All my (limited) experience of Blase Cupich, whom Pope Francis appointed archbishop of Chicago yesterday, is very positive.
Quite a few years ago I was invited to participate in a Catholic Common Ground dialogue on church art and architecture at Mundelein Seminary. (Don’t know why on earth they asked me, but I suppose they wanted some young conservatives to make for real dialogue.) Bishop Cupich was also part of the enterprise.
There was an impassioned plea from a very conservative friend of mine (this really is a different person in this story, not a stand-in for me). Our generation, my friend said, voice shaking with emotion, was cheated of our Catholic inheritance. We got light-weight catechesis and silly liturgy. Nobody gave us the Catholic faith.
Bishop Cupich responded with great sensitivity. He apologized forthrightly to the young man. He was sorry for what happened to him. He acknowledged that this shouldn’t have happened. He didn’t dispute his narrative or correct his facts.
I’m confident that my friend felt heard and respected.
Then, a few years ago, there was a symposium on lay ecclesial ministry in Collegeville for which I provided music at the liturgies. Bishop Cupich was a participant in the symposium.
Word came down to me that “the bishop would like to see me.” I wondered what on earth he wanted, and I was just a bit nervous. (This was after my open letter to the U.S. bishops withdrawing my support for the new missal.)
It was this: Bishop Cupich told me that I was right about the new Roman Missal, that the final translation had been mishandled. He wanted me to hear that from a bishop.
Now to be sure, Bishop Cupich did not contest the new missal publicly. And if I’m not mistaken, I believe he even had a word of reproof for those who made a cause of their opposition. Perhaps on this point he’s a wiser man than I.
But Bishop Cupich saw my reasons for holding my position, and he even agreed with them at some level. Most important, he reached out to me with respect.
In my experience, Bishop Cupich is a good man and a loving pastor. Chicago Catholics have reason to be very grateful. Let us all support the ministry of soon-to-be Archbishop Cupich with our prayers.