Archbishop Chaput Speaks Out Against Church Liberalization

And suggests priests should get out of the "civil marriage" business.

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

While liberal Catholics greeted signs of growing openness to gays at a recent summit of cardinals and bishops at the Vatican, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput — a noted conservative — found much to criticize. He expressed his unhappiness in a Monday night speech that is getting wide play across the country.

Religion News Service reports:

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, a leading culture warrior in the U.S. hierarchy, says he was “very disturbed” by the debate over church teachings on gays and remarried Catholics at this month’s Vatican summit, saying it sent a confusing message and “confusion is of the devil.”

“I was very disturbed by what happened” at the synod, Chaput said. “I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion.”

Francis convened the synod as part of a two-year discussion on the Catholic Church’s response to rapid changes in modern family dynamics. Media attention focused on proposals that would push the church to be more welcoming to gay Catholics, and to cohabiting couples and the divorced and remarried, who are currently barred from receiving Communion.

Those proposals weren’t adopted — and Chaput wasn’t present at the summit — but they were unprecedented for a debate within the Catholic Church hierarchy. Chaput said the church should clearly restate its own teachings on marriage and homosexuality.

The Inquirer reports:

Chaput’s remarks made clear he was standing with the bishops who had pressed for the traditional views of the final document.

“There’s no doubt the church has a clear position on what marriage means,” Chaput said in remarks following a lecture hosted by First Things, a magazine of conservative Catholicism.

“You don’t receive Communion unless you’re in communion with the teachings of Christ,” he said, and “gay marriage is not a possibility in God’s plan.”

Chaput also reportedly suggested that Catholic priests get out of the business of certifying state marriage licenses when they perform weddings. “Refusing to conduct civil marriages now, as a matter of principled resistance, has vastly more witness value than being kicked out of the marriage business later by the government, which is a likely bet,” he said.

The Inquirer reported that Chaput was unavailable for further comment.