Tomorrow PopeWatch will have much to say about the dismaying appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich to head the Archdiocese of Chicago. Mark Shea back in 2011 gave some reasons why this appointment is disturbing:
Bishop Cupich has informed all of his priests and seminarians that they cannot:
– pray outside of Planned Parenthood
– promote or organize peaceful protest outside Planned Parenthood in their parishes (naming 40 Days for Life specifically)
– or allow pro-life material to be distributed in their parishes unless it is published by the Washington State Conference of Catholic Bishops or the USCCB–who, ironically, support 40 DFL.
This information came to us directly from multiple Spokane priests. We were also told by these priests that Bishop Cupich identifies himself as pro-life, but disagrees with the “tactic” of praying outside of abortion clinics. The reason he gave for his decision is that he does not want his priests being identified with “extreme” pro-life persons.
We know you all understand the great concern that comes when a bishop is 1) not overtly supportive of pro-life activities and 2) will not allow his priests to fight for the pro-life cause by praying and giving witness to the sanctity of human life outside of Planned Parenthood.
My wife and I have written a letter that we will be sending to the bishop tomorrow and have copied the text below. I am asking that you also do what you can to help him change his mind, especially since we begin the fall campaign of 40 Days for Life in a few weeks.
Most Reverend Blase J. Cupich
Diocese Of Spokane
1023 W. Riverside Avenue
Spokane, WA 99210Your Excellency:
We have recently learned of facts that are highly disturbing to us. We are seeking clarification from your office.
We have been told that you have forbidden priests and seminarians of the Diocese of Spokane from praying in front of Planned Parenthood, participating in 40 Days for Life, organizing peaceful protest outside of Planned Parenthood (either as a part of 40 Days for Life or otherwise), and endorsing/allowing communication of pro-life activities involving the above two methods in a parish.
We also learned that no pro-life literature may be distributed in a parish except for those produced by the Washington State Conference of Catholic Bishops or by the USCCB. A few months ago, we learned that you declined to endorse 40 Days for Life—something Bishop Skylstad, your predecessor, did indeed endorse. Even the USCCB supports and promotes this organization.
We were concerned, but hoped you had a good reason for your decision, and that it might be a misunderstanding. With this new information, we find it hard to believe it is a misunderstanding.
As members of the Diocese of Spokane, we do not understand why our bishop, the man entrusted by the Church and by Christ to lead the flock, would not allow a peaceful protest of the destruction of human lives. The pro-life issue, which has been championed and endorsed by Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and the USCCB, is the most important of our age.
In the last 38 years, since abortion became legal in the United States, over 50 million children have been lost (that we know of) through the horror of abortion. While we are hoping that your denial of priests to pray for the unborn outside of the very place where children are murdered is a matter of disagreement on tactics, it seems as though you do not support the movement at all; again, we hope that is not true.
However, we do not understand how a bishop could not endorse praying the rosary, Our Lady’s prayer, for the sake of the unborn, their mothers and fathers and the workers, at the very scene of their deaths. Prayer and peaceful witness are the only ways that we will win the battle of converting hearts to believe in the sanctity of every human life. If what we heard is true, telling priests not to pray outside of abortion clinics would be equivalent to telling a priest in Germany or Poland that they should not pray outside of Death Camps. The same tragedy that happened in Germany is happening in our country today, but too many people are standing by without defending the unborn.
We need our priests and our bishops, our spiritual leaders, to take on the cause of defending the unborn! We need our priests and bishops to unabashedly proclaim the sanctity of human life! We need our priests and bishops to witness to the women who are going into a clinic and are in need of a friendly face! If they don’t lead the people of God, how will we win this battle for the lives of the unborn? How do we tell the world that the Catholic Church is the most pro-life faith when our bishops are not willing to sacrifice for the life of a baby?
We are not necessarily asking you to pray outside of Planned Parenthood or be the leader of 40 Days for Life, although we wish you would desire to do so.
But we are asking you to clarify why you would not allow your priests and seminarians to take part in this essential part of the pro-life movement. We are also asking you to publicly endorse 40 Days for Life, an important part of our witness in this diocese each year.
It saddens us that our new bishop is not overtly pro-life, let alone that he will not allow his priests and seminarians to express their own pro-life convictions.
Know that we will pray for you as the shepherd of our diocese. However, if this decision remains in effect, we will not be able to support you financially. We will be rescinding our 2011 pledge to the Annual Catholic Appeal, additionally.
It is essential that the Catholic Church be the beacon of hope in this time where our society finds it acceptable to murder innocent human life by the millions each year.
May God bless you in your ministry and give you wisdom as you lead our diocese.
I don’t get the guy. His reasoning isn’t even internally consistent since the USCCB (rightly) has no problem at all with 40 DFL, a perfectly peaceful, non-confrontational, non-gory form of civil witness for life. Plus, he’s just taken over a diocese that’s been through the ringer financially due to abuse lawsuits. So he deliberately spits in the eye of the most dedicated and loyal Catholics, provoking them to withhold their appeal funds out of conscience? What gives?
In 2012 Mark wrote:
Every couple of months I get a plea for help or a phone call asking me what on earth is the deal with Bp. Blase Cupich in Spokane–typically from people living in Spokane. Not living there myself and only going on his mysteriously hostile actions toward the prolife movement, I tell people I don’t know. But I’d be lying if I said I could interpret his behavior as being anything but unrelievedly hostile to the prolife movement. Again and again and again, he has taken actions that can only be described as acts of hostility and, when caught doing so, offered clarifications that only clarify how hostile he is.
I have heard from seminarians in Spokane who are forbidden from participating in 40 Days for Life (despite the approval of the USCCB). And I and others have personal experience with his absolute refusal to so much as reply to very respectfully worded requests for dialogue in response to manifestly unjust treatment. So it is, sadly, not a surprise that I just got another email from a prolifer in Spokane who has been completely stiff-armed by her shepherd and, in turning to the internet to try to figure out why he is treating this person and the rest of the prolife movement with such hostility, happened across previous documentation of his hostility to prolifers on my blog and elsewhere. This person writes:
I read with interest your post on Bishop Blase Cupich and his ban on prolife materials and activities. I have been writing to the Bishop for months asking him why he has banned prolife literature; his assistant, Mary Cole, accidentally sent me a message meant for Cupich, in which she mentioned he had instructed her not to answer me.
Note: The reader forwarded me the inadvertently forwarded communication from Cole to Bp. Cupich. It reads: “Bishop, in the past you have asked me not to respond to her emails. She is also not listed in our diocesan system. She emailed again last night. Please advise. ”
Once I wrote her that I had received that, she got rather testy, and after I asked some more questions about his anti-life policy and caught her in at least two apparent fibs— she said there was a 20 year ban on prolife literature, I could not find any evidence of it, and she wouldn’t provide any. Then she said that there was no difference between the policy of bishop Cupich and those of his predecessor. This was untrue, as Bishop Skylstad endorsed 40 Days for Life, and Cupich told his priests and seminarians that he didn’t want them to take part!–She then blocked me from emailing any one who works for the Spokane Diocese! Her “sit down and shut up” attitude towards the Prolife movement is…interesting.
I can’t for the life of me understand why Bp. Cupich is treating the prolife movement in Spokane–surely some of the best and most devoted children and allies of the Catholic Church, with such cold contempt. What does he hope to accomplish beyond what this email evidences: namely the growth of a group of prolifers under his care who are coming to believe that their spiritual father regards them as enemies and not as his children? Are not these men and women members of his flock too? Do they not at least deserve to have their existence acknowledged? If he thinks them to be too in bed with conservative agenda items not to his liking, would he not do better to *teach* them to distinguish the prolife movement from secular (and often anti-Catholic) agendas rather than simply treat them like enemies to be ignored, undercut, defeated and, in my reader’s case, humiliated? Does he not realize that such treatment is almost guaranteed to drive lay Catholics further away from the bishops and into the arms of right wing demagogues who care nothing for the Church’s teaching except how it can be exploited from political gain?
I do not understand this man. I pray that the Spirit would move this shepherd to act like a shepherd toward people who love the Faith and who only wish to serve the Church he loves and is charged to feed.
Go here to read a similar post by Mark in April of this year.
His reaction thus far to those alarmed by this appointment may be read here.