It looks like that Cardinal Francis George’s replacement has been made by Pope Francis according to the Associated Press. Unlike George his replacement Bishop Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Washington is known for being a centrist and a moderate.
The 65-year-old Cupich has been in Spokane since September 2010, following a dozen years as bishop of Rapid City, S.D. If he is indeed named to lead the Roman Catholic Church in Chicago, he will be an archbishop when he arrives, as was George when he came back to his hometown in 1997.
He is known for being outspoken on society’s need to care more for the poor but also had a leading role in the battle against same-sex marriage. The Associated Press and the National Catholic Reporter said the choice to succeed George is Blase Cupich, bishop of Spokane.
Unlike George, Cupich is considered more pragmatic than focused on dogma. According to Michael Budde, chair of the Catholic Studies Department at DePaul University.
“He may well be one of those churchmen who is progressive around the liberal side of economic and social justice issues, but on other people’s scores he may look traditional or conservative,” said Budde.
In an August 2012 letter to parishioners in advance of Washington’s vote on a same-sex marriage law, Cupich wrote that while he was encouraging Catholics to vote against legalizing gay marriage, he acknowledged that those on both sides of the issue had deeply held views and should be treated respectfully.
“In stating our position,” Cupich wrote, “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.”Certainly this is a different tone than George’s remarks that the Gay Movement is morphing into the KKK.
Cupich, said Budde, adopted a zero tolerance policy for priest abuse early on and was brought to Spokane in part to deal with the scandal there that eventually prompted the diocese to file for bankruptcy.
What does this mean for Chicago’s LGBT Community? Well it means that Pope Francis has sent us a Bishop who might be willing to listen. His pastoral credentials are more impressive than George’s when he arrived in Chicago. He also appears to be a Bishop who understand what being a pastor means something the George was clueless about.
On the issue of Gay Rights, to include Gay Marriage the tone will change but not the substance. Cardinal George’s raw homophobia will be replaced with a man who communicates that homophobia in a nicer way if that is possible.
He will promote the Church’s Teaching that LGBT people are morally disordered because of who they are and will oppose any softening the Church’s position on Gay Rights.
I would caution LGBT Catholics to take a wait and see attitude. Remember the proof is always in the pudding.
Rainbow Sash Movement