Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Pope Francis appoints Bishop Blase Cupich Archbishop of Chicago

by Joyce Duriga, Editor, Catholic New World (Archdiocese of Chicago)

(From the October 16, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

Cardinal Francis George introduced his successor as the next Archbishop of Chicago during a press conference at the Quigley Center on Sept. 20. Bishop Blase Cupich from the Diocese of Spokane Washington will be installed as the next archbishop for Chicago’s 2.2 million Catholics on Nov. 18 at Holy Name Cathedral. (IR photo courtesy of Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

The Archdiocese of Chicago now knows who will succeed Cardinal Francis George.

On Saturday, Sept. 20, it was announced that Pope Francis appointed Bishop Blase Cupich, 65, of the Diocese of Spokane, as the ninth archbishop of Chicago.

Cardinal George introduced Archbishop Cupich during a press conference at the Archbishop Quigley Pastor Center, Chicago.

“Bishop Cupich is well prepared for his new responsibilities and brings to them a deep faith, a quick intelligence, personal commitment and varied pastoral experiences,” Cardinal George said.

Archbishop Cupich will be installed during a Mass at Holy Name Cathedral on Nov. 18. Cardinal George retains the office of archbishop until the installation. After Cardinal George turns 80 – the maximum age when cardinals can vote in a conclave – Archbishop Cupich could be eligible for a red hat but until then he will hold the title of archbishop.

The new archbishop is no stranger to Chicago, having served on the board of the Chicago-based Catholic Extension Society since 2009.

Archbishop Cupich told the media that the appointment “humbles and encourages” him, and his priority as the new archbishop is to be attentive to the way God is working through the people in the archdiocese.

He learned of the appointment 10 days before the announcement and said he felt overwhelmed and surprised when the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, called him.

Some in the media describe Archbishop Cupich as a moderate, but when asked about this description he said, “Labels are hard for anybody to live up to, one way or another. I just try to be myself and I try to learn from great people. You’ve had great people here in this archdiocese pastor you. And I’m following a great man.”

When asked if his appointment – the first major appointment made by Pope Francis in the United States – sends a message of the Holy Father’s agenda, Archbishop Cupich said no.

“I think the Holy Father is a pastoral man. I think that his priority is to send a bishop, not a message,” he said.

That Archbishop Cubich’s new flock is a lot larger than his present flock is not lost on him.

“This is an enormous upgrade, so to speak,” Archbishop Cupich told the media. “We had a hundred thousand Catholics in Eastern Washington and I had 27,000 Catholics in South Dakota.” There are 2.2 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago, which is the third largest archdiocese in the nation.

When pressed on what tone he will bring to the archdiocese, Archbishop Cupich said, “I think it’s really important to keep in mind that it’s not my church, it’s Christ’s church. I have to be attentive to his voice in the lives of the people and the word of God and the way that he communicates to all of us through the pointers that he gives.”

In an interview with the Catholic New World following the press conference, Archbishop Cupich thanked Catholics in the archdiocese for their warm welcome and said he looks forward to visiting the parishes and communities.

“I really am sincere in saying I know that I can only do this if I have their support and prayers. I want to be very pronounced in asking, begging for their prayers,” he said.

Archbishop Cupich did his doctoral work on Scripture readings used in the liturgy and that remains a part of his spiritual nourishment, he said.

“I find that, not just the word of God in the Bible, but the convergence of how the texts are put together in the liturgy is a source of my own spiritual life.”

Archbishop Cupich was born on March 19, 1949, in Omaha, Neb., and is one of nine children. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1975, and was ordained and installed as bishop of Rapid City, S.D., in 1998. In 2010 he was installed as bishop of Spokane. He speaks Spanish and lives at Bishop White Seminary, near Gonzaga University.

He has degrees from the College of St. Thomas in Minnesota, the Gregorian University in Rome and Catholic University of America. Additionally, Archbishop Cupich was the secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.; was pastor of two parishes in Omaha; and served as chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People from 2008 until 2011.

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