Skip to comments.Chaput emerging as a warrior-bishop
Posted on 02/19/2012 1:54:51 PM PST by NYer
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has spoken out on a variety of issues, including insurance coverage for birth control.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput does not yet wear the empowering red hat of a cardinal, and he is so new to Philadelphia that he recently called it "Denver."
But in the mere five months since he arrived here from the Rockies, Chaput has already emerged as a fierce warrior-bishop, unlike anyone Philadelphia has seen since the mighty Cardinal Dennis Dougherty reigned more than 60 years ago.
His fighting words have refocused the national spotlight on the archdiocese, led lately by the low-profile Cardinals Justin Rigali and Anthony Bevilacqua. Now at the helm is, arguably, the most formidable Roman Catholic prelate in America.
In homilies, lectures, op-ed articles, books, and a weekly online column, Chaput unflinchingly assails presidents, lawmakers, academics, and the media when, in his opinion, they "marginalize God."
Writing in last Sunday's Inquirer, he described as "dangerous and insulting" the Obama administration's mandate that religious-affiliated hospitals, schools, and charities provide employees with free contraception coverage.
President Obama's plan was the most "aggressive attack on religious freedom in our country . . . in recent memory," Chaput wrote, lambasting it as "the embodiment of a culture war."
Taking their cues from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, many other prelates condemned the policy. But Chaput's attack stood out, eliciting praise from conservative Catholic groups and dismay from church liberals.
"Incendiary and divisive," said a spokesman for Catholic Democrats, a liberal advocacy group for the poor.
Branding Chaput a "Taliban Catholic," Sean Michael Winters, a columnist for the liberal weekly National Catholic Reporter, said the tone of the column "invited people not to look at the details" of Obama's proposal.
Conservative Catholics disagreed.
"Brilliant," the National Right to Life News called Chaput's essay.
It was the most-viewed item last week on the Catholic News Agency's website. It also prompted 167 comments on The Inquirer's website, where opinion ran about 2 to 1 against him.
"Get out of the dark ages," one reader chided.
Another cheered, "Our church has sorely needed a voice like [Chaput's] for years."
An unscientific sampling of local Catholics, based on random interviews at 30th Street Station, suggested many do not share their archbishop's position in the contraception debate.
"I'd rather see his energies more focused on issues people can rally around," such as education and the environment, said Lauren Bobzin, 25, of Narberth, who called herself a "proud Catholic."
Bill Quain, 33, of Northwest Philadelphia, said he thought Chaput was "pretty much giving the party line."
And a retired schoolteacher from Narberth who asked not to be named said she disagreed with Chaput's stance on birth control but called him a "breath of fresh air."
Obama compromised on the contraception mandate: Insurance companies, not religious entities, would provide coverage. But the Catholic bishops - Chaput included - quickly denounced the change as no better. Meanwhile, political analysts wondered aloud whether the bishops had enhanced or damaged the president's standing with Catholic voters.
Chaput declined to be interviewed for this article. However, in his weekly column at archphila.org, he took aim at "the contempt dumped on Catholic teaching" in last week's media accounts of the bishops' feud with Obama.
"The Christian life does not need aggression," he wrote. But if Catholics feel their faith or values are under assault, "they need to fight - without apologies - to turn things towards the good."
He also sounded that rallying cry in a Jan. 26 online column in which he exhorted his flock to demand that state lawmakers authorize vouchers for private-school tuitions. "Elected officials do listen," he wrote, "and they act when the noise gets loud enough."
Though a hero to many conservatives, Chaput has taken shots from all sides. "The left mail I get will use terrible words but be less vitriolic. They use the F-word and things like that," he told Catholic News Service in 2009. "The right is meaner, but they're not as foul."
Yet for all his hammer-swinging, he also enjoys a reputation as an eloquent, erudite evangelist.
"Our culture has fallen away from our own biblically informed heritage," he told an audience at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. "We've lost the foundation for our moral vocabulary. This loss has starved our spirit [and] debased our sense of any higher purpose to life."
In a similar talk in the fall at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., he cited historians Daniel Boorstin and Alexis de Tocqueville; French philosophers Pascal Bruckner and Jacques Maritain; Jesuit scholar John Courtney Murray; St. Augustine; a fourth-century Roman pagan named Symmachus; and Jesus.
"I'd say he's one of the top three voices among the American bishops," said Deal Hudson, director of Catholic Advocate, a political action committee in Washington.
"I'd put him at number one," said Phil Lawler, editor of the Catholic World News in Boston. Both men are past editors of Crisis, a conservative Catholic magazine.
Liberal pundits also describe Chaput as a commanding presence among bishops.
"Nobody speaks with the same consistency and muscularity as he does," said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats. "He's in a class by himself."
However, Krueger said he had misgivings about Chaput. In his view, the archbishop is a political partisan who makes little attempt to disguise Republican leanings.
"He's more than just a culture warrior," Krueger said. As Denver archbishop for 14 years, he "brought the culture war closer to the line that separates politics and religion, and maybe even church and state."
Winters, of the National Catholic Reporter, took it farther. Chaput is "quotable, controversial, and very smart," he said, but, paraphrasing Winston Churchill, he described him as "a bull who carries his china shop around with him, always looking for a fight."
Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at Catholic University of America, took a more temperate view.
"He's distinctive among the American bishops in his ability to make certain kinds of arguments," said Schneck, who called Chaput "an extremely talented prelate."
"But there's a twist," Schneck said. Chaput "sometimes speaks so clearly and with such force that it's more a conversation-stopper than an invitation to discourse, and that might work against his ultimate effectiveness."
In 2006, Chaput drew national attention for his denunciation of legislation to expand the right of Colorado sex-abuse victims to sue their abusers, denouncing its advocates as "anti-Catholic."
"It was about as ugly a political fight as I've been involved with at the Capitol," one lobbyist said.
Three weeks before the 2008 presidential election, Chaput described Obama as "the most committed 'abortion rights' presidential candidate . . . since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973."
Chaput also was uncompromising when the University of Notre Dame made Obama its 2009 commencement speaker, which the archbishop viewed as a Catholic school's endorsement of Obama's pro-choice stance. "We . . . have the duty to avoid prostituting our Catholic identity by appeals to phony dialogue," he wrote in a column for the Denver archdiocese website.
Krueger, formerly executive director of the liberal church-reform group Voice of the Faithful, opined that some American bishops were taking a "hard stand in the culture war" in order to "restore the moral authority" they lost in the clergy sex-abuse scandal.
But to conservatives such as Lawler and Deal, Chaput is a shining knight.
"He's trying to do his job as a bishop and express things clearly," Lawler said. "There's too much willingness on the part of hierarchy to pull its punches."
Deal said Chaput and New York's outspoken archbishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, were animating conservative Catholics who have dropped out of the political process "because of years of disappointment in the hierarchy."
"If I thought [Chaput] was turning people off, I'd tell him. I've got his e-mail," Deal said. "But he's not."
Leave it to a liberal to actually understand that truth will be “incendiary and divisive.” Too bad they try to make that sound like a pejorative.
Long live Archbishop Chaput. May our good Lord continue to bless him.
NYer, please ping your Catholic list. Thanks.
Hussein has rolled the GOP quite handily these past three years. With every success he grew bolder. I think this latest outrage, to force the Church to violate it’s law will be his political Stalingrad. I don’t see the Church folding and when all is said and done, people with brains will come to see him for the totalitarian he would be if given another four years. This will hurt him badly by November.
I think I read somewhere that the Catholic Church has already signaled that they will ‘compromise’, or more succintly, fold.
First time I've heard "speaking clearly" called a conversation-stopper! But I guess if your idea of "conversation" is a never-ending stream of mealy-mouthed generalities, I suppose it could be . . . ;-)
Well, there ya go! It must be true then ...
This might get a little interesting; Chaput is of French Canadian and American Indian (Potowatomie) blood. The enemies of religious freedom won’t be able to easily pull the race card on this man of God, if they think that is a last ditch effort (don’t put it past these death worshippers.) Go get him, Bishop. We’re behind you in prayer, financial support, or worse, if it gets that way.
Here we are again with Christianity as a community organizing group, Jesus as a community organizer, the Church as a big Occupy camp.
Yes. I was going to mention that he is half American Indian. Maybe that’s where the “warrior” comes from. We need a few warrior bishops, and if he comes across so strong that he astonishes them into silence, so much the better.
He was one of the first bishops I became aware of who totally resisted the left-wing “spirit of Vatican II” that has been so destructive to the Church. And he was among the first to clamp down on trouble-making dissident organizations that were spreading heresies under the pretence that they had something to do with Vatican II.
I would take any attacks on him by the left-wing press as a real compliment. He worries them.
Take it to the heathens Archbishop Chaput!
Did we have warrior bishop maybe during the time of Middle age or during Henry VIII regin NYER
I know during the time Borgias the mini series they mention one of cardinal was warriorlike
Can’t wait for season 2 of Borgias
The Bishop is right on.
After they'd had time to look at it, they correctly stated that nothing had changed. Please read the current USCCB statement directly from their website.
Bishop Odo of Bayeux, who was (as you can see) quite active at the Battle of Hastings, and eventually commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry. The full caption reads: Hic Odo Eps (Episcopus) baculu(m) tenens confortat pueros" - "Here Odo the Bishop holding a club encourages the boys"
The Pottawatomies have had some pretty tough characters, too.
Apparently this is a very effective combination . . .
Yeah I hear of that bishop LOL!
The catholic Church is going to cave.
Here is a news article with some circumstantial evidence of what’s coming: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2849023/posts
There will be more articles like the above in the coming weeks and months.
Further, the Catholic Churches’ open acceptance of a big number of Catholic Congressmen who not only embrace abortion, but fight endlessly and with great vigour to expand abortion, shows where the heart and soul of the church is on this issue.
I take no satisfaction in knowing that eventually they will side with Obama.
what you haven’t noticed is that slowly the bishops are being replaced by Catholics as the older generation of liberals die off.
The “middle management” is still a problem, but they too are aging.
The young priests and sisters are full of Zeal, and are often called the “John Paul II generation”. JP2 realized that if he tried to “reform” those entrenched in the Vatican and other offices he’d lose (there probably would have been a major “schism”, with the liberals able to take over the churches, seminaries, schools, hospitals etc, and the believers left out in the cold, similar to what we see in the Episcopal church),
so John PaulII ignored them, and went to the people. We are starting to see the fruit of his policies, which is why you will see the secular types trying to destroy the church which is on the cusp of a major reform back to christian beliefs.
Europe is lost to Christianity, but the US is still in the balance.
And pray for us in the Philippines, where the liberals and US taxpayer money and Obama’s minions are forcing population control on us in a way that would make it impossible for many Catholic nurses and doctors to work in public hospitals...the bill even has a clause in it that if you criticize birth control you could be fined.
err... we did that. The dark ages are when murdering babies is a-ok....
I hope you'll take satisfaction in digesting the crow you'll have to eat.
You have misdirected anger. It should be towards the Catholic Church, not those of us who point out that we have seen it cave time and again.
John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi to name but two high profile Congressmen of hundreds whom the Church embraces even as they work to tear it down.
What has changed that suggests this time will be different?
Contraception ruling: Democrats accuse clergy of complicity with GOP at hearing
Catholic League on Sebeliuss admission before a Senate committee
Voris: Obama Able to Neutralize Catholic Resistance Thanks to Bishops Past Complicity
Abortion, Contraception and the Church Fathers (Catholic teaching unchanged for 2000 yrs)
Head of U.S. bishops: Obama compromise on mandate a hill of beans; opposition intensifies
USCCB President: 'Harder and Harder' to Accept Obama's Word
White House Criticizes Bishops, Trumpets Support from CHA, Catholic Charities
Political Science 101: how the White House snookered the USCCB on the 'compromise'
What Did CHA's Carol Keehan Know and When Did She Know It?
Pope Shares Remarks on American Culture with Bishops; Issues Call to Laity By: Msgr. Charles Pope
USCCB President says Obama offered next to nothing; expresses disappointment with Sr. Keehan
Evangelical Leaders Call for Civil Disobedience Against U.S. Government
Liberal Jews Speak Against HHS Mandate
Top nun who supported Obama mandate thanks pro-choice group in private e-mail
Catholic Health Association collaboration with Obama admin on mandate a scandal: Catholic leader
Obama's revised HHS mandate won't solve problems, USCCB president says
Fr. Frank Pavone: No compromise - the mandate has to go, period
Time To Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right On Birth Control
Culture with Local Bishops and Issues a Call to the Laity [Ecumenical]
Bishops Reject Obama's 'Accommodation' - President's political hemorrhaging to continue.
HHS Mandate - Nothing Has Changed (Donald Cardinal Weurl)
Obama Chief of Staff: New Pro-Abortion Mandate Here to Stay
WH: We Are Done Negotiating With Catholics
Opponents launch new White House petition rejecting Obama rewrite of birth control mandate
Did the Leaders of the Catholic Church Make a Deal with the Redistributionist Devil?
Archbishop Chaput: HHS mandate insulting and dangerous
Cardinal-Designate Dolan no longer trusts Obama
American Catholicisms Pact With the Devil
Notre Dame Faculty to Obama: This Is a Grave Violation of Religious Freedom and Cannot Stand
White House: No More Compromise on Contraception
Obama's anti-religious implosion
Lew: Obama's latest stance on birth-control mandate final, puts issue to rest (CAPTION)
Pat Buchanan: 'Obama is trampling on God's turf' (Video)
W.H. official: Contraceptive rule stands
Obama chief of staff: No more compromise, contraceptive rule is done deal
Bishops Reject White Houses New Plan on Contraception (Obama continues his "War On Religion")
Faith/Pro-Life Leaders to Challenge Mandate by Praying and Risking Arrest in Front of the WH
Catholic Bishops: Don't Revise, Rescind
Obama's contempt for the Constitution
How the Catholic Church Became Cool Overnight
Chuck Colson Reacts to Obamas Compromise on Required Abortion Care for Church Employees
US Bishops: Obama's 'Compromise' Has No Clear Protection...(Needless Government Intrusion)
Protests Continue Over Insurance for Contraception, Abortifacients (Feds Under Increasing Pressure
Bishops to Obama: No dice
Paul VI: danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities ...
Michael Moore Goes On Anti-Catholic Twitter Rant, Distorts Contraception Debate
Religious controversy burns Obama again (the rookie Hussein is in WAY over his pay grade)
Another Catholic college vows it will not violate conscience on Obama mandate
Lutherans join chorus of voices slamming HHS contraceptive mandate
The Obama HHS 'Compromise' Switches the Tiger for the Lion (Not all Catholics buying Obama's bull)
Hannity on now with Priests, Pastors and Rabbis. Please watch
EDITORIAL: Obamas free abortion pills
U.S. bishops express concerns about Obama mandate accommodation
What Compromise? This Policy Leaves Religious Liberty in Peril and Planned Parenthood Smiling (Albert Mohler Opinion)
Bishops Renew Call To Legislative Action On Religious Liberty
Southern Baptist leader: Obama gave Christians the dismissive back of his hand
Obama's Act of Tyranny
Bishops Were Prepared for Battle Over Birth Control Coverage
'Accounting gimmick' -- Obama compromise still threatens religious liberty, leaders say
Bishops concerned over reworded mandate; other Catholic leaders slam as insult to injury
Obama Bows to Pressure, but His Religious 'Accommodation' Even Worse
Don't Be Deceived! Evil Obama Policy Now Even MORE Evil!
Obamas Contraceptive 'Compromise' Doesn't Pass the Smell Test ("It doesn't change a thing")
Compromise or Accommodation, its still unacceptable. (updated from Catholic Vote)
Pres. Obamas Plan B compromise, Sr. Keehan, and the Magisterium of Nuns
Land Says Obama Mandate Most Anti-Catholic Government Action in 150 Years
Motive, Means and Opportunity: Obamas Assault on Catholics
(Exempt Catholics) Joe Biden, Bill Daley warned of contraceptive backlash
(Tim) Thomas makes second political statement (Stands With Catholics)
Southern Baptist leader: If Obama mandate isnt changed, Christians will go to jail
Over 150 congressional leaders demand repeal of HHS mandate
Boehner vows to overturn Obamas birth control coverage rule
Boehner: Congress to overturn birth control policy if Obama does not reverse course
O'Brien says Archdiocese of Baltimore won't offer birth control coverage
Archbishop of San Francisco says Obama ruling strikes at religious freedom
How Obama Lost the Catholic Vote
I am going to stick with fellow Catholics in Pres. Obamas war on Catholics. Wherein Fr. Z rants.
Six Things Everyone Should Know about the HHS Mandate
Santorum: Obama Hostile to Christians
Understanding Oppostion to the HHS Mandate (Part 1): Why the Church Wont Pay for Contracept
The Bishops Chickens Coming Home to Roost.
65 Orthodox Church bishops call on Obama to rescind the unjust contraception mandate
Doug Kmiec Writes Obama: 'Friendship Will Not Permit Me to Disregard Duty to Faith and Country'
Catholic Outcry Over Obama Administration's Birth Control Decision Could Factor In Presidential Race
Standing with the Bishops [Catholic Caucus]
Updated: *167* Bishops (More Than 90% of Dioceses) Have Spoken Out Against Obama/HHS Mandate
Outrage! Military Tells Chaplains What They Can and Cant Say About HHS/ObamaAssault on Religion
Updated: *153* Bishops (Over 80% of Dioceses) Have Spoken Out Against Obama/HHS Mandate
An Affront Catholics Agree On [Liberal and Conservative Catholics Against Obama Mandate]
Army Silenced Chaplains Last Sunday
Catholic Military Archdiocese & Chaplains interfered with last Sunday by Pres. Obamas Admin
The Anti-Catholic President v. the Catholic Bishops
Sen. Rubio introduces bill to reverse Obama birth control mandate
Churches balk at birth control rule - Catholics wont comply, Bishop Kevin Rhoades says
Protestants and Jews declare to White House: We stand with Catholics
Checking the Air Outside [Bp. Zubik's follow up to Obama's To Hell with You]
Mohler [Southern Baptist] Says Insurance Mandate Not Just 'Catholic' Issue
An Open Letter to President Barack Obama Concerning Recent Tyranny (With Pictures!)
Lincoln bishop: prepare for 'suffering' under HHS mandate
Bishop David Zubik confronts Obama
Obamas war on the church
Pope hits out at 'radical secularism'
We Will Not Comply: Catholic Leaders Distribute Letter Slamming Obama Admin Contraceptive Mandate
We Will Not Comply: Catholic Leaders Distribute Letter Slamming Obama Admin Contraceptive Mandate
Bruskewitz: Fight Insurance Ruling [Sebelius a "bitter, fallen away Catholic"]
Letter from Archbishop John G. Vlazny on the matter of freedom of conscience and decisions by HHS
Bishop Olmsted's Letter to Catholics [Catholic Caucus]
Liberty for the Amish & Quakers but not Catholics. . .
Contraception mandate prompts Peoria bishop to instate St. Michael Prayer (Catholic Caucus)
Phoenix bishop (Olmstead): defy feds on birth control
A letter from Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr concerning HHS edict
Speak honestly: abortion is the killing of tiny human beings in the womb Denver bishop
Bishop [Daniel Jenky] Blasts Secularist Intolerance, Calls For Assertive Action to Defend Church
(Pittsburgh Bishop Zubik comments:) HHS delays rule on contraceptive coverage
Dolan: Natural law, not religious preference, dictates all life sacred
Religious leaders blast HHS over contraception mandate
Mandated Contraception, Sterilization: Caesar Demands Church Violate Conscience
OBAMAS CONTEMPT FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY (mandates coverage of sterilization & contraception)
Implications of Obama Admin move to force Cath hospitals to provide contraception and sterilizations
Catholic doctors group launches petition against contraception mandate
Contraception mandate tramples religious freedom, US bishops say
This is but one of dozens of examples of why I come across as ‘arrogant’, it’s not arrogance, but knowledge gained from experience; http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2852836/posts
“A parish priest in Maryland, who denied communion to a woman who identified herself as a lesbian, has been publicly rebuked by the Archdiocese of Washington.”