Blase J. Cupich

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The Most Reverend
Blase Joseph Cupich
Archbishop of Chicago
Coat of arms of Blase Joseph Cupich.svg
See Chicago
Appointed September 20, 2014
Installed November 18, 2014
Predecessor Francis George
Successor incumbent
Other posts Chancellor of Catholic Extension
Ordination August 16, 1975
by Daniel E. Sheehan
Consecration September 21, 1998
by Harry Joseph Flynn
Personal details
Birth name Blase Joseph Cupich
Born (1949-03-19) March 19, 1949 (age 66)
Omaha, Nebraska
Previous post
Alma mater
Motto Peace be with you
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
Blase Joseph Cupich
Coat of arms of Blase Joseph Cupich.svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Archbishop

Blase Joseph Cupich (pronounced SOO-pitch)[1] (born March 19, 1949) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church who is serving as the ninth Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

He was the surprise choice of Pope Francis to succeed Francis Cardinal George as Archbishop of Chicago on September 20, 2014. Cupich had served as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Spokane since 2010.


Early life and education[edit]

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 Pontifical Gregorian University earning a Bachelor's in Sacred Theology (1974) and a Master of Arts in Theology (1975).

Ordination and ministry[edit]

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. Cupich obtained his licentiate (1979) and later doctorate of Sacred Theology (1987) in Sacramental Theology, with a dissertation entitled: Advent in the Roman Tradition: An Examination and Comparison of the Lectionary Readings as Hermeneutical Units in Three Periods.[2]

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.[3] 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[edit]

On July 6, 1998, Cupich was appointed the seventh Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, by Pope John Paul II.[4] He was consecrated as bishop by Archbishop Harry Flynn of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on September 21, 1998. The co-consecrators were Archbishops Elden Francis Curtiss of Omaha and Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Denver.[5]

In 2002, Bishop Cupich prohibited a Traditional Latin Mass community from celebrating the Paschal Triduum liturgies according to the 1962 form of the Roman Rite.[6]

Shortly before the U.S. presidential election of 2008, he published an essay in America on the question of race that said:[7]

As we draw near an election day on which one of the major party candidates for president is for the first time a person of African-American ancestry, we should be able to do so with a sense that whatever the outcome, America has crossed another threshold in healing the wounds that racism has inflicted on our nation’s body politic for our entire history. However, in view of recent media reports regarding race-based voting, this potentially healing moment could turn into the infliction of one more wound if racism appears to determine the outcome. Because of that menacing possibility, it is worth recalling for Catholics and all Americans.... [R]acism is a sin.

He served on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Young Adults during 2000-2003, the period when the USCCB adopted its Dallas Charter establishing procedures for handling accusation of priest misconduct. He served again on on the USCCB's renamed Committee on Protection of Children and Young People in 2005-2006. He became head of the committee in 2008.[8]

During the 2004 presidential election, Cupich did not join those bishops who said that communion should be denied to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights. He said: "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."[9] Two years later, as South Dakota voters considered a referendum that would ban abortion except to save the mother's life, Cupich called for "public dialogue ... marked by civility and clarity". He proposed three conditions for the conduct of political debate: "1. It must be recognized that both the issue of abortion and legal restrictions on abortion are inevitably moral questions informed by moral values.; 2. There should be agreement that any discussion of abortion and the law must recognize both the suffering of the unborn children in abortion and the suffering of pregnant women in dire circumstances.; 3. There must be a commitment to dialogue that is civil, interactive and substantial."[10] The statute was defeated 55% to 45%.[11]

Following the 2008 presidential election, he advised his fellow bishops to find ways to work with the incoming Obama administration: "Keep in mind a prophecy of denunciation quickly wears thin, and it seems to me what we need is a prophecy of solidarity, with the community we serve and the nation that we live in."[12]

Bishop of Spokane[edit]

On June 30, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Spokane.[13] He was installed as the sixth bishop of the Spokane on September 3, 2010, in a ceremony at Gonzaga University.[14] As of June 2014, he lived in a room at the diocesan seminary and owned no furniture of his own.[15] 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."[16]

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.[17][18] His action, in one estimation, "dismayed some of the most aggressive pro-life forces in Catholicism".[19]

In February 2011, when Cupich was heading the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a Philadelphia grand jury investigation found that the Philadelphia archdiocese had allowed 37 priests to remain active despite accusations of abuse or inappropriate behavior. He commented in March: "This is confusing and demoralizing to many people. Everybody is very saddened by this because people are working very hard, each and every day, to implement the charter. And to have this happen is really just painful for all of us."[20] He later called the Philadelphia events "an anomaly". He said the U.S. bishops had implemented much of their agreed upon reforms known as the Dallas Charter (2002) and added: "If we want our people to trust us, we have to trust them. So we are doing our best to make sure that we are transparent with them."[21] In June he again pointed to the charter, which he thought needed few modifications. He emphasized the need for proper implementation:[22]

It's not the charter that's the problem. It seems to me to be whether or not the people are using the charter as a reference point appropriately.... We consider the charter to have an iconic status. We believe the decisions we made in 2002 were significant. They involved not only a change in practice and policy, but I think culture as well, and so we are going to be reluctant to back off this commitment in any way to make any changes.

Over the course of three months in 2011, he published "The New Roman Missal: A Time of Renewal", a historical overview on liturgical renewal to introduce the new English translation of the Roman Missal.[23][24][25] He wrote favorably of moving from an ad orientem to a versus populum direction of the priest in the Mass; he lamented those who did not accept the changes of the Novus ordo missae; he wrote favorably about communion under both species and Mass in the vernacular, non-Western inculturation into to the liturgy, lay participation in the liturgy as a litmus test of active participation, and rubrics simplification.

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.[26][27]

As voters faced a November 2012 referendum on the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington state, Cupich wrote a pastoral letter that first noted that the question was often seen in terms of personal sympathy and "a matter of equality":[28]

Proponents of the redefinition of marriage are often motivated by compassion for those who have shown courage in refusing to live in the fear of being rejected for their sexual orientation. It is a compassion that is very personal, for those who have suffered and continue to suffer are close and beloved friends and family members. It is also a compassion forged in reaction to tragic national stories of violence against homosexuals, of verbal attacks that demean their human dignity, and of suicides by teens who have struggled with their sexual identity or have been bullied because of it. As a result, supporters of the referendum often speak passionately of the need to rebalance the scales of justice.

He then called 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. He concluded with a statement of tolerance that differentiated the Church from opponents of the referendum:

I also want to be very clear that 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 explained the Church's position on the referendum: that Washington's registered domestic partnerships already gave same-sex couples all the legal rights associated with marriage, so equality was not an issue; that the referendum attempts to make different-sex and same-sex relationships identical, not equal; that it ignores the real differences between men and women and how "sons and daughters learn about gender from the way it is lived by their mothers and fathers"; that removing the terms mother and father from legal documents transforms how we think about family relationships; that the impact on other features of marriage law, such as limiting marriage by relatives or restricting marriage to two people, are unknown; and that the question is not whether a religious or secular definition of marriage will prevail: "Marriage existed either before the church or the state. It is written in our human nature."[29]

Cupich wrote on January 22, 2013, referencing the murder of 20 children in a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school a few weeks earlier, that "The truth will win out and we have to believe that a nation whose collective heart can break and grieve for babies slaughtered in Newtown has the capacity and God’s grace to one day grieve for the babies killed in the womb."[30]

Cupich allowed Catholic Charities employees to help people register for benefits under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as "Obamacare," in contrast to most other bishops.[31] He said:[32]

We consider health care a basic human right and we believe that people should have access to affordable health care in order to live a full life. We want to make sure that people who do not have ready access to affordable care do. This is a program that does allow this to take place.

In June 2014, Cupich spoke at a conference at the Catholic University of America on the Catholic response to libertarianism,[33] which he criticized in detail:

By uncoupling human dignity from the solidarity it implies, libertarians move in a direction that not only has enormous consequences for the meaning of economic life and the goal of politics in a world of globalization, but in a direction which is inconsistent with Catholic Social Teaching, particularly as it is developed by Pope Francis.

As an alternative to libertarianism he advocated some of Pope Francis' views, including his "different approach to how we know and learn" by "making sure that ideas do dialogue with reality" and his call "for a shift from an economics of exclusion to a culture of encounter and the need for accompaniment", in which, he explains, "One encounters another, not one self. This emphasis on encounter and accompaniment unmasks the difficulty with libertarianism, for its stated goal is to increase human autonomy as the priority." He closed by expressing his "serious concerns about libertarianism that impact the pastoral life", the difficulty of counseling young people whose "interior life is at risk in a world that encourages them to be caught up in their own interests". Francis' critique of contemporary capitalism is, in his view, "tethered to a rich tradition of .. challenging economic and political approaches which fall short of placing human dignity in all its fullness as the priority."

Archbishop of Chicago[edit]

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.[34] Cupich was installed there on November 18, 2014.[35]

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.[36]

Other positions[edit]

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.[37] He began a three-year term as chairman of the National Catholic Education Association in March 2013.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Laurie Goodstein, "Pope Names Prelate With Inclusive Views as Chicago Archbishop," New York Times, Sept. 20, 2014.
  2. ^ "Most Reverend Blase J. Cupich". Catholic Diocese of Spokane. 2012. 
  3. ^ "Pope to Send Out Aides in Bid to End Atomic Arms Race". New York Times. December 13, 1981. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Prior Bishops of the Diocese". Catholic Diocese of Rapid City. 2012. 
  5. ^ Cheney, David. "Archbishop Blase Joseph Cupich". Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  6. ^ Garrigan, Mary (March 27, 2002). "Bishop Bans Latin Services". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  7. ^ Cupich, Blase J. (October 27, 2008). "Racism and the Election". America. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Bishop Cupich". Spokane Cathedral. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  9. ^ Rodgers, Ann (July 23, 2006). "Replacing Wuerl: 8 bishop candidates emerge". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  10. ^ Cupich, Blase J. (September 11, 2006). "Abortion and Public Policy". America. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  11. ^ "South Dakota abortion ban rejected". USA Today. November 8, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Bishops & Obama". Commonweal. November 26, 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Pope Benedict XVI Accepts Bishop Skylstad's Resignation". June 30, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Gonzaga Hosts Historic Installation for Bishop Cupich". @Gonzaga (Gonzaga University). September 15, 2010. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  15. ^ Paulson, Michael (June 12, 2014). "U.S. Bishops Seek to Match Vatican in Shifting Tone". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  16. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (November 12, 2013). "Bishops Select Two Leaders Who Reflect New Tone Set by Pope". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  17. ^ Walters, Daniel (April 4, 2012). "Calling for Calm". Pacific Northwest Inlander. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Questions about involvement in the 40 Days for Life Program". Diocese of Spokane. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  19. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (September 20, 2014). "The 'Francis Era' in America starts today in Chicago". Crux. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  20. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (March 25, 2011). "Suspensions Force Bishops to Reassess Rule Changes". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  21. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (May 18, 2011). "Church Abuse Report Authors Defend Findings as Critics Weigh In". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  22. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (June 14, 2011). "Bishops Won’t Focus on Abuse Policies". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Part One: Where It All Began". August 18, 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Part II: The long history of liturgical renewal". September 15, 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Part III: Liturgical renewal: How do the new Roman Missal and a new translation contribute to it?". October 20, 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  26. ^ Morris-Young, Dan (April 18, 2012). "Tutu commencement invitation sparks controversy at Gonzaga". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  27. ^ Weingarten, John (April 9, 2012). "Spokane Bishop Supports Pro-Abortion Rights Commencement Speaker at Gonzaga University". Christian News Wire. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  28. ^ Cupich, Blase. "A Letter to Parishioners, Referendum 74". Diocese of Spokane. 
  29. ^ Cupich, Blase J. "Some Reflections on Referendum 74". Administrative Division: Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  30. ^ Don't Forget About the Baby: A Homily for Respect Life Mass, America - The National Catholic Review, 22 January 2013
  31. ^ Winters, Michael Sean (September 20, 2014). "Cupich to Chicago: What does this mean?". National Catholic Review. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  32. ^ Pan, Deanna (February 13, 2014). "Give Me Your Poor and Uninsured". Inlander. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  33. ^ The full text as well as a video of Cupich's address: Palmo, Rocco (September 20, 2014). "For Chicago, The "Thunder" Is In – Cupich Named Corporation Sole". Whispers in the Loggia. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  34. ^ Press Office of the Holy See (September 20, 2014). "Rinunce e nomine, 20.09.2014". Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  35. ^ Zoll, Rachel (September 20, 2014). "Pope names moderate Bishop Cupich to lead Chicago archdiocese, succeeding Cardinal George". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  36. ^ Burke, Daniel (October 22, 2014). "Report: Chicago's new archbishop won't live in cardinal's mansion". CNN. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Board of Directors, 2013-2014". Nation Catholic Education Association. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Bishop Cupich Named NCEA Board Chairperson". National Catholic Education Association. November 14, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Francis George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
Preceded by
William S. Skylstad
Bishop of Spokane
Succeeded by
Thomas Anthony Daly
Preceded by
Charles Joseph Chaput, OFM Cap
Bishop of Rapid City
Succeeded by
Robert Dwayne Gruss