For months upon months, liberal Catholics have been salivating over Pope Francis choice to succeed Cardinal George. Back in February, I warned that liberal Catholics would try to make as much as they could of Pope Francis’s appointment to this critical American see.
Liberal writers like David Gibson are already publishing articles now claiming Bishop Blase Cupich’s appointment is “dashing conservative hopes”.
But when you read Gibson’s article, you realize it’s mostly fluff. Liberals are trying so hard to spin this but it reminds me of cotton candy: sweet, but mostly air.
I’m going to make the argument that Pope Francis’ choice of Bishop Cupich should actually pour cold water on liberal hopes of a leftward turn in the American episcopacy.
Yes, Bishop Cupich talks in a way that makes liberals feel comfortable, but the substance of what he says is almost always sound and orthodox. He told the New York Times “Pope Francis doesn’t want cultural warriors, he doesn’t want ideologues”, but do liberals ever stop and realize that cuts both ways?
If this appointment does indeed signal Pope Francis’ plans for the US Catholic Church, I would argue we have reasons for hope. Let’s look at the substance of what Bishop Cupich has done over the years:
Life: Yes, he made a bad call when he discouraged his priests from praying outside Planned Parenthood clinics. But people also forget that when Sen. Tom Daschle issued a fund-raising letter on behalf of NARAL, Bishop Cupich took Daschle publicly to task and issued a rebuke against Daschle that was read from every pulpit in his diocese the weekend before the election. Last year he wrote this on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade: “The truth will win out and we have to believe that a nation whose collective heart can break and grieve for babies slaughtered in Newtown has the capacity and God’s grace to one day grieve for the babies killed in the womb.” His failure in prudence, even a serious one, does not necessarily mean he seeks to undermine pro-life action. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he is undertaken pro-life actions that he is not given credit for. Let’s have that conversation, not jump to conclusions.
Marriage: He raised up his voice in defense of marriage many times during the marriage referendum in 2012, taking plenty of flack from gay activists in the process. In fact it is hard to imagine a more powerful and solid defense of marriage than the one he gave in his third pastoral letter on the marriage referendum: “On Nov. 6, the citizens of the State of Washington will be asked to decide the fate of Referendum 74 and the law that has redefined marriage. As members of the community of Jesus’ disciples the decision before us is about much more than one’s politics, one’s partisan affiliation, the debates about rights or being sympathetic to trends in society. It is about what we believe God has been doing from the creation of the world and how He invites us to be partners in continuing His work until the end of time through the decisions we make. But it is also about what we know from human experience and serious social science study, both of which validate what our faith teaches us about the value of marriage, traditionally understood. ”
Religious freedom: He is on record opposing the HHS mandate.
So, on the hot button social issues, Bishop Cupich more than just falls in line with the Church’s teaching, he articulates and defends it.
If this is what gets liberals excited, they’re drinking their own Kool-Aid.
Now, what are we supposed to do about liberal Catholics trying to have a field day on this news? The same thing as were always supposed to do: pray for Bishop Cupich, pray for the Archdiocese of Chicago, and show through your words and actions the living heart of Christ by joyfully living out the teachings of His church!
Some commenters are accusing me of being in denial. That’s not the case. I think some folks don’t appreciate the kind of struggle we’re in. Reese, Gibson and their ilk are hoping that this appointment “dash[es]conservative hopes” and I refuse to let them succeed in doing that. Not every appointment is going to be perfect. St. John Paul II gave us Cardinal Mahony. Cardinal Wuerl was appointed by Pope Benedict. Even for appointments we approve of, not every bishop turns out to be the kind of bishop we were expecting. Who’s to say that a bishop we are skeptical of can’t surprise us? And either way, where’s the wisdom in throwing in the towel on day one? The media and liberal Catholics have done an excellent job of turning us all into Chicken Littles.
Liberals applaud Bishop Cupich’s search for “common ground” — I’ve identified and offered three areas where we share doctrinal common ground with the new pastor of Chicago. How about using that as a starting point for the conversation? Liberal Catholics are hoping we greet Bishop Cupich with the knives out. That would be a disaster and an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.
As far as using this appointment as yet another opportunity to definitively categorize Pope Francis, did you see who he appointed to be the new Archbishop of Sydney two days ago? Bishop Anthony Fisher, OP, who among other good things, founded the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne. A straight arrow from all I’ve heard, and Sydney is an important see. Bishop Cupich just said in response to a question at his presser: “I think [Francis’] priority isn’t to send a ‘message,’ but a pastor.” And then he repeated that again.
So yes, maybe I am in denial: I refuse to believe that all is lost because liberal Catholics are urging despair. And I refuse to allow liberal Catholics to own the future of the Church simply because they’re the only ones fighting to claim it.
There is always so much to gain. Practice looking for the good and you might just create it as you go.