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Calling for Calm (Spokane's bishop wants to talk hot topics,...)
The (very liberal) Inlander ^ | Wednesday, April 4, 2012 | Daniel Walters

Posted on 04/06/2012 12:16:56 PM PDT by narses

In this case, it was religious moderation — not extremism or volatile rhetoric — that grabbed headlines. It was February, and Barack Obama was delivering his speech on the mandate requiring the health care plans of Catholic organizations to cover contraceptives, traditionally opposed by Catholic doctrine.

Blase Cupich, bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, was taking notes. He’d been tasked by America magazine, the 103-yearold national publication of the Jesuits, to write an essay about the Catholic reaction to the president’s decision.

Like other Catholic bishops, Cupich was opposed to the mandate and worried it would restrict religious freedom. That was expected. But what stirred some controversy was the way that, after repeating the church’s reason for opposition, he called for a “return to civility.”

“While the outrage to the … decision is understandable, in the long run threats and condemnations have a limited impact,” Cupich wrote, cautioning that leaders should “always be leery of letting a situation escalate to an undesirable degree.”

Observers took note. The National Catholic Reporter contrasted his “reasoned, measured tone” with the “hot, culture-warrior language” of Philadelphia’s archbishop, who told Catholics they should be “angry.” Reuters used his column as the lead example of how some bishops have become uncomfortable with the “biting rhetoric” of other bishops.

Still, Cupich’s beliefs aren’t necessarily moderate — he’s against contraception and is opposed to abortion for any reason — but in trying to avoid heightened conflict, he’s stoked opposition from conservative parishioners.

When Cupich became the bishop of the Spokane diocese in the fall of 2010, he landed in a thicket of problems: The church’s image had been scarred by sexual-abuse scandals, and lawsuits had sent the diocese into bankruptcy.

Then another issue arose. For the last few years, a national group called 40 Days for Life had protested abortion by praying outside abortion clinics. Compared to groups that blockaded abortion clinics in Spokane a decade ago — or groups that yell scripture over megaphones today — 40 Days for Life aimed to be tame. No blockades, no gory signs. Traditionally, about a dozen Catholic priests in Spokane joined in. Several seminarians would come out every Friday, in front of Spokane’s Planned Parenthood clinic, and lead a group in praying the Catholic rosary.

In 2008, Bishop William Skylstad, Cupich’s predecessor, endorsed the campaign, writing, “I commend this effort and pray that abundant fruits flow from it.”

That was why the movement’s local leader, John Weingarten, was so surprised to hear rumors last fall that Cupich had banned priests and seminarians from praying outside clinics.

Weingarten found it “terribly upsetting” and started an online petition in protest. Meanwhile, the controversy lit up a network of conservative Catholic blogs and the anti-abortion news service LifeSite News.

“It concerned me. I don’t understand what he’s doing,” Seattle Catholic blogger Mark Shea says of Cupich. “The rest of the Catholic bishops not only had no problem with 40 Days for Life. [Some] participated in it themselves.”

Finally, the diocese issued a clarifying statement on behalf of Cupich.

“The present political environment has become very toxic and polarizing,” especially about abortion, the statement said.

While Cupich wouldn’t forbid priests from praying outside the clinic, he asked priests to keep their role of “teacher” the priority. Decisions about abortion, the statement read, are not usually made in front of clinics — they’re made at “kitchen tables and in living rooms and they frequently involve a sister, daughter, relative or friend who may have been pressured or abandoned by the man who fathered the child.”

Priests are the public face of the church, Cupich says. He would never want a priest’s public actions to endanger their credibility and community impact.

But the church’s critics, on both ideological sides, aren’t satisfied. Karl Easterland, president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, is critical, not just of the bullying that women at the clinic can face, but of the Catholic Church’s stance against contraception. Planned Parenthood, with its contraception efforts, he says, does more than any other organization to prevent abortion.

Weingarten, meanwhile, says that even if priests or seminarians were technically allowed to participate, none have during the campaign this spring. He feels they’ve been discouraged. Also, the Inland Register, the diocese’s paper, used to allow 40 Days of Life to advertise, but this spring, Weingarten was told that “because of the controversy for the 40 Days for Life campaign I ran this by Bishop Cupich and he said no to advertising.”

“Please understand that I have absolutely nothing personally against the bishop, and he is in my prayers regularly,” Weingarten says in an email. “However, my goal is to save as many lives as possible, and having our bishop get in the way of that is troublesome.”

In his third-floor office next to the red towers of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Cupich, in black-and-white priestly dress, expands on his philosophy in a calm, ruminating baritone.

His writings and statements, he says, are constantly themed with references to bringing sides together, striking up dialogue, “defusing hot wires.” He sees these hot-button social issues as just one thread in a larger religious tapestry.

“I want to make sure that the message we have is very clear,” Cupich says. “It begins with the unborn, it doesn’t end there.”

It’s a philosophy underscored by his previous job as bishop in Grand Rapids, South Dakota. Under his leadership, the “Pro-Life Committee” in the Grand Rapids diocese became the “Social Justice Committee.” It wasn’t a shift away from an anti-abortion message, Cupich says, but an expansion to all sorts of issues — opposition to capital punishment, support of immigration reform, concern for those in poverty.

In Spokane, Cupich tries to speak to the full breadth of issues. And not just speak. His goal is to listen, he says.

“He probably would be more of a visionary bishop than I might have been,” says Skylstad, Spokane’s former bishop.

Skylstad adds that Cupich’s vision is one of conversation — to hold firm to Catholic beliefs, while engaging secular voices, like the U.S. government, in dialogue.

“I think that his voice reflects voices that used to be more common in the U.S. Catholic Congress of Bishops,” says Bryan Cones, managing editor of U.S. Catholic Magazine. In a recent blog post, Cones called Cupich “the bishop who can speak without shouting.”

Cones sees the interaction between the Catholic Church and the secular world as increasingly strident. With the loudest voices growing, Cones says, Cupich is an exception.

“Very caustic language wears thin quickly,” Cupich says. “I think my approach works better in the long run.”

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events
KEYWORDS: bishop; blasecupich; hhsmandate

1 posted on 04/06/2012 12:17:06 PM PDT by narses
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To: narses; lilycicero; MaryLou1; glock rocks; JPG; Monkey Face; RIghtwardHo; pieces of time; ...

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

2 posted on 04/06/2012 12:18:40 PM PDT by narses
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To: narses

Accomodating liberal abortion views has not done much to save any babies in the past 40 years, has it??? This bishop is a typical liberal who does not want to be confrontational. But, Jesus was not accomodating of serious sins. He was very clear that we must at all times confront and speak against evil.

3 posted on 04/06/2012 12:30:33 PM PDT by Gumdrop
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To: narses

How is priests leading the faithful to prayer in front of abortion clinic not “teaching”? How is it “caustic language”?

Jesus warned about blind leaders leading the blind. Here we have a blind leader leading people with perfectly good vision.

4 posted on 04/06/2012 12:41:48 PM PDT by annalex (
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To: narses
It’s a philosophy underscored by his previous job as bishop in Grand Rapids, South Dakota. Under his leadership, the “Pro-Life Committee” in the Grand Rapids diocese became the “Social Justice Committee.” It wasn’t a shift away from an anti-abortion message, Cupich says, but an expansion to all sorts of issues — opposition to capital punishment, support of immigration reform, concern for those in poverty.

A Bernardin bishop.

5 posted on 04/06/2012 1:03:10 PM PDT by RobbyS (Christus rex.)
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To: RobbyS

“A Bernardin bishop.”

Another one. In a long line of them here.

6 posted on 04/06/2012 1:20:27 PM PDT by narses
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To: narses

Cupich may imagine that his “approach” works better in the long run. I think Cupich’s resignation and retirement to a cloistered monastery and permanent silence would work a lot better than his “approach” at least until still more vigorous punishments can be restored to the arsenal of Holy Mother the Church. Cupich is an ever-increasing embarrassment. Doubly so since the Catholic people of Spokane Diocese had just previous to Cupich’s installation suffered for so many, many years the existence of Skylstad.

7 posted on 04/06/2012 1:55:18 PM PDT by BlackElk ( Dean of Discipline ,Tomas de Torquemada Gentlemen's Society. Burn 'em Bright!)
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To: narses

America magazine—run by liberal heretics.

The National Catholic Reporter—run by liberal heretics.

Bishop Blase Cupich—apparently hangs out with liberal heretics and says to cool it about all this baby killing.

It sounds as if the Diocese of Spokane has moved even further to the left. Sorry to hear it.

8 posted on 04/06/2012 2:04:58 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: narses
This article solves the following question:

Will he or won't he be attending the Gonzaga University commencement, where Bishop Tutu will be receiving an honorary degree? Yes, he will.

Bishop Tutu's commencement speech is under protest by the Cardinal Newman Society.

There's been a vigorous debate on the Online Crosby Center this week.

9 posted on 04/06/2012 2:12:28 PM PDT by Night Hides Not (My dream ticket for 2012 is John Galt & Dagny Taggart!)
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To: RobbyS

And, of course, Cupich had previously been bishop of RAPID CITY, South Dakota. Grand Rapids is in Michigan. There is also a Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

10 posted on 04/06/2012 2:32:15 PM PDT by BlackElk ( Dean of Discipline ,Tomas de Torquemada Gentlemen's Society. Burn 'em Bright!)
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To: narses

Fascinatingly like Renaissance politics, or the actions of the English bishops after Henry VIII broken with Rome over the divorce. John Fisher was about the only one to stick his neck out and so lose his head. Few bishops are the stuff of martyrs. The same bunch went back and forth for the next thirty years. Roinald Knox wrote a witty book about how Oxford dons weathered the changes in the Church. This bishop has an impressive resume. Very much the jesuit, though not a member of the company. Wonder what Chaput really thinks of him? Didn’t he smell the sulpher when he was annointing this bishop?

11 posted on 04/06/2012 3:38:00 PM PDT by RobbyS (Christus rex.)
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To: RobbyS

What about Sir Thomas More?

12 posted on 04/06/2012 6:36:28 PM PDT by mommyq
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To: mommyq

More was not a bishop, and unlike Fisher, he didn’t openly oppose the divorce. He did, however, refuse to sign the oath. For this he was taken into custody. Raw act of tyranny, because it violated a principle of common law that silence implies consent, that a man should be left unmolested by the law so only as he does not break the peace.

13 posted on 04/06/2012 9:49:18 PM PDT by RobbyS (Christus rex.)
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To: mommyq

St. Thomas More was the Chancellor, or chief equity judge, of England. While he was indeed saintly, he was not a bishop. Henry VIII had St. John Fisher, who was the bishop of Rochester in Kent and had just been named a cardinal, beheaded before St. John could be installed as a cardinal.

14 posted on 04/07/2012 3:52:09 AM PDT by nd76
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15 posted on 04/17/2012 2:36:31 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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