Cardinal Blase Cupich had a private meeting with Pope Francis in Rome last week, and there is speculation the two discussed the possibility of the archbishop of Chicago being appointed to a high-profile job at the Vatican.
Pope Francis is “seriously considering making a surprise appointment” of a new prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and there is speculation that Cupich could be a possible candidate, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported Wednesday.
Cupich, who was already in Rome last week for a meeting of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, would replace Cardinal Marc Ouellet, one of the several heads of Vatican dicasteries, or aides, who is nearing retirement, according to CNA.
Bishop Robert Francis Prevost, a Chicago native who’s currently the bishop of Chiclayo, Peru, seemed to be the likely frontrunner to succeed Ouellet, CNA reported. But now, Pope Francis has reportedly pivoted more toward Cupich because of his prominence and “the message that his appointment would deliver regarding the type of bishops he wants for the Church,” according to a source in the Catholic News Agency report.
The Congregation for Bishops is responsible for overseeing the selection of new bishops. The prefect meets with the pope weekly to share the recommendations of the congregation about possible appointments.
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago on Wednesday night said they had “no information” on the meeting between Cupich and Pope Francis.
Cupich was appointed archbishop of Chicago by Pope Francis in 2014. Two years following that appointment, Pope Francis elevated him to the College of Cardinals.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Cupich was ordained to the priesthood in 1975. He was a pastor at two Omaha parishes before Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1998. After serving that community for 12 years, Cupich was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to be the sixth bishop of Spokane, Washington, in 2010.