Of any fair-minded and competent person it is a daunting task of taking on the work of the Chief Shepherd of a very large (nearly 1.5 million Catholics) local church is enough to make one have second thoughts but imagine taking on a project that’s been rocked by low morale among the faithful and clergy, numerous victims of sexual misconduct, of a troubled school and parish systems and the like. But that is what the 67 year old Capuchin Friar-Archbishop is doing in Philadelphia. Rebuilding the Lord’s church as Saint Francis of Assisi was exhorted, Archbishop Charles has completed only 3 months of service in Philadelphia and he’s fresh from a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and now a letter oriented to setting a straighter path to Christ.
Consider in brief, Chaput’s words:
Complacency is the enemy of faith. To whatever degree complacency and pride once had a home in our local Church, events in the coming year will burn them out. The process will be painful. But going through it is the only way to renew the witness of the Church; to clear away the debris of human failure from the beauty of God’s word and to restore the joy and zeal of our Catholic discipleship.
These words may sound sobering, but they are spoken with love as a father and a brother. They are a plea to take our baptism seriously; and to renew our local Church with Christian charity, justice and zeal. As Scripture reminds us so frequently: Do not be afraid. God uses poor clay to create grandeur and beauty. He can certainly use us to renew and advance the work of the Church — and he will.
The full text of the pastoral letter can be read here: Pastoral Letter to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Abp Charles Chaput December 8, 2011.pdf