|Coat of Arms|
July 19, 2011
Remarks upon announcement of new appointment as Archbishop of Philadelphia
The following remarks were delivered by Archbishop Chaput during the July 19, 2011 Press Conference, hosted by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Good morning everybody. Thank you. Your Eminence, I’m very grateful for your warm welcome. I am happy to be in Philadelphia. Good morning everybody. I have some prepared remarks because of the emotion of the moment for me, and also because I may go on too long if I don’t do that. So I’ll be mercifully brief in my remarks.
Back in 2005, Cardinal Rigali very kindly asked me to visit Philadelphia and speak to the priests of the archdiocese. In my comments, I remember using a remark from the scientist Niels Bohr, who said “prediction is difficult – especially about the future.” I thought it was a pretty clever line six years ago. Today I just find it a bit sobering.
When I moved from my ministry as a bishop in South Dakota to the Archdiocese of Denver 14 years ago, I felt like I had gone from crewing a very beautiful sailboat to running a supertanker. That’s the way I feel this morning. I’ve spent the last 23 years of my life as a bishop in the West. The priests and people of Colorado and South Dakota have formed me with their faith, their generosity, their humor and their love. Leaving a place is easy. But leaving the people who have shaped me with their friendship, opened their homes to me, and welcomed me into the happiness and sorrows of their lives – that’s very, very hard. All I can say to them is thank you. My life as a priest has been filled with goodness because people like that made it so.
Press conferences like this have a formula of humility and gratitude that can sometimes seem like theater. I’m a poor actor. What you see is pretty much what you get. Philadelphia is one of America’s truly great cities, rich in history and achievement, with an extraordinary community of Catholic faith that goes back to saints like John Neumann and Katharine Drexel. Many of you will ask me this question, so I will answer it in advance. I don’t know why the Holy Father sent me here. 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. I know that Cardinal Rigali is one of the great churchmen of my lifetime. He has served the Church in Rome, in St. Louis, and here with enormous dedication and in ways I will never be able to duplicate.
But I do promise that no bishop will love the people and priests of this local Church more than I will. No bishop will give more of himself than I will. And 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.
There’s a lot I don’t know how to do. But over the years, a great many good people have shown me how to love and how to lead by the generosity of their witness. And everything I’ve learned, everything I know and have, I will give to this ministry, because all of you -- the people of God -- deserve at least that much.
I want to thank the Holy Father and the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, for their confidence in me. I want to thank Cardinal Rigali, my brother bishops, the priests that I have met, so many of my staff, and all those who work in the archdiocese for their wonderfully gracious welcome. And I ask all of you to pray for me and this great local Church, which we now share. Let us begin. Thank you very, very much.