Skip to comments.Chaput in running to replace Law
Posted on 04/12/2002 4:58:39 AM PDT by Sursum Corda
Chaput in running to replace Law
Denver archbishop strong contender for Boston post
By Jean Torkelson, News Religion Writer
April 12, 2002
He's considered decisive, principled and scandal-free -- now Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput is being discussed as a credible candidate to succeed the shame-tarred Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston.
"In many respects he's just what the doctor ordered," said Philip Lawler, editor of Catholic World Report, an international monthly news magazine.
Speculation built Thursday that Law, who has resisted resigning despite a scandal over pedophile priests in his 2 million-member archdiocese, may now succumb after the latest revelation that he kept on the payroll a priest who publicly advocated "man-boy love."
Chaput, 57, would offer unique personal gifts, not to mention a record of five steady years in Denver and the presumed good will of his predecessor, Cardinal Francis Stafford in Rome.
"Rome will look a long ways before finding anybody better than him for the job," said the Rev. Joseph Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press, one of the country's largest Catholic publishing houses.
Greg Kail, spokesman for the 380,000-member Denver archdiocese, declined to comment.
Known for his direct and candid management style, Chaput even has experience resolving a pedophile-priest lawsuit in his previous post in Rapid City, S.D. Though events occurred long before his watch, Chaput took the lead in arranging victim compensation and laying the facts before his 35,000-member diocese.
The secrecy of the Boston scandal shows the need for bishops "who are completely transparent," Fessio said, meaning they "don't conceal what shouldn't be concealed; they address problems and answer questions forthrightly. Obviously, Archbishop Chaput is that kind of a bishop."
"If I were in charge of appointments, I would look very carefully indeed at Archbishop Chaput," said the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, widely regarded author, as well as editor and publisher of First Things, a Journal of Religion and Public Life.
Stressing "he hadn't the foggiest" about a Boston successor, Neuhaus added: "(Chaput) is one of the brightest lights in the American hierarchy. He's personable, articulate, pastorally responsible, and undeviatingly faithful to the church's teaching."
That would make him a great archbishop anywhere, Neuhaus said. A Boston post would also require "a habit of candor and public honesty combined with a very, very, very thick skin. Whoever's going there (will) have an excruciatingly difficult task . . . given the disarray, and the level of anger and distrust."
Rome's mysterious methods of filling posts are compounded now.
"This time (the appointment) is a wild card because the pope is virtually incapacitated due to age and feebleness," said Fessio.
The scandal, said Lawler, adds another wild card: "We're in uncharted waters. We haven't had a cardinal resign (in scandal)."
After consultations and "everybody talking to everybody," three names are ultimately submitted to the pope, who makes the decision. Law's replacement would hold the title of archbishop, not cardinal.
Despite Chaput's strengths, adds Lawler, who lives in Massachusetts, "it's not a perfect fit.
"Boston is a funny town. Anybody outside of Boston would have trouble. It's an old-boy network."
Still, when Lawler thinks of Chaput -- a 5-foot-6 native Kansan with Indian blood -- he can think of only two reasons he's not perfect for Boston: "He's not Irish, and he's not tall."
But speaking as a faithful Catholic, I say "Lord, thy will be done".
Torkelson does the readers a disservice by failing to mention the Ayon/Gourley sexual abuse case in 1997. While Chaput is to be commended for removing Gourley, at the time pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, from the priesthood he is not to be lauded for hiring Jim Lyons; Clinton crony and conductor of the Paula Jones smear campaign, to represent the Archdiocese of Denver. Fortunately, Clintons' payback to Lyons, an appointment to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, was torpedoed by Wayne Allard. The Gourley case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had run and the claim against the Archdiocese was dismissed on summary judgment. The alleged abuse also took place while Stafford was the Archbishop. While Chaput is an improvement over Stafford and there's a night and days difference between him and Staffords' predecessor Casey, he has fallen short in a number of areas. On one hand he revoked the invitation to Diana DeGette to speak at an Archdiocesan function because of her stand on abortion and on the other he allows Helen Prejean to speak at St. Anne's without comment. How about some consistency Charles? Chaput also admittedly continues to take part in pagan Indian rituals and he hardly lives a life of poverty.