This past week, Pope Benedict XVI named Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to succeed Cardinal Justin Rigali as head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. While this is an in-house decision of the Roman Catholic church, it will have major implications far beyond Philly, and reaches deeply into the broader political discussions in the US and beyond. Chaput is a leading conservative voice on church and state, and a strong defender of the church in general, and he’s stepping into the biggest church vs. state battle going on right now outside of Ireland.

Naming Chaput to head up the Philadelphia Archdiocese put one of Benedict’s most articulate and powerful voices front and center in those battles, and also changes the secular political calculus for 2012 in Pennsylvania and beyond.