Rome has just made Archbishop Charles Chaput a political player in the New York to D.C. corridor. As the new archbishop of Philadelphia, Chaput will have a platform for his strong political views.
His appointment already received a long article in the New York Times. Not unexpectedly for the liberal, secular beacon of U.S. newspapers, it focused on the child abuse scandal in Philadelphia and Chaput’s strict views on abortion and gay marriage.
But, they missed his real talent and message. Chaput is an aggressive advocate for people of faith being heard and being active in the public marketplace. His well-received book, “Render unto Caesar,” is an expression of the right and duty of Catholics to engage the secular forces that dominate much of the media and politics of 2011 America.
He is especially tough on politicians who run as Catholics, but actively oppose Church teachings on abortion. And, Chaput used the diocesan newspaper to air his views and was active in the legislature on bills of interest.
Denver, of course, had its own clergy scandal. Chaput handled it briskly. Many observers point out that while victims received comfort and, in some cases, compensation, the professional litigators were not able to turn the Colorado Diocese into a bank for remote and extravagant claims.
Indeed, Chaput will likely receive the Cardinal’s red hat and could also become a protagonist in the 2012 presidential election.