Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Archbishop Chaput heads East to Philadelphia

The Catholic blogosphere is alight today with the official news that His Excellency, Archbishop Charles Chaput, formerly the archbishop of Denver, has been named to succeed His Eminence, Cardinal Rigali, in Philadelphia.

There was some erroneous reporting that a Philadelphia native had been tapped to succeed Cardinal Rigali in the River City, but, at least from where I sit, especially given the state-of-affairs in the archdiocese, that was never in the cards.

Rocco Palmo, quoted by Deacon Greg over at The Bench, gets it quite right when he writes that the Holy Father's selection of the Capuchin friar "is a revolutionary choice! [The pope wants] significant changes in the culture of the archdiocese. You won’t see innovations in doctrine but the expression of the faith is about to undergo it’s most significant reboot in almost 200 years. Chaput is someone who doesn’t mind the lion’s den and he’s walking in to the lion’s den of his life." The way I see it, Archbishop Chaput's appointment is a blessing not only for Philly, but the whole Church in the U.S.

Yesterday, one of the characteristics Rocco, who lives in Philly, applied to Archbishop Chaput was "hard-core..." Well, as we sing here at the School of Rock, "you're not hard-core unless you live hard-core and the legend of the" Capuchin archbishop is way hard-core!! He is "hard-core" in the best possible way, the radically-following Jesus kind of way, as befits his Franciscan formation.

I don't mind saying that I am a little distressed by those who in light of this appointment rail against the so-called "culture war," but only do so to fire shots in this allegedly non-existent battle. Let's attend to reality and let the object determine our method: The world, along with many in the Church, will always be scandalized by someone who has been changed by an event that became for her/him an encounter and who, as a result, boldly proclaims that we are not called to hand-wringing ambiguity, or to content ourselves merely with the signs we see along the way. Our humanity, especially when it is fully alive, seeks what, nay, Who is signified. If we can't view things from that admittedly lofty perspective, at a minimum, I believe that charity demands we grant the benefit of the doubt.

So, to His Excellency (who we will miss out West), ad multos annos. I have no doubt you will be a blessing to the people of Philadelphia precisely through your brotherly love, your paternal concern, and the dynamism that flows from knowing the Lord.

St. John Neumann, pray for your successor and the people he is called to shepherd.

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