John Allen's Interview with Archbishop Chaput

Over at the National Catholic Reporter, John Allen has published a lengthy and comprehensive interview with the newly appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, O.F.M.Cap. The two men had a very candid conversation, and according to Allen, the archbishop "put no limits on the topics to be covered, which included his move to Philadelphia, his overall leadership style and vision, and his views of the sexual abuse crisis. The lone condition was that the interview not be published until the appointment became official." Now that it's official, you can read a few excerpts, below. But I'd also recommend reading the interview in its entirety, here.

"I actually don't see myself as a conservative at all. I try to be faithful to the church's teaching, as the church has handed it on to us. I don't feel that as a Christian or as a bishop I have a right to play with that tradition, which is the apostolic tradition of the church. I hope that I'm creative and contemporary, however, in applying that teaching and in the structural living out of it in the local church."

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"Honestly, I'm not terribly interested in criticism of the past. I really don't even want to listen to criticisms of myself very much, so that I'm not paralyzed to go forward. Of course I hope I receive appropriate criticism and act on it, but when I read articles where people are critical of me …"

Allen: You've had some experience of that.

"I've had a lot of experience of it, but it doesn't keep me from going where I think I should go in terms of leadership in the church. I'm deeply grateful for the contributions of Cardinal Bernardin and the bishops of his time, as well as the bishops who have preceded me everywhere I've been. But my duty is not to be like them, but to be what God calls me to be now, whatever that's going to look like."

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"As far as the social justice question goes, I don't think you can be an evangelist, or part of this evangelical movement in the church, without being as clearly committed to social justice as the church has been in the past. We can't preach the Gospel and not live it. If we don't love the poor, and do all we can to improve their lot, we're going to go to Hell."

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"I'd like to lead the church in the same direction St. Francis indicated by his life and preaching in the 13th century, which is back to a clear embrace of the Gospel, without compromise, in all circumstances and at all times.

Where I go to discover that is the teachings and traditions of the church, including the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, which is the most clear and important expression of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church in my lifetime. I want to embrace the council in all its details, enthusiastically and faithfully. Because I'm a Catholic, I also want to follow the lead and direction of the Holy Father, who is the successor of St. Peter and the head of the College of Bishops."

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"I'm afraid of the size of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, not in the sense that I can't understand or assume that responsibility, but I know it's going to take a lot more time to know and understand what's going on in such a large church. In some ways, I think that's the disadvantage of a large diocese. There's so much bureaucracy that it saps the time and energy of any bishop and gets in the way of being an evangelist, which is what the early bishops all were and what I want to be. How I'm going to manage that I don't know, because I've never had that experience before."

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"The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s was a difficult time in the church. I think many of the bishops of the church were left confused by it all, and some of them didn't act appropriately because they were confused. It wasn't just the church, it was the broader society."

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