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Archbishop Chaput: Non-Catholic enthusiasm for Pope based on hope he’s unconcerned with moral issues

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RIO, July 24, 2013 ( - In an interview with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput noted that enthusiasm for Pope Francis coming from “alienated Catholics, non-Catholics and non-Christians,” to some extent even more than from the faithful.  Asked for an explanation, the Archbishop said it is possible that these admirers “think they would prefer a church that wouldn't have strict norms and ideas about the moral life and about doctrine, and they somehow interpret the pope's openness and friendliness as being less concerned about those things.”

The archbishop added: “I certainly don't think that's true. I think he's a truly Catholic man in every sense of the word, but I think people are hoping that he'll be less concerned about the issues that separate us today.” 

Archbishop Chaput suggested however that the honeymoon was bound to wear off soon. “I would think that by virtue of his office, he'll be required to make decisions that won't be pleasing to everybody,” he said, noting that some “right wing” Catholics are already displeased with Francis. 

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Allen asked about commentators who have noted that in his first 120 days Pope Francis hasn’t used the words "abortion," "gay marriage" and "euthanasia." After warning against quick judgment of the pontificate, the archbishop said, “I think the pope has spoken very clearly about the value of human life. He hasn't expressed those things in a combative way, and perhaps that's what some are concerned about, but I can't imagine that he won't be as pro-life and pro-traditional marriage as any of the other popes have been in the past.” 

Responding to a follow-up question about the Pope wanting to stay out of political issues, Chaput said, “For me, issues such as abortion and the meaning of marriage aren't political issues; they're doctrinal and moral. We all as bishops, including the bishop of Rome, have to talk about those things. 

“It would be very strange to think you can make that separation. It usually comes from those who want to claim that those two issues are political, which is often what happens in the States. We're told to keep our nose out of politics, when really, our nose is in morality.” 

For the full interview with Archbishop Chaput go here.

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