Archdiocese: Chaput Didn’t Criticize the Pope

Says "confusion of the devil" comment was misreported.

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Remember last week’s report that Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput had criticized the recent summit of cardinals and bishops that had considered offering a friendlier face to gays and lesbians? The archdiocese now says those reports weren’t quite right.

Coverage of Chaput’s speech to an audience of Catholic conservatives ” made it sound like the Archbishop was critical of the Vatican and the Holy Father and that’s just not the case,” said Kenneth Gavin, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

Much of the coverage and commentary was based on an account from the Religious News Service, which offered the following account:

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.”

Those proposals weren’t adopted — they were part of an initial draft report that was different from the final product — but they were unprecedented for a debate within the Catholic Church hierarchy. RNS’s coverage made it sound like Chaput was criticizing the summit — known as a “synod” in church parlance. In fact, Chaput’s speech (the full text of which is reproduced below) never mentioned the synod.

And when it came up during a Q&A afterward, Gavin said, Chaput’s “confusion is of the devil” comment “was a criticism of those who used the draft report from the Synod out of context to reinforce their own opinions and agendas. It was not a criticism of the Holy Father, the Vatican or the Synod.”

Chaput is known as a leading conservative in the American church, and Pope Francis as a liberalizing force. Though Chaput has not been named a cardinal by Pope Francis, the two have been known to be friendly in the past. And with the World Meeting of Families due in Philadelphia next year — featuring a likely appearance by the pope — both sides are probably more interested in teamwork than infighting.