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Sneed exclusive: Cupich could soon be a cardinal

Cardinal Blase Cupich said recent statements about married priests by Pope Francis should not been seen as a shift in official church policy. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Whispers in the nave . . . 

It’s called the papal staircase.

Sneed hears Chicago’s Archbishop Blase J. Cupich, a hand-picked favorite of Pope Francis, may be moving up the church ladder soon to becoming a cardinal.

• To wit: Sneed is told Pope Francis, who personally chose Cupich to steer the helm of the nation’s third-largest diocese, just indicated he would “make new cardinals either on Nov. 27, early December or early next year,” according to a Sneed source.

“The pope made these comments on his return flight from Georgia and Azerbaijan,” the source said.

Cupich, who was chosen in 2014 to head Chicago’s 2.2 million Catholics from his post as bishop of a small archdiocese in Spokane, Wash., is not considered an ideologue, but a pastor concerned about his flock and social injustice issues.

“Pope Francis doesn’t want cultural warriors; he doesn’t want ideologues,” Cupich said before he was tapped for his Chicago post. “That’s the new paradigm for us, and it’s making many of us think.”

Traveling to Rome recently, Cupich attended his first meeting as a newly appointed member of the prestigious and influential Congregation of Bishops, signaling the pope’s intention of making Cupich a key pastoral voice in the selection of U.S. church leaders.

OPINION

Consider:

“There will be 13 cardinal slots for Pope Francis to fill,” the source said.

“Decades ago, Pope Paul VI set the number of active voting cardinals at 120. By Nov. 27 there will be 107 cardinals under 80 years old.

“So Pope Francis can name up to 13,” the source added.

Fingers crossed.

It could be Chicago’s lucky number 13.

Puck pups . . . 

The doggie pooper scoop: Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz and his wife, Marilyn, who adore their Beagles Queenie and Bernie,  just celebrated the birthday of Chicago’s top puckster by trekking into pup paradise.

• Translation: Sneed is told the couple just adopted two four-month-old pups; the issue of Miss P, the bodacious Beagle who was crowned champion of the Westminster Dog Show in 2015. Rocky even showcased her on the ice at the United Center.

• Doggie heaven: If you recall, back in 2008, when Uno, the first ever Beagle to win the top prize at Westminster, Rocky — who would love to bring the dog show to Chicago — flew the pooch in and installed him at the Sutton Place Hotel before bringing him on the ice at a Blackhawks game.

Uno is Miss P’s great uncle, don’t chaknow.

Sneedlings . . .

I spy: The Bulls, minus Dwyane Wade, spotted at La Scarola on Saturday night. The team signed a basketball for the the eatery’s co-owner, Armando Vasquez’s, daughter, Katerina. . . . Actress Hannah Kasulka, star of “The Exorcist” series on Fox, at Chicago Cut on Friday night. . . . Today’s birthdays: LeBron James Jr., 12; Dr. Mary Moran, ageless, and Amy Jo Johnson, 46.