The Ninth Archbishop of Chicago
Archbishop Blase Joseph Cupich
(Pronounced SOO-pitch) (born March 19, 1949) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis appointed him the Ninth Archbishop of Chicago on September 20, 2014, as the successor of Cardinal Francis George. He is scheduled to be installed as archbishop during a special Mass on November 18. Veteran Vatican journalist John L. Allen said of his appointment that "the Francis revolution in Catholicism has finally arrived in the United States" and "the American landscape has shifted".
Early life and education
Blase Cupich was born in Omaha, Nebraska, as one of the nine children of Blase and Mary (née Mayhan) Cupich. He attended St. John Vianney Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, from where he obtained his B.A. in Philosophy in 1971. He then studied in Rome at the Pontifical North American College and earned his Bachelor's in Sacred Theology (1974) and his Master's in Theology (1975) from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Cupich was ordained to the priesthood on August 16, 1975, and then served as both associate pastor at St. Margaret Mary Church and instructor at Paul VI High School in Omaha until 1978. In the Archdiocese of Omaha, he served as director of the Office for Divine Worship and as chairman of the Commission on Youth from 1978 to 1981. He completed his graduate studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. From 1980 to 1981, Cupich was an instructor of the Continuing Education of Priests Program and Diaconate Formation at Creighton University in Omaha. He then served as secretary of the nunciature to the United States until 1987, and occasionally acted as spokesman for the mission. He was pastor of St. Mary Church in Bellevue from 1987 to 1989, President-Rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, from 1989 to 1996, and pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Omaha from 1997 to 1998.
Bishop of Rapid City
On July 6, 1998, Cupich was appointed the seventh Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, by Pope John Paul II. He was ordained a bishop by Archbishop Harry Flynn of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on September 21, 1998.
Bishop of Spokane
On June 30, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Spokane. He was installed as the sixth bishop of the Spokane on September 3, 2010, in a ceremony at Gonzaga University. As of June 2014, he lived in a room at the diocesan seminary and owned no furniture of his own. Several months after the election of Pope Francis, he told a reporter: "Pope Francis doesn't want cultural warriors, he doesn't want ideologues. That's the new paradigm for us, and it's making many of us think."
In 2011, Cupich discouraged priests and seminarians in his diocese from participating in demonstrations in front of Planned Parenthood clinics or supporting 40 Days for Life, a pro-life movement that conducts vigils at abortion clinics. His action, in one estimation, "dismayed some of the most aggressive pro-life forces in Catholicism".
In April 2012, he supported the decision of Gonzaga University to invite Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak at its graduation ceremonies and receive an honorary degree, against which the Cardinal Newman Society and others active in the pro-life movement were protesting.
Archbishop of Chicago
The Press office of the Holy See announced on September 20, 2014, that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Francis George as Archbishop of Chicago and named Cupich to succeed him. Cupich is scheduled to be installed there on November 18, 2014.
Discussing the selection of Cupich for Chicago, John J. Allen wrote:
Cupich is clearly a moderate, clearly upholding church teaching on all the hot-button issues in the wars of culture such as abortion, contraception, and gay marriage, but like Francis, he tends to shun strong rhetoric on those matters. Instead, Cupich has been identified with the wing of the American bishops that's tried to steer the church down a less confrontational path, and tends to place special emphasis on the social gospel, meaning concern for the poor and for social justice.
Before his installation in Chicago, Cupich announced he would live in a suite of rooms at Holy Name Cathedral rather than in the Gold Coast mansion that traditionally serves as the residence of Chicago's archbishops.
Within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Cupich has served as Chair of the Bishops' Committee on the Protection for Children and Young People since 2008 and he is a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Scripture Translation. He has served as a member of its Committee on the Liturgy, the Communications Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism. He is also a member of the Board of the Catholic Extension Society and the Catholic Mutual Relief Society. He has served on the Board of Trustees of St. Paul Seminary, as the Episcopal Advisor of the Serra Club, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Pastoral Life Center. He began a three-year term as chairman of the National Catholic Education Association in March 2013.