I Can’t Hear You, Archbishop Chaput. Could You Speak Up?

What the Catholic Church in Philadelphia hasn't learned about silence.

Archbishop Charles Chaput could be the last hope for resurrecting a city that has lost its Catholic faith. But for a guy promoting a book, the Archbishop is rather tight-lipped. It’s not like he shouldn’t have a lot to talk about: the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s child sex-abuse scandal, dozens of Catholic school closings, social issues. He touched on several of these topics in his e-book A Heart on Fire, which examines faith in American culture through the lens of Catholicism.

Over a week ago, Chaput suspended five of the 26 suspended Philadelphia priests. Three of the 26 will return to the priesthood. Chaput didn’t bother to explain why, reports the National Catholic Reporter:

When pressed on the details of the claims against the three exonerated priests, Chaput declined to discuss specific facts of these individual cases, saying the decision to reveal information would be left to each priest and his parishioners …

Speaking generally on the accusations against all 26 priests, the archbishop said he needed “to balance the need for transparency with the pain already felt by victims—pain which we acknowledge and do not wish to compound.”

The Church’s silence made victims’ pain worse. Chaput’s words indicate that the Archdiocese has chosen to continue to remain silent—as if that’s a God-given right.

It isn’t.

Where’s the plan outlining how he will prevent this from happening again? (A website with phone numbers doesn’t do much.) What has Leslie Davila, whom the Church appointed last year as director for child and youth protection, been up to for the past year? Heck, where’s the phony photo-ops and donations to child abuse organizations?

There’s a statue for unborn children outside of my Delco parish. Where’s the one for sexually abused kids?

I don’t want an insert in the weekly bulletin, Archbishop. I don’t want a homily. This isn’t about us. It’s about the Archdiocese.

It’s difficult to accept Philly’s Catholic leadership as a moral compass when it seems without direction. It’s even more difficult to justify emptying our pockets each Sunday into collection baskets.

If Chaput won’t lead, the faithful will have to look elsewhere. Some Philly millennial Catholics have already started to do this within the framework of the Catholicism, but one out of four college-aged millennials are religiously unaffiliated. About one in five Americans are, too, according to a new Public Religion Institute and Georgetown study.

When promoting his e-book last March, Chaput called the Catholic health-care mandate “coercive and deeply troubling for the rights of conscience.” By politicizing social issues, he and other church leaders like him have been able to direct attention away from their own problems.

It’s been just more than six months since the new Archbishop arrived in Philly. My fear is that he doesn’t have much to say.

For Christ’s sake, Archbishop, speak up.