Charles Joseph Chaput ( ; born September 26, 1944) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He was the ninth Archbishop of Philadelphia, serving from 2011 until 2020. He previously served as Archbishop of Denver (1997–2011) and Bishop of Rapid City (1988–1997). Unlike many of his predecessors as Archbishop of Philadelphia, he was not made a cardinal. Chaput is a professed Capuchin Franciscan. A member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, he is the second Native American to be consecrated a bishop in the United States and the first Native American archbishop.

Early life

Charles Chaput was born in Concordia, Kansas, one of three children of Joseph and Marian Helen (née DeMarais) Chaput. His father was a French Canadian who was descended from the French saint King Louis IX. His mother was a Native American of the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe; his maternal grandmother was the last member of the family to live on a reservation. Chaput himself was enrolled in the tribe at a young age, taking the name ''Pietasa'' ("rustling wind"). His Potawatomi name is "the wind that rustles the leaves of the tree" while his Sioux name is "good eagle". Chaput received his early education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Grade School in Concordia, Kansas. Deciding to become a priest at the age of 13, he attended St. Francis Seminary High School in Victoria, Kansas. In 1965, at age 21, Chaput entered the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, a branch of the Franciscans, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1967, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from St. Fidelis College Seminary in Herman, Pennsylvania. On July 14, 1968, he made his solemn profession as a Capuchin friar. In 1970, he earned a Master of Arts degree in religious education from Capuchin College in Washington, DC.


Chaput was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Cyril Vogel on August 29, 1970. He received a Master of Arts degree in theology from the University of San Francisco in 1971. From 1971 to 1974, he was an instructor in theology and spiritual director at his alma mater, St. Fidelis College. He then served as executive secretary and director of communications for the Capuchin province in Pittsburgh until 1977, from which position he was appointed pastor of Holy Cross Church in Thornton, Colorado. Chaput was elected vicar provincial for the Capuchin Province of Mid-America in 1977, later becoming secretary and treasurer for the province in 1980 and chief executive and provincial minister in 1983. He was among a group of Native Americans who greeted Pope John Paul II when the latter visited Phoenix, Arizona, during his 1987 trip to the United States.

Episcopal career

Bishop of Rapid City

On April 11, 1988, Chaput was appointed Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, by Pope John Paul II. He was consecrated on the following July 26 by Archbishop Pio Laghi, with Archbishop John Roach and Archbishop James Stafford serving as co-consecrators. He was the second priest of Native American ancestry to be consecrated a bishop in the United States, after Donald Pelotte. He was the first Native American to be consecrated as an ordinary, rather than a titular bishop. He chose as his episcopal motto: ''"As Christ Loved the Church"'' ().

Archbishop of Denver

On February 18, 1997, Chaput was appointed as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Denver, Colorado, replacing Archbishop James Stafford. In 2007, Chaput gave the commencement address at Denver's Augustine Institute, a lay-run graduate school which he has actively supported. Since 2008, he has served as Episcopal moderator of the Tekakwitha Conference. In 2007, Chaput conducted an apostolic visitation of the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia, on behalf of the Congregation for Bishops. His report contributed to a long campaign by Curial officials that resulted in the removal of Bishop Bill Morris in 2011. He was one of five bishops who conducted a Vatican-ordered investigation into the Legionaries of Christ in 2009–10 following accusations against the Legionaries' founder Marcial Maciel.

Archbishop of Philadelphia

On July 19, 2011, Chaput was appointed as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He succeeded Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, who had reached retirement age of 75 in April 2010, which meant Pope Benedict had replaced a self-effacing, behind-the-scenes prelate with one known for outspoken public leadership. His strong record in handling cases of sexual abuse by priests was also cited as a rationale for his appointment. He was installed as the archdiocese's ninth archbishop on September 8, 2011. On August 17–19, he gave catechesis at the World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain, similar to the function he performed at the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney. On November 14, 2014, at the fall meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Chaput was elected as a delegate to the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family pending Vatican approval. Though Chaput led an historically important see and his five immediate predecessors were cardinals, Pope Benedict did not make him a cardinal in his two 2012 consistories, nor did Pope Francis in any of his. Pope Francis accepted his resignation on January 23, 2020.



As a seminarian, Chaput was an active volunteer in the presidential campaign of Robert Kennedy. As a young priest, he supported the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976. In his book ''Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life'', Chaput exhorts Catholics to take a "more active, vocal, and morally consistent role" in the political process, arguing that private convictions cannot be separated from public actions without diminishing both. Rather than asking citizens to put aside their religious and moral beliefs for the sake of public policy, Chaput believes American democracy depends upon a fully engaged citizenry, including religious believers, to function properly. Chaput has stated that absolute loyalty to the Church's teachings on core, bioethical, and natural law doctrinal issues (that the Church has definitively spoken on, and where its stance is not subject to appreciable change in the future – in this case, abortion) must be a higher priority for Catholics than their identity as Americans, their party affiliation, their party's stance on other issues, and the law of the country. This is so because, for a Catholic, loyalty to God, his supreme importance, and his expectations is more important than any other identity. He says that the martyrs and confessors gave witness to that fact. Regarding whether Catholic politicians who support legal abortion, contrary to Church teaching, should be denied Holy Communion, Chaput has written that, while denying anyone the Eucharist is a "very grave matter" that should be used only in "extraordinary cases of public scandal", those who are "living in serious sin or who deny the teachings of the Church" should voluntarily refrain from receiving communion. ''The New York Times'' in 2004 reported that Chaput took the position that it was sinful for Catholics to vote for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. His remarks noted Kerry's pro-choice views, among others. According to the ''Times'', he said that those who intended to vote for Kerry were "cooperating in evil" and needed "to go to confession". Chaput criticized the ''New York Times'' for the way it construed his remarks and the Archdiocese of Denver criticized the article as "heavily truncated and framed" and posted a full transcript of the interview. He stopped responding to ''New York Times'' inquiries for six years in part because of his belief the paper had misrepresented him. He was seen by some as "part of a group of bishops intent on throwing the weight of the Church into the elections". In public comments, his linkage of the Eucharist to the policy stances of political candidates and those who support them were seen by some as a politicization of moral theology. Chaput criticized what he views as a "spirit of adulation bordering on servility" toward President Barack Obama, remarking that "in democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs". He stated that Obama tried to mask his record on abortion and other issues with "rosy marketing about unity, hope, and change". Chaput also dismissed the notion that Obama was given a broad mandate, reasoning that he was elected to "fix an economic crisis" and not to "retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life, and abortion". Chaput said that in the 2016 American presidential election Americans were faced with the "worst choice in 50 years", because in his view both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were "deeply flawed" candidates. Following the 2019 shootings in Texas and Ohio, Chaput wrote that while he supports background checks for purchasers of firearms, "only a fool can believe that 'gun control' will solve the problem of mass violence. The people using the guns in these loathsome incidents are moral agents with twisted hearts. And the twisting is done by the culture of sexual anarchy, personal excess, political hatreds, intellectual dishonesty, and perverted freedoms that we've systematically created over the past half-century".

Opposition to LGBT rights movement

Chaput has taken positions against same-sex marriage and questioned the upbringing of children of same-sex couples. He has said that same-sex couples cannot show children that their parents love each other in the same way that opposite-sex couples can. In 2015, Chaput supported the dismissal of the director of religious education at Waldron Mercy Academy, Margie Winters, who had married her female partner in a civil marriage ceremony in 2007. When a parent reported this to the Archdiocese, the principal asked Winters to resign and when she refused, the school did not renew her contract. Many parents expressed anger and concern over the school's decision. Principal Nell Stetser said that "many of us accept life choices that contradict current Church teachings, but to continue as a Catholic school, Waldron Mercy must comply with those teachings." She called for "an open and honest discussion about this and other divisive issues at the intersection of our society and our Church." Chaput said the school administrators had shown "character and common sense at a moment when both seem to be uncommon'. On October 4, 2018, at the Synod on Young People and Vocations, Chaput objected to the use of the terms "LGBT" or "LGBTQ" in Church documents. He said: "There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic' or a 'transgender Catholic' or even a 'heterosexual Catholic,' as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ." Chaput also denounced what he sees as a lack of orthodoxy in the Church generally, accusing Catholic leaders of the previous several decades of "ignorance, cowardice and laziness in forming young people to carry the faith into the future." On March 27, 2019, in a speech to Ohio seminarians, he blamed sexual abuse in the Catholic Church on "a pattern of predatory homosexuality and a failure to weed that out from church life".

Immigration reform

Chaput advocates reform of immigration laws to regularize the status of most undocumented immigrants as a moral imperative.

See also

* Catholic Church in the United States * Historical list of the Catholic bishops of the United States


External links

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia web site

How to Conduct Politics as Catholics: The Denver Memorandum
''Espresso'' (August 13, 2008)
Review of ''Render Unto Caesar''
The Ludwig von Mises Institute (September 2, 2008)

Chaput quoted. {{DEFAULTSORT:Chaput, Charles Joseph Category:1944 births Category:Roman Catholic archbishops of Philadelphia Category:Roman Catholic archbishops of Denver Category:Capuchins Category:American people of French-Canadian descent Category:Potawatomi people Category:Religious figures of the indigenous peoples of North America Category:Catholic University of America alumni Category:University of San Francisco alumni Category:People from Rapid City, South Dakota Category:People from Concordia, Kansas Category:Roman Catholic bishops of Rapid City Category:20th-century Roman Catholic archbishops in the United States Category:Living people Category:Capuchin bishops Category:Catholics from Colorado Category:Catholics from Kansas Category:21st-century Roman Catholic archbishops in the United States Category:Native American Roman Catholics