Wherein Archbp. Chaput wins the pastoral Super Bowl in @ArchPhilly

Two items concerning Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput have come across my scree in the last few hours.

First, today I received PDF (PDFs are clunky) of a column that that Archbp. Chaput wrote for their archdiocesan newspaper. In this column, the Archbishop explains – in light of recent idiocy in Germany, where Card. Marx (one of the Pope’s closest advisers and one of the most powerful figures in the fabulously wealthy German Church) – how the blessing of same-sex unions (suggested by Card. Marx and others) is a bad idea and must not be done.

Here is a taste. Mind you, the Archbishop addressed this letter to the people of Philadelphia. That said, he references developments outside of Philadelphia and it is for an internet diffused publication. This isn’t reserved or private.


Over the past few weeks, a number of senior voices in the leadership of the Church in Germany have suggested (or strongly implied) support for the institution of a Catholic blessing rite for same-sex couples who are civilly married or seeking civil marriage. On the surface, the idea may sound generous and reasonable. But the imprudence of such public statements is—and should be—the cause of serious concern. It requires a response because what happens in one local reality of the global Church inevitably resonates elsewhere—including eventually here. [Which is why Archbp. Chaput’s words must be widely diffused.  He should have someone translate it into German: I’ll publish it.]

In the case at hand, any such “blessing rite” would cooperate in a morally forbidden act, no matter how sincere the persons seeking the blessing. Such a rite would undermine the Catholic witness on the nature of marriage and the family. It would confuse and mislead the faithful. And it would wound the unity of our Church, because it could not be ignored or met with silence.

Why would a seemingly merciful act pose such a problem? Blessing persons in their particular form of life effectively encourages them in that state—in this case, same-sex sexual unions. Throughout Christian history, a simple and wise fact applies: lex orandi, lex credendi, i.e., how we worship shapes what and how we believe. Establishing a new rite teaches and advances a new doctrine by its lived effect, i.e., by practice.

There are two principles we need to remember. First, we need to treat all people with the respect and pastoral concern they deserve as children of God with inherent dignity. This emphatically includes persons with same-sex attraction. Second, there is no truth, no real mercy, and no authentic compassion, in blessing a course of action that leads persons away from God. This in no way is a rejection of the persons seeking such a blessing, but rather a refusal to ignore what we know to be true about the nature of marriage, the family, and the dignity of human sexuality.


That, in itself, was very good.

But wait! There’s more.

Archbp. Chaput also sent a letter to the clergy of that Archdiocese.  He explained, effectively, what he also wrote in his column.  Then he explicitly forbids priests and deacons in any way at all at any civil union of same sex-persons, or in any religious event that seeks to bless such an event.   He clarifies that this doesn’t constitute a rejection of persons, but rather a defense of the truth about marriage, the family and the dignity of human sexuality.

Inter alia, Chaput wrote: “[T]here is no truth, no real mercy, and no authentic compassion in blessing a course of action that leads persons away from God.”

For these two things alone, the column for the diocesan paper and the letter to clergy, Chaput deserves thanks and laurels.  I say “laurels” because the landscape we are working in is more and more like a battlefield that has swept over the vineyard, bringing chaos and ruin.

But wait!  There’s more.

I also read at Catholic World Report a speech that Archbp. Chaput gave to a men’s conference on 3 February in Phoenix.  It’s terrific.

Of special interest is his use of the imagery of Alzheimer’s, Blade Runner, knighthood and the crusades (I can hear arteries popping in lib skulls as I type).  Echoing St. Paul, he talks about the “new man” – the title of the talk is “Memory, Sex, and the Making of “The New Man” – and the armor of God that men must put on “because, like it or not, as Catholic men, we really are engaged in a struggle for the soul of a beautiful but broken world.”

Finally, Chaput lists something that I haven’t seen for many years. He reads off the Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus’ “22 Rules” – in bulletpoints – from his book Enchiridion militis Christiani or The Handbook or Manual of a Christian Knight.

Rule 1: Deepen and increase your faith.

Rule 2: Act on your faith; make it a living witness to others.

Rule 3: Analyze and understand your fears; don’t be ruled by them.

Rule 4: Make Jesus Christ the only guide and the only goal of your life.

Rule 5: Turn away from material things; don’t be owned by them.

Rule 6: Train your mind to distinguish the true nature of good and evil.

Rule 7: Never let any failure or setback turn you away from God.

Rule 8: Face temptation guided by God, not by worry or excuses.

Rule 9: Always be ready for attacks from those who fear the Gospel and resent the good.

Rule 10: Always be prepared for temptation. And do what you can to avoid it.

Rule 11: Be alert to two special dangers: moral cowardice and personal pride.

Rule 12: Face your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

Rule 13: Treat each battle as if it were your last.

Rule 14: A life of virtue has no room for vice; the little vices we tolerate become the most deadly.

Rule 15: Every important decision has alternatives; think them through clearly and honestly in the light of what’s right.

Rule 16: Never, ever give up or give in on any matter of moral substance.

Rule 17: Always have a plan of action. Battles are often won or lost before they begin.

Rule 18: Always think through, in advance, the consequences of your choices and actions.

Rule 19: Do nothing — in public or private — that the people you love would not hold in esteem.

Rule 20: Virtue is its own reward; it needs no applause.

Rule 21: Life is demanding and brief; make it count.

Rule 22: Admit and repent your wrongs, never lose hope, encourage your brothers, and then begin again.

Finally, he concludes:

Maleness, brothers, is a matter of biology. It just happens. Manhood must be learned and earned and taught. That’s our task. So my prayer for all of us today is that God will plant the seed of a new knighthood in our hearts — and make us the kind of “new men” our families, our Church, our nation, and our world need.

Fr. Z kudos to Archbp. Chaput.

For the work in question.

Manual of the Christian Knight.  (Kindle version is available for next to nothing!)


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Servant says:

    Wow, just…Wow! It’s great to hear a bishop speak thus. Perhaps he’ll allow some other prelates to borrow a bit of his spine. Viva Cristo Rey!

  2. ThePapalCount says:

    The archbishop is so very clear and so very correct. Cardinal Marx is shameful in his leadership on this and other matters relating to family life and sexuality. And he is a close advisor to the Holy Father and one whom the Holy Father supports. (remember the synod)
    Now we can better understand why Archbishop Chaput is not a cardinal.

  3. Ave Maria says:

    And Archbishop Aquila is defending Humanae Vitae and asks priests to preach against contraception:

  4. Amerikaner says:

    If one takes Cardinal Marx’s, et. al. position to the fullest conclusion, then incestual couples should be ok as well. Blech.

  5. richiedel says:

    “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family” (Amoris Laetitia, 251).

  6. Thank you. I a getting this for my sons. Matter of fact, for myself and my daughter’s as well.

  7. Imrahil says:

    Dear Amerikaner,

    (said with reservations concerning the respect of the sacred ordinations of the Cardinal),

    you’re speaking both too good and too bad of Cardinal Marx.

    Too bad: in suggesting that his position was identical to the one the interviewer’s headline made of it.

    Too good: in suggesting that he has any position on the matter, of such nature that he dares talk publicly about it (without taking recourse to weasling please-let’s-talk-about-something-else-will-wes), at all.

  8. dbonneville says:

    Ironically, the bishop’s response is not manly in any way. It’s more mushy appeasement with a thin veneer of opposition. This not robust or full-throated or even basically clear. There are so many things wrong and not clear about this, starting with the gross misuse of “children of God”. Do a NT search on that term. He implies the inclusive, non-biblical “Oprah-style” definition.

    Honestly, what “people of Philadelphia” that might think what the Germans propose is “generous or reasonable” or “seemingly merciful” are going to have a clue what on earth “lived experience” means? This response is namby-pamby, milquetoast, and dissembling. It misses the mark entirely, like an unforced error, so I’m wondering why you think it’s so great? All I see is missed opportunity to say something clearly. Dear Lord, when will bishops speak plainly and manly? So ironic.

    Wait, maybe this letter is pa-STOR-al?

    Whatever you call the above statement, you cannot defend it as clear.

    Until today’s bishops start using simple words like “sin” and “hell” in a simple manner, nothing else they do will matter. What matters is that they start speaking in a manner that will no longer “confuse and mislead the faithful”, which this letter by it’s lack of simplicity and clarity, and failure to use simple classical Christian terms, does by essentially doing nothing.

    Yeah, this is a useless pa-STOR-al letter. It will convert or convict approximately no one. Really, think out loud: who is his target audience and what was his goal?

    A manly bishop throws a punch. He doesn’t attempt to get close to his enemy, grab him by the hip, and throw him into a lovely tango move and hope for a wonderful relationship.

  9. Akita says:

    St Michael, Protect Archbishop Chaput in battle.

    He does seem a lone ecclesiastical warrior at this point.

    The upcoming battle is going to be viscous. Absolutely bloody. Though noble, this opening salvo seems a bit timid. Due to abominable catechesis, many Catholics will read this and think, “yadda, yadda, yadda, more blather from the bishop”.

    The tender kid gloves he treats The Marx Initiative with ain’t gonna cut it.

    Archbishop needs to paint a picture of the enormity of the sin and lifestyle, and the great injustice it does to children. Most people don’t understand the essence of marriage as God intends. So his soothing and pastoral words will be ignored.

  10. dbonneville says:


    “The tender kid gloves he treats The Marx Initiative with ain’t gonna cut it.”

    My point exactly. How does no one see this, and think oh what a great statement? It’s barely on the battlefield much less charging the enemy line. And he’s shooting blanks!

    Bishops. Land a punch. We are waiting. Man!

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    In the Culture of Effeminacy that has taken over, it’s at least a letter not going along with the sacrilege of blessing homosexual unions, which is something anyway, in the Roman Catholic Church today, so relatively speaking it’s a strong response and worth something. It’s not taking it on point blank in strong terms, no, but it is resistance. This is as good as it’s likely to get, brothers and sisters, until the tsunami comes and washes any opposition away…
    I just read homosexuals are 1.7% of the population, but a Gallup Poll in the states shows Americans believe 25% of the population are homosexuals. Transgenders are .003%, three one-thousandths of one percent, of the population. The big noise from this camp is coming from those who just purely want to see Judeo-Christian ethos disappear and this is as good a way as any. They have deep pockets and powers of infiltration. They are already largely in control.
    No worries, when Jesus Christ answers this world, we’ll see a very manly response.

  12. mysticalrose says:

    Something else to add to the good to highlight in Philly: the Archbishop has given a parish to the Dominicans!! http://catholicphilly.com/2018/02/news/local-news/dominican-priests-to-take-over-ministry-at-st-patrick-parish/

  13. dbonneville says:

    This just in on 1P5 from Cardinal Cordes:

    “The German prelate adds to this analysis his comment: “An ecclesial blessing as a confirmation of a relationship which is contrary to the Will of God? That truly seems sacrilegious.”

    Upper cut for sure, but no knock out punch, but also on the offense with simple clear speech. THIS is what I’m talking about, not namby-pamby.

    And this too:

    “With some strong words, Cardinal Cordes concludes his commentary as follows:

    Or how about “in individual cases”: more encouragement for the activities of the mafiosi? Accepting pastoral care for doctors who procure abortions? Which churchman is finally so presumptuous to expect more salvation from his confused “compassion” than from listening to God’s Will? Which servant knows it better than his Master? In any case, a statement by St. Augustine shows the cardinal [Marx] his limits: “Love the erring people; but combat with hatred their error! Without pride bask yourself in possessing the truth; fight for it with meekness and goodness!” (St. Augustine in Contra litteras Petiliani, 1,31)”

    Boom. Not mincing, though I’d have to say meek in a complimentary way. He names names and then gets on with the beating, with love.

  14. SenexCalvus says:

    One of Father Z’s more prophetic readers commented not long ago that Communion for adulterers and the subversion of Humanae Vitae were just preliminary steps toward the real goal of the Father Martins and Cardinal Marxes in the Church, i.e., license for homosexual clergy to cohabitate openly. I’m constitutionally sceptical of conspiracy theories, but the accelerating pace of abominable statements and actions by those entrusted with the care of Christ’s flock makes me think that this is indeed the case. God bless Archbishop Chaput for speaking the truth on behalf of those of us who have no voice!

    His near singularity among the world’s bishops, however, is deeply troubling. Yes, there are brave bishops here and there, enough perhaps for a Gregorian schola, but not enough to sing a Mozart Mass. How could Satan’s choir be so much larger, louder, and better rehearsed than the orthodox? Are our faithful bishops just waiting for their maestro to raise his baton? (Cardinal Burke, has the time come?)

    The gay wedding (or “liturgical blessing”) march will be our Dies Irae. Unfortunately, our choir won’t have enough members to do it justice.

  15. frjim4321 says:

    I am sorry, I don’t understand your aversion to PDF’s.

    They are hardly as bad as the USCCB which publishes “statements” as JPG’s!!!

    [Agreed! USCCB’s JPGs < PDFs]

  16. mlmc says:

    the ArchBp’s columns are always worth looking at & have been for years. His books are excellent as well- I pray he gets a “red hat” soon!

  17. chantgirl says:

    Amidst all of the bad news in the Church and the world lately, I have noticed a small thing that is giving me some hope. We have seen, in many arenas, secrets coming to light, bad men being exposed, and the truth starting to show itself. It reminds me a bit of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when the Evil Queen’s winter starts to thaw. I don’t know how long this process will take, but the fact that so many evil deeds are being exposed right now (the Planned Parenthood baby parts scandal, the many scandals in the Church, the many government scandals, and the revealing of sexual predators) gives me hope that winter is thawing and spring may be on its way. Tradition and beautiful liturgy is spreading, and people are starting to wake up. Somehow Hilary was not elected. Europe is starting to fight back against the Soros’ gameplan of destruction. We still have to fight the fights that are looming, but it seems that the first blooms of the spring are showing themselves.

  18. Semper Gumby says:

    chantgirl: Well said, hope indeed. God willing, the situation in the Church and the world will improve.

    dbonneville: I partly agree with you. For example, many more bishops could use words such as “sin” and “hell.” I definitely part with your comment when, for example, you refer to Abp. Chaput’s writings as “…not manly in any way.” Recall, Abp. Chaput wrote that maleness is biology while manhood must be learned and earned. That’s gold.

    True, we are the Church Militant, and we do contend with Powers and Principalities. However, we must intelligently and faithfully train and prepare our souls, minds, and bodies for that contest. I would suggest that those 22 Rules referenced by Abp. Chaput contain wisdom. Also, when using force, a proportionate or necessary amount should be employed, and aiming a disproportionate amount at an ally such as Abp. Chaput is counter-productive.

    mlmc: I’ve only read one of Abp. Chaput’s books, Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World, and I would heartily recommend it. Sure, if I had a choice I’d reword a sentence or a paragraph here and there, but time with that book was well-spent. (Strangers in a Strange Land is also superior to Rod Dreher’s flawed and semi-erratic “Benedict Option.” Dreher’s 2017 book contained its occasional useful nugget, but I wouldn’t recommend it, and his blog last year descended into mostly an obsessive anti-Trump platform. Oh well.)

    Here’s an excerpt from Abp. Chaput’s Stranger in a Strange Land:

    “The White House elected to power in November 2008 campaigned on compelling promises of hope, change, and bringing the nation together. The reality it delivered for eight years was rather different: a brand of leadership that was narcissistic, aggressively secular, ideologically divisive, resistant to compromise, unwilling to accept responsibility for its failures, and generous in spreading blame.” (p. 123)

    (We are seeing the fruits of that today in Washington with the anti-Trump Abuse of Power scandal, and also with the great difficulties encountered by SecDef Mattis and his staff in repairing a “social-justice” military. Quite a minefield the Obama administration, SecNav Ray Mabus, et al, left behind in the DoD. The Trump Pentagon (which will always be partly infested with social justice warriors both military and civilian) has had to make several tactical retreats in the last few months. But I digress.)

    One more quote from Abp. Chaput’s Strangers in a Strange Land:

    “In practice, earnest-sounding junk thought from opportunists can infect every element of society, not just science. And junk thought – from rewriting history, to inventing new narratives of oppression, to sex and gender studies that claim to prove the implausible – is the human intellect weaponized to serve political goals. Especially the goal of silencing different views.” (p. 141)

    My two cents: I’d share my last MRE in a muddy trench with Abp. Chaput. Sometimes the situation calls for high explosives, or fisticuffs, or a subtle maneuver, or rallying allies, or preparing the ground for future action, or exposing the plots of the enemy, or…

    Whatever the case, Rule 7: Never let any failure or setback turn you away from God.

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