Friday, June 12, 2009

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. (Order of Friars Minor Capuchin)
Archbishop of Denver

Archbishop Chaput is 64, born September 26, 1944 in Concordia, Kansas. Through his mother, a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, the second Native American ordained bishop in the United States and the first Native American archbishop. Discrete Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

1965 joins the Capuchins, 1968 solemn religious profession, 1970 ordained priest.

1967 BA in philosophy, St. Fidelis College Seminary, Herman, Pennsylvania. 1968-9 studies psychology, Catholic University. 1970 MA in Religious Education, Capuchin College in Washington DC. 1971 MA in theology, University of San Francisco.

1971-1974 instructor in theology and spiritual director at St. Fidelis. 1974-1977 executive secretary and director of communications, Capuchin Province of St. Augustine in Pittsburgh. 1977 pastor in Thornton, Colorado and vicar provincial for the Capuchin Province of Mid-America, secretary and treasurer for the province from 1980, chief executive and provincial minister from 1983.

1988 appointed bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota.
1997 appointed archbishop of Denver, Colorado.

Bios: Catholic hierarchy Denver archdiocesan website

Archbishop Chaput is well known as outspokenly orthodox, particularly on pro-life, and a supporter of Pope John Paul. He has been a vocal opponent of American Catholics’ voting for pro-choice politicians and publicly criticized Notre Dame’s conferring an honorary degree on President Obama last month. He has energetically supported archdiocesan initiatives in the spirit of John Paul’s new evangelization.

In a radio interview with conservative evangelical Hugh Hewitt on August 20, 2008, he spoke about his archdiocese:
“…we’ve been blessed here. You know, the Holy Father came here for World Youth Day 15 years ago, and that really regenerated the spirit of the Church here. The diocese has about 525,000 Catholics at the northern part of Colorado. We have about 300 priests working here. Just nine years ago, we began a new seminary. Actually, we have two seminaries here. And I think in the last eleven years, we probably ordained 60 or so priests from that seminary for our own diocese and for other dioceses. So we’ve been blessed with vocations for the priesthood. We have a seminary, I think, that starts next week, and I think we expect it to be more than a full house. There’s a lot of new movements here among the laity, a lot of lay leadership. We have a new group called Endow, which is about promoting the thought of Pope John Paul II regarding the dignity of women, so it’s kind of a women’s support group that does wonderful work. We have Focus Fellowship of Catholic University Students, which is the Catholic version of Campus Crusade. We have a new graduate school of theology for the laity called the Yusen Augustine Institute, and we have our two new seminaries. So those are just some of the more obvious activities that are going on here. So we have a lot of enthusiasm for the faith.”

On the clerical sexual abuse scandal he said in the interview:
“… the Church is rightly accused of not acting earlier, not speaking out clearly, and not acting clearly on the issue of the abuse of children. And I think we have to accept the criticism when it’s true. But why would that then be a reason for us not to act, or to be slow to act, or not to be vocal about damaging things that are going on today? You know, it’s a common technique used by those who don’t like what we say, to shove our sins in our face, and we should repent from those sins and be sorry for them. But the fact that we’ve been sinful shouldn’t give up permission to neglect our responsibilities, and therefore be sinful again today. So the Church should repent, and it’s always the place to begin, to be sorry for what we’ve done wrong. But if that paralyzes us, we’ll just repeat another wrong in another context and another time.”

On his politics he said:
“…people sometimes pigeonhole me as a conservative, and I hope what I am is a Catholic. And I preach the Gospel honestly without compromise, and that cuts to the right and to the left, because the truth is supposed to set all of us free from our parties and from our prejudices or whatever. So I think people who want to follow the Gospel will offend people on all sides of the political spectrum.”

Chaput last year published “ Render Unto Caesar: Serving The Nation By Living Our Catholic Beliefs In Political Life ” (2008) about integrating religious faith and public life.

About the book he said in the interview:
“… two reasons why I wrote the book. One is some Catholic political folks asked me to, people who ran for office, and were having struggles because of that. But more importantly, I’ve grown tired of so many people in our culture saying to believers that they ought to be quiet, that there’s no place in the public square for the voice of faith. I wanted to make a distinction between separation of Church and state, and separating our faith from our politics. You can embrace the concept of separation of Church and state, but that’s not at all the same thing as separating our faith from our actions, from our political actions.

…our engagement in the world around us, whether it be political in that broad sense, or in a more narrow sense political, is about loving our neighbor. That’s why it’s foolish for Catholics to think they can enter into the political world without bringing their faith with them, because we’re required by our faith to engage the world so that human dignity will be supported, and the common good will be served. It’s a more complicated way of just saying we have to love our neighbors as ourselves. And God commands us to do that, so we just can’t work towards our personal salvation, or you know, just wait for God to save us. God also throws us back into relationship with our neighbors if we truly love Him.

…to tell a believer that he must be silent in public is like telling a married man he must pretend to be single when he’s at work. And if he does that, he won’t be married very long, because he’ll find somebody else, or his wife will be very disappointed in the fact that he doesn’t love her publicly. And I think our relationship with God is a relationship as a spousal love. You know, He loves the Church as a bridegroom loves his bride, and that it’s important for us to let people know that, not in a way that’s in their face or offensive, but then also to live out the consequences of that, which is to love our neighbor. We can’t say we love God who we can’t see if we don’t love our neighbor who we do see. And that’s political life. Political life is about loving our neighbor.

I think people deliberately misrepresent where we stand in order to scare other people about us. I know that Catholics are even cowered by that kind of talk, you know, that we hear the phrase separation of Church and state, and that attracts us, because we know that our country has been strong because it hasn’t had an established religion, or an established church. And so we ourselves hesitate when people accuse us of mingling Church and state. But again, I want to make that distinction – faith and politics is not the same as Church and state. I wholeheartedly embrace separation of Church and state. I don’t want the state to tell the Church what to do, and the Church isn’t about the business of telling the state what to do. But the Church is busy about telling our members to be good citizens, and to work in the public square to create an atmosphere that serves the common good, and protects human dignity.”

On American Catholics’ voting for pro-choice politicians Chaput wrote in “Render Unto Caesar”:
“My friends often ask me if Catholics in genuinely good conscience can vote for a pro-choice candidate. The answer is I couldn’t. Supporting a right to choose abortion simply masks and evades what abortion really is, the deliberate killing of innocent life. I know of nothing that can morally offset that kind of evil… One of the pillars of Catholic thought is this – don’t deliberately kill the innocent, and don’t collude in allowing it. We sin if we support candidates because they support a false right to abortion. We sin if we support pro-choice candidates without a truly proportionate reason for doing so, that is a reason grave enough to outweigh our obligation to end the killing of the unborn. And what would a proportionate reason look like? It would be a reason we could, with an honest heart, expect the unborn victims of abortion to accept when we meet them and need to explain our actions as we someday will.”

and said in the interview:
“…it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion there are proportionate reasons. But here’s a case where I’m certain there would be. If you have two candidates running for the same office, they’re the only choices, both of them are pro-choice, but one is much better on the other issues than the other. I think that you can choose the lesser of two evils with a clear conscience. You don’t have to. You can decide not to vote, or you can vote for a third person who couldn’t be elected. But in those circumstances, you would be voting for a pro-choice candidate, but not because the person is pro-choice, but because the alternative is a worse situation. I also know that, and this is the second point, I know many good Catholics who have given a lot of serious thought to the abortion issue, and will still vote for a candidate who is pro-choice. They’ll try to discourage that person from holding that position, they’ll work really hard within their party to get the party to change its platform if it’s pro-abortion. But they’ve kind of examined all the issues, and weighed them together, and still feel that in a particular situation, that the candidate that they are going to vote for who is pro-choice is a better of the two. And the Church, you know, says you can do that if you have a truly proportionate reason. And I hope they work hard at it, and I don’t always understand how they arrive at their conclusion. It’s hard to imagine in my mind anything worse than the destruction of more than a million unborn children in our country every year through abortion. But I think that sincere people really do arrive at those conclusions sometimes.”

Chaput’s words here were in dialogue with those of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a memo on denying Holy Communion to pro-choice politicians sent to Washington Archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and made public in July 2004:

“A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

Archbishop Chaput in 1999 established a new seminary in Denver, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, dedicated to rigorous, orthodox training in the spirit of Pope John Paul. The seminary is affiliated with the theology faculty of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

Archbishop Chaput has long had firsthand information about the Legionaries. Some ten years ago he received into his archdiocese three former Legionary priests: Revs. Philip Larrey, Jorge Rodriguez, and Donal Leonard. The three were motivated scholars, had had a part in the founding in 1993 of the Pontifical Legionary university in Rome, the Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, but reportedly came into conflict with the leadership of the order, including Father Maciel himself, for not binding themselves tightly enough to the congregation’s rules of life. Chaput took them in, according to Paul Lennon , to benefit from their pastoral expertise in Spanish language and Hispanic culture and because he believed they were good men mistreated by the Legionary system.

Larrey holds a licentiate and doctorate in philosophy (1994) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was dean of the faculty of philosophy at Regina Apostolorum. His scholarly interests include the philosophy of science and the history of Christianity. Currently he teaches philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome and the University of California Education Abroad Program Rome Study Center.

Rodriguez holds a licentiate in philosophy and doctorate in theology from the Gregorian and was dean of the faculty of philosophy at Regina Apostolorum. Currently he is vice rector of the Denver archdiocesan seminary St. John Vianney.

Leonard holds a doctorate in philosophy, taught philosophy of religion at Regina Apostolorum, and currently teaches philosophy part time at St. John Vianney. His interests include myth (his doctoral thesis was on Joseph Campbell) and new age and non-Christian religions.

Chaput’s having taken in a group of unhappy Legionaries reminds one of how Cardinal Archbishop James Hickey in the mid-1980s made Washington, DC a haven for departing Legionary Fathers Peter Cronin; Declan Murphy; Paul Lennon, later of ReGain eminence; and Kevin Farrell. Bishop Farrell, ordained a priest in 1978, had been a Legionary priest for 15 years before coming to DC in 1984. He was appointed auxiliary bishop there in 2001 and bishop of Dallas in 2007, another source for the visitation of authoritative firsthand experience of the Legionaries.

Archbishop Chaput is another heavyweight appointment to the apostolic visitation: prominent, energetic, decisive, even a bishop close enough to the situation to have received departing Legionaries and kept them in academic positions in his own seminary. What did they tell him about Father Maciel and life in the Legion? Has he been entirely unconcerned up to now?

Will a conservative be willing to discipline conservatives? The Legionaries and Regnum Christi have been staunch pro-life allies. If Chaput dislikes Catholic public silence about abortion out of misguided politeness, does he dislike conservative distaste for holding the Legionaries accountable out of a misguided desire for keeping ideological alignment? Does loyalty to the memory of Pope John Paul require polite silence about his having privileged a sexual predator as a new evangelizer?

Does Chaput agree with Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien that “this is not about orthodoxy. It is about respect for human dignity for each of [the Legion’s] members.”?

Perhaps the sexual and spiritual abuse of religious is itself a pro-life issue of a sort, to the contrary the resistance of conservatives to the “seamless garment” image on the grounds that its misuse can trivialize the greater evil.

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