On Sunday, Archbishop Charles Chaput celebrated his final Mass in Denver before commencing his position as head of the Philadelphia Archdiocese on Sept. 8.
Though many in the LGBT community had hoped that Cardinal Justin Rigali’s replacement would be more welcoming of sexual minorities, it has become increasingly clear that will not be the case.
According to Chaput, same-sex marriage doesn’t make sense and undermines the meaning of marriage for society.
In an interview last week with CBS 3’s Pat Ciarrocchi, Chaput said, “Marriage is a natural relationship between a man and a woman for the sake of children. And so same-sex marriage doesn’t make any sense, if you understand that’s what marriage is. It’s about children. It’s not about love, it’s not just about sex — though sex is always about love and about children.”
He continued, “It’s naturally procreative, and so the church is concerned about a stable meaning of marriage. We think it’s the bedrock of not only the church but society.”
Chaput also criticized same-sex couples raising children specifically, saying, “We become healthy human beings with a father who loves our mother and a mother who loves our father, in a faithful kind of way.”
Perhaps to lessen the blow to gays and lesbians, the archbishop said he wasn’t talking about homosexual activity, per se, just same-sex marriage.
“It [gay marriage] undermines the meaning of marriage for all of us,” he said. “That’s why the church opposes this. It’s not a reaction of homosexual activity. This is a response to the need to support marriage as a stable relationship for the sake of children.”
His concern for the well-being of children seems contrary to some of the positions he took in his diocese. While he investigated allegations of sex-abuse scandals, he also opposed payouts to victims and lobbied against increasing the statute of limitations to bring charges against alleged abusers. Chaput also barred the children of a lesbian couple from attending a parish school.
Coming into a diocese with some 1.5-million members, Chaput’s conservative views are likely to be off-putting for the more socially liberal part of the country. In recent years, the archdiocese has seen attendance level off and parish schools have closed due to falling enrollment.
For the church, it faces a decision of how to respond to declining numbers and changing society: as others have noted, it will need to either opt for purity and fewer followers or inclusion and greater numbers.
Ciarrocchi’s interview with Chaput will air this week.