Editorial: A new course of collaboration for Chicago’s archdiocese

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Archbishop Blase Cupich. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

For much of its history, the unofficial motto of the Catholic Church might have been: Follow the rules. It’s refreshing to see that the new archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich, appears committed to a more inclusive culture of collaboration.

EDITORIAL

Cupich told the Sun-Times Editorial Board last week that he is determined to make the archdiocese more egalitarian, less authoritarian, more intent on moving power from the clergy to the full church and more focused on partnering with the broader community. It’s a direction we hope will benefit all of Chicago.

The new archbishop is just six months into his term, but he’s already made substantive changes. For the first time in the history of the Chicago archdiocese, the archbishop’s right-hand man will be a woman — Betsy Bohlen, the chief operating officer. Cupich also says more resources will be redirected to the archdiocese’s six vicariates and the parishes. And a special office for Latino ministry, Consejo Hispano, will be opened.

This is good news for members of an archdiocese that is so diverse it offers mass in 26 languages. They will have more opportunities to use their talents to help the church succeed in its mission.

But it’s also good news for those who are not part of the church. At a time when social services are being chopped at every level of government, we need a strong voice speaking up for those in need.

Cupich isn’t going far enough for some critics of the church, including for those who believe women should be allowed to be priests or who want the church to support same-sex marriage. He really can’t, of course, whether he would want to or not. Decisions like that are made in Rome. But he clearly intends to break from a past in which, as he put it, the church “collapsed power into the clergy.” Those who hold real power, he said, “don’t have to be clerics.”

Cupich calls himself a product of the Second Vatican Council. Like Pope Francis, who made Cupich one of his early important appointments, the Chicago archbishop is articulating the messages of that council, including the view that the church’s role is “not to sit in judgment but to serve and not be served.”

On Thursday, he went to Springfield to urge lawmakers “to come at things the way the Second Vatican Council did . . . to rescue people.” And in his meeting with our Editorial Board, he spoke strongly in favor of immigration reform and a more compassionate juvenile justice system.

“We want to be a participant in the common good and the bettering of society,” Cupich said.

Here’s hoping he succeeds.

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