The Holy See confirmed this week that Pope Francis will visit the United States for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, September 22-27, 2015. The historic visit will fall just one week before the opening of the General Synod of Bishops on the Family to be held in Vatican City, October 4-25, 2015.
When the announcement came, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia was on hand at the Vatican attending the Humanum Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage. The archbishop spoke to some 350 participants about next year’s World Meeting of Families at the colloquium’s final session.
Aleteia sat down with the archbishop to discuss the Humanum Colloquium, how the Church should care pastorally for people who have been abandoned by their spouses through a culture of no fault divorce, and his hopes for the upcoming World Meeting of Families.
Archbishop Chaput, today you began your remarks by saying: “This is the most interesting colloquium I’ve ever attended in my life.” Why?
Well, it was interesting on three levels: the content was extraordinary, always extraordinary; the composition of the crowd was unique in terms of its religious and cultural dimensions; and we were all on the same page in terms of the complementarity of man and woman being at the root of what marriage and family is all about. And to experience a gathering where people are on the same page, where people come from varied backgrounds, you just don’t experience that.
The quality of the presentations was extraordinary. For just one of those things to take place at a conference is good. For all three of them to take place is just amazing.
What do you think is the significance of having this colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage here at the Vatican?
It’s the best place in the world to have anything when it comes to religious dialogue, because even for those who aren’t Christians, the Pope is certainly the most prominent religious spokesperson in the world. For those of us who are Christians — Catholics and Protestants and Orthodox alike — everybody acknowledges a unique role of the Pope in the life of the Christian community. And then, for those of us who are Catholics, we are very proud of being able to pull something like this off in this kind of setting.
How do you think this Colloquium might pave the way for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia?
I hope it will lead to a greater participation on the part of people who aren’t Christians. I went out of my way to welcome them, as I thought it would feel strange to them to attend a Christian event. But as I mentioned about our speakers, we even have an atheist speaking. We simply looked for the best speakers. Now, we’ve asked him to speak about subjects in a way that would not be contrary to Church teaching, but our goal was to have the best quality presentations and the best knowledge available.
Twenty-four percent of our speakers are not Catholic. Most of them are Christians. A significant number are Jews. We have a Mormon leader who is talking about how Mormons keep families together, because they have a great reputation when it comes to family life, and we have an atheist who is speaking, which is very interesting.
There was a fair amount of controversy at the recent synod regarding Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to allow those who are divorced and “remarried” to received Holy Communion.
I think there are many more people who are divorced and remarried who go to Communion anyway. If you want to be just clear about it, that seems to be the more prominent position. They kind of ignore the Church’s position that you shouldn’t receive Communion if you’re in a second “marriage.”