Pat Ciarrocchi reports…
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Archbishop Chaput is a man of tremendous energy.
At 66 years of age, he walks with a quick step. His mind eagerly embraces complex issues. I found his voice to have a gentle–what many call a pastoral—tone, while his thoughts and his words are crystal clear on what it means to answer a call to lead.
“If the church calls and you believe the church is the voice of Christ, why would you hesitate at all?”
And for Charles Chaput — a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of Priests — that voice was clear.
There was only a 20 second pause when Pope Benedict the 16th asked him to take on Philadelphia, and then, a yes.
“I think it was Pope Pius the 11th who referred to the Capuchins as the marines of the church. So, we’re kind of taught that you go right away, just like the marines who are the first to enter difficult situations.”
And Philadelphia’s Catholic Church faces historic difficulties. A demoralized priesthood, a faithful troubled by the handling of the clergy sex abuse and a skepticism about who can be trusted.
“As the bishop, how do I bring healing to the concern that people wonder if what they believe in is true at all because of the action of priests?
I don’t think you do that easily. I think it requires time and patience with one another and that I listen to the pain of people and their anger and their distress. And that at the same time, we pray together and ask for God’s guidance,” Chaput says.
Archbishop Chaput emerged as the Pope’s personal choice for the challenging Philadelphia assignment in mid-June.
He’s been called an outspoken, hard-line conservative on church teaching.
“I certainly am conservative, because the nature of the Bishop is to conserve the teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe in lay leadership and lay initiatives, and generally, that’s not perceived as a conservative position. People call me outspoken, and I don’t know why they call me that,” Chaput says.
“People ask me a question, and I try to answer it without being deceptive or circular in my speaking or thinking. It’s just the way I’ve been taught to be.”
In this hour-long interview, no questions were off limits. Nor did any question go unanswered.
At our meeting, Archbishop Chaput was in the midst of reading both grand jury reports on priest sex abuse.
“They are very long and very difficult to read. I haven’t finished them. But I will finish them before I arrive in Philadelphia. The reaction is pain — experience the pain of other people and to see the negative impression that we’ve made on the public, by our actions or lack of actions in the past. ”
As for the alleged perpetrators?
“There just has to be no excuse, even for one time, you know. It’s hard for me to imagine how people can live with themselves and celebrate the mass and have this on their conscience… It’s just amazing to me.”
Reported by Pat Ciarrocchi, CBS3