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Pope Francis to name Chicago Archbishop Cupich, top US ally, to Vatican summit on fami …

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka flanked by eight Catholic bishops. Religion News Service photo by Mark Silk
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka flanked by eight Catholic bishops. Religion News Service photo by Mark Silk

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, third from right, stands next to AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka at a June 15 event on economics and the Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. Youngstown, Ohio, Bishop George Murry is next to Cupich. Religion News Service photo by Mark Silk

(RNS) Pope Francis is set to name Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, viewed as one of his top allies in the American hierarchy, as a special delegate to a Vatican summit on family issues in October that is shaping up as a key test of the pontiff’s efforts to reform the Catholic Church.

The appointment was first reported Friday (Aug. 7) by Catholic News Agency.  It was confirmed by other church sources.

The church officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the news was not official, also said Francis was going to appoint another U.S. bishop to the synod. The sources said it would be Youngstown, Ohio, Bishop George Murry. Murry is a Jesuit like Francis and one of a handful of African-American bishops.

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If these appointments are confirmed, it means Francis will have passed over more conservative candidates such as San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, an outspoken culture warrior and the U.S. hierarchy’s point man in the fight against gay marriage.

When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last November elected a four-person slate of delegates to the global meeting of bishops, called a synod, they also chose Cordileone and Cupich as the two alternates.

Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Wash., far right, concelebrates Mass in 2012 with other U.S. bishops in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Pope Francis has named Bishop Cupich as archbishop of Chicago, succeeding Cardinal Francis E. George. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Wash., far right, concelebrates Mass in 2012 with other U.S. bishops in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

The four principal delegates included Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and other conservatives who have not been as enthusiastic as many bishops about Francis’ efforts to make the church more focused on social justice and on outreach rather than on a few doctrines and regulations.

That Francis is adding Cupich, whom he personally picked for the prestigious Chicago post last fall, to those four, along with Youngstown Bishop George Murry, and not Cordileone or someone like him, was seen by church insiders as an indication that Francis wants a different balance of U.S. voices at the synod.

Murry and Cupich took part in a Washington event in June, along with Cardinal Donald Wuerl and other church leaders seen as supporters of the Francis approach, with leaders of organized labor in an effort to refocus Catholic efforts on workers’ concerns.

By adding Cupich and Murry, Francis may also want to ensure more support for proposals to explore ways to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, for example, or to express a positive view of gay couples, single parents and others whose family life falls outside the Catholic ideal.

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Last October, in the first synod of bishops called to consider how to adapt the church’s approach to the modern realities of family life, such proposals sparked unusually public disputes among church leaders and a brush fire debate that has continued to flare since then.

Pope Benedict XVI greets Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, during a 2012 meeting with U.S. bishops on their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican. U.S. bishops from Ohio were making their "ad limina" visits to report on the status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials. Photo courtesy of CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano

Pope Benedict XVI greets Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, during a 2012 meeting with U.S. bishops on their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican. U.S. bishops from Ohio were making their “ad limina” visits to report on the status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials. Photo courtesy of CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano

The issues themselves are seen as threats to church teaching by some, but are also seen as a test of the bigger question about whether, and how, Catholicism can change doctrine or practices. How that question is resolved could go a long way toward testing whether the 78-year-old Francis can effect the kind of reforms he wants, and that many Catholics expect.

The debate at the Oct. 4-24 synod, which will follow on the heels of Francis’ first visit to the U.S., a trip also expected to highlight many of these hot-button issues, is likely to be intense.

Each nation’s hierarchy has elected delegates for the meeting, but Francis — who wants to encourage a frank exchange of ideas — has also named dozens of additional participants, many with widely varying views.

These latest appointments may accelerate that dynamic.


About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.


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  • It is great people are standing against gay marriage/homosexuals but other
    sins like getting drunk,being mean/sharp tongues,gossip,premarital sex and
    coveting/jealousy,greed,heavy gambling,people takin the Lords name in vain,
    idolatry in any form,stealing in any form need confronted. We all must Repent!

  • Yes, we need true repentance and a change of life, away from co-habitation, divorce and contraception and abortion including same sex marriage. Only then can they be accepted as true members of the Catholic Church. True Mercy is given to those who turn away from sin.

  • Just another piece of the pre-papal-visit PR build-up from another Vatican lapdog. Yes, the Oct. synod will speak about “mercy and compassion” for the divorced, gays, co-habitating couples. One commenter: “We are still not permitted to: receive Communion, go to confession, read Scripture in liturgy, teach catechism, teach or work in ANY Catholic institution anywhere, and so forth.” They are being welcomed to fill the pews and the collection basket.

  • Jesus said, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” … Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for fornication, and marries another commits adultery.” (Matthew 19). In each marriage case, the Church, then, tries to determine whether God has truly “joined” together the man and his wife. In other words, if God has not joined the two together as “one flesh” for one reason or another, then the marriage is viewed as “fornication.” (fornication is when two people, neither of whom are married, have intercourse). So maybe the Church can expedite this process of discernment, as in our day, marriage is so denigrated.

  • “The issues themselves are seen as threats to church teaching…a question about whether, and how, Catholicism can change..”

    It is time to close the Catholic church and for its enablers to walk away.

    1. Immorality – The CC is a red carpet to pedophilia and pedophilia enablers. 25,000 rapes in America over 30 years. And those are only the ones we know about.

    2. Criminal – The CC refuses to surrender its priests to justice. People like Bernie Law (kingpin of the Boston Priest Pedophile Network) are protected in cushy suites at the Vatican

    3. ANTI-HUMAN – The CC clearly knows nothing about what is good or right on any subject. It hates gays, lesbians, transgendered and bisexuals, healthy sexuality, masturbation and contraception.

    No family can benefit
    from these divisive, bankrupt, immoral philosophies.

    Far past time to abandon all of it.

  • @Rionni,

    “We must all repent”

    Speak for yourself. I prefer Hell to this evil philosophy.

    Secular Humanism: “Be nice”
    Religion: “Be vicious to all who have not joined our club”

    “Avoid them” – Paul (Romans 16:17)
    “Kill them” – Surah
    “Execute them” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    Primitive and shameful.
    Think for yourselves for goodness sake.

  • More bad news from Pope Francis, it seems. Once again, the massive anti-Christian challenge of legalized gay marriage is being given a free pass through the back door by the Pope himself.

    Francis kept totally silent — unbelievably silent — when critical national choices about legalized gay marriage were being decided in America and Ireland. His famous line “Who am I to judge?” continues to be used against Catholic and Protestant Christians alike by the Gay Marriage Cult.

    But Pope Francis isn’t done yet. His snub of Archbishop Cordileone, is a direct and unpleasant message to the US bishops. Francis wants them to shut up and stop taking a public stand against the New Baal, otherwise known as legalized gay marriage.

    It’s time to be honest, folks Pope Francis is a good, caring, humble Pope, yes. But he has somehow allied himself with those gay activists who angrily demand that Christians surrender and kowtow to the massive evil of gay marriage.

  • Some added information on Matt 19:

    Matt 19:12 ” For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.”

    Not the way to go in my opinion and not a good reference for promoting celibacy.

    Definition of a eunuch:

    1. A castrated man employed as a harem attendant or as a functionary in certain Asian courts.
    2. A man or boy whose testes are nonfunctioning or have been removed.
    3. Informal. An ineffectual, powerless, or unmasculine man.

  • Doc, You are reading only secular news: what did Pope Francis say a few days ago? : “Elevated by the Savior to the dignity of a sacrament, marriage is, in the Creator’s plan, a natural institution, a life-long covenant of love and fidelity between a man and a woman, directed to their perfection and sanctification, and to the future of our human family. The support of the truth of marriage is a duty for all of the lay faithful, because marriage is essential to the wise and just ordering of society.” ” the Pope said just this past week.

  • Mark 10:2-9 = Matt 19:3-8

    Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7’For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” i.e.historically nil

  • You are correct Greg, but the problem is that Pope Francis said it “just this past week”.

    The time for Francis to have said something out loud — to have said literally **anything at all** — was PRIOR TO the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent final decision on legalizing gay marriage. He needed to speak up BEFORE the evil deal went down.

    Unbelievably, Pope Francis was totally silent on the critical American situation, just as he was totally silent prior to Ireland’s legalization of gay marriage. Francis has instant media access to all of America’s major news organizations, but he chose to say NOTHING until the horses were already out of each country’s barn.

    And he’s continuing to make clear that U.S. bishops/archbishops who DO speak out publicly against gay marriage will be snubbed and marginalized. Archbishop Cordileone’s snubbing is both astonishing and brazen.

    Things are changing, and gradually worsening. The Gay Activists, they smile and wink.

  • Looks like America likewise prefers hell instead of repentance, Max.

    So look for this sorry nation to get its preference, and SOON !!

  • I do believe he was hoping to let the bishops’ World Meeting on Families to be convoked before commenting, so not to short circuit the process. But I would agree, that timing has been poor at best with the pope. Maybe his South American style is a little out of sync with the instantaneous world of today. And in this day you simply cannot turn the TV off, as he has repeatedly said he has done now for many years, especially as pope. At the same time, though, God works slowly, and deliberately. So let’s give him a chance. Our world is a world of texting before even thinking things through. I would, however, pray for him to do what Our Lord wishes for him to do, so pray the Rosary for him each day, and you will soon see what heaven is up to. We have a Brazilian priest too, and he is much like Francis, so I can understand a little bit better maybe. Hang in there.

  • Again in spite of reading a good deal in the Vatican synod report of last year there is very little mentioned about self ejaculation [masturbation ]in single males ,being single purely on the basis of circumstances of life ,are not gays or trying to avoid heterosexual marriage ;such an act is a basic physiological function for the purpose of clearing the ducts of the male genital system and reducing the incidence of prostate cancer in high risk men ;there is no known other mechanism when heterosexual sex or nocturnal emissions are not available