Even as blind squirrels sometimes find acorns, sometimes the National Catholic Fishwrap does something right. And it won’t surprise anyone that my friend the nearly-ubiquitous John L. Allen, Jr. was involved.
Fishwrap – rather Mr. Allen – has a long, and I do mean long, interview with the newly-appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia Most. Rev. Charles Chaput. The questions are intelligent and the answers are forthright and informative.
I warmly recommend that you read the whole thing.
And Chaput is pronounced “sha-pyew”, with a y-sound glide in it and a silent t.
Here is a sample section from the interview:
I’d like to take a rapid-fire tour of a few contentious issues. The idea is to get your basic position, without going into details. Let’s start with one you already raised: the Latin Mass.
The Latin Mass is deeply loved by some members of the church. The Holy Father, beginning with John Paul II and continued by Benedict XVI, has asked the bishops to be very sensitive to their needs. I was ordained in Rapid City in 1988, around the time that the Holy Father set up the Ecclesia Dei commission. As soon as I became aware of his desire, I welcomed the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to Rapid City to establish a community to meet the needs of those people. There were three or four St. Pius X [break-away] communities in the diocese, but by the time I left they had all disappeared because we met their needs. In Denver, we have a full parish served by the Fraternity of St. Peter, and we have two other places where the priest, at least on occasion if not weekly, celebrates the Tridentine form of the liturgy.
I’m very happy to follow the lead of the Holy Father on all of this, because he has insights that I don’t have. He also has an inspiration from the Holy Spirit which I don’t have.
The visitation of American nuns?
It was a decision of the Holy See to do this, I guess because they received many suggestions that there was a need for this kind of visitation. I’ve been part of visitations, of seminaries and the Legion of Christ, and I think those visitations can be very good for the communities involved — as long as the people doing the visitation are really open to listening, and are loving of the people they’re called to visit in the name of Jesus Christ.
It’s always good, if serious issues are raised, to have outside eyes look at them. How the Holy Father and the Congregation for Religious will follow up on this, I don’t know. But there’s no reason to be afraid of a visitation, if it’s done well.
Communion bans for pro-choice Catholic politicians?
I think that people who make decisions contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in public ways, in matters of faith and morals, should decide for themselves not to receive communion. They’ve broken their communion with the church, and to receive communion means you’re in communion with the church. If you’re not, it’s hypocritical to receive communion.
I think the best way to handle this is the way the bishops of the United States have agreed together to handle it, which is first of all to talk personally with those individuals who make decisions contrary to the teaching of the church. If they fully understand the teaching of the church and continue to act contrary to it, we should ask them not to receive communion.
If they persistently decide to do so in a way that causes scandal, which means leading other people into the same kind of sin, then I think it’s necessary for the bishop to publicly say something.
Health care reform, the Catholic Health Association, and Obama at Notre Dame?
That’s a lot of things together. Health care, of course, is one of the things the church has done in imitation of Jesus Christ, who came to heal the sick and to drive out evil in the world. It’s very important for us to be involved, but in a way that Jesus is involved, and not to do anything at all that would contravene the teachings of the Gospel. I stood with the president of the bishops’ conference, Cardinal George, when it came to the health care bill.
I was very disappointed when the Catholic Health Association took a position that really undermined the authority of the bishops. I wish that hadn’t happened. I think it was a severe moment of lack of communion in the church. I think we ought to continue to insist that when it comes to matters of faith and morals, bishops, in the name of Jesus Christ, have to be the ones who make the final decisions.
With regard to Notre Dame, I wrote a column in our Denver Catholic paper following the example of the local bishop, Bishop D’Arcy. I was very disappointed in the decision by Notre Dame. When the bishops met in Denver in 2004, we made a decision that Catholic universities shouldn’t give honors to people who are actively engaged in promoting abortion. That has happened with the current administration, so it seems to me that it was inappropriate for Notre Dame to give the President an honorary doctorate. I’m sure the President is a good man, and that he’s following his own conscience on the matter, but it isn’t the conscience of the church and he shouldn’t be honored because of that.
This is the issue of our time. The church understands marriage as a unique relationship, with a unique definition, which is the faithful love of a man and a woman for each other, permanent, and for the sake of children. As children, if we don’t know that our parents love one another, our lives are very unstable. That’s why I think every child deserves a family where the father loves the mother, and the mother loves the father. For us to redefine marriage as anything else undermines that notion. I think it’s very important that the church keep insisting on this.
It’s also important to say that we’re not against gay people. What we’re doing here is promoting marriage and the meaning of marriage, not condemning others. The church does believe that human sexuality has a meaning in itself, that it’s about love and procreation. Any other sexual relationship is contrary to the Gospel, and so a relationship between two people of the same sex is not in line with the teachings of the church and the teachings of the Gospel, and is therefore wrong. That said, we should always respect people who do things contrary to the Gospel. We live in a society where different ways of life are accepted by the general community, and it’s important for us to live in a way that’s not hostile to people.
We have a duty as Catholics, however, to speak clearly about God’s plan for human happiness. Part of that plan is traditional, faithful, Catholic/Christian marriage.
There is a great deal more. Archbishop Chaput speaks about his own background and theological leanings. Of course there is extensive discussion of the sexual abuse crisis in Philadelphia and in general.
WDTPRS kudos to Mr. Allen and especially Archbishop Chaput.