Rainbow PUSH Coalition honors Cardinal Cupich

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cardinal Cupich honored the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by calling on Americans to keep moving forward at a scholarship breakfast in his honor Jan. 16.

Cardinal Cupich was among the honorees at the annual PUSH Excel Scholarship breakfast for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

In his remarks, the cardinal spoke of Pope Francis’ admiration of King. The pope cited King in this year’s World Day of Peace message on Jan. 1.

“He mentioned specifically the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King as proof that nonviolence works,” the cardinal said. “For this reason, the pope called on political and religious leaders, heads of international institutions, business and media executives ‘to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers.’ Peacemaking means, he says, ‘to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building the friendship in society.’”

He went on to say, “Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world is inter-connected. Certainly differences can cause frictions. But let us face them constructively and non-violently, so that tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity.’”

Both King and Pope Francis continue to inspire, Cardinal Cupich said.

“This morning, they lift us up, telling us the long journey is worthwhile,” he said.

At the end of the morning, Cardinal Cupich joined Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and fellow honoree Juan Andrade, president of the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, in a brief panel discussion with ABC 7 News’ Evelyn Holmes.

Asked if the United States is seeing a backlash against progress in civil rights, Cardinal Cupich said the way forward is rarely straight.

“We see a zigzag in progress,” the cardinal said. “We take two steps forward and then there’s one step back. People push back on you. Martin Luther King was known for his speeches, but he was also known for his marches. He reminds us to put one foot in front of the other and keep on. Let’s not be daunted by the challenges. He wasn’t. Why should we be?”

The cardinal also called for an increase in civility and more focus on the common good in political discourse, saying the church has always tried to be a voice for people whose voices are ignored.

“We have to go a bit higher and realize there are issues that aren’t being discussed today and issues that need to be a part of the mix,” Cardinal Cupich said.

“Sometimes we have budgets that are focused more on the money we are going to save than on the people we are going to serve in terms of the common good,” he said. “Our voice has to not only address the issues of the day but also aim a little higher. This business of the harsh rhetoric, the back and forth, gets us nowhere. We have to see that we all have a common stake in the future.”

PUSH Excel is an education and scholarship organization that aims to “inspire students to strive for excellence in spite of personal, family and community challenges they might face.”

The breakfast followed a news conference at which Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation requiring lead testing in all Illinois schools and day care centers by the end of 2018.

Last year, Chicago Public Schools found elevated lead levels in drinking water in 113 schools. The Archdiocese of Chicago required all its schools to be tested and found elevated lead levels in between one and four drinking water sources in 56 out of 180 schools. Seventeen of those schools were in Chicago.

Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children.

“Dr. King talked about the scourge of lead poisoning back in 1966, and how it disproportionately impacted disadvantaged children, low income children, children of color,” Rauner said.


  • cardinal cupich
  • rev. martin luther king jr
  • pope francis
  • push excel
  • bruce rauner

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