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Sneed: Cardinal Cupich one of Vatican’s frequent friars

Cardinal Blase Cupich: “I walk to work every day, and I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that somebody doesn’t stop me on the street and say hello, ask me to pray for them. Sometimes, people just want a selfie, and that’s fine, too.” | Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

Sneed Exclusive

The Papal file . . .

So here’s the deal.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, who was personally plucked from the small diocese of Spokane, Wash., by Pope Francis to become head of the nation’s third largest archdiocese, is a big deal.

• To wit: Not only has Cupich become close to the Pontiff for being his definition of a pastoral shepherd “who is one with his flock,” but he travels to Rome quite frequently to confer with the Pope and, at the Pope’s request, participate in major papal forums.

“The time he spends at the Vatican is no secret to those close to him, but Cardinal Cupich is basically a humble guy who is trying to keep this off the radar screen,” said a Sneed source familiar with the Cardinal’s schedule.

Word is Cardinal Cupich travels to the Vatican at an almost monthly pace.

• Backshot: Not long after the Pope selected Cupich to replace the late Cardinal Francis George, he appointed Cupich to the Congregations for Bishops, a extremely influential committee advising the Pontiff on new leadership assignments.

Cardinal Cupich was asked to write the forward for Pope Francis’ book. | Provided
Cardinal Cupich was asked to write the forward for Pope Francis’ book. | Provided

• Upshot: Although Cardinal’s Cupich’s attention is increasingly drawn to Rome, he has also managed the almost unmanageable job of rebuilding the aging infrastructure of the Chicago Archdiocese, which is comprised of 3 million Catholics.

• Buckshot: Recently, Cardinal Cupich addressed the Chicago City Council after managing to pull together church assets in an attempt to stem the city’s violence problem by improving the lot of Chicago families and neighborhoods.

So it should come as no surprise that Cardinal Cupich was asked by Time Magazine to write a recent piece about Pope Francis who was listed among the world’s top 100 most influential people.

It also should come as no surprise Cupich was asked to write the forward to the Pope’s recent book: “Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church.”

The Jackson File . . .

Sandi Jackson, who is involved in a sizzler divorce from former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., had a tough day Friday.

• Their daughter Jessica, who lives with her in the couple’s Washington, D.C., home, was home sick.

• She had a court appearance dealing with an acrimonious divorce.

• She had to work at a food pantry called Martha’s Table, a court-mandated community service project where she bakes banana muffins.

• And … she found out her estranged husband tossed fuel on what seemed to have become a whiff of smoke heading to mediation, when Jackson Jr. told the press he found something on his home computer that led him to file for divorce … and he wants it back!

And because Jackson Jr. contends whatever it is he found is now in the hands of others, he wants “non-distribution” of it to protect his children.

(His comment followed a press report that Sandi’s attorneys had requested a list of all her husband’s extramarital affairs last month.)

“I can’t and won’t comment on all of this nonsense because my only focus is going forward,” she told Sneed.

“I can’t dignify this craziness with a response. I have two teenagers that are my primary focus from the moment I get up until the moment my head hits the pillow.

“By the way,” she said, ”I was planning to write a book, but at this juncture anyway, I’ve given up plans to do so.”

Sandi claims she basically spends her day applying for jobs “because you have to do it online and being enmeshed in these divorce proceedings is not helping.”

Sneed is told Jesse Jackson Jr. has not visited his children since December and did not spend either Thanksgiving or Christmas with them. Jackson’s attorney, Brendan Hammer, said he did not know the answer to that question.

“Look, since I’ve been home from my year in prison my day with the kids is pretty usual,” said Jackson. “We have oatmeal every morning, and Jessica and Trey each have their own particular favorite flavor.

“They drink tea, and I have the strongest coffee I can find. We watch ‘Morning Joe’ on TV, and then they go off to school. I look for a job. I go to the food bank to do my community service, and then I prep for dinner. One of my kids is a vegetarian.”

“That’s basically it,” she said. “It may sound boring to some, but it is heaven to me.

“Except for all this craziness.”

Sneedlings . . .

Yum! Chicago’s new consul general for Japan was honored at a welcome party at Yoshi’s Cafe Thursday night in advance of the iconic eatery soon celebrating its 35th anniversary…

Congrats to Senate President John J. Cullerton, a ’66 alum of St. Francis High School, on being honored Saturday for his distinguished leadership to celebrate the school’s 60th anniversary.

I spy: Kansas City Royals player Eric Hosmer at Gibsons on Rush Tuesday. … Ditto for actress Mireille Enos. … Saturday’s birthdays: Willie Nelson, 84; Jay Cutler, 34; and Jerry Seinfeld, 63. … Sunday’s birthdays: Travis Scott, 25; Isiah Thomas, 56; and Lily Ghalichi.