Sept. 21, 2019
By Jeremy Roebuck
After eight years as the Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput turns 75 next week, a milestone that will mark the beginning of the end for his tenure leading the ninth-largest diocese in the United States.
Under church law, prelates must offer to resign upon reaching that birthday, which comes Thursday for Chaput. It is up to Pope Francis to decide whether to accept it, reject it, or to keep the archbishop on until a successor can be named.
Church officials have said little about Chaput’s future. But he has made his intentions clear.
“I’m going to be retiring this year,” Chaput told a crowd at a panel discussion last month at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood. And speculation is already building among the region’s 1.5 million Catholics as to what — and more importantly, who — comes next.
The search could move swiftly or drag for years. Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chaput’s immediate predecessor, remained for more than a year after his 75th birthday. Before that, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua stayed on until he was 80.
An archdiocesan spokesperson confirmed Friday that Chaput has sent his resignation to the Vatican and is waiting for a response. His departure will give the pope the chance to select a prelate more in his mold for one of the most active archdioceses in the nation.
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