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Bishop Blase Cupich named Archbishop of Chicago

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By Tracy Simmons

Blase Cupich
Blase Cupich

ATLANTA — Pope Francis made his most significant U.S. appointment today by naming Bishop Blase Cupich as Archbishop of Chicago. The Vatican confirmed Saturday that he will be replacing the ailing Cardinal Francis George.

Cupich, 65, is considered a Catholic progressive and his appointment could signal a shift in the church.

Since he became bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane in 2010 he’s stayed mostly under the radar, working quietly with the unchurched, the ecumenical community and immigrants — efforts that mirror Pope Francis’.

Cupich came to Spokane from Rapid City, S.D., partly to deal with sex abuse scandals that had rocked the Spokane Diocese. The scandals caused the diocese to file for bankruptcy, and just this week a trial date was set regarding a lawsuit over the bankruptcy settlement.

Not everyone has praised Cupich for how he handled the sex abuse scandal, however.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), for example, released a statement Friday stating it wasn’t optimistic about Cupich doing more to prevent future clergy abuse and claiming that during his tenure in Spokane he used bankruptcy laws “to avoid embarrassing disclosures.”

Cupich, who opposes same-sex marriage, raised eyebrows during Referendum 74 in Washington when he wrote a letter to Catholic voters that read, “In stating our position The Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility towards homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity.”

He has a history of calling for peaceful dialogue. He urged his fellow bishops to be civil when there was a Catholic outcry over Obama’s requirement that employers provide health insurance that covers contraception.

He’s also been loud in his opposition to abortion and the death penalty.

Cupich, originally from Nebraska, is the first person in about a century to lead the Chicago archdiocese without already being an archbishop. In Chicago there are 350 parishes and 2.2 million Catholics — significantly larger than the Spokane Diocese, which has 90,000 Catholics and 82 parishes.

Most archbishops of Chicago go on to become cardinals, which means they can vote in papal elections.

Officials from the Catholic Diocese of Spokane were not available for comment, but Thayne McCulloh, president of Gonzaga University, said it’s been a privilege to work with Cupich over the past four years.

“Always interested in the challenges faced by the various ministries, he has consistently encouraged collaboration and constructive dialogue. It was inevitable that the Holy Father would elect to appoint him to a position where his considerable gifts could be shared with a larger portion of the church in the United States,” he said. “Even as he will be missed here in Spokane, I am confident that the people of Chicago will find him an inspiring servant, an exceptional administrator, and a joyful leader.”

It has not been announced who will succeed Cupich as bishop of the Spokane diocese, but the search process will likely take a year and a local interim will likely be assigned.

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.

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2 comments

  1. A “Delightful” Meeting With A Mass Killer?

    In a shocking statement, new Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich was quoted as saying he recently had a “delightful” meeting with President Obama who is the most pro-abortion President in American history. Obama is well known for his support for killing children in the womb at every stage of life including late term abortions, partial birth abortions, and even voting not to protect from death babies who are born alive when an abortionist failed to kill them in the womb.

    http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/obama-and-cupich-meet-first-time-discuss-immigration/tue-11252014-901pm

    No reasonable person can see any difference between a Catholic Bishop who would meet with a Commandant of a Nazi concentration camp then calling that meeting “delightful” and Archbishop Cupich calling his meeting with a man who supports the murder of 55 million children by abortion “delightful.”

    What a horrific and spiritually deadly situation when a Catholic Bishop has a “delightful” time meeting with man who is responsible for the mass murder of “the least” of God’s people.

    Please contact the Archbishop about this scandalous situation. We are the only voice the unborn have.

    Office of the Archbishop
    Archdiocese of Chicago
    PO Box 1979
    Chicago, IL. 60690-1979

    Phone: 312-534-8230
    E-Mail: archbishop@archchicago.org

    • Nice post Maggie. The comparison certainly spotlights the guilt of Obama and the indifference to the “unborn holocaust” that Cupich expressed with his “delightful meeting.” I am glad there are people taking note and helping others to do likewise. Bravo.

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