When I was a child, the word “Philadelphia” invariably reminded me of a fresh wannabe cheese that I actually – probably against my better judgement – even liked. Little I knew that the thing didn’t carry the word “cheese”, because not in compliance with the rigid Italian laws about what you can call, well, “cheese”. Too much crap inside, was the general verdict on the matter. Be it as it may, when I grew up they lost me as a client.
Then, and to this day, the word “Philadelphia” started to instantly remind me of a rather beautiful song of Bruce Springsteen, the soundtrack of a successful film of the Nineties. In the video, Philadelphia was depicted as a city in clear decline. Springsteen walks in a kind of dump/ghetto not easily imaginable in Europe.*
That hit home.
Curious, I went to Wikipedia and discovered that whilst the place might do with one or three improvements (sixth most dangerous US city above 500,000 inhabitants; second dirtiest, too) it is certainly no Detroit, with a vibrant pharmaceutical industry, rather high income generation and clear signs of vitality.
This is, then, the place Archbishop Chaput will find when he moves there in September. Not an easy task, I must say: the archdiocese is in the middle of just another cover-up scandal, and Archbishop Chaput will have to keep up the good work already executed in Denver in similar circumstances.
Make no mistake, the liberal wolves will be around him in no time and will certainly try to smear him with every bit of the dirt they can find in his new diocese. A bit like Pope Benedict and the Hitlerjugend, or the homosexual pedophile priest scandal and, really, pretty much everything the liberals don’t like. Just associate the dirt with your enemy; something will stick.
But the man is a tough skin besides being a
Reds, erm, “Native American”. Even from the other side of the pond, he is one of the names one finds very regularly on Catholic headlines; an outspoken chap, very orthodox from what I have read up to now, unafraid to say it loud and clear and not really willing of taking the favourite excuse of the american clergy for their inaction, namely that the Church would lose its tax status if they were to be publicly Catholic. Which – let us be clear about that – for a Catholic doesn’t even begin to be an argument.
I hope that he will counter every punch and continue to be on the offensive rather than indulging in the usual “oh how very bad we have been, will you ever ever EVER be able to forgive us”-litany of his weaker and more cowardly colleagues. He will probably also get a red hat, as it is rather expected for his new diocese, and will give to the orthodox (read: conservatives) another extremely valid help and, why not, candidate when the next conclave comes.
Good look to him, and my prayers. A tough job for a tough guy.
God willing, he’ll do so good that in ten years’ time whenever I hear the name “Philadelphia” I will think of him, Archbishop (and very probably: Cardinal) Chaput. The cheese was not even really cheese and the song rather sad anyway.
* Outside of Naples, that is.