Archbishop Blase Cupich has been one of the rising figures in the Catholic Church, and will be made even more prominent this fall.
Chicago Archbishop and Cardinal-elect Blase Cupich encouraged his fellow bishops to respond with courage and vigor “for what the Church is called to be!” The following statement was reported by Vatican Insider (Oct. 12, 2012):
The Holy Father’s visit a year ago [in USA] provided him with an opportunity to see first-hand the vitality and vibrancy of the Church in the US. At the same time, he offered a challenging vision of what the Church is called to be and so it is now up to all of us, the bishops of the US, to respond with courage and vigor."
Chosen by the Pope himself to participate to the 2015 Synod on the Family, Cupich supported the proposal of Cardinal Walter Kasper to provide a path for civilly remarried persons to receive Holy Communion while respecting the decision that such persons, along with homosexuals in relationships, “make about their spiritual lives” (Chicago Tribune, Oct. 17, 2015). Cupich was one of the bishops scandalizing the world by endorsing Kasper’s proposal during the Synod and highlighting the importance of conscience.
It comes therefore to no surprise that Cupich reiterated his support for giving Communion to divorced remarried in an interview last week. But this time, he presents himself as faithful to the Pope’s position!
My position is the same as that of Pope Francis, who has indicated that the proper interpretation of 'Amoris Laetitia' was given by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and then again by the bishops of Argentina, for which the Pope noted ‘no further interpretation is needed.’ So if people want to know what I think, they should refer to those sources.”
Cupich is well-known for his liberal stance on numerous issues.
Despite reminders on the sacredness of life, Cupich has a history of downplaying the urgency of the question by calling for balance, dialogue, and respect or other approaches.
As Sandro Magister put it in the Chiesa News (Sept. 30, 2014):
Cupich’s voice - as noted both by conservative Catholics, with distress, and by progressives, with satisfaction - always rings out loud and clear when the talk is of immigration or the death penalty, but he seems to get laryngitis every time there is a discussion of abortion, euthanasia, and religious freedom, or criticism of the Obama administration over health care reform."
In August 2015, in the wake of the Center for Medical Progress videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts trafficking scandal, Cupich wrote on in the Chicago Tribune (Oct. 26, 2015) that unemployment and hunger are just as appalling as killing children in the womb.
Cupich has been constant in requesting that priests and seminarians of his successive dioceses (Spokane, WA and Rapid City, SD) not participate in 40 Days for Life prayer vigils outside of abortion facilities.
Back in November 2014, Cupich stated that giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians was a positive move. Asked on CBS’s Face the Nation if he would give Communion to pro-abortion politicians, the archbishop said he hoped the grace that comes to people from the Eucharist would bring them to the truth.
Ten years before, during the 2004 presidential election, he refused to join those bishops condemning pro-abortion Catholic politicians and holding that they should not receive Communion. "We cannot cherry-pick particular issues. We have to be willing to talk about all issues. Our position begins with protecting the unborn, but it doesn't end there," he told the Rapid City Journal (May 2, 2004).
When most bishops refused to let Catholic Charities employees serve as navigators for the Affordable Care Act, Cupich bucked the trend: whatever problems the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had with “Obamacare” and its contraception mandate, he was committed to using the infrastructure of the Church to help poor people access health insurance. He was the second-to-last bishop to join the fight against the contraceptive mandate.
As voters faced a November 2012 referendum on the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington state, Cupich wrote a pastoral letter calling for "a substantial public debate . . . carried on with respect, honesty and conviction" and asked for "careful consideration" of the church's position on the referendum. In that referendum, voters approved the law by a 54%-46% margin.
Cupich has a constant record of hostility toward the traditional liturgy. It is said that in his first Mass as pastor of St. Mary in Omaha, NE his hometown, he reprimanded a young parishioner for attempting to receive the Communion on her knees.
In 2002, as Bishop of Rapid City, SD, Cupich prohibited children to make the first Communion or to be confirmed in the traditional Latin Rite. That same year, according to the Rapid City Journal (May 27, 2002), he prohibited a traditional Latin Mass community from celebrating the Paschal Triduum liturgies according to the 1962 Missal by locking the doors of Immaculate Conception Church during the Easter Triduum. The Good Friday liturgies took place on the sidewalk.
In 2011, then still Bishop in Spokane, WA, Cupich wrote The New Roman Missal: A Time of Renewal, a historical overview on liturgical renewal to introduce the new English translation of the Roman Missal.
Cupich’s vision is the same one which caused the liturgical revolution of the 1970s. Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio had no effect on him. He considers the traditional Latin Mass as dreadful and incomprehensible to the people. Its rites, according to Cupich, inspires church architecture such as altar rails which he claims have kept people far from the altar and impeded "full and active participation." By Cupich’s logic, the “old” Mass definitely belongs to a time long ago to which today’s Catholics are unable to relate. Lamenting those who did not accept the changes of the Novus Ordo Missae, Cupich holds that Catholics have to understand that the reform of the Second Vatican Council was, in fact, an improvement. And so he praises Communion under both species, Mass in the vernacular, lay participation in the liturgy, and the simplification of the rubrics.
For his Installation Mass on the Archdiocese of Chicago on November 2015, Bishop Cupich specifically requested both men and women altar servers. There were therefore four women and four seminarians.
Here is his vision of the role of the woman in the Church, as reported in Origin (Sept. 2013):
It would be a very great mistake to reduce the whole issue of women to the question of ordination. The church must engage the larger issue of women and begin by listening to women themselves. The failure of the church to attend to the concerns of women themselves is a very serious problem. . . . This is a very big knot that needs attention and it will not be untied lecturing women, and it will not be solved unless men in authority in the church clearly and deeply understand that there is a very great difference between the way women approach things and the way men approach things."
In 2011, Cupich started a new annual ecumenical service at Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral of Spokane by inviting Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Methodist ministers on Good Friday.
In April 2012, he supported the decision of Roman Catholic Gonzaga University of Spokane to invite Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak at its graduation ceremony and receive an honorary degree.
Beginning January 2017, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago is supposed to serve as the first Catholic co-chair of a new National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, sponsored by the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the USCCB.
Cupich is clearly a favorite of Pope Francis. In a two-year period, he has been the Pope’s personal candidate—against numerous objections—for four crucial roles: Archbishop of Chicago, participating in the 2015 Synod on the Family, becoming a member of the Congregation for Bishops, and now being elevated to the College of Cardinals. Cupich will now exercise one of the most prominent roles in deciding who to appoint as new bishops in the United States.
It stands to reason that Cupich will use his new-found influence and power to impose his liberal vision on the Church. Let us pray fervently for the Church and our pastors!