Charles J. Chaput

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Charles J. Chaput

Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia
Charles Joseph Chaput.jpg
AppointedJuly 19, 2011
InstalledSeptember 8, 2011
Term endedJanuary 23, 2020
PredecessorJustin Francis Rigali
SuccessorNelson J. Perez
OrdinationAugust 29, 1970
by Cyril John Vogel
ConsecrationJuly 26, 1988
by Pio Laghi, John Roach, and James Stafford
Personal details
Born (1944-09-26) September 26, 1944 (age 76)
Concordia, Kansas
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post
MottoAs Christ loved the Church
Coat of armsCharles J. Chaput's coat of arms
Styles of
Charles Joseph Chaput
Coat of arms of Charles Joseph Chaput.svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleArchbishop
Ordination history of
Charles J. Chaput
Priestly ordination
Ordained byCyril John Vogel
DateAugust 29, 1970
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorPío Laghi
Co-consecratorsJohn Roach,
James Stafford
DateJuly 26, 1988
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Charles J. Chaput as principal consecrator
José Horacio GómezJanuary 23, 2001
James D. ConleyMay 30, 2008
Paul EtienneDecember 9, 2009
Fernando IsernDecember 10, 2009
Lawrence T. PersicoOctober 1, 2012
Edward C. MalesicJuly 13, 2015

Charles Joseph Chaput OFMCap (/ˈʃæpj/ SHAP-yoo;[1] born September 26, 1944) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He was the ninth Archbishop of Philadelphia, serving from 2011 until 2020. He previously served as Archbishop of Denver (1997–2011) and Bishop of Rapid City (1988–1997). Unlike many of his predecessors as Archbishop of Philadelphia, he was not made a cardinal.

Chaput is a professed Capuchin Franciscan. A member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, he is the second Native American to be consecrated a bishop in the United States and the first Native American archbishop.[2]

Early life[edit]

Charles Chaput was born in Concordia, Kansas, one of three children of Joseph and Marian Helen (née DeMarais) Chaput.[2] His father was a French Canadian who was descended from the French saint King Louis IX.[3][4] His mother was a Native American of the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe; his maternal grandmother was the last member of the family to live on a reservation. Chaput himself was enrolled in the tribe at a young age, taking the name Pietasa ("rustling wind").[3][5] His Potawatomi name is "the wind that rustles the leaves of the tree" while his Sioux name is "good eagle".[6]

Chaput received his early education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Grade School in Concordia, Kansas.[2] Deciding to become a priest at the age of 13,[3] he attended St. Francis Seminary High School in Victoria, Kansas.

In 1965, at age 21, Chaput entered the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, a branch of the Franciscans, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[2] In 1967, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from St. Fidelis College Seminary in Herman, Pennsylvania.[2] On July 14, 1968, he made his solemn profession as a Capuchin friar.[2] In 1970, he earned a Master of Arts degree in religious education from Capuchin College in Washington, DC.[2]


Chaput was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Cyril Vogel on August 29, 1970. He received a Master of Arts degree in theology from the University of San Francisco in 1971. From 1971 to 1974, he was an instructor in theology and spiritual director at his alma mater, St. Fidelis College. He then served as executive secretary and director of communications for the Capuchin province in Pittsburgh until 1977, from which position he was appointed pastor of Holy Cross Church in Thornton, Colorado.

Chaput was elected vicar provincial for the Capuchin Province of Mid-America in 1977, later becoming secretary and treasurer for the province in 1980 and chief executive and provincial minister in 1983. He was among a group of Native Americans who greeted Pope John Paul II when the latter visited Phoenix, Arizona, during his 1987 trip to the United States.

Episcopal career[edit]

Bishop of Rapid City[edit]

On April 11, 1988, Chaput was appointed Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, by Pope John Paul II. He was consecrated on the following July 26 by Archbishop Pio Laghi, with Archbishop John Roach and Archbishop James Stafford serving as co-consecrators. He was the second priest of Native American ancestry to be consecrated a bishop in the United States, after Donald Pelotte. He was the first Native American to be consecrated as an ordinary, rather than a titular bishop.[citation needed] He chose as his episcopal motto: "As Christ Loved the Church" (Ephesians 5:25).

Archbishop of Denver[edit]

On February 18, 1997, Chaput was appointed as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Denver, Colorado,[7] replacing Archbishop James Stafford. In 2007, Chaput gave the commencement address at Denver's Augustine Institute, a lay-run graduate school which he has actively supported. Since 2008, he has served as Episcopal moderator of the Tekakwitha Conference.

In 2007, Chaput conducted an apostolic visitation of the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia, on behalf of the Congregation for Bishops. His report contributed to a long campaign by Curial officials that resulted in the removal of Bishop Bill Morris in 2011.[8] He was one of five bishops who conducted a Vatican-ordered investigation into the Legionaries of Christ in 2009–10 following accusations against the Legionaries' founder Marcial Maciel.[9]

Archbishop of Philadelphia[edit]

On July 19, 2011, Chaput was appointed as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[10] He succeeded Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, who had reached retirement age of 75 in April 2010, which meant Pope Benedict had replaced a self-effacing, behind-the-scenes prelate with one known for outspoken public leadership.[11] His strong record in handling cases of sexual abuse by priests was also cited as a rationale for his appointment.[12] He was installed as the archdiocese's ninth archbishop on September 8, 2011.

On August 17–19, he gave catechesis at the World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain,[13] similar to the function he performed at the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney.[14] On November 14, 2014, at the fall meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Chaput was elected as a delegate to the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family pending Vatican approval.[15] Though Chaput led an historically important see and his five immediate predecessors were cardinals, Pope Benedict did not make him a cardinal in his two 2012 consistories, nor did Pope Francis in any of his.[16][17]

Pope Francis accepted his resignation on January 23, 2020.[18]



As a seminarian, Chaput was an active volunteer in the presidential campaign of Robert Kennedy. As a young priest, he supported the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976.[19]

In his book Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, Chaput exhorts Catholics to take a "more active, vocal, and morally consistent role" in the political process, arguing that private convictions cannot be separated from public actions without diminishing both. Rather than asking citizens to put aside their religious and moral beliefs for the sake of public policy, Chaput believes American democracy depends upon a fully engaged citizenry, including religious believers, to function properly.[20]

Chaput has stated that absolute loyalty to the Church's teachings on core, bioethical, and natural law doctrinal issues (that the Church has definitively spoken on, and where its stance is not subject to appreciable change in the future – in this case, abortion) must be a higher priority for Catholics than their identity as Americans, their party affiliation, their party's stance on other issues, and the law of the country. This is so because, for a Catholic, loyalty to God, his supreme importance, and his expectations is more important than any other identity. He says that the martyrs and confessors gave witness to that fact.[21]

Regarding whether Catholic politicians who support legal abortion, contrary to Church teaching, should be denied Holy Communion, Chaput has written that, while denying anyone the Eucharist is a "very grave matter" that should be used only in "extraordinary cases of public scandal", those who are "living in serious sin or who deny the teachings of the Church" should voluntarily refrain from receiving communion.[22]

The New York Times in 2004 reported that Chaput took the position that it was sinful for Catholics to vote for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. His remarks noted Kerry's pro-choice views, among others. According to the Times, he said that those who intended to vote for Kerry were "cooperating in evil" and needed "to go to confession". Chaput criticized the New York Times for the way it construed his remarks and the Archdiocese of Denver criticized the article as "heavily truncated and framed" and posted a full transcript of the interview.[23] He stopped responding to New York Times inquiries for six years in part because of his belief the paper had misrepresented him.[24]

He was seen by some as "part of a group of bishops intent on throwing the weight of the Church into the elections".[25] In public comments, his linkage of the Eucharist to the policy stances of political candidates and those who support them were seen by some as a politicization of moral theology.[26]

Chaput criticized what he views as a "spirit of adulation bordering on servility" toward President Barack Obama, remarking that "in democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs". He stated that Obama tried to mask his record on abortion and other issues with "rosy marketing about unity, hope, and change". Chaput also dismissed the notion that Obama was given a broad mandate, reasoning that he was elected to "fix an economic crisis" and not to "retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life, and abortion".[27]

Chaput said that in the 2016 American presidential election Americans were faced with the "worst choice in 50 years", because in his view both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were "deeply flawed" candidates.[28]

Following the 2019 shootings in Texas and Ohio, Chaput wrote that while he supports background checks for purchasers of firearms, "only a fool can believe that 'gun control' will solve the problem of mass violence. The people using the guns in these loathsome incidents are moral agents with twisted hearts. And the twisting is done by the culture of sexual anarchy, personal excess, political hatreds, intellectual dishonesty, and perverted freedoms that we've systematically created over the past half-century".[29]

Opposition to LGBT rights movement[edit]

Chaput has taken positions against same-sex marriage and questioned the upbringing of children of same-sex couples. He has said that same-sex couples cannot show children that their parents love each other in the same way that opposite-sex couples can.[30]

In 2015, Chaput supported the dismissal of the director of religious education at Waldron Mercy Academy, Margie Winters, who had married her female partner in a civil marriage ceremony in 2007. When a parent reported this to the Archdiocese, the principal asked Winters to resign and when she refused, the school did not renew her contract.[31] Many parents expressed anger and concern over the school's decision. Principal Nell Stetser said that "many of us accept life choices that contradict current Church teachings, but to continue as a Catholic school, Waldron Mercy must comply with those teachings." She called for "an open and honest discussion about this and other divisive issues at the intersection of our society and our Church." Chaput said the school administrators had shown "character and common sense at a moment when both seem to be uncommon'.[32][33][34]

On October 4, 2018, at the Synod on Young People and Vocations, Chaput objected to the use of the terms "LGBT" or "LGBTQ" in Church documents. He said: "There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic' or a 'transgender Catholic' or even a 'heterosexual Catholic,' as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ." Chaput also denounced what he sees as a lack of orthodoxy in the Church generally, accusing Catholic leaders of the previous several decades of "ignorance, cowardice and laziness in forming young people to carry the faith into the future."[35] On March 27, 2019, in a speech to Ohio seminarians, he blamed sexual abuse in the Catholic Church on "a pattern of predatory homosexuality and a failure to weed that out from church life".[36][37][38]

Immigration reform[edit]

Chaput advocates reform of immigration laws to regularize the status of most undocumented immigrants as a moral imperative.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baldwin, Lou (July 20, 2011). "Philadelphia Welcomes Archbishop Chaput". Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Biography and Curriculum Vitae of Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., D.D." Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Power, Louis (March 1999). "Charles Chaput: a remarkable American Archbishop". AD2000. 12 (2). p. 7. Archived from the original on August 4, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  4. ^ "The Coat of Arms of Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  5. ^ Palmo, Rocco (July 18, 2011). "Render Unto Chaput – Sources: Denver's Capuchin = Philadelphia's Revolution". Whispers in the Loggia. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  6. ^ "Next Philadelphia archbishop promises changes" By James McGinnis July 20, 2011
  7. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXXXIX. 1997. p. 202. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  8. ^ "New document reveals years of Vatican efforts before ousting Toowoomba bishop". Catholic News Agency. May 10, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  9. ^ Rocco, Francis X. (April 30, 2010). "Pope meets with investigators of disgraced Legion". National Catholic Reporter. Religion News Service. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  10. ^ "Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., named Archbishop of Philadelphia". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. July 19, 2011. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  11. ^ Allen, Jr., John L. (July 18, 2011). "Pope taps Chaput for Philadelphia". National Catholic Reporter.
  12. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (July 19, 2011). "For Philadelphia Archdiocese, a Powerful Conservative Voice". The New York Times.
  13. ^ "Archbishop Chaput among 8 US Prelates Chosen as WYD Catechists". ZENIT News Agency. July 27, 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  14. ^ Review of Archbishop Chaput's Render unto Caesar
  15. ^ "US bishops elect delegates to synod: Kurtz, Chaput, DiNardo, Gomez".
  16. ^ O'Loughlin, Michael J. (October 9, 2016). "New cardinals signal a shift away from the U.S. culture wars". America. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  17. ^ Terruso, Julia (October 10, 2015). "Cardinal Chaput? Not so fast". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  18. ^ Streva, Virginia (January 23, 2020). "Cleveland's Bishop Nelson Perez to replace Archbishop Charles Chaput as leader of Philadelphia Catholic church". Philly Voice.
  19. ^ Chaput, Charles (March 10, 2010). "Thoughts on "Roman Catholics for Obama"". First Things. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  20. ^ Cf. Chaput, Charles J. (2008). Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-52228-2.
  21. ^ "CNS STORY: Archbishop Chaput: Catholic teaching trumps party loyalty on abortion". Archived from the original on December 5, 2012.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  22. ^ Gorski, Eric (May 29, 2004). "Denver archbishop: Catholics must accept church's teachings". The Denver Post. Archived from the original on September 27, 2008. Retrieved February 26, 2006.
  23. ^ "All the News That's Fit to Print... Sort Of" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 24, 2004.
  24. ^ Neroulias, Nicole (September 24, 2010). "Denver Archbishop Chaput May Reconsider New York Times Boycott". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  25. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D.; Goodstein, Laurie (October 12, 2004). "Group of Bishops Using Influence to Oppose Kerry". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  26. ^ [1]
  27. ^ "Denver Archbishop Warns of 'Spirit of Adulation' Surrounding Obama". Catholic News Agency. February 24, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2009.
  28. ^ "US presidential election offers the worst choice in 50 years, says archbishop". The Catholic Herald. September 16, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  29. ^ Rouselle, Christine (August 7, 2019). "Archbishop Chaput: Look deeper than symptoms to solve mass violence". The Catholic Herald. Archived from the original on December 13, 2019. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  30. ^ Allen, John L. (July 19, 2011). "Exclusive interview with Archbishop Charles Chaput". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  31. ^ Desmond, Joan Frawley (July 21, 2015). "A Catholic Mother Reflects on Furor Over Philly Teacher in Same-Sex Marriage". Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  32. ^ "Gay Priest Fired From Chaplain Job Asks Pope To Meet LGBT Catholics In U.S". The Huffington Post. July 20, 2015.
  33. ^ "Archives -".
  34. ^ "Statement of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. Regarding Waldron Mercy Academy". Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office of Communications (Press release). July 13, 2015. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  35. ^ Pentin, Edward (October 4, 2018). "Archbishop Chaput: 'LGBT' Should Not Be Used in Church Docs". National Catholic Register. Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  36. ^ Chaput, Charles (March 27, 2019). "Facing the future with hope and joy". Catholic Philly. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  37. ^ White, Christopher (January 24, 2020). "Bishop Perez of Cleveland tapped to replace Chaput in Philadelphia". Crux. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  38. ^ O'Loughlin, Michael J. (February 24, 2019). "Despite external pressure, little talk of homosexuality at Vatican abuse summit". America. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  39. ^ Chaput, Charles (February 19, 2013). "Justice, prudence and immigration reform". Catholic Philly. Retrieved January 24, 2020.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Harold Joseph Dimmerling
Bishop of Rapid City
Succeeded by
Blase J. Cupich
Preceded by
James Stafford
Archbishop of Denver
Succeeded by
Samuel J. Aquila
Preceded by
Justin Francis Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia
Succeeded by
Nelson J. Perez