Archbishop Chaput's column
Justice, Terrance Williams and the death penalty
Even when a defendant is well defended, properly tried and justly found guilty, experience shows that capital punishment simply doesn't work as a deterrent. Nor does it heal or redress any wounds, because only forgiveness can do that. It does succeed though in answering violence with violence -- a violence wrapped in the piety of state approval, which implicates all of us as citizens in the taking of more lives. Turning away from capital punishment does not diminish our support for the families of murder victims. They bear a terrible burden of grief, and they rightly demand justice. Real murderers deserve punishment; but even properly tried and justly convicted murderers -- men and women who are found guilty of heinous crimes -- retain their God-given dignity as human beings. When we take a murderer's life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture, and we demean our own dignity in the process.
Taking the difficult steps on the road to renewing the Church
Last month, at my request, the Archdiocese published a financial report that was as comprehensive as possible. In the years ahead, that annual report will improve and become even more thorough. After the past decade of anger and confusion in the Church, Philadelphia Catholics want a life of faith where their children are safe and their spirits are nourished. For as long as God gives me time as your bishop, I promise to work to make that happen.
Nine months ago today; and some changes for the future
Nine months ago today, on September 8, I was installed as Archbishop of Philadelphia. The months since then have seen a stream of challenges. Some of those challenges will be with us for months to come, and we have many problems yet to resolve. But its also true that a great deal of good has been accomplished since last summer. We need to take confidence not only in God's love but in the many talented people, resources and opportunities God is steadily providing to us for rebuilding the life of our Church over the next decade. I've been very moved by the dedication of our clergy, religious and laypeople, and all of the kindness shown to me. These things have been a great experience of grace.
The extraordinary witness of ordinary people: Viva Cristo Rey!
Earlier this week we celebrated Memorial Day. For most of us, the holiday informally marks the start of summer. Over the next three months families will take their vacations, the pace of life will slow a bit and people will have a little more precious time to relax and restore their spirits. The purpose of recreation is to renew us in body and soul; to give us time to think; to reconnect us with family and the gift of being alive. For me, that usually means a week of fishing with friends, catching up on a pile of good books and enjoying a few good movies. And since all good things are meant to be shared, I can already recommend -- in fact, enthusiastically recommend -- a film that no Catholic should miss this summer.
Why Catholic Schools Are Worth Saving
This Sunday, May 20, is “Voucher Sunday.” You won’t find it on the Catholic liturgical calendar, but this year in Pennsylvania, it’s a vital day nonetheless. Over the past few months, people across the Archdiocese have been working with renewed urgency and zeal to rebuild the health of our Catholic schools. Alumni and alumnae have […]
Thoughts on an invitation to grace
Later this month, on May 19, I’ll ordain new priests for our local Church. This is a special moment of joy for me, since these new brothers will be the first I welcome into the priesthood as Archbishop of Philadelphia. But every new priest is a source of joy and hope for all our people. In the wake of so many difficulties for our Church over the past 15 months, we need to pause and reflect. Every genuine love story is a great love story; and every great love story creates new life. Real love is always fruitful. The love of husbands and wives bears fruit most obviously in the lives of their children, but also in many forms of Christian service … and also in the witness which their love provides to other people.
Some thoughts on ‘Our First, Most Cherished Liberty’
On Thursday, April 12, America’s bishops issued one of their most important statements in years. Our First, Most Cherished Liberty is not just a compelling defense of religious freedom. It’s also a call to action no committed Catholic can afford to ignore. First, a little history and some background: In the vision of America’s Founders, God exists, and his sovereignty matters. God endows each person with freedom and rights so that we can fulfill our duties toward him and each other. Our rights come from God, not from the state. Government is justified only insofar as it secures, promotes and defends those natural rights.
Holy week, Easter and the beginning of new life
The late and much loved Cardinal Augustin Mayer, O.S.B., once wrote that, “Nothing great is ever achieved without suffering.” His words come back to me every year during Holy Week. They remind us that discipleship always has a cost. No Christian ever lives the Gospel without eventually encountering the cross.
The nature of the Church and the importance of lay action
In the next few months, at my request, The Catholic Standard and Times will publish a report on the financial condition of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, including its offices, ministry programs and many of its related agencies and non-profit corporations. Too often we think of the Church as an institution, and institutions are hard to love. The structures of Catholic life are required by canon and civil law, and they’re important. But they’re also secondary. At her heart, the Church is a family, a community of believers. Like any family, her members have mutual obligations of respect and accountability. This has practical consequences. We ask our people to be generous. As a result, they have a right to know that their resources, which the Church holds in trust for them, are used properly.
Where we are as a Church, six months later
Six months ago this week (March 8), I began my service as Archbishop of Philadelphia. One of the reasons I write this weekly column is to speak directly and freely to our clergy and people. Today is a good time to reflect on the work that’s been done so far to resolve the challenges facing the Archdiocese, and the work – a great deal of work – that still remains. As I’ve noted in the past, when I arrived in Philadelphia I began a comprehensive financial and legal review of our archdiocesan operations. That process has been thorough and sobering. It will continue for several more months. But today we do have a far better sense of our limited resources and the scope of our problems.