Pope names moderate as Chicago
archbishop, key role in U.S. Church
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[September 20, 2014]
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope
Francis, in his first major appointment in the hierarchy of the Catholic
Church in the United States, on Saturday named Bishop Blase Cupich as
the new archbishop of Chicago.
Cupich, 65, who is seen as a moderate and is currently the bishop
of Spokane, Washington, succeeds the more conservative Cardinal
Francis George, 77, who is retiring.
Chicago, with more than 2.2 million parishioners, is the
third-largest diocese in the United States by population and its
archbishop has traditionally played a major role in the American
Church hierarchy and in relations with national political leaders.
The city's archbishops are traditionally elevated to the rank of
cardinal, meaning Cupich would be able to enter a conclave to elect
a pope after Francis's death or resignation.
A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Cupich studied at Catholic universities
in the United States and the Pontifical Gregorian University in
Crux, a major U.S. Catholic website associated with the Boston
Globe, said Cupich is "widely viewed as a moderate voice among
Catholic bishops (and he) often eschews cultural battles in favor of
dialogue and engagement".
In this sense, he is in line with Francis' call for compassion
rather than condemnation or confrontation on issues such as abortion
and same-sex couples.
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While defending Church teachings Cupich has urged moderation and
dialogue in the so-called "culture wars" in the United States Church
over these hot-button issues.
In a dramatically blunt interview with an Italian Jesuit journal in
2013, Francis said the Church must shake off an obsession with
teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality and become
more merciful or risk the collapse of its entire moral edifice "like
a house of cards".
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Michael Urquhart)
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