News Local/State

Pope Names Moderate Bishop For Chicago Archdiocese


Pope Francis has chosen a bishop known as a moderate to replace retiring Cardinal Francis George as head of the high-profile Chicago archdiocese.

The Vatican said Saturday that the pontiff had appointed Monsignor Blase Cupich, 65, a native of Nebraska, for the post that had been held by George, a leading church conservative who is 77 and battling cancer.

Cupich has called for civility in the culture wars and has embraced Pope Francis' focus on fighting poverty.

During a news conference in Chicago, Cupich was asked several times about whether he would shift direction as a successor to Cardinal Francis George, who is particularly admired in the church's conservative wing.
He responded simply that he would be himself and it was up to others to decide whether that constituted a change.
Cupich also said it was wrong to think of his appointment as a strong signal from Pope Francis about the direction he wants to steer American church leaders.
"I think the holy father is a pastoral man,'' Cupich said. "I think that his priority is not to send a message but a bishop.''

UPDATE:  Catholic Latinos went to Mass on Sunday hopeful and optimistic that the next leader of the Archdiocese of Chicago will be willing to speak out for immigration reform, the needs of the poor and be a bigger part of their parishes.

On Sunday, several people at largely-Latino parishes in Chicago said they think the next leader of the nation's third-largest archdiocese will speak out and support issues that are important to them.
"He comes from a family of immigrants, so therefore we have something in common,'' said Jose Sauceda, 63, as he was arriving for Mass at St. Pius V Church.
Cupich on Saturday told his own story of having four grandparents from Croatia as he called for immigration reform.
Steve Vidal, a 42-year-old teacher attending Mass at St. Pius V Church, said he believes George and other Catholic conservatives left gays feeling "marginalized'' and hopes Cupich's views will mirror those of Pope Francis, who has been more welcoming.
At nearby St. Paul's Catholic Church, Nelly Viramontes, 36, said it seemed like George rarely visited the Hispanic parishes, whose members account for 44 percent of the archdiocese.

She said she hoped Cupich would reach out to Hispanics more.