Pope elevates Cupich to College of Cardinals

By Joyce Duriga
Sunday, November 27, 2016

Pope elevates Cupich to College of Cardinals

Pope Francis embraces new Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago during a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Nov. 19. The pope created 17 new cardinals. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
New Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago attends a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Nov. 19. Pope Francis created 17 new cardinals at the consistory. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Vatican City —On the eve of the closing of the Jubilee of Mercy, Archbishop Cupich joined the College of Cardinals during a service at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Nov. 19. Pope Francis elevated 17 men to the College of Cardinals that morning.

During the one-hour and 15-minute Liturgy of the Word, Pope Francis asked the men to declare their fidelity to the universal Catholic Church.

After making the oath of fidelity to Pope Francis and his successors, each cardinal went up to Pope Francis and knelt before him. The pope presented each of them with the symbols of the cardinal — a red biretta, a ring and a church in Rome.

The assignment of a church is a sign they now are members of the clergy of the pope's diocese.

During his homily, Pope Francis told the cardinals they must forgive their enemies.

“Here we find ourselves confronted with one of the very hallmarks of Jesus’ message, where its power and secret are concealed. Here too is the source of our joy, the power of our mission and our preaching of the good news. My enemy is someone I must love,” he said. “In God’s heart there are no enemies. God only has sons and daughters. We are the ones who raise walls, build barriers and label people.”

Pope Francis also cautioned the new cardinals about “global problems and issues” that plague the world today.

“The virus of polarization and animosity permeates our way of thinking, feeling and acting. We are not immune from this and we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts, because this would be contrary to the richness and universality of the Church, which is tangibly evident in the College of Cardinals,” the pope said. “We come from distant lands; we have different traditions, skin color, languages and social backgrounds. We think differently and we celebrate our faith in a variety of rites. None of this makes us enemies. Instead, it is one of our greatest riches.”

The red color of a cardinal’s hat and vestments symbolizes cardinals’ willingness to shed their blood for the faith. The ring, bearing an image of Sts. Peter and Paul, symbolizes their connection with the successor of Peter.

Cardinal Cupich’s titular church is the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all’Isola, which is uniquely located on a tiny island in the Tiber River. Cardinal George had the same titular church. Cardinal Cupich will not have any hand in the day-to-day running of the parish but is expected to offer financial and other support to the church and will make regular visits there when he is in Rome.

Cardinals are expected to serve the pope until they reach the age of 80, when they can no longer vote in a conclave. Four of the men made cardinals on Nov. 19 are older than 80 and made honorary cardinals for their outstanding work in the church.

One of them, 87-year-old Cardinal Sebastian Koto Khoarai, the retired bishop of Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho, was created a cardinal although he was unable to travel to Rome.

Following the service, Pope Francis took the new cardinals to greet Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, his residence in the Vatican gardens. The retired pope greeted each cardinal, thanked them for stopping by and assured them, “My prayers will accompany you always.”

Cardinal Mario Zenari, the pope’s ambassador to Syria, spoke on behalf of the new cardinals, promising Pope Francis that they and the entire church would continue to be envoys of God’s mercy, bending down to help those “left half dead on the side of the road, wounded in body and spirit.”"

The Gospel reading at the consistory was St. Luke’s version of Jesus’ discourse to his disciples: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

“They are four things we can easily do for our friends and for those more or less close to us, people we like, people whose tastes and habits are similar to our own,” Pope Francis said. But Jesus, not mincing his words, calls his followers to more.

“With people we consider our opponents or enemies,” the pope said, “our first instinctive reaction ... is to dismiss, discredit or curse them. Often we try to ‘demonize’ them, so as to have a ‘sacred’ justification for dismissing them.”

In God, he said, there are no enemies. There are only brothers and sisters to love.

All people are embraced by God's love, he said. “We are the ones who raise walls, build barriers and label people.”

Just as God loves and forgives the pope and the cardinals for their sinfulness, he said, so they must love and forgive others, undergoing “the conversion of our pitiful hearts that tend to judge, divide, oppose and condemn.”

Many Catholics and dignitaries from Chicago traveled to Rome to attend the consistory and the closing of the Jubilee of Mercy on Nov. 20. Catholic Extension, a Chicago-based organization that supports “mission dioceses” in the United States, led a large pilgrimage to the Eternal City. According to the organization’s bylaws, the archbishop of Chicago serves as Catholic Extension’s chancellor.  Father Jack Wall, the organization’s president, was overjoyed by the archbishop’s elevation to cardinal, he said.

During the consistory, Pope Francis was calling the cardinals to be one with his mission, Wall said during a reception for the cardinals at the North American College following the liturgy.

“I think that’s what excites me about Cardinal Cupich, because I think he absolutely owns the mission of Pope Francis,” Wall said. “In a very particular way, Catholic Extension is one of the expressions of that. The whole mission of it is to reach out to the margins and peripheries of American society and our own culture.”

Lauren Tang attended the consistory as part of a young adult pilgrimage from Holy Name Cathedral. The pilgrimage was planned more than a year ago so Tang felt it was providential that pilgrims were able to attend the ceremony. She was also surprised at how short  the service was.

Despite having tickets for seats, by the time the pilgrimage group cleared security all of the chairs were filled, so the young adults watched the service looking over wooden barricades sectioning off the seats from the rest of the basilica.

“I wish I could have been a little closer so I could see a little better but I saw enough to feel included and to feel like I had a good experience, that I was in the same building and was part of the same ceremony as the pope and all of the cardinals,” she said.

Going forward, Tang has some hopes for Cardinal Cupich.

“I hope that he becomes closer to the common parishioner rather than further away. My fear about people rising in the hierarchy is that they move physically away from their flock,” she said. “I hope that he stays close to us, accessible, human to us.”

Ann Wilson, Cardinal Cupich’s aunt, was among a large contingent of Cardinal Cupich’s extended family who attended the consistory.

His new role did not surprise her and will not change him, she said.

“I knew he was going to be cardinal,” she said. “Blase will be Blase.”

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Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


  • cardinal cupich
  • pope francis
  • college of cardinals
  • catholic extension
  • unity

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