Philadelphia Day 6: The Cathedral

In matters Catholic a cathedral is the principal church of a diocese, where the highest ranking prelate lives and preaches and runs the administration of church affairs in his area. In Philadelphia, the cathedral is called The Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, and the presiding Archbishop is Charles Chaput, a Pope Benedict appointee. Chaput is very conservative, and likely at least a nominal part of the faction opposing changes in the church under Pope Francis and indeed questioning the authority and credibility of the Pope himself.

The Cathedral Basilica is on Museum Row, and I walked past it on my way back to the hotel from the Philadelphia Art Museum. The front door was open, so I popped in to take a look. The Cathedral is quite beautiful, as these great church structures often are. A docent was there, and as I was the only visitor we began to chat. I asked her what brings her to devote time to the Church as a docent, and she says that when she is in the church she feels as if her life is lit up by the presence of God. She also said that she loves the Archbishop. She finds public life and discourse so confusing these days, and Archbishop Chaput makes it simple and gives her clear direction and lays out how she should think about things.

Growing up Catholic we all memorized the Baltimore Catechism, which not only told you the answers but provided the questions legitimate to ask. I found that to be a very closed loop, even as a kid. There is a strain of Catholicism that supports individual conscience and independent thinking, but not the Chaput faction.

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