First thing you should know: it's Sha-POO

Not Sha-PUTT, not Sha-POOT.  (N.B.: The Philly Inky has it listed as “Sha PEW” in their story…which I guess to them seems more churchy and less naughty.)

Second thing: as of tomorrow, you will be hearing his name a lot.

And here’s why:

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, widely perceived both as a leader of the church’s conservative wing and a tough administrator with a strong work ethic, has been named by Pope Benedict XVI as the new archbishop of Philadelphia.

Sources confirmed the appointment to NCR, which is scheduled to be announced by the Vatican tomorrow. Chaput replaces Cardinal Justin Rigali, 76, who has led the Philadelphia archdiocese since 2003.

Chaput, 66, steps into an archdiocese in turmoil as a result of the sexual abuse crisis.

In February, a grand jury report asserted that 37 Philadelphia priests facing credible charges of sexual abuse remained in ministry in Philadelphia, despite pledges by the U.S. bishops of “zero tolerance.” Rigali immediately suspended three of those priests, then later suspended an additional 21. Rigali also commissioned a former child abuse prosecutor to conduct an investigation, which is on-going.

Also as a result of the grand jury report, a former official of the archdiocese, Monsignor William Lynn, now faces criminal charges — the first instance in the United States of a Catholic official indicted not for committing abuse, but for failing to stop it.

As Philadelphia Catholics get to know their new leader, the overall contrast with Rigali — known as a behind-the-scenes power-broker, who prefers to keep a fairly low public profile — could be jarring.

Far more outspoken, Chaput has emerged over the years as a prominent lightning rod for controversy. He’s seen as a strong voice for doctrinal orthodoxy, and he champions a robust role for people of faith in political life.

Among other battles, Chaput has clashed with pro-choice Catholic politicians, publicly rebuked the University of Notre Dame for awarding an honorary doctorate to President Barack Obama, and has been a strong force in national debates over gay marriage and embryonic stem cell research.

Chaput also has also sternly called Catholics to adhere to church teaching. In a recent address to a group of Catholic social workers, for instance, he insisted that church-affiliated charities “have the duty to faithfully embody Catholic beliefs on marriage, the family, social justice, sexuality, abortion and other important issues.”

Ahead of the 2008 elections, Chaput published a book titled Render unto Caesar, insisting that “people who take God seriously will not remain silent about their faith.” Given that Pennsylvania is a major battleground state in American politics, Chaput’s visibility and influence seems likely to grow.

Read on.

And Elizabeth has some choice thoughts on this Westerner moving East.  Yee-haw.

Also: John Allen’s report indicates that Chaput will be installed on September 8th: the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

UPDATE: There seems to be some dispute about how to pronounce the Archbishop’s name.  Thomas Peters has posted a video from a couple years back, when he sat down for an interview with the man himself.  FWIW, Peters says “Sha-POO.”  You can watch the interview below.

YouTube Preview Image


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X