Archbishop Cupich, Pope Francis and St.Vincent – When I read this piece about Archbishop Cupich, Pope Francis’s first major U.S. appointment, I thought immediately of St. Vincent de Paul, and indeed just about all the founders of the the various branches of the Vincentian Family. What do you think?
Sr. Mary Ann Walsh sees the appointment of Archbishop Cupich as a glimpse into the pope’s approach to people. He takes them where they are and shows them respect.
Excerpts from the article in America Magazine …
“It’s about how he looks at people. How he sees them. He doesn’t see them as a problem, a challenge, as people who should be judged by whether or not they’re orthodox or not orthodox, whether or not they have sinned or not sinned. But he looks at them with respect that they’re a child of God. That’s where he begins. And that God wants to offer his mercy. People pick up on that. That’s why he is wildly popular. He’s telling people their lives count. And I think that’s created an enormous positive feedback that people are responding to,” Archbishop Cupich said.
He reflects healthy impatience. He looks at immigration and calls for reform. Give a path to citizenship to people and documentation to the undocumented, he says. He is not content to wait for a different political moment. He urges respectful interaction, which may suggest that he’s not happy with the meanness that has moved into national dialogues on issues inside and outside of the church.
“Listen, talk, be respectful of people—and make sure that you have openness to where people are coming from. And you don’t do anything that is unnecessarily antagonistic, that is only going to make you feel good because you’ve done it,” Archbishop Cupich said.
Archbishop Cupich’s brings humility and humanness learned young, perhaps when he helped his father in his second job at the part-time janitor at the grade school Archbishop Cupich attended. Today he listens to both those who empty the trash and the business owners he needs to fund the charities of the Chicago Archdiocese.
“There is a great deal of wealth in this country,” Archbishop Cupich said. “And there are a lot of people who are wealthy. And so I have associated with them, too, and have good friends who are really wealthy. But I think maybe the meeting place—with a lot of the folks who have great wealth and means – has been helping the poor through education…. I think that education is a pathway out of poverty, for many people. It was for our family.”
He eschews the grandeur of ecclesial palaces of another day, which were erected by immigrant communities to say “Catholics have arrived.” He will live in the rectory of Holy Name Cathedral, not only for witness value but also because it is downtown and gives him access to people in the neighborhood and at the parish Masses. In Spokane he lived in a faculty apartment at a seminary.
Like Pope Francis, Archbishop Cupich appreciates metaphor. The colonnade of St. Peter’s provides “open arms,” he says. “That should be the model, the metaphor for the church.”
There’s no boredom in preaching the Gospel, he says. He compares it to being a basilica tour guide who finds joy every time he sees people visit St. Peter’s for the first time.
“I am never bored in my ministry because I continually see the impact of God in people’s lives,” he said.
He quotes the pope and his comment that the leaders have “to know the smell of the sheep.”
Archbishop Cupich knows the church is people and that’s where his heart lies. He is wary of bishops’ attachment to power and sees it as a flaw.
“I think there’s a conversion that’s needed particularly in the leadership of the church to make sure that they are clear in their own mind that they are not so attached to power or the power structure that has made their life more comfortable or secure. I think this is the key moment—for all of us in the hierarchy—to ask whether or not we are attached,” Archbishop Cupich said.
Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., is a member of the Northeast Community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and U.S. Church Correspondent for America.