As Gov. Bruce Rauner prepares his state budget, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich cautioned Wednesday that cuts in social services would put more pressure on organizations like Catholic Charities.
“We need to have a safety net in the funding that’s there for Catholic Charities and our other institutions, not just Catholic organizations, because we as charities can do a much better job than the state,” Cupich said.
“The stream of funding is necessary for the viability of our charities, not just for the services they provide, but also for the long-term sustainability of our various organization,” he said. “So my hope would be that those who are most in need will not be left behind or be the ones in the front line for any cuts.”
Cupich shared his views at a media briefing after delivering the keynote address at a sold-out City Club of Chicago Public Policy luncheon downtown.
He also said the Archdiocese of Chicago will continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops long advocated for that. A more conservative new Congress appears unwilling to quickly move forward on the issue.
President Barack Obama’s executive order, which protects 5 million immigrants from deportation, “has stopped things or at least given people another chance,” he said. “That’s a Band-Aid on a gaping wound, and we need to look for another way to deal with this in a comprehensive manner.”
Earlier in his first address before the City Club group of Chicago’s business, political and community leaders, he told the gathering, “There is ample evidence that the diversity which immigration brings has enriched our city, not to mention our country. From its earliest days, Chicago has drawn immigrants and refugees here because this is a city that readily gives the impression that it welcomes newcomers to call Chicago home. . . . Their aspirations have always been the same as all of us, to find a better life, to care for their family, to leave behind poverty, violence and oppression.
“. . . We should all take pride that this city leaves such an impression on people . . . that should encourage us to embrace comprehensive immigration reform that invites people to come out of the shadows and take their rightful place in the economy and in our city and make Chicago their home. Together we can make this happen.”
In a question-and-answer session with luncheon attendees, Cupich said he’s satisfied with his decision to live at Holy Name Cathedral instead of at the North State Parkway mansion, where previous archbishops have resided.
“It was intentional because I wanted a place where I could have access to people on a regular basis,” he said. “. . . I like being able to walk downtown . . . to see the hustle and bustle of life. It’s also two minutes to the office. It makes it easy for me, and I like the community environment. I think there are eight or nine priests who live there in the rectory, and it’s a great support system for me. My decision was for something, not against something.”
Asked what advice he has for bringing politicians together, he responded:
“Everybody is different and comes at things differently,” and he noted that was a lesson he learned from Native Americans in South Dakota while pastoring at five reservations there.
“I would say, have a respect for that other person in such a way that you put aside, you check at the door, any preconceived notions about what’s possible or what they’re thinking. I think that works.”
When queried about whether he’s a Sox or Cubs fan, he said to laughter, “I’m part of the ecumenical movement.”