The mood at Holy Name Cathedral was joyful Sunday — and not just because of a win by the Chicago Cubs and the energy from the Chicago Marathon.
Worshippers were buoyant about Pope Francis naming Archbishop Blase Cupich a cardinal, which elevates him to an elite group that advises and elects popes.
The rector of Holy Name drew laughter with a description of Cupich getting the news: “He happened to be wearing a Chicago Cubs baseball cap,” the Rev. Greg Sakowicz said, “and the pope was also wearing white socks.”
A smiling, relaxed Cupich spoke at 11 a.m. Mass, starting out by saying if anyone in attendance was at the marathon, “You’re here already because you finished it.”
He seemed to back into word of Francis’ announcement with humor, noting there’d been some overnight news: “The Cubs won their second game.”
Turning serious, he said, “I’m so very heartened” by the pope’s decision. “It’s another reason for me to be a proud member of this community.”
Outside of church afterward, Cupich called his new role “a source of encouragement” and a humbling experience because he admires the other appointees.
“I’m just so grateful to the Holy Father,” he said.
Another reporter asked Cupich how his relatives would react to word he’s becoming a cardinal. He laughed and said he expected them to treat him “with the same lack of deference that they have in the past.”
Cupich appeared grave when questions turned to reports about GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s remarks about women. “I have a deep faith in the moral fiber of the American people to respond appropriately,” he said.
Cupich said he’d planned to sleep to about 7 a.m. Sunday but was awakened two hours early by a call from a friend in Rome. “I guess I didn’t mind being awakened,” he said.
Entering the cathedral, Ana Rocha, a 30-year-old controller from Streeterville, said she expects more people will come to Holy Name after Cupich is elevated to cardinal.
“I think that’s great,” Chicago pharmacist Jaime Gonzalez said. “It’s another reason to celebrate,” he said, noting the Cubs win on Saturday.
Gonzalez said the appointment had the potential for healing some of the violence in the city. “Chicago is in need of citizens extending mercy to one another,” he said.
“It’s nice to have good news once in a while,” said Rita Neri, 57.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel sent best wishes. “Amy and I want to congratulate Archbishop Cupich on the great honor of being named a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, and thank him for his continued service to the people of the city of Chicago,” he said in a statement.
Cupich, 67, is one of three newly created U.S. cardinals among 17 from around the world announced Sunday by the pope.
Thirteen of the new cardinals are under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect his successor. Three of the new cardinals are Americans: Cupich, Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin and Kevin Farrell, the outgoing bishop of Dallas. Farrell was named in August to head the big new Vatican secretariat for laity, family and life issues.
As is Francis’ tradition, the new cardinals hail from some of the most far-away and peripheral corners of the globe, with Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania getting far more representation than Europe, which has long dominated the College of Cardinals.
New to the club of the “princes” of the church are bishops from Bangui, Central African Republic; Port Louis, Mauritius and Tlalnepantla, Mexico.
Significantly only one Italian elector was named: Francis’ ambassador to “the beloved and martyred Syria,” Cardinal-elect Mario Zenari.
The Rev. Jack Wall, the longtime pastor of Old St. Pat’s, the second-oldest parish in the city, said the appointment means Cupich joins “the 120 cardinals who are the closest counselors and advisers to the pope.”
“And they are the electors of the pope . . . he’s [Francis] saying a lot about Cardinal Cupich, about his esteem of him.”
Wall is now president of Catholic Extension, a church group headquartered in Chicago that does national outreach in poor mission dioceses. Cupich succeeded Chicago’s late cardinal, Francis George, as chancellor of Catholic Extension.
Because of Cupich’s prior work in poorer regions in Spokane, Washington, and Rapid City, South Dakota, the pope’s move indicates “he sees Archbishop Cupich as someone who comes from that experience,” Wall said.
“They’re not only honoring the archbishop but also honoring the church’s outreach to the poorest people in the U.S.,” Wall said.
The “recipients of the red hat,” as the National Catholic Register put it, will be elevated to their new roles in a Vatican ceremony on Nov. 19.
Contributing: The Associated Press