In his inaugural homily as archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput did not exactly fall all over himself to pledge that he would clean up the disgraceful mess that his three predecessors had created by covering up sexual abuse by priests, even unto the present year. To the contrary, he declared that it is “important to remember and to believe the Church is not defined by her failures.” And he went on to say: “What we do in the coming months and years to respond to these challenges – that will define who we really are.”
That’s actually incoherent. More to the point is what Jesus says in Matthew 7: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” What the archdiocese of Philadelphia did in the past defines it every bit as much as how it responds in the future will–and if it responds badly, that will be Chaput’s legacy. You don’t get to count only your good fruits in the definition.