Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Do You Want a Voice in Selecting Our Next Archbishop?

The Leadership Selection Resource Team of Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) invites you to think about this with us:

• 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 Check our website at

This program for bishop selection has been endorsed by CCCR and the Council of the Baptized.


Bishop Blase Joseph Cupich
(pronounced SOUP-ich)
Bishop of Spokane, WA
since September 3, 2010

(Catholic population: 90,000)

Personal Background:
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

Previous Assignments:
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

Memberships (selected):
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

Position Statements:
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.

Archived Presentations:
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 (Includes video “Making Good Decisions for the End of Life.”)

Phone: 509-358-7305
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


  1. Wow -
    An endorsement by the Progressive Catholic Voice...
    As they say, with friends like these....

  2. Hi, Anonymous. You may have missed the part about our not endorsing the people we are profiling. For one thing, as you imply, our endorsement may not be welcome, but also we really don't have the resources to thoroughly assess any candidate. Our purpose is to start getting used to the idea that we can have a voice in the process.

  3. Each human being already has the option to choose God as their personal Archbishop.

    If you really want to reform the Church, use the vote you already have to vote for God, and not any of these nice fellas wearing collars.

  4. Well, yes, Phil, God is the alpha and the omega, at the center of everything. But don't you believe at all that God works through these nice fellas wearing collars, and you and me too, if we align ourselves in the Spirit? Each human being,yes, but also the whole Archdiocese together as a sacrament if we and the leadership cooperate. Thanks for responding.

  5. Hi Paula, thanks for your reply.

    A simple question for every man wearing a collar is, do they support the election of clergy and church leaders, or not? Yes, or no?

    Until you can offer us candidates who answer Yes!, we might vote with our feet, boycott the non-election, stay at home, and cast our ballot for God.

    The men wearing collars will bring election proposals to us, once the pews and bank accounts are almost empty, and there's no one left to pay for the collars.

    This plan is peaceful, and need not involve conflict of any kind. It doesn't require action, only clarity of mind. Simply stop knocking on their door, and wait patiently for them to knock on yours.

    Until then, God has provided us a church, right here.

  6. "God has provided us a church, right here."

    Phil, be careful it is not a Church of your own making, an idol that you have fashioned in your own image.

    It would be refreshing if on these pages one could find an actual discussion of the Second Vatican Council's vision of the Church. It is ennunciated quite clearly in Lumen Gentium. Its vision is balanced and traditional, all the while proclaiming clearly the universal call to holiness. For all the talk of the "Spirit of the Council," it would be nice of the actual documents were reviewed.

    The Church is certainly not only the hierachy, what Michael Bayly unhelpfully calls the "clerical caste." But it is also not a club, a mere human construction comprised of individuals who get to pick and choose what is acceptable for the modern mind and what must be discarded based on progress and our enlightened vision of reality.
    Perhaps we can start with this - To be Catholic means, at the very least, that one must accpet the Nicene Creed. Can we at least agree on this?

    1. Of course we, as Carholics, declare our belief in the Nicene Creed/Symbol. We may differ in the words we use to explain our belief and how the sections of the creed/symbol are reflected differently in different cultures and periods of history; for example, Anglicans also say the Nicene Creed. Civil discourse begins with a basic agreement, and the Nicene Creed is a good beginning for dialogue.
      I am more interested in your excellent suggestion that we review the document Lumen Gentium, The Church, of Vatican 11. This blog does not lend itself to a full review, but a discussion of the document is in order today.i will make two observations about understanding the document.
      First, it must be read in the context of its development at the council. The discussion that led to the rejection to the initial document is essential for interpreting the document as we have it. What was the meaning of that first and second document that was corrected and led to the final document? I agree that Lumen Gentium is a balance between a traditional and contemporary expression; e. g., People of God and "subsists in" are not so traditional.
      Second, the first session sent the document on the church back for revision and took up the one on The Sacred Liturgy. Before they ended the first session, the council voted to accept the first part of that document. The subsequent discussions on The Church could not contradict what the council approved in The Sacred Liturgy. This observation also applies to the remaining Constitutions and Documents;,namely, consistency.
      My name is Don, and I use Anon cuz I am not very good at this.


  7. Anonymous, thank you for your reply.

    Speaking only for myself, I believe each of us live in a Church of our own making, whether we realize it or not. The Nicene Creed was after all not written by Jesus, but by mortal men 300 years after his death.

    You very reasonably and constructively ask what we can agree on.

    I would propose that the teachings of Jesus are best represented in acts of love. Not in institutional ideology, but in personal action. Not in talking the talk, but in walking the walk.

    If the focus of Catholicism was shifted from ideology and Church politics to public service, that would unite Catholics instead of dividing them. Every Catholic agrees that hungry kids should eat. Our beliefs could be defined by what we actually do, instead of by what we say.

    So why not sell all the fancy multi-million dollar church buildings and replace them with orphanages, children's hospitals, and homeless shelters?

    What would Jesus do? Would Jesus live in the Vatican and rein over a trillion dollar real estate empire while millions are starving? Would Jesus urge us to spend a million dollars on our own parish church building? What action would Jesus take to express his message? Is this really such a mystery?

    Perhaps Michael Bayly refers dismissively to a clerical caste, because he can not find Church leaders whose actions express the revolutionary message of Jesus?

  8. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous2. I hope you can hear us saying that we have many questions and concerns about Church policies and practices and that we need respectful, reasoning together. You pick up a lack of respect in our language, and I hear a lack of respect for us in yours. Maybe we can both drop the attitude and just talk together. So let me take your question about accepting the Nicene Creed seriously. Yes, I do accept it. I recited it at Mass this morning. The mysteries of the trinity, incarnation, the life and death of Jesus, and the Christian Church are all central to my faith. I do not, however, think that these mysteries can be fully expressed in one set of words. Can we, in your view, continue to meditate on them, re-formulate them, and talk about them together, in accord with our differing stages of faith development, without fear of being labeled heretical? Having a propositional formula may be helpful for continuity through the centuries, but experience of the mystery is the important thing. I'd like to hear what you think about that.

  9. Phil and Paula,

    Thank you both for your replies.

    Phil - What exactly is the "revolutionary spirit of Jesus"? Is it the spirit that dared to say "No one comes to the Father except through me," or perhaps the spirit that said things like "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man you do not have life within you."

    I remain convinced that Christ was not killed because he preached radical egalitarianism or concern for the poor. What made Christ so outrageous to the Jewish authorities was his claim to speak for God - this, it seems to me, is what gets a back-water itinerant preacher killed. Because he spoke "with authority."
    Not a moral authority, but a Divine Authority. Jesus is crucified for blasphemy. He was no political revolutionary. He was, and is, much more dangerous and scandlous than a Mao or Chavez. His kingdom is not of this world.

    As for the Nicene Creed - yes, I grant you that the words are shaped by the philosophical worldview of historically contexualized human beings. But I also adamantly believe that these words, such as "homo-ousios" were composed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and express true things about the visible and invisible. Isn't this closely connected to the scandal of Christ - just as Christ spoke for God, now his beloved Church does the same on matters of faith and morals? Would God dare to entrust broken, frail human beings with such knowledge? The great mystery of the little God, the God of the poor and the God of the Sacred Host, responds in the breathtaking affirmative.


    You are right - I do experience and often times express a lack of respect for many of the topics and questions posed on this website. I will try to do better and communicate my questions with greater care and deliberation.

    Allow me to ask again in a different way - do the editors of the Progressive Catholic Voice believe that the document "Lumen Gentium" is an accurate description of the Church?

    You mention a curious phrase in your response that I would ask you to define - What exactly does "experience of the mystery" mean?

    Yes, I do believe that the formulas of the Faith need to be explained in ways that are intelligible to the modern mind. But such descriptions cannot contradict the very claims of Faith found in the Creed. I am very glad to hear that you affirm the claims of the Creed. To be perfectly candid, I am not always so sure that this is the case for some of the writers and editors on this page.

  10. Thank you for talking with us.

    "Isn't this closely connected to the scandal of Christ - just as Christ spoke for God, now his beloved Church does the same on matters of faith and morals? Would God dare to entrust broken, frail human beings with such knowledge? The great mystery of the little God, the God of the poor and the God of the Sacred Host, responds in the breathtaking affirmative." This language of yours indicates to me that you are experiencing mystery. What I mean by the phrase is awareness of a multifaceted reality for which words are inadequate. The reality we are talking about is ineffable. You put that beautifully.

    And to the substance of what you say there about the Church speaking for God: Do you see the Church as the whole people of God, as Lumen Gentium does? From that perspective, we have to keep listening to everyone and keep in continual communication to discern the truth in faith and morals.

    You are right, the people who write and edit on PCV are diverse in their thinking. All the more reason to hear each other out if you believe that interior growth is a process of working things through. I've appreciated learning from it.

    So to Lumen Gentium. Am I right that the 16 documents produced at Vatican II, like all texts, must be interpreted? I was impressed with Richard Gaillardetz's method of interpretation-first the progression of the individual documents from the original schema to the published document, then the interrelatedness of themes among all the documents, and finally the reception of the documents by the people. So your question about LG being "accurate" puzzles me. I honor it as a Conciliar Constitution. I honor the primacy of baptism and the role of bishops. Would you be willing to tell us what makes you think we do not accept Lumen Gentium? That might make the question clearer.

  11. Great conversation guys, I'm enjoying learning from both your comments. And thanks for being our host Paula, great job.

    Anonymous, for me the revolutionary message of Jesus is that the act of love offers us liberation from the prison of ourselves.

    It's human nature to pursue our own interest, but to the degree we invest our passion in that, we build the walls of our personal prison higher. The harder we try to serve our own interests, the behinder we get. That's the human condition, the confounding problem that plagues humanity, both personally and socially.

    Jesus was revolutionary in that he pointed us in the opposite direction, a 180 degree turn. He taught us that what we're really looking for will be found in pursuing the interests of others.

    Pursuing the interest of others. That's what liberates us. The act of love. Not the talking of the talk, but the walking of the walk. Not ideology, but service and surrender.

    The act of love, the act of surrendering our self to the interests of another, is a truly daunting never ending challenge. Plenty of work there for a lifetime.

    If we were serious about the act of love, we wouldn't be building a trillion dollar real estate empire to comfortably house we the wealthy, and we wouldn't have the time to argue about ideology.

    Is surrendering our ideology and real estate in service to the suffering revolutionary enough for you? Is Christianity supposed to be comfortable and convenient?

    PS: I'm working on something that might provide more elbow room for these conversations, and will contact Mike about it.

    Thanks again!

  12. Anonymous you say:

    "I remain convinced that Christ was not killed because he preached radical egalitarianism or concern for the poor. What made Christ so outrageous to the Jewish authorities was his claim to speak for God - this, it seems to me, is what gets a back-water itinerant preacher killed. Because he spoke "with authority."

    I happen to think you are very wrong. There were plenty of itinerant preachers who claimed to speak for God. We are still plagued with too many of them. Jesus threatened both religious and civil power because He did like God. He manifested food for thousands, He healed the unhealable, He cast out demons, He disappeared while walking off a cliff, He walked on water, calmed storms etc etc etc. He was in His person a threat to the consensus reality and power structure. His disciples demonstrated lesser ability, but they demonstrated His teachings somehow empowered people to change reality---if they were willing to pay the price, to use the keys to this kingdom. That price was selflessness and detachment from the things of this world. One worked in this Kingdom by giving up everything important in the material kingdom and sharing all with everyone.

    Jesus and His followers terrified both secular and religious power because He and they played outside the rules of reality as they were understood. Jesus and His followers were most definitely a threat.

    Here's a modern example of why such understanding of the Kingdom Jesus taught is such a threat. How do you explain Sr Megan Rice and two others breaking through the security at Oak Ridge? I guarantee you the NSA is taking their faith very very seriously precisely because it threatens the reality that entire security is based upon.

    Jesus taught the keys to the Kingdom that creates our reality. Unfortunately the price has been too high for Roman Catholic teaching authority. They do not do as Jesus did, and have not since about the time of Constantine.

  13. It is very refreshing to hear Bishop Cupich respond to difficult questions facing faithfilled people with such thoughtfullness and compassion.