A look at Chicago's incoming, outgoing archbishops

AP News
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Posted: Sep 20, 2014 1:01 PM
A look at Chicago's incoming, outgoing archbishops

BISHOP BLASE CUPICH

BORN: March 19, 1949, in Omaha, Nebraska.

EDUCATION: Cupich holds degrees in philosophy and theology and is a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

PASTORAL ASSIGNMENTS: Cupich was ordained a priest in 1975 in Omaha, where he served as an associate pastor, a high school instructor and director of the Office for Divine Worship at the archdiocese. In the 1980s, he worked on the staff of the Vatican embassy in Washington. He was appointed bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1998, and served there until 2010, when he was appointed to Spokane, Washington.

Cupich also served as chairman of the U.S. bishops' child protection committee at the height of the clergy sex abuse crisis and as church leaders were putting in place a toughened policy on disciplining guilty priests.

PRIORITIES: When he takes over as head of Chicago's more than 2.2 million Catholics on Nov. 18, Cupich says his priority is simply to be attentive to what's already happening in the diocese, noting that "God is already at work in the lives of people" here. He's described as a moderate and has called for civility in the culture wars. But he says it's wrong to think of his appointment as a strong signal from Pope Francis about the direction he wants to steer American church leaders. "I think he sent a pastor, not a message," Cupich says.

IMMIGRATION: Cupich also addressed reporters and TV cameras in Spanish during an introductory news conference in Chicago and called for comprehensive immigration reform, saying "Every day we delay is a day too long." Around 44 percent of Chicago's Catholics are Hispanic. Cupich's grandparents came to America from Croatia. He says that while posted in Washington state, he met immigrants who work in fields and orchards and sees his heritage in them.

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CARDINAL FRANCIS GEORGE

BORN: Jan. 16, 1937, in Chicago. He grew up in one of the city's working class neighborhoods on the northwest side and is the first native of Chicago to serve as its archbishop.

EDUCATION: George has a master's degree in philosophy and a doctorate in American philosophy. Besides English, he speaks French, Italian, Spanish and some German.

LEGACY: Appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1997, George is the eighth archbishop of Chicago. He is especially admired in the church's conservative wing as an intellectual who took an aggressive stand against abortion and gay marriage. His emphasis on upholding doctrine led some disgruntled Chicago priests at first to dub him "Francis the Corrector." As president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007-2010, George spearheaded the hierarchy's fight against President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, arguing that the plan expanded access to abortion, which the administration denied.

PRIEST SEX ABUSE: In 2002, at the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal, George helped win approval from reluctant Vatican officials for new U.S. church law on ousting guilty priests. However, George also faced a 2006 crisis over his own actions, when the Rev. Daniel McCormack, a local priest, was left in a parish for several months despite abuse allegations against him. McCormack eventually pleaded guilty to molesting five children. George apologized for not acting sooner.