PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With new Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson Perez arriving, that also means another one is leaving. Archbishop Charles Chaput guided local Catholic faithful through some of the church’s roughest patches and highest highs.
For eight-and-a-half years, Chaput had led the Archdiocese of Philadelphia but is now stepping aside.
“What we accomplished was difficult. It was accomplished by all of us together,” Chaput said.
“Dealing with the sex abuse crises, I think Catholics should be grateful to him and he should get credit,” Villanova University theology professor Massimo Faggioli said.
Faggioli says Chaput’s conservative nature and belief in traditional church teachings on marriage and sexuality put him at odds with the Vatican.
“There has been tension between Chaput and the Vatican and Pope Francis. I think that will not be the same with the new archbishop,” Faggioli explained.
Described as a hard-line, aggressive leader, Chaput also welcomed Pope Francis in 2015 when he visited Philadelphia. That’s when he led the World Meeting of Families with well over 1 million visitors participating in events across the city.
Over eight years, Chaput also oversaw difficult financial decisions to close parishes and schools.
While criticized, Perez says his predecessor did it for one reason.
“And he did that many times in the midst of criticism,” Perez said. “But he was steadfast in his love for you and his love for the church.”
Perez also says he will have big shoes to fill, shoes he doesn’t think he deserves to fill.
Perez will be installed at Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Feb. 18.