Sneed: Pope handpicked Archbishop Cupich for Chicago

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The pope’s man . . .

He was not the usual suspect.

But Sneed hears Archbishop Blase Cupich was the pope’s personal pick, his Chicago emissary to “heal wounds and warm hearts from the ground up,” as Pope Francis has described his mission in the church.

In a surprise move last year, Cupich was culled from the country’s Catholic hinterlands by Francis to replace one of the most powerful prelates in the U.S., an ailing Cardinal Francis George.

In private chats with George several years before his death, the cardinal talked about his upcoming retirement. Those close to him also told Sneed the cardinal had hopes of visiting Rome to chat with the pope and/or his advisers about suggestions to consider before choosing his replacement and had sent missives to the Papal Nuncio, which was searching for his replacement.

There are whispers George dispatched two lists of possible replacements to Rome — and that Cupich’s name was not included.

Surprisingly, Cupich had his first face-to-face meeting with Francis in June, when he went to Rome to receive his Pallium, a piece of lamb’s wool symbolizing his role as shepherd of his flock.

Sneed hears via the clerical grapevine it was during a private meeting with the pope in the Vatican guest house that serves as Francis’ residence, that Cupich — who had been a bishop lauded for his pastoral care in Spokane, Wash., and Rapid City, S.D. — learned he had been the pontiff’s personal selection; ostensibly discussing the pope’s clear message of social activism to protect the world’s weak and vulnerable.

When asked for a comment on this story from Archbishop Cupich, Chicago Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Burritt e-mailed Sneed: “The Archbishop said to thank you for the heads-up but that he is not going to comment on this story.”


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Earlier this month, Cupich made a surprise visit to Rome and met Pope Francis for the second time.

Last week, it was announced Francis had personally picked Cupich to participate as a delegate in a worldwide synod of bishops to discuss how to make the church’s teachings on family issues like divorce, contraception and homosexuality relevant to modern Catholic families.

Sadly, late last week, Sneed tweeted Cupich had to abruptly cancel his one-day visit to Washington, D.C., to attend a Mass led by Pope Francis because of personal family business.

Pope Francis has been described as a leader who wants help upholding the morals of the church with love and mercy. He may have found such a man in Blase Cupich.

Running with Rauner . . .

Humanities 101: Gov. Bruce Rauner and wife Diana were spotted in the audience of the play “Disgraced” on Saturday night at the Goodman Theatre. The play examines race, class and religion in today’s society and will be at the theater until Oct. 25. . . . There ya go.

Rahm ’em . . .

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, an avid book reader, claims he hasn’t read a book on Barack Obama and Hillary and Bill Clinton “in years.” And, he added, “I haven’t read the book written by my brother Zeke,” who wrote “Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family,” and just penned another tome called “Reinventing American Healthcare.”

“If I needed to read his book, I’d need to see a therapist,” he joked.

The Twittersphere . . .

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s chief aide and confidante Huma Abedin just joined Twitter, and she’s already following 122 people . . . people like Bernie Sanders, New York Times Columnist Tom Friedman, and former Obama White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod.

Who isn’t she following?

Her husband, former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner, the sexter who had to step down after he was caught sending creepy pictures through his Twitter account.

Sneedlings . . .

Wednesday’s birthdays: Bruce Springsteen, 66; Anthony Mackie, 37, and Jason Alexander, 56.

Tweets by @Sneedlings

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