July 19, 2011

Potawatomi archbishop in Philadelphia

Pope assigns Denver archbishop to troubled PhillyA conservative Native American archbishop named Tuesday to lead the troubled Roman Catholic church in Philadelphia vowed to work to heal the wounds of sex-abuse victims, clergy and lay members alike.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, 66, of Denver takes over an archdiocese of nearly 1.5 million Catholics that’s been rocked by two grand jury reports that accuse the church of hiding sex-abuse complaints for decades. A high-ranking monsignor is charged with felony child endangerment for his handling of priest transfers.

And, like other dioceses, Philadelphia faces a dwindling supply of priests and nuns and seemingly endless rounds of school closings and consolidations.

"I do not know why the Holy Father sent me here," said Chaput, who has spent most of his career in the western United States. "(But) no person will work harder to try to help persons who have been hurt by the sins of the past."

Chaput is known as an outspoken bishop who criticizes Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, speaks out against government playing too large of a role in health care and opposes gay marriage and stem-cell research. Last year, he defended a Catholic school’s decision not to re-enroll a lesbian couple’s children.
And:"It’s obvious Rome is asking Archbishop Chaput to handle several very tough and sensitive jobs," said Russell Shaw, a former spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who is friendly with Chaput. "He was regarded in Rome already as a very able and reliable man who could be counted on to do a good honest job and do it well."

Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called Chaput’s apology to Denver abuse victims "lofty words" that didn’t jibe with his opposition to the 2006 proposal to extend the statute of limitations for sex offenders.

Chaput pushed sex abuse victims to settle their claims, ensuring little information was released about what church officials new about the allegations.

"His track record on dealing with abuse is deplorable," Blaine said.
Cardinal Rigali introduces successor, offers an apology

By David O’Reilly, Paul Jones and Michael MatzaChaput, who becomes Philadelphia's 13th bishop and ninth archbishop, was ordained a priest in 1970 and became a bishop at the age of 43. He was bishop of Rapid City, S.D., before becoming archbishop of Denver in 1997.

A Franciscan priest of the Capuchin order, Chaput (pronounced shap-you) was the first American Indian to become a Roman Catholic archbishop when he was named to Denver in 1997. His mother's family belongs to the Potawatomi tribe, and he was made a member as a boy.
Comment:  For more on Indians and Christianity, see 10% of Indians = Christians and Catholics to Ban Indian Practices?

Below:  Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

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