Charles Chaput, who infamously said there is no such thing as an LGBTQ Catholic, among many other homophobic statements, is out as the Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia.
Chaput has often been at odds with Pope Francis, and he will be replaced by an ally of the pope, Nelson Perez, who most recently served as bishop of Cleveland.
Chaput, like all Catholic bishops and archbishops, was required to turn in his resignation at age 75, and he reached this age in September. However, the pope has the option of accepting the resignation or not, and can allow these clergy members to stay on. “In this case, the pope did not wait long before saying yes,” The New York Times reports. Francis announced Thursday that Chaput would step down from his position in Philadelphia, which he has held since 2011. He was appointed by Francis’s more conservative predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.
The archbishop is well-known for his opposition to same-sex marriage — the church as a whole does not approve of such unions, but Chaput has been particularly vocal on the topic, denouncing moves to offer civil, not religious, recognition to same-sex couples.
Before he came to Philadelphia, as archbishop of Denver, he helped defeat legislation that would have established civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado, before marriage equality became the law of the land. Also while in Denver, he supported the expulsion of a student from a Catholic preschool because the child was being raised by two mothers.
He has also said that gay people who are not celibate should not receive communion, nor should supporters of abortion rights. One of the pro-choice politicians who drew his ire was John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for president in 2004 and a fellow Catholic. Chaput said faithful Catholics had to support the reelection of President George W. Bush that year.
In 2016, he said Catholics in same-sex relationships as well as divorced and remarried straight Catholics should abstain from sex if they want to receive communion. They should “live as brother and sister,” he said.
In 2018, he essentially said LGBTQ Catholics don’t exist. Speaking at the church’s Youth Synod in Rome, he said, “There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ. … ‘LGBTQ’ and similar language should not be used in church documents, because using it suggests that these are real, autonomous groups, and the church simply doesn’t categorize people that way.”
His successor, Perez, is said to be more in line with Pope Francis’s conciliatory approach to cultural issues, although for LGBTQ Catholics Francis has offered some statements of acceptance while staunchly defending the church’s stance against same-sex relationships and gender transition. There is little on record regarding Perez’s positions on LGBTQ equality, although the diocese of Cleveland does offer an LGBTQ family ministry.
Perez, a Cuban-American, is the first Latino clergy member to lead the Philadelphia archdiocese, which has 1.3 million Catholics, compared to 700,000 for the Cleveland diocese. He chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on cultural diversity and is known as an advocate for immigrants. Chaput was the first Native American archbishop; he is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe.