On March 18, 1997, Archbishop Chaput was appointed Archbishop of Denver, Colorado, after Most Rev. James Francis Stafford was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in the Roman Curia.
Archbishop Chaput is of French-Canadian and Native American (Potawatomi) extraction and has two aunts who are nuns. His maternal grandmother was the last member of the family to live on a reservation and Chaput himself was enrolled in the tribe at a young age.
Archbishop Chaput was the principal consecrator of the Most Rev. José Horacio Gómez (the current Archbishop of San Antonio, Texas) on March 26, 2001 as Auxiliary Bishop of Denver and titular Bishop of Belali. He has co-consecrated three Bishops: the Most Rev. Blase Joseph Cupich of Rapid City on September 21, 1998, the Most Rev. Samuel Joseph Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota on August 24, 2001, and the Most Rev. R. Walker Nickless - the new Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa - on January 20, 2006.
On October 26, 2004 Archbishop Chaput gave an interview to a New York Times reporter about the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Several of his statements were controversial in that some felt that Chaput was telling voters in the Archdiocese that voting for John Kerry was a sin and that he was ordering them to vote for George W. Bush. Due to the controversy, Chaput made the transcripts from the interview with the New York Times public to try to clarify his position. Nonetheless, some both in and outside the church saw this as an abandonment of the careful neturality of past elections by the Church, and Chaput in particular by influencing voters in the Presidential elections.