Dateline . . . Rome
It is done.
At 11:36 a.m. Saturday, two years after being plucked from a small diocese in Spokane, Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich became a Prince of the Church.
“The pope personally called me aside before the ceremony and asked me if I was happy in Chicago,” Cardinal Cupich told Sneed. “I told him I was very happy in Chicago.”
Pope Francis asked him to keep “alive his message of social justice and taking care of the poor.”
Cupich also noted the tragic death of Congressman Danny Davis’ grandson, who was shot to death Friday night.
“It is a reminder of how important it is to deal with our city’s violence and the work we started last year with our violence initiative.”
Standing outside St. Peter’s Basilica in the rain Saturday hours before the investiture of Cardinal Cupich, one of his close friend’s — Father Clete Kiley — described the pope as a man who likened the church “to a field hospital where the doors are always open.”
“Pope Francis wants us to go where the wounded are. The doors of the church aren’t just open to the elite. And sometimes it’s the church that needs healing.”
A proud Nebraskan who claims to “take life a day at a time,” the cardinal was accompanied to Rome this week by dozens of family members, everyday Catholics and public dignitaries, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“I’ve been misty eyed by all this. This has all been so special and would have been such a big deal for my (late) grandfather, who was Catholic,” said Rauner, who was raised Episcopalian by his Catholic father and Lutheran mother.
“It a time for people of all faiths to get together. Our focus should be on what’s good, giving back, working things out.”
So what about his “ history of friendship and cordiality” with Mayor Emanuel? Can they work things out?
“It’s just business as usual,” he chuckled, adding. “And this trip has been a wonderful experience.”
Emanuel may have given Cardinal Cupich a brand new leather briefcase from Shinola, but the governor stuffed it with $50,000.
Translation: Rauner, who with his wife Diana dined Saturday night with Emanuel and his wife Amy Rule, made the donation to Catholic Extension, which supports poor mission dioceses across the United States. The dinner signaled a perceived thaw in their relationship.
Rev. John Hatcher – from the Red Cloud Indian reservation in South Dakota, where Cupich once served – delivered the invocation at a reception held after Saturday’s ceremony for Catholic Extension guests.
The cardinal was asked if he wanted to be called “Your Eminence.” Cupich declined. The term “cardinal” was just fine.
At a private dinner Friday night put on by Mayor Emanuel for an eclectic group of 22 friends, which included Senate President John Cullerton, Rahm’s best friend/investment guru Michael Sacks and restauranteur Phil Stefani, Cupich showed up as a surprise guest for a glass of wine.
Cupich, a Cubs fan who gave the pope a Cubs hat and World Series baseball, joked how comedian Bill Murray exhorted him to “do something!” when the Cubs were losing a World Series game. “I told him I was in charge of the weather and reminded him later I thought I’d done a pretty good job.”
Earlier Friday evening, Emanuel had told a crowd gathered at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Italy, “I can’t think of a better thing to happen after the [presidential] election than see our archbishop elected to cardinal.”