Shepherd in a Strange Land

“I’m a pastor, not a scholar,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia since 2011, said when I interviewed him earlier last year for Catholic World Report about his new book.  “A bishop’s job is helping people get to heaven, not to Washington.”

In fact, since the death of Francis Cardinal George of Chicago in 2015, Chaput has taken the lead as the most erudite, well-read, and deeply thoughtful of American bishops, capable of both trenchant observations and detailed, nuanced analysis of matters theological, philosophical, cultural, and political.  He has a gift for getting at the heart of things with just the right degree of detachment combined with a wry sting.  In Chaucer’s words, “Short, to the point, and lofty in his theme.”  For instance, this remark in response to my question about how Christians in America should be “strangers”:

The not-so-good news is that times have changed.  The past 60 years have transformed almost every aspect of American life.  Christians are waking up to the fact that the country they thought they knew isn’t the country they actually live in.  That’s especially ironic for Catholics.  We’ve spent the last century trying to fit in to the American mainstream.  Now that we’ve finally...

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