One controversy in the Spokane diocese concerned claims in 2011 that Bishop Cupich had barred priests from praying in front of abortion clinics and taking part in the 40 Days for Life campaign, a non-Catholic pro-life effort.
In a September 2011 statement, the bishop said he would never bar conscientious participation in vigils, but he noted that most decisions about abortions take place before a woman goes to an abortion clinic. He stressed the need to rely on Church-initiated programs, “lest our concerns and our pastoral approach be defined too narrowly.”
One question at the Sept. 20 press conference focused on the archbishop-designate’s views of abortion clinic protests.
The archbishop-designate said he has always supported peaceful manifestations of views.
“We have to make sure that those are done that really produce something in the long run,” he added.
The archbishop-designate has been vocal on pro-life issues. In October 2002, as Bishop of Rapid City, he wrote a letter objecting to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) actively fundraising for the pro-abortion group NARAL’s political candidate fund.
On Saturday the archbishop-designate spoke of many public issues. He stressed the need for “comprehensive” immigration reform. He noted the importance of interfaith cooperation in advancing the common good.
He said he hoped that the upcoming Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family would allow “all the issues to be widely discussed and considered” and would provide a framework to ensure “really open, candid and honest discussion.”
Archbishop-designate Cupich, a past chairman of the U.S. bishops’ conference’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, praised Cardinal George’s efforts to implement a “zero tolerance” policy on abuse. He expressed his own intention to focus on protecting children and to “bring about healing.”
The archbishop-designate has served as chair of the National Catholic Education Association since 2013 and has been on the board of governors of the Chicago-headquartered Catholic Extension Society since 2009.
Archbishop-designate Cupich’s present diocese has about 100,000 Catholics. It is dwarfed by his new home.
By comparison, the Archdiocese of Chicago has about 2.2 million Catholics making up 37 percent of the population. The Chicago archdiocese has 356 parishes with many Masses in Spanish, Polish and other languages. The archdiocese has 771 active and retired diocesan priests, over 500 deacons, 674 religious priests, over 200 religious brothers and almost 1,700 women religious. The archdiocese says it has over 200 elementary schools, 37 secondary schools, and three seminaries.
Cardinal Francis George, who has headed the Chicago archdiocese since 1997, submitted his resignation two years ago at the age of 75, as is required by canon law. He has been in failing health, but has often expressed a desire to be the first Chicago archbishop to retire.
Reprinted courtesy of Catholic News Agency.