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PHILLY-CHAPUT (UPDATED) Sep-9-2011 (950 words) With photos posted Sept. 8 and 9. xxxn

Church will get through 'difficult moment,' Archbishop Chaput says

Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, embraces Archbishop Charles J. Chaput at the start of Archbishop Chaput's installation Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia Sept. 8. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, installed Sept. 8 as the new archbishop of Philadelphia, encouraged Catholics to know they will get through the "difficult moment" the local church is experiencing.

Although rain prevented an outdoor procession at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, it did not dampen the spirits of about 1,700 people, including 400 priests and 100 bishops, who attended the installation Mass.

The Mass took place after days of rain and local flooding, and many in the congregation faced long detours just to arrive at the cathedral in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love.

Outside the cathedral, the struggles the archdiocese has faced in recent months were very apparent. A block away, Catholic high school teachers were picketing during the second day of their strike; in front of the cathedral, while members of the Neocatechumenal Way sang and played guitars and drums, a group of people protesting clergy abuse marched silently, holding aloft signs as a stinging reminder of the recent grand jury report that accused archdiocese officials of failing to prevent abuse of children.

Inside the majestic cathedral though, members of the congregation greeted one another as if at a reunion, and they gave their new archbishop -- who headed the Denver Archdiocese for the past 14 years and before that, the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D., for nine years -- a warm welcome and long, sustained applause.

The archbishop in turn expressed his admiration for those in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, thanking them for embracing him with "such extraordinary kindness." He also repeatedly acknowledged the difficulties they currently face and must continue to cope with, without going into any details.

"The church in Philadelphia faces very serious challenges these days," he said during his homily.

"There's no quick fix to problems that are so difficult and none of us here today, except the Lord himself, is a miracle worker," he said. "But the church is not defined by her failures. And you and I are not defined by critics or those who dislike us."

He told the congregation that what the church does in coming months and years to respond to challenges "will define who we really are."

He also promised them that "no bishop will try harder to help persons who have been hurt by the sins of the past. And no bishop will work harder to strengthen and encourage my brother priests and to restore the hearts of our faithful."

He urged Philadelphia Catholics to keep in mind the image of Jesus as a good shepherd -- symbolized in the bishop's crosier.

"All of us should keep that image in our hearts in the months ahead because the Good Shepherd really will bring the church in Philadelphia through this difficult moment in our history to security and joy and a better future," he said.

Archbishop Chaput, who turns 67 Sept. 26, was ordained as a Capuchin Franciscan priest in 1970 and became bishop of Rapid City at the age of 43. A member of the Prairie Band Potowatami tribe, he is the second Native American to be ordained a bishop in the United States and the first Native American archbishop.

A few times during his homily the archbishop likened his appointment to the Philadelphia Archdiocese as "an arranged marriage," which drew some laughs from the congregation, especially when he said the "Holy Father is the matchmaker."

He added that the pope "knows in his wisdom that we will make a good family together."

"For any marriage to work," he added, "two things need to happen. People need to fall in love and together they need to be fruitful. That's what we need to dedicate ourselves to today -- to love one another and be fruitful together in the new evangelization."

Archbishop Chaput made special note of the day of his installation, the feast of Mary's birthday. He said Mary has been "a constant source of hope and protection" in his vocation and hoped that she would also comfort members of the archdiocese "in the midst of the turmoil of the church in our time, specifically in Philadelphia."

After the Mass, the congregation lingered in the cathedral talking with one another, taking pictures and waiting in line for two hours to personally greet their new archbishop. At exits of the church and even onto the street, crowds of Neocatechumenal Way continued their exuberant singing and dancing. and only one protester stood on the sidewalk.

Jorge Chavez, a member of Incarnation Church in Philadelphia and one of the afternoon's bongo drum players, said he was there, along with local members of the Way and dozens from New York and Washington, simply to show support for the new archbishop.

Several people told Catholic News Service that they were very impressed by the archbishop's words.

Sister Marie Edward, a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor and superior of the order's Holy Family Home in Philadelphia, said the archbishop certainly "energized" the archdiocese to go forward.

Theresa Romanowski, a member of St. Adalbert Parish in Philadelphia, was impressed not only by the archbishop's humility and sincerity but by his commitment to do whatever it takes to restore the faithful.

"I feel like our marriage is going to work," she said, referring to how he described his relationship with the archdiocese.

That sentiment was not only from local Catholics either. Msgr. Michael Woster, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Winner, S.D., said: "Philadelphia's getting a wonderful man and an excellent bishop."

The priest, who attended the installation Mass with a group from the Diocese of Rapid City, said the archbishop's pastoral manner, humility and sincerity would "bring the local church to new life and new beginnings."


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