Chaput from a Distant Pew – UPDATED

Whenever I see that picture of Archbishop Charles Chaput
I think to myself, “great scott, he looks clean as a whistle!”

And then I think, “his face is youthful, yet it has an ages-past quality to it,” one that reminds me of the faces you would see in a reading primer of the mid-twentieth century — it’s almost too seamlessly innocent; you know there is depth beneath that baby face!

Max Lindenman has a very balanced and well-wrought column up considering the Archbishop, who is soon to move to Philadelphia:

If Chaput’s strategy shows vision, his mastery of the details hints at an admirable discretion. He serves up red meat, but nothing too raw or bloody. A populist he may be; a demagogue he is not. [. . .] But there is more to Chaput than culture war. When he protests to NCR that his friends would call him “a very kind and gentle person,” I don’t think he’s lying. Though not a smiler or a joker in the Archbishop Dolan mold, he can still speak in press conferences of being “formed” by the people of Colorado “with their warmth, their generosity, their humor and their love.” A slight quaver comes into his voice, and the effect is very, well affecting. His servings of red meat leave plenty of room for sorbet.

But more to the point: although Chaput’s never used the term on himself, he is, in his own way, a seamless garment man. In a forum on immigration reform, he called on listeners to “Help us to build a culture of life—a culture that holds all human life in reverence, from the unborn child and the immigrant, to the poor, the homeless, the infirm and the elderly.” In NCR, he predicts: “If we don’t love the poor, and do all we can to improve their lot, we’re going to go to Hell.” That’s a worse fate than any he’s forecast for Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden.

Read it all!

UPDATE: From First Things:

. . .on all these matters, legal changes were acquiesced in, if not lead by, self-identified “Catholic” politicians.

Any bishop who calls attention to these things is not a “warrior,” as Winters asserts; he is merely being honest. If a man sees his home ablaze and cries, fire, he is not being reactionary; he is merely reacting properly, for there is no way to put out the fire—and eventually to re-build the house—unless someone calls attention to the fact that it is now burning down.

Charles Chaput is one of the kindest, gentlest men you can imagine. He does not thunder, he does not condemn; rather, he simply and clearly tells it like it is. He repeats the teaching of the Church, a teaching that is meant for the common good and which benefits us all, a teaching about fundamental human rights.

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  • Manny

    LOL, he reminds me of a 13th century monk, right out of Chaucer. :p

  • jkm

    I always think he needs a wimple. He has the face of all those nuns who taught me in 12 years of Catholic school. (Although he’d probably be horrified by the resemblance–not because of the gender cross, but because I was taught by the smart, rebellious IHMs of Hollywood, who tossed their wimples long ago.) Not unwilling to do a little ruler-smacking, but also aware that a twinkle of the eye behind those steel rims can accomplish even more at times.

  • Rich Fader

    Father Mulcahy. (Whether Rene Auberjonois from the movie, or William Christopher from the TV series, or a little of both, I’ll leave to you.)

  • Max Lindenman

    Don’t blame the poor chap for not growing a beard, JKM. He’s an Injun, he can’t help it.

  • jkm

    Oh, I definitely don’t begrudge him the absence of a beard, Max. (You’re the one who finds those a necessity in role models. :-) ) And it’s not the clean-shaven jaw that evokes the nuns—some of them could, and did, swear by the hairs on their chinny-chin-chins—but that ineffable agelessness.

  • jkm

    Though now that mention it, I wonder–did the Capuchins give him a pass on the beard? It used to be mandatory.

    [I think they must not have that requirement any more. My cousin is a capuchin of several decades standing, and he has always been clean-shaven along with a few other confreres -admin]

  • Sam

    Well, all I know is that we in the Denver archdiocese are sure going to miss him. He’s been a staunch defender of the faith while never coming across as harsh or unloving. I hope Philadelphia knows what a good archbishop they are getting.