Rise of the Evangelical Catholic Bishops

Gospel without compromise, joyfully lived, replaces Catholic Lite.

When Pope Benedict XVI appointed the archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M.Cap., as the new archbishop of Philadelphia on July 19, the usual suspects were trotted out to say the usual things that the usual suspects say.

Thus David Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, continued his nine-year rant against the Catholic Church by pronouncing Chaput’s record on abuse (which virtually everyone else finds admirable) “dismal.” But then David Clohessy would likely have found St. John Chrysostom, St. Charles Borromeo, or Chaput’s 19th-century predecessor in Philadelphia, St. John Neumann, “dismal,” because if you’re the New York Times’s go-to guy for anti-Catholic-hierarchy sexual-abuse soundbites, that’s what you say. As for Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., the former editor of America magazine made his own priorities rather clear in fretting to the Philadelphia Inquirer that Chaput would “be a real pain in the neck for the Democratic Party.” (Bob Casey the Less, you have been warned!)

Just about every story on the Chaput appointment identified the archbishop as a “conservative” (because he believes and teaches as true what the Catholic Church believes and teaches to be true); just about every story claimed that Chaput was a tough guy when it came to holding Catholic politicians accountable for their votes on abortion and the nature of marriage (while completely missing the fact that Chaput had consistently made genuinely public arguments, not uniquely Catholic theological claims, about the inalienable right to life and marriage rightly understood); and of course every story emphasized abuse, abuse, abuse (as if this were the only reality of Catholic life in America).

All of this is tiresome, if wholly predictable; both its tediousness and its predictability help explain why it’s the rare discerning reader who turns to the mainstream media for serious reportage about and analysis of the Catholic Church. In this case, however, the same-old-same-old also obscured what is truly important about the Chaput appointment — which is not the archbishop’s Potawatomi ancestry (interesting as that is) but his place as one of the most vigorous exponents of what might be called Evangelical Catholicism.

Archbishop Chaput put it best himself in an exclusive interview with Catholic News Agency: “The biggest challenge, not just in Philadelphia but everywhere, is to preach the Gospel. . . . We need to have confidence in the Gospel, we have to live it faithfully, and to live it without compromise and with great joy.”

That formulation — the Gospel without compromise, joyfully lived — captures the essence of the Evangelical Catholicism that is slowly but steadily replacing Counter-Reformation Catholicism in the United States. The usual suspects are living in an old Catholic paradigm: They’re stuck in the Counter-Reformation Church of institutional maintenance; they simply want an institution they can run with looser rules, closely aligned with the Democratic party on the political left — which is precisely why they’re of interest to their media megaphones. Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and other rising leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States are operating out of a very different paradigm — and in doing so, they’re the true heirs of both the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II.

The Council put the Gospel and its proclamation at the center of Catholic life. John Paul II, in his apostolic letter published at the end of the Great Jubilee of 2000, challenged the entire Church to leave the stagnant shallows of institutional maintenance and put out into the deep waters of post-modernity, preaching Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life. In his 1991 encyclical Redemptoris Missio [The Mission of the Redeemer], John Paul insisted that the Church doesn’t have a mission, as if “mission” were one among a dozen things the Catholic Church does. No, John Paul taught, the Church is a mission, such that everything and everyone in the Church ought to be measured by what the management types would call mission-effectiveness.

The old warhorses of the post–Vatican II debates, on either end of the Catholic spectrum, don’t get this; they’re still mud-wrestling within the old paradigm. But Archbishop Charles Chaput gets it, big time. That, and the effective work of his predecessor, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, is what has made the archdiocese of Denver what is arguably the model Evangelical Catholic diocese in the country: a Church brimming with excitement over the adventure of the Gospel, a Church attracting some of the sharpest young Catholics in America to its services, a Church fully engaged in public life while making genuinely public arguments about the first principles of democracy.

This is the vision that Archbishop Chaput is bringing to Philadelphia, and it has virtually nothing to do with “agendas” as the usual suspects understand agendas. Of course that vision includes addressing serious problems of sexual abuse. The old clericalism that protected perpetrators in various dioceses created serious legal problems for the institutional Church; but it was also, and even more importantly from an evangelical point of view, a terrible impediment to preaching the Gospel and attracting people to friendship with Jesus Christ. It’s his palpable commitment to the latter — to the project of unapologetic evangelism — that will give Archbishop Chaput credibility in cleaning up what needs cleaning up and in healing what can be healed in Philadelphia.And this is something else the usual suspects miss. The usual suspects’ answer to clerical sexual abuse has been, is, and seems likely to remain the transformation of Catholicism into Catholic Lite. But in situation after situation — Phoenix and Denver being two prime examples — it’s been the Gospel without compromise, joyfully lived, that has turned abuse disaster areas into vibrant Catholic centers where public confidence in the Church’s credibility has been restored. Where Catholic Lite has been adopted as the solution to the problems Catholic Lite helped cause — as in Boston — the meltdown that began in 2002 continues.

With the appointment of Charles J. Chaput as archbishop of Philadelphia, the deep reform of the Catholic Church in the United States — the reform that is giving birth to Evangelical Catholicism even as it leaves the old post–Vatican II arguments fading into the rear-view mirror — has been accelerated.

— George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. His weekly column, “The Catholic Difference,” is syndicated by the archdiocese of Denver.

Read Full Post »

Forgive us for the intervals between posts.  We have just received some long-awaited material we are trying to digest that has potentially explosive implications.  In case you have not seen these two outstanding posts from elsewhere that reflect the spirit of what we are trying to do here on Bryan Hehir Exposed, we hope you enjoy them.  Think of this as the “Tale of Two Capucian Archbishops.”

From Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver’s recent talk he gave for the Canon Law Association of Slovakia, as reported by Deacon Keith Fournier at Catholic Online:

“We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things.”

Wow!  We have tried to call things by their true names about Fr. Bryan Hehir and hope we have succeeded.   Catholic News Agency reported these excerpts from Archbishop Chaput’s talk:

Recalling the historical experience of the Slovakian Church under Communism, Archbishop Chaput told the assembly of Central European bishops and canon lawyers that Christians are being called today to defend the Church’s own rights, and the rights of all people, against the “civil religion” of relativism. [BHE comment: Anyone wonder how Archbishop Chaput would dialogue with Fr. Bryan Hehir on relativism?]

Like Communism, he explained, today’s secularist ideology envisions “a society apart from God” where “men and women might live wholly sufficient unto themselves,” sharing no higher guiding principle than “satisfying their needs and desires.”

This seemingly benign vision, he warned, leaves no place for the Church’s work of evangelism, teaching, and activism.

Jumping back to Deacon Fournier, he continued in his post to share his personal experience and exposure to the Archdiocese of Denver and Archbishop Chaput’s leadership of that diocese:

His leadership of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado is evidence of his leadership gifts.  I had the privilege of participating in their “Living the Catholic Faith” Conference in 2010. I found a Diocese which is a shining example of the “New Evangelization”.  The seminaries are full, the parishes are growing (in fidelity and number) and the ecclesial movements are flocking to find a missionary outpost. The Catholic Church is being demonstrated to be what she is, the continued presence of the Risen Christ in our midst. I left that Conference filled with hope for the Catholic Church in the United States. I am not naive, I am well aware of the challenges we face both within and without. What I experienced in Denver reminded me that Jesus Christ truly lives and His Church is His Plan!

Now let’s briefly compare that Capucian to Cardinal Sean O’Malley in Boston.  Cardinal O’Malley just celebrated 40 years in the priesthood, an admirable accomplishment for which we join in celebrating him.  Here is what Paul Melanson at La Salette Journey had to say regarding the Cardinal’s comments on hitting that milestone in the priesthood:

In his Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores gregis, No. 28, Pope John Paul II, recalling the Rite of Ordination of a Bishop and most especially the imposition of the Book of the Gospels on the head of the Bishop-elect during the Prayer of Consecration, has this to say, “This gesture indicates, on the one hand, that the Word embraces and watches over the Bishop’s ministry and, on the other, that the Bishop’s life is to be completely submitted to the Word of God in his daily commitment of preaching the Gospel in all patience and sound doctrine (cf. 2 Timothy 4).”

Being “completely submitted” to the Word of God, whether Sacred Scripture or Tradition, the Bishop must be firmly committed to sound preaching and to the right of the faithful to Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity.

When a Bishop fails to uphold this right of the faithful to sound doctrine, he is responsible for what amounts to an act of violence against the faithful. Which is what we are witnessing in the Boston Archdiocese.

At his Blog, His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley writes, “I am so grateful for priestly vocation. It is not something we deserve or merit, it is something that God in His goodness calls us to do. It calls us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It is not our priesthood, it is the ministry of Jesus Christ. In the Church, the priesthood is so important because we are a Eucharistic people. It is through the priesthood that Christ has chosen to give us the sacraments.”

A word of congratulation is in order. As well as a word of thanks to His Eminence for responding to God’s call to serve the Church. Indeed, His Eminence is correct in saying that the priesthood calls men to be part of “something bigger” than themselves. That something is the Word of God, which the priest is called to proclaim with fidelity to those who are entrusted with its true interpretation (Dei Verbum, No. 10). In other words, the Church’s Magisterium. “The task of priests,” as Vatican II teaches in Presbyterorum Ordinis, No. 4, “is not to teach their own wisdom but God’s Word.”

This task belongs to the priest no less than his task of offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It is significant, for me, that Cardinal O’Malley neglects this point in his summary of why the priesthood is important. Because both tasks are inseparably linked. Origen wrote, “You know, you who are accustomed to assist at the divine mysteries, with what religious care, when you receive the Lord’s body, you watch to see that not the smallest particle may fall…You would feel guilty, and rightly so, if that were to happen by your neglect. Then,…how should it be a less grave fault to neglect the word of God than to neglect his body?” (In Exod., hom. 13.3).

The task of safeguarding the Word of God is very important. And when dissent arises in the Church, “the Church’s Pastors have the duty to act in conformity with their apostolic mission” and to insist “that the right of the faithful to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity must always be respected.” (Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, No. 113).

Paul closed his blog by asking the question, “Knowing this, one must ask: Your Eminence, why have you not addressed dissent within the Archdiocese of Boston?”  Given what we have exposed here on this blog since March, we are wondering the answer to that same question. How do you really feel about the need for Catholics to be a “community of resistance” and to fight the evils that we see?  Or should we simply delude ourselves into thinking that if we keep going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization, we can somehow mitigate or change things?

Read Full Post »