On November 19th, Saturday, our own Archbishop Blase Cupich will join the College of Cardinals. This is a distinct honor that Pope Francis is conferring on our shepherd. This gesture is an even greater validation of the archbishop whom the Holy Father personally chose. Even though it is true that previous Archbishops of Chicago have always been cardinals, this selection sends out a clear message. Pope Francis endorses our archbishop completely because he resonates with the Pope’s mind and heart. The Supreme Pontiff is confident that Cardinal Cupich will accomplish in Chicago and in the US what he hopes to bring about in the Universal Church.
We congratulate our Cardinal Cupich and assure him of our prayers and cooperation. In the short time he has guided the archdiocese, he has already proved to be an inspired leader who is not afraid to make some tough decisions. Over the last several months he has been totally immersed in the initiative, “Renew My Church” which will ensure the continued vibrancy of the Church here in Chicago. He has dedicated his efforts to looking closely at all our parishes and schools and with the help of a group of competent priests and laity he is creating ways to further Jesus’ mission in spite of the lack of priests and financial resources. Cardinal Cupich has demonstrated his special solicitude for the poor and the downtrodden, for the immigrant and the refugee. He is reaching out to other Christian churches as well as to Jews and Muslims. He is taking the archdiocese in a new direction.
Some of us may wonder what Archbishop Cupich’s receiving the cardinal’s hat signifies. As many of us may already know, he continues to be a bishop. There are only three levels of Holy Orders: diaconate, priesthood and bishopric. Even the Holy Father is only a bishop. However, as the Bishop of Rome he is the successor of St Peter and as such, he is the head of the Church. In the same way, Archbishop Cupich continues to be a bishop. This new title is an honor that gives him certain privileges and imposes certain tasks.
As a member of the College of Cardinals, in a certain sense he enters the inner circle of the Pope. He will attend special meetings wherein the cardinals will advise the Holy Father. Until he reaches the age of 80, he will be eligible to vote for the next Pope. As per the custom of the last several centuries, he may run the risk of being elected Pope. However, as far as the Sacrament of Holy Orders is concerned, he continues to exercise the ministry of bishop.
This will be an appropriate time to remember another Cardinal who occupied the See of Chicago. Last week we commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the death of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. He was a holy man whose death touched not only Chicago but the entire nation. He died with dignity as he fought cancer. He held his head high even in the midst of allegations of sexual misconduct which were eventually proved to be false. In his suffering he found strength in the Cross of Jesus and showed what it means to be a humble servant leader.
Cardinal Bernardin called on the church to seek “common ground.” In doing so, he was echoing the wisdom of Pope John XXIII – now a saint – who said, “Let us look for things that unite us rather than divide us.” In the aftermath of a tumultuous election, we need to heed the call of Cardinal Bernardin. Rightfully people are upset. The pre-election offensive rhetoric of the winner does not win him many friends. However, the country has voted and all of us need to embrace the new leader of the Free World. It is unfortunate that some demonstrators are taking to the streets chanting, “Not my president!” In spite of our differences we need to unite. Setting aside our partisan disagreements, we need to rally together as citizens of one nation under God.
I invite each and every one of you to take seriously your role as intercessors. I plead with you to come to Mass every Sunday to pray for this intention that our nation will come together and heal from a bruising election. I request you to pray as a family that our children and grandchildren can look forward to a God-filled future. Perhaps all of us can make our own the beautiful prayer penned by the American poet, Helen Steiner Rice:
God bless America and keep us safe and free -
Safe from all our enemies, wherever they may be...
Teach us to walk humbly and closer in Thy ways,
Give us faith and courage and put purpose in our days,
Make each one of us aware that each must do his part,
For in the individual is where peace must have its start -
For a better world to live in where all are safe and free
Must start with faith and hope and love deep in the heart of me.
May the Good Lord bless us and keep us! May our dear God heal us of all divisions and bring us together! I am proud to be an American because our democracy works even if it sometimes limps.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...