PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, JULY 19, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The 66-year-old archbishop of Denver has been moved to Philadelphia, where he will succeed Cardinal Justin Rigali who has retired for reasons of age.
The appointment of Archbishop Charles Chaput, the first Native American archbishop, was announced today by the Vatican.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has almost 1.5 million Catholics, served by about 1,000 priests and more than 3,000 religious.
Archbishop Chaput is a Capuchin who was ordained a bishop at age 43, serving in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was moved to Denver in 1997.
“I don’t know why the Holy Father sent me here,” Archbishop Chaput said today at a press conference in Philadelphia. “But I do trust his heart, and I do believe in his judgment. I know other bishops would have been smarter than I am, or more talented, or more connected to Philadelphia’s past.”
“But I do promise that … no bishop will try harder to help persons who have been hurt by the sins of the past, or work harder to strengthen and encourage our priests and renew the hearts of our people,” the prelate added.
The Church in Philadelphia is struggling with the results of a grand jury report from February that found 37 priests who were facing credible charges of sexual abuse were still in active ministry. Cardinal Rigali suspended two dozen of them and hired an independent investigator to assess the allegations.
In an interview with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, Archbishop Chaput reflected that he would like to lead the Church in the same direction advocated by St. Francis: “back to a clear embrace of the Gospel, without compromise, in all circumstances and at all times.”
“Where I go to discover that is the teachings and traditions of the Church, including the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, which is the most clear and important expression of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church in my lifetime,” the archbishop added.
He also spoke of following the lead of the Pope and of the “duty and responsibility” of bishops to share “our insights and our experiences with the Holy Father as he makes important judgments for the church.”
The Vatican also announced today that Conventual Franciscan Father Gregory John Hartmayer, of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, was named bishop of Savannah, Georgia.
The Diocese of Savannah has some 84,000 Catholics, served by just over 100 priests and about that same number of religious.
Bishop-designate Hartmayer, 59, succeeds Bishop John Kevin Boland, who resigned for reasons of age.
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On the Net:
Biography of Archbishop Chaput: www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/272/Archbishop’s-Biography-/