Philadelphia Meets its Future Archbishop

Cardinal Rigali announced his resignation and introduced his successor, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, at a news conference this morning.

Though Rigali said age was the deciding factor in his retirement, he obliquely acknowledged the sex abuse scandals in his speech. “If I have offended anyone in any way, I am sorry,” he said. “I apologize for any weaknesses on my part in representing Christ and his Church worthily and effectively.”

“Certainly, all throughout the Church, there has been a curve of learning—not just throughout the Church, but throughout society. We learned so much that we didn’t know before,” Rigali said when questioned further about his regrets. “All of us would have liked to have known back then everything we know now.”

66-year-old Chaput, the nation’s first Native American archbishop, declined to comment extensively on Philadelphia’s sex abuse scandals because he had not yet read the grand jury reports. However, he expressed a desire to meet with victims and stressed the importance of total community involvement in restoring faith in the Church. “How do you heal problems in a family? The persistent application of unending love,” he said. “It’s not my problem, it’s our problem.”

Chaput, who prefers that parishioners call him “Archbishop Charles,” warmly introduced himself to members of the congregation, clergy and media with handshakes and hugs. Students from Roman Catholic High School presented him with a gift package of local treats, an Eagles t-shirt and a Phillies cap, which he was quick to don.

“It will be nice to root for a winning team,” he joked.

Cardinal Rigali will retire to the Diocese of Knoxville after Chaput is installed as Archbishop on September 8. In the meantime, Rigali will serve as Apostolic Administrator, performing all of the duties of Archbishop.

Cardinal Rigali and Archbishop Chaput have invited the public to join them today for the following events:

12:05 p.m. Cardinal Rigali will be the principal celebrant and homilist at a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Archbishop Chaput and the Auxiliary Bishops of Philadelphia will concelebrate.

2:00 p.m. Cardinal Rigali and Archbishop Chaput will visit the National Shrine of Saint John Neumann, 1019 North 5th Street

2:50 p.m. Cardinal Rigali and Archbishop Chaput will visit the Saint Katharine Drexel Mission Center and National Shrine, 1663 Bristol Pike in Bensalem

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