Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

The Most Rev. Blase Joseph Cupich: ninth Archbishop of Chicago

October 5, 2014

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has graciously appointed as ninth Archbishop of Chicago the Most Rev. Blase Cupich, presently the Bishop of Spokane, Washington. The process sometimes seemed lengthy, perhaps, but the Holy Father acted when he felt he had enough information to make the right choice for our archdiocese.

The relationship between a bishop and his diocese is like that between Christ and the church, between a husband and wife. It takes time to think about whether or not it will be a good “fit” and then it takes more time to grow into it and create something new and beautiful. Our life in Christ together with and under the direction of Archbishop Cupich will be shaped by his dedication to the faith, his love for Christ’s people, his quick and insightful intelligence and his varied pastoral experiences. His life, in turn, will be shaped by what we bring to him. I am sure that each of us will be praying for him in the months to come, as he is already praying for us.

For myself, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for my years as archbishop of Chicago. I am grateful to God, of course, who blessed me with this calling, but grateful as well to the millions of Catholics and others in our community who have been so good to me and so dedicated to the mission of the church here. I have often been edified by witnessing the working of God’s grace in people’s lives. Many to whom I have ministered in these years have become close to me, others I recall only by a facial gesture or a remark remembered, but many paths have been crossed and I find great satisfaction when someone reminds me of a talk I had with them or of a time I counseled them or prayed with them.

I have spent more time in recent years asking for help for the poor than directly helping the poor, but I’ll be back in the confessionals and on the food lines in the coming years. Care of the poor, especially through Catholic Charities and the St. Vincent de Paul Societies, has always claimed a great part of our resources here, and it is done joyfully and generously.

There have been receptions and award dinners and graduations and confirmations and a thousand and one other occasions — usually joyful — that have sustained my faith and, I hope, strengthened the faith of others. Support of the schools and the religious education programs remains strong. I am blessed with many active councils, whose advice is both comfort and challenge. The Post-Conciliar lay movements have taken root here. The formation of people in Christ in our seminaries, our deacon programs, our lay ecclesial ministry formation processes, our catechetical conferences, our collective and personal habits of prayer and devotion, along with the regular sacramental discipline of the parishes, assure me that the next archbishop will have many faithful men and women to help and guide him in his role as high priest and shepherd of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

I must especially thank with all my heart the priests and deacons of the archdiocese, those incardinated here and those helping temporarily. In particular, I am grateful to my auxiliary bishops and to all who, at different times during these 17 years administrated the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centers so well, always looking for ways to improve, to direct all our energies toward the goal of the new evangelization.

Men and women religious are found in key roles throughout the archdiocese and have established a strong personal presence among those who are often overlooked or marginalized: the poor, the unborn, the migrants, the imprisoned. If one picks up an Archdiocesan Directory and glances through the columns of ministries and offices, one cannot help but be struck by the breadth of the church’s outreach. These activities establish the network of relationships we call Catholic communion. These various ministries I’ve seen in action as I’ve visited each of our parishes through the years.

Friendship among fellow Christians we can now, thank God, take for granted, and I have also made many friends in the Jewish community and among Muslims and followers of other religions, even secularists and, I would like to think, among the media! There is as well an important and growing group of surgeons, physicians, nurses, medical technicians, physical therapists and hospital personnel who deserve my gratitude. Finally, those who have become my personal staff have shared my life and brought me much joy. The Albertine Sisters have made the Archbishop’s Residence, which was built as the Archdiocesan Chancery Office in 1882, a prayerful and welcoming house for many hundreds of visitors, and they deserve the gratitude of the entire archdiocese. The list of those to whom I have reason to be grateful is very long, even without mentioning any particular names. The list will continue to be rehearsed in my heart. This is a good place, because there are a lot of good people here. I look forward to continuing to be part of it all, but in a very different role.

Along with gratitude in my heart, there is a certain sense of relief, knowing that my responsibilities will now be taken up by someone with fresh eyes and ears and with strength enough to rethink the various tasks. There is also a sense of regret for the times when I didn’t measure up to the job, when opportunities were lost, mistakes were made and people hurt. I can honestly say to myself and to the Lord that I have never deliberately hurt anyone, even as I know I sometimes struggled with my own impatience and fits of ill-temper. For these occasions and for letting people down, I have asked God’s forgiveness and I ask for yours.

Archbishop Cupich will be installed as archbishop here on Nov. 18, as the church is preparing to enter the Season of Advent. The reason for our Advent hope is, of course, the coming celebration of the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. But this Advent, in this archdiocese, the new archbishop will be a sign of hope for me and you and for many others. May God give us the grace to finish the tasks at hand now and the zest to begin something new with great joy in November.


  • cardinal george
  • cardinal blase j. cupich