The next Archbishop of Philadelphia, gossip, and my proposals to readers

We may read soon about a nomination of a new Archbishop of Philadelphia.  Philadelphia has long brought elevation to the cardinalate.  So once did St. Louis and Detroit.  Conditions change.

The main candidate I have heard about for Philadelphia is Archbp. Chaput of Denver, but until the actual announcement is made, speculating might be fun but it is effectively empty.

People had been saying that, before TSHTF in Philadelphia, perhaps Card. Rigali might be able to take over the post that the ailing Card. Foley had, thus re-moving Card. Rigali to Rome.  But that would be Card. Law 2.0 and, therefore, a p.r. disaster, no?

PROPOSAL 1: May I recommend that you stop, now, and say a prayer to the guardian angels of those who must make this decision?

The priests and people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia must really be anxious these days and the appointment there mustn’t be reduced to the nattering of teens on the telephone.

Include the Holy Father in your prayers, for this appointment must perforce have his direct involvement.

Whether the appointment comes swiftly, as I suspect, or slowly, which is possible, your prayers will not be in vain.  I think they would be appreciated by our brethren in Philadelphia and also in the Congregation of Bishops.

These are difficult times.  The devil is abroad and has great wrath.  The appointment of bishops is always very important and difficult.  The bigger the see, the more important the choice, as we have seen to our great consternation.

PROPOSAL 2: If your diocese is presently “sede vacante“, for each minute of gossip – which will go on anyway – spend 10 in prayer.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA, The Campus Telephone Pole and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. FrSam says:

    Well said, Father!

  2. Rob Cartusciello says:

    The Archdiocese needs a bishop on the level of St. John Neumann to sweep away the filth that is now seeing the light of day.

    I can only imagine the fear & trembling that any man would feel upon ascending to the position.

    We must all keep this man (whoever he might be) close to us in our prayers. May the LORD sustain him and give him strength.

  3. FYI, folks, I keep track of current and pending vacancies, here:

  4. Scott W. says:

    Naturally, Chaput would be a good choice, but I wonder if a red hat would be better. [You mean, make Archbp. Chaput a Cardinal while still in Denver? I have long thought that a could of “floating” red hats would inspire some prelates in the USA to engage in some values clarification.]

  5. Jon says:

    On Saturday I dined with a priest friend here in Pennsylvania who adamantly confirmed the choice, about which he was elated.

    The priest is a Capuchin.

    Also, a certain “nattering teen,” if he’s to be believed, has said that Cardinal Foley’s post as Grand Master of the Equestrian Order is going to retiring nuncio Archbishop Sambi.

  6. TomG says:

    Scott W: you mean someone who’s already a red hat? Because Abp Chaput will certainly receive one within a year or so.

  7. TomG says:

    I should say “would”, meanin if he receives the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

  8. Gregg the Obscure says:

    All dioceses, as well as bishops, priests, religious and laity are in need of maximum possible spiritual support in these days of manifest wickedness. adveniat regnum Tuum!

  9. TNCath says:

    Prayers have been said, and, in the words of St. Pio of Pietreclina, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”

    That said, I predict Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville will get Philadelphia. He is a native Pennsylvanian, has a wealth of experience from his years in Knoxville and Louisville, and is fearlessly orthodox. In addition to his fearlessness and orthodoxy, he is also an outgoing, energetic and cheerful man, qualities that would benefit Philadelphia and many other dioceses throughout the country, for that matter.

  10. For those in Philly, does the Philadelphia Inquirer announcement make it official?

  11. TNCath: I could not agree more fully with everything you say about Ab. Kurtz. I know nothing, but have heard speculation that he declined Philadelphia.

  12. sejoga says:

    Well, Rocco Palmo seems very excited about whatever is happening in Philadelphia judging by his posts at Whispers in the Loggia, he typically has solid and reliable forehand knowledge, and I believe he’s an unabashed Abp. Chaput lover, so I would guess the rumors about Chaput’s installation at Philadelphia wouldn’t be too unremarkable all things considered.

    Prayers do seem to be better form than trading in hearsay, so I think Father’s advice here is sound.

  13. sejoga says:

    And of course now that I went over to Palmo’s site he’s already got a few more posts indicating that his information does name Chaput as the successor. I hadn’t checked anything since this morning.

  14. Tom Ryan says:

    Why is Philadelphia being asked to suffer?
    Of the late Cardinal Krol, his biographer said: “he should never have left the meat department at Krogers”
    Now one TOB fan is being replaced by another. The same bishop who told justice Scalia that Catholics supporting capital punishment were equivalent to Catholic for Free Choice.

    How long, oh Lord? How much longer…?

  15. Pledger says:

    I think it’s important to remember “gossip” and “speculation” are two different things. I think it is perfectly acceptable (my humble opinion, of course), to wonder in humble charity, to discuss who we personally think would be a good fit privately, among friends. It reaches the point of gossip when such speculation turns to calumny. Whoever the Holy Father appoints Archbishop of Philadelphia (or bishop of anywhere) is who the Holy Spirit wishes to be there.

    I enjoy wondering and speculating, but I leave the choice to the Holy Father and the Holy Spirit, and rejoice in whomever is sent.

  16. jesusthroughmary says:

    TomG – Cardinal Rigali’s successor will not receive a red hat until Cardinal Rigali himself turns 80. That is why, for example, His Excellency Timothy Dolan was not created Cardinal at the last consistory.

  17. amenamen says:

    How about the religious order angle?

    Michael Egan, OFM, the first bishop of Philadelphia, was a Franciscan.
    St. John Neumann, CSSR, was a Redemptorist.
    John Cardinal O’Hara, CSC, was a Holy Cross priest.

  18. Matthew78 says:

    Prayers are very much needed here in Philadelphia. It was a very difficult Lent especially. I think there will be much rejoicing if HE Archbishop Chaput is named the successor.

    I wonder if the Latin Church should more widely adopt the Eastern practice of consecrating those from the religious life as bishops. Certainly, it is not a guarantee of success. Does anyone have the stats on the number of religious bishops in the Latin Church vs. the Eastern Rites?

  19. TNCath says:

    Well, it looks like I was wrong again. However, I rejoice in the appointment of Archbishop Chaput! I just didn’t believe they would actually do it! Very good news!

  20. RickMK says:

    I think it would be wonderful to have a archbishop here in the Philadelphia archdiocese who had invited the FSSP into his diocese!

    Even though I think it would still be very unlikely that we could get an FSSP parish in this archdiocese, it would be certain that we who attend the Extraordinary Form Latin Mass won’t be in any danger of losing it – more likely we’d see it increase even more than we have it now.

  21. lux_perpetua says:

    amongst the myriad other reasons why we are all exuberant at the news, something that makes me extremely happy is that the “young adult” parish of the city, so called because it draws adults from parishes from southwest to the northeast, is St. John the Evangilist, run by Capuchins.

    if this wonderful holy man can impart any guidance/direction on those priests, well-meaning but a bit… off-kilter in their execution of the liturgy… what an effect it will have on my generation! and on the Catholicity of the city!!! Glory to God for all things!!!!

  22. markomalley says:

    @JoyfulMom7 ,

    Thank you for that. Although Mr. Allen appears to do some solid writing, it appears that the readers of that august, but readers of that long-time condemned and heretical rag appear to be none-to-happy about this decision.



    A better choice could not have been made!

  23. Tom Ryan said: Now one TOB fan is being replaced by another

    While Archbishop Chaput has not pubicly voiced any concerns over Christopher West as have critics like Dr. David Schindler and Fr. Jose Granados, he did give a thumbs up to this work which is a different “brand” of ToB, if you will:

    Also, Archbishop Chaput was on the list of episcopal advisors for the Theology of the Body Institute, and he dropped off that list quietly right about the time there was a very public dust-up between theologians. This may be unrelated, and could simply have been the result of a heavy work schedule and he could no longer give of himself. OTOH, the public debate may have brought things to his attention and perhaps some things could not be reconciled in a way for him to stay on that board. We cannot know.

    I think these things should give us pause before we link the archbishop with this particular “brand” of “ToB” as we go forward. If he is the man for Philly, then we need to just suspend judgment on this and check back in a year or two to see whether he is going to be using material from the JPII Institute, or from the ToB Institute in that diocese.

    When bishops disagree with one another there is nothing more confusing to the faithful than to have them air that disagreement in the public domain. Most tend to deal with it in a discreet way. Had he joined into the public mud-fight over Christopher West, knowing of Cardinal Rigali’s strong support, it would have been very awkward. And if he is appointed to Philly, would have looked even worse at this point.

    We need to be patient and pray.

  24. Tom Ryan says:

    Writing the intro to West’s book justifying sodomy (within marriage) and helping to thrust the man out of obscurity are not things to gloss over. Nor is the fact that he lets Dignity have a priest for their gay masses, albeit at a protestant church.

  25. robtbrown says:

    Tom Ryan,

    I am aware of Abp Chaput’s opinion on capital punishment. He has said that it is development of doctrine. I consider that opinion erroneous. A Catholic is still free to be for or against CP.

    Abp Chaput is a very good man, but he doesn’t have the advantage of having studied at a Pontifical Roman University

  26. Stephen D says:

    Remember to thank the Guardian Angels, for this decision. ( Abp. Chaput is a descendant of St. King Louis IX !)

  27. Jerry says:

    @robtbrown – “Abp Chaput is a very good man, but he doesn’t have the advantage of having studied at a Pontifical Roman University”

    Having studied at a Pontifical Roman University is neither necessary for knowledge of the truth nor a guarantee of inerrancy.

  28. robtbrown says:

    Jerry says:

    @robtbrown – “Abp Chaput is a very good man, but he doesn’t have the advantage of having studied at a Pontifical Roman University”

    Having studied at a Pontifical Roman University is neither necessary for knowledge of the truth nor a guarantee of inerrancy.

    I never said either was the case, but there is little doubt that students there have educational opportunities with both breadth and depth.

  29. FrAWeidner says:

    Re: Tom Ryan – Christopher West has certainly been exposed in very recent years as having some issues in his presentation and theology. Subsequent to those exposures, his stuff shouldn’t be used. However, I think it’s fair to say to say that, prior to that, he led many times the number of people back to Church teaching (i.e. Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae) as he led fairly slightly astray. He made BJPII’s teachings comprehensible to the average Catholic. His work likely saved many, many souls. Turning Chaput into some sort of demon for supporting the man before those controversies arose is pretty outre, IMHO.

    I believe there is a massive distinction, too, between criticizing West and disparaging Blessed John Paul II’s teachings. The latter’s interpretations of Scripture flow rather naturally from the Biblical texts they consider. The spousal approach of God to His people and toward individuals is pervasive both in the Old Testament and through Christ in the New, to the extent that it’s arguable that one cannot really understand the Eucharist, for example, without it. That nuptiality is pretty close to central to understanding the basic Christian spirituality. It would be a stretch, from my perspective, to say that that approach of God has no bearing on the state of life which it sacramentally mirrors in terms of centrality to the human experience in relation to God and one another. As I said, it’s one thing to dislike West. On the other hand, IMHO, it’s at least as destructive to Pope Benedict’s New Evangelization to disparage BJPII’s ToB as it is to promote Communion in the hand, standing after the Agnus Dei, altar girls, and other inanities. I have no problem with anyone who doesn’t like West. Pope John Paul II, however, was just beatified.

    In any event, if Abp. Chaput isn’t Catholic enough, that pretty much reduces the episcopal selection pool solely to SSPX priests. Seriously. If that’s one’s preference, fine, but then I think it’s obviously rather foolish to get bent out of shape when the Holy Father doesn’t choose them for the Juneau Diocese, let alone the Philadelphia Archdiocese, or anywhere else. I believe that any (orthodox) Catholic this way of the SSPX who thinks Abp. Chaput wasn’t among the very, very best possible appointments that could have been made to Philly needs to get a grip.

  30. MichaelJ says:

    Fr. Weidner,
    As I understand it, “Theology of the Body” was not written by His Holiness Bl. Pope John Paul II. Instead, it is a compendium of “talks given by John Paul II in which he discusses the bodily dimension of human personhood, sexuality, and marriage in the light of biblical revelation.”
    I do not know how involved he was in editing and compiling these talks into a single source, but this book, worthy as it may be, cannot be considered part of Magisterial teaching. As such, no Catholic is obliged to accept this work, and disagreement cannot be considered “dissent”.

  31. FrAWeidner says:

    @MichaelJ – First of all, saying that Bl. Pope John Paul II “didn’t write ToB” when he wrote every word of the substantive content would seem to be… incorrect. Moreover, they weren’t just “talks,” but general audiences he gave as Pope. I understand they don’t have the same standing as encyclical letters and apostolic exhortations. But I think it’s pretty clear that one could not reduce them to the level of the pope’s personal opinions, and I say that with the appropriate implications. To put it clearly, disagreeing with ToB may not be dissent, but I believe that to do so as blithely and superciliously as an increasing number of self-proclaimed superCatholics on the blogosphere do is not reflective of a docile Catholic sensibility.

    Furthermore, to clarify, I did not assert that disagreement with BJPII’s ToB was dissent. I do not believe that it is such in a formal sense. However, as someone charged with the task of saving souls, I am concerned with the attitudes behind this opposition to ToB (the John Paul version, not the Christopher West popularization). Pretty much everyone who frequents this site would have some level of dismay with what happened to liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, but I believe that Humanae Vitae exposed the greater rot and rupture (which was quite independent of the Council, really). The Western Church has been plagued since with a gargantuan majority of its people and clergy holding beliefs contrary to the deposit of the faith. ToB has been a tremendously great instrument in bringing people to understand why Holy Mother Church teaches what she does about 6th commandment issues. While individual theologians like St. Thomas Aquinas (it’s legitimate for spouses to enjoy the marital act) and St. Alphonsus Liguori (particularly on the wife’s enjoyment of the marital act and what is necessary to it) provide piecemeal teachings that view the marital act in a healthily positive way, the Church does not have a comprehensive systematized approach from her prior tradition to serve as an evangelical alternative in this day and age to ToB. One might very effectively argue that the only comprehensive alternatives to ToB in helping convert people from the world to agreement with Church teaching are “because God said so, so just shut up and believe,” or Augustinian sex-is-icky-ism. Neither of those has any conceivable chance to work on an individual operating in 21st century Western consciousness.

    I happen to personally hold ToB because of my aforementioned awareness of the pervasiveness of the marital image for God’s/Christ’s relationship with His people in Scripture, and with how naturally I believe BJPII’s interpretations and syntheses of individual passages flow from the literal meanings of the passages and the overall arc of Scripture as composed by the Holy Spirit. For example, Mt 19, “in the beginning it was not so” – in short, sex was created to be good, even if our concupiscence tends to mangle that reality. I understand that others may legitimately disagree with my perspective. However, I don’t think it’s too much to ask 1) that these individuals show far more respect for our Blessed Holy Father of happy memory than they do; 2) that they show a lot more concern for the conversion of millions of deluded Catholics to the fullness of the faith than they do; 3) that they accept the burden of proof (very obviously laid on them by the circumstances) of systematically refuting BJPII’s myriad Scripture interpretations of which ToB is crafted; and 4) if they oppose the use and promulgation of ToB, that they scramble to come up with a viable, effective, comprehensive alternative for the conversion and salvation of sinners.

  32. MichaelJ says:

    First of all, I am not disparaging Theology of the Body, only questioning the wisdom of citing it as “Church teaching” – I know you did not do this either, but I’m just “heading them off at the pass” so to speak.

    Compliling a collection of General Audiences held over several years loses the context in which the audiences were given. Moreover, identifying a “central theme” linking all of these unrelated audiences was the editors initiative and choice, not the Popes, and we do not know what the editor chose to omit. So yes, while Pope John Paul II may have said every word in the book, I do not consider him the author.
    I could, for example, gather every sermon or homily you have ever delivered, identify a “theme”, compile excerpts from all of these, organized as I see fit, and then publish them together in a single volume with the topic of my choosing. Could I then claim that you were the author of the book and that you actually taught whatever it was about the topic I chose?

Comments are closed.