Philadelphians Deserve A More Open Prelate Following Archbishop Chaput’s Retirement
Archbishop Charles Chaput today turned 75, the age at which prelates are to submit their resignation to the pontiff. Often, the Vatican ignores this. But in this case we hope Pope Francis will act quickly to replace Archbishop Chaput with a cleric who is willing to courageously confront the archdiocese’s continuing abuse and cover up scandal.
Over a long career climbing the clerical ladder, Archbishop Chaput’s signature ‘achievement’ is that, in two states, he fought tooth and nail to keep clergy cover-ups covered up by blocking legislative reforms that would have likely enabled thousands of child sexual abuse victims to expose hundreds of abusers and the men who helped minimize, obfuscate, or cover-up the allegations against them.
In Colorado while working as the Archbishop of Denver, Archbishop Chaput was described as handling survivors of abuse with “an iron fist in a velvet glove,” and was criticized for using hardball legal tactics against victims. He was credited with defeating statute of reform legislation in Colorado then just as he worked to defeat statute of reform legislation in Pennsylvania over this past year.
And while Archbishop Chaput has long fought the efforts of survivors in the court room, he has also long defended priests accused of abuse, ignoring the “zero-tolerance” policy of the Dallas Charter repeatedly along the way.
For example, in the cause of Fr. John P. Paul in Philadelphia, Archbishop Chaput kept allegations against Fr. Paul under wraps for months, allowing the priest to quietly retire and then lying to parishioners about the reason why. Throughout this case, Archbishop Chaput didn't explain why he,
- kept child sex abuse allegations secret for months,
- let a priest lie to his flock,
- told only one parish about Fr. Paul at first, or
- waited until the next weekend to tell the public about Fr. Paul.
And over the years it appears that Archbishop Chaput kept this model. For example, after being informed about allegations against a local priest in the fall of 2018, Chaput waited a year to inform the public, despite the fact that the priest was actively assigned to a girls’ high school.
In the wake of AG Josh Shapiro’s bombshell grand jury report, Philadelphians deserve a prelate who will stand up for the rights of children to be protected and for survivors to have a chance to expose the people who abused them and those who enabled their abusers. Archbishop Chaput has not been this man. We hope that Pope Francis will immediately act on Archbishop Chaput’s resignation and will put in place a leader who will work to prevent cases of abuse instead of someone like Archbishop Chaput who has actively worked to keep cover-ups covered-up.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is www.SNAPnetwork.org)