Blase Cupich: Remembrance of Things Past

Cardinal George and Bishop Blase Cupich


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:

A reader writes:

Dear Friends,We recently learned about a troubling decision regarding pro-life activities by our bishop, His Excellency Blase Cupich of the Diocese of Spokane.

I am emailing you because you are a parishioner in the diocese, or have a connection to the diocese, or you have the ability to make public this regrettable decision.

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.

Let us all pray for Bishop Cupich that he has a conversion of heart on this issue.

May God bless each of you as you fight for life!

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?

God grant him a change of heart through Christ Jesus.


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.

Anyway, I’m trying to get together as many people as possible to email the bishop and request that he repeal his ban. They’ll be pretty busy trying to block us all.

If you know any one who’d join in, please let me know!

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.


More to explorer


  1. My first thought was that now we don’t have to worry about Cardinal George’s prediction about his successor – it ( the prediction) was obviously about successors who would go against the pervasive culture.

  2. Long road ahead of us. Bad Pope selects bad advisors who arrange for the appointment of bad bishops as advised by other bad bishops.

    What amazes you is the fragility of institutions under bad leadership.

  3. Last week was a stressful – and for me personally, a sinful one. I felt distant from God this morning at Mass. I was going to stay away from the Internet for a while.

    I feel deeply disappointed for the faithful of the Chicago Archdiocese this morning after what I have read about Bishop Cupich.

  4. Just made it home from TLM.
    I pass this on as an offering.

    At offertory I asked Mary Our Holy Mother to accept a part of my reception of her Son in Eucharist for the conversion of her son Cupich.
    I am nothing, but Our Lady will take even a lowly offering from a fallen one (me) and present it for considerations.

    Penguins Fan.
    You are closest to His Sacred Heart when your feeling nothing but His absence.

  5. Mark Shea, isn’t he the guy who’s always saying being anti-abortion wipes away the sins of those who justifies what he calls torture? Does anyone take this buffoon seriously anymore?

  6. I was not aware of Bishop Cupich’s position on the abortion protests policies until it was mentioned during his appointment, nor do I understand his rationale. He was the head of the Josephinum Seminary here in Columbus for many years back in the 90’s and he often said mass at our local parish as did Bishop Olmstead in the same capacity. I found him a fabulous orator and devoted priest … and none of us were surprised that both men later became greater servants of the church. Of course, during those times we never experienced the so called political issues in his statements, though he sure seemed to be pro-life. My sense is he is not easily labeled – but has positions that can be seen as orthodox and others that steer left more — though let’s hope, not a dangerously so.

  7. The man needs our prayers period. Spokane is not Chicago. Chicago is a very large American metropolis, as we all know, but it is a very complex local Church as well. He will need all the prayers we can send his way.

    I must admit I find some of his decisions, as stated here, ‘curious’. However, in terms of the relationship between Christ (the Gospel, the Church) and the wider culture, as Niebhur pointed out decades ago, there are several ‘models’.

    What I am seeing from my vantage point is the distinction between two specific models of ‘engaging the culture’. One way (which has many followers in the Church) is to actively engage and even confront the culture with Christ, the Gospel, the truth. The other model is more incarnational-sacramental. This means, that by Presence within the culture, one transforms the culture by attracting others to the Beauty of the Truth one lives and professes. Both are orthodox responses to the culture, both in the history of the Church as well as in the present moment. The first model could be called “apocalyptic” the second “sacramental”

    I highly doubt Bishop Cupich is not Pro-life. He would not have been appointed a bishop never mind now an archbishop if that were the case. The issue then is, from what I am seeing, is which model is he using to engage the wider culture. Our wider culture is not totally subsumed by the Culture of Death. It ultimately will not be, although it might come very close

    The Culture of Life is able to stand on its own because it is true, good and beautiful. The Culture of Death has already within itself its own demise because it does not true, good and beautiful. It is important to remember that the Culture of Death by its ‘nature’ is already dying.

  8. I am in Spokane. I am not a fan of Bishop Cupich, but in fairness I think the article goes too far. My criticism of him lies in the way he has run the Spokane Diocese. Frankly in matters of doctrine, he is pretty orthodox. I know he was criticized by some for not letting his priests and seminarians be involved in the 40 Days for Life, but frankly I view that as a matter of tactics and not of substance. There is not one single method to be pro-life. There are also Latin masses to be found in Spokane, so I don’t see an issue there.

    My criticism of him is that he does not seek the counsel of Diocesan Priests and they are generally left in the dark as to his plans. They tend to read about his decisions in the local paper or Catholic paper. The majority of them would say they do not know him very well. He does not tolerate disagreement among his priests or Catholics very well and he dismisses criticism. He tends to take too much advice from a small group of wealthy Catholic donors and not seek broad discussion on issues within the diocese. He always seemed as though he knew he would not be in Spokane very long, and he seemed to be burnishing his resume for a higher job.

    I would hope he changes his “top down management” style because I suspect that willnot go over very well in Chicago.

  9. I had one brief contact with Bp. Cupich when he was in Rapid City back in 1997 or 1998. At that time I was working for the Diocese of Peoria newspaper.

    Then-Bishop John Myers had formed a “sister diocese” relationship with Rapid City back when Bp. Chaput was still in charge there (early/mid 90s). When Bp. Cupich got appointed to Rapid City I was assigned to do a phone interview with him and write a “here’s our new sister diocese bishop” story. I don’t remember much about the interview now (didn’t save a copy of the article!) except that he emphasized that he saw the task of being a bishop as being just like that of a parish pastor, only on a larger scale.

    Anyway, a couple of weeks after the story ran I got a nice thank-you letter from Bp. Cupich, which made my day because it happened to arrive at a time when I was feeling particularly in the dumps and under-appreciated. So I’ve always been kinda grateful to him for that. (If I still have the letter, it’s probably buried out in our storage unit somewhere with a bunch of newspaper clippings and whatnot.) Otherwise, I can’t really tell you how good, or bad, or mediocre, he will turn out to be as Archbishop of Chicago.

  10. When the abortionists get through with murdering our posterity, they will turn to their ancestry of whom Cupich is one. This will surely reduce the overpopulation. “Let him die and reduce the population”…Scrooge.

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