• None of us knows when our Archbishop will be re-assigned or who will succeed him as our spiritual leader.
• Good leadership is necessary to our mission as a Catholic Christian Church in St Paul/Minneapolis.
• Canon Law gives us the opportunity to inform the U. S. Papal Nuncio of our need for a leader who will listen to the Holy Spirit in the voice of the people.
Until the 13th Century it was common for Catholics to elect their bishops. Joseph O’Callaghan, in his book Electing Our Bishops: How the Catholic Church Should Choose Its Leaders (2007), makes the case for returning to the practice of elections. Since we are several centuries out of practice for elections, it will take a lot of organizing, time, and resources to make that happen. In the meantime, we think we should use what we can of the current appointment procedure to make our voices heard.
The current procedure is for the Papal Nuncio to recommend candidates to the Pope for appointment. In the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano is the Papal Nuncio, the delegate from the Vatican in Washington D.C. Archbishop Vigano has sent our Leadership Selection team a message through Archbishop John Nienstedt that he is willing “to receive recommendations from any lay Catholic at any time regarding the nomination of a bishop to a diocese or archdiocese.”
Here are the qualifications listed in Canon Law:
Can. 378 §1. In regard to the suitability of a candidate for the episcopacy, it is required that he is:
1/ outstanding in solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence, and human virtues, and endowed with other qualities which make him suitable to fulfill the office in question;
2/ of good reputation;
3/ at least thirty-five years old;
4/ ordained to the presbyterate for at least five years;
5/ in possession of a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred scripture, theology, or canon law from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See, or at least truly expert in the same disciplines.
Who might be appointed as our next Archbishop? We will profile some men over the next several weeks, starting with Bishop Blase Joseph Cupich, profiled below. Since bishops are required to retire at 75, the men we have selected to profile are 65 and under. They come from smaller dioceses than our own (730,000 Catholics), and they have been in their current dioceses for a few years. We are not recommending these men. We are merely suggesting some possibilities to get everyone thinking about what kind of leadership we need.
If you have suggestions for us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check our website at www.cccrmn.org.
This program for bishop selection has been endorsed by CCCR and the Council of the Baptized.
Bishop Blase Joseph Cupich
Bishop of Spokane, WA
since September 3, 2010
(Catholic population: 90,000)
Born March 19, 1949 in Omaha NE, one of nine children.
Given name “White Thunder” by Lakota people of previous diocese, Rapid City SD.
Cooks for himself when not out on diocesan business.
Held “Theology on Tap” at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille for open question-answer session. For more information, click here.
Ordination Date: August 16, 1975
Undergraduate Education: University of St. Thomas, philosophy
Graduate: Pontifical Gregorian University, Master’s in theology; Catholic University of America, STD in Sacramental Theology
STD Topic: Advent in the Roman Tradition: An Examination and Comparison of the Lectionary Readings in Three Periods
1975-1978: Associate pastor and high school teacher
1978-1981: Director of the Office for Divine Worship and Chair, Commission on Youth, Diocese of Omaha, NE
1981-1987: Secretary of the nunciature to the United States
1987-1989: Pastor, St. Mary Church Bellevue, NE
1989-1996: President-Rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, OH
1997-1998: Pastor, St. Robert Bellarmine Church, Omaha, NE
1998-2010: Bishop, Rapid City, SD
Board of Trustees, St. Paul Seminary
Committee on the Liturgy, USCCB
Communications Committee, USCCB
Chair, Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People Ad Hoc Committee on Scripture Translation, USCCB
On religious liberty: Article, “Staying Civil: Finding Opportunity in a Painful Moment,” America, March 5, 2012, in response to the mandate to include contraception in health insurance plans and the limited exemption for religious organizations.
Representative passage: “A return to civility will be needed for us to seize fully the opportunities this newest development offers us. While the outrage to the H.H.S. decision was understandable, in the long run threats and condemnations have a limited impact. Leaders especially have a responsibility in this regard. They should always be leery of letting a situation escalate to an undesirable degree, particularly if it has the potential to bring lasting harm to both the church and the nation, and even worse, disproportionately affect the least among us.”
On clergy sex abuse: Article “Twelve Things the Bishops Have Learned from the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis,” America, May 10, 2010.
Representative passages: “Catholics have been hurt by the moral failings of some priests, but they have been hurt and angered even more by bishops who failed to put children first. People expect religious leaders above all to be immediate and forthright in taking a strong stand in the face of evil, such as the harm done to children and young people by sexual abuse. . . . Bishops need to be mutually accountable in their efforts to protect children and must be willing to participate in transparent, independent audits to demonstrate they are keeping the promises we made. What happens in one place happens to us all.”
On abortion protests and on conscience: Requested that priests and seminarians not protest publicly at Spokane’s Planned Parenthood clinic. Statement from the Diocese: In a “political environment [that] has become very toxic and polarizing,” Bishop Cupich asks priests to keep their role of teacher as first priority. Decisions about abortion are not usually made in front of clinics – they’re made at “kitchen tables and in living rooms and they frequently involve a sister, daughter, relative or friend who may have been pressured or abandoned by the man who fathered the child.” However, Bishop Cupich stated that a “priest in good conscience may feel the need to participate in the vigils and he should never be forced to go against a good and informed conscience.” (For more, click here.)
On controversial speakers: In Spring 2012, Gonzaga University selected Archbishop Desmond Tutu as their commencement speaker. Because of Archbishop Tutu’s position on contraception and some other social issues, Bishop Cupich was pressed to intervene to ask Gonzaga to withdraw the invitation. He chose not to do so, stating that, “Archbishop Tutu is being honored for the work he did to end apartheid in South Africa.” (“Tutu Commencement Invitation Sparks Controversy at Gonzaga,” April 18, 2012, National Catholic Reporter.)
Recent News (July 20, 2012): Bishop Cupich came into a diocese that had declared bankruptcy in 2004 as a result of numerous clergy sex abuse cases. However, many unresolved claims against the diocese remained, and a future claims fund relied on the real estate of the diocese’s parishes and schools as collateral. Default would have resulted in foreclosures against these properties. Either a second bankruptcy or further litigation was considered, but according to Cupich, “A third way was forced upon us, mediation, and it emerged out of necessity.” Bishop Cupich held consultation meetings with over 200 pastors, and parish and finance council members, after which he said, “This broad consultation from the entire diocese gave me the ‘vote of confidence’ as I went back into the mediation process.” The mediation process involved Cupich, the diocesan attorney, two lawyers for the sex abuse victims, and the mediator, Federal Judge Michael R. Hogan. Tim Kosnoff, one of the victims’ lawyers, said of Cupich: “He was shockingly candid with me and this was trust-building. Cupich is a thinking man and a credible negotiating partner.” The mediation process resulted in a satisfactory outcome for all involved. Bishop Cupich explained the settlement in a three-page letter. See also here.
Radio program, “A Time with the Bishop.” (Various topics, including “Where do bishops come from?”)
Regular columns (in English and Spanish) and occasional video presentations at www.DioceseOfSpokane.org. (Includes video “Making Good Decisions for the End of Life.”)
Facebook Page: Diocese of Spokane has a page to which Bishop Cupich contributes. For example, he posted a detailed log of his ad limina visit to the Vatican, April 22-29, 2012