For weeks, rumors were swirling that the retiring, scandal-plagued cardinal archbishop of Philadelphia, Justin Rigali, would be replaced by Charles Chaput, archbishop of Denver. Yesterday, word came that it was official: Chaput, a member of the Franciscan order of Capuchins, would go to Philadelphia. It’s an excellent choice. Chaput is a meek and intelligent man, a powerful voice for the Gospel who also knows how to talk about abortion to an unreceptive culture.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the possibility of an American pope, as relayed by Inside the Vatican editor Robert Moynihan from one of his Vatican sources, “Father Jeremiah.” At the time, I totally missed the pun Father Jeremiah closed with, when he said it may be time for a “cappuccino.” But in an e-mail this evening, Moynihan confirmed what many readers had told me in the interim — that the cappuccino Jeremiah was talking about was a member of the Capuchin order: “This is what I meant when I told you a few weeks ago that it may be time for a cappuccino. Rome has seen the need for this type of profound, traditional Catholic spirituality . . . and not only in Philadelphia.”
This humble son of Saint Francis has a huge mess to clean up in Philadelphia. And if he succeeds, Philly may not be his final destination. The Pope has just made two major moves — Chaput to Philadelphia, Cardinal Scola to Milan — that greatly elevate the visibility of the churchmen involved, and the great trust he places in them. They are, in his view, men of the future.