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“It’s obvious Rome is asking ArchbishopChaput to handle several very tough and sensitive jobs,” said Russell Shaw, a former spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who is friendly with Archbishop Chaput. “He was regarded in Rome already as a very able and reliable man who could be counted on to do a good, honest job and do it well.”

But Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), called Archbishop Chaput’s appointment “disappointing.”

“What Philadelphia needs would be a new leader who would come in and support the recommendations of the grand jury, and I don’t think Chaput will do that,” Mrs. Blaine said.

Mrs. Blaine called the apology issued by Archbishop Chaput to Denver abuse victims “lofty words” that didn’t jibe with his opposition to a 2005 proposal to extend the statute of limitations for sex offenders.

Archbishop Chaput pushed sex-abuse victims to settle their claims, ensuring little information was released about what church officials knew about the allegations.

“His track record on dealing with abuse is deplorable,” Mrs. Blaine said.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, who was Archbishop Chaput’s auxiliary bishop in Denver, called the incoming Philadelphia archbishop “a man of profound faith and extraordinary pastoral sensitivity.”

ArchbishopChaput worked with missionary zeal — even making use of social media — to spread the Good News of Christ’s love to all corners of his archdiocese,” Archbishop Gomez said in a statement.

In Philadelphia, Cardinal Rigali has overseen the closing of dozens of Catholic schools because of declining enrollment, but he also spearheaded the construction of two suburban high schools and a church for a burgeoning immigrant Hispanic community.

Philadelphia is one of the most historically important posts in the U.S. church.

AP correspondent Alessandra Rizzo contributed from the Vatican.