Insult to Injury: Archbishop Cupich Invited to October Synod

Last week, I told you about Archbishop Blase Cupich from Chicago – about his rather unfortunate track record as a Catholic prelate, his discomfort with the Traditional Mass and the pro-life movement, and how that uneasiness doesn’t extend to pro-abortion politicians.

I then told you about how Archbishop Cupich drew direct moral equivalency between dismembering the unborn alive and then selling their body parts and far less serious evils like lack of health care, racism, and unemployment.

As I was writing (and to be honest, re-writing, since my initial reaction was a bit more…visceral than my internal editor thought prudent), several others were doing the same. And they weren’t any more pleased.

At Breitbart, Thomas Williams writes:

By insisting on the moral equivalency of many different societal problems, the Archbishop reduces the particularly heinous moral offense of slaughtering the unborn and trading in their body parts to just another social ill, no worse than unemployment or the death penalty.

It would seem that people who are “no less appalled” by the execution of a convicted serial killer than by the ripping apart of an innocent child may be morally obtuse, rather than morally superior. As Congressman Henry Hyde once said, “Show me an unborn child who has been convicted of a capital crime by a jury of his peers, and he’s all yours!”

Phil Lawler was also having none of it:

If Archbishop Cupich means to compare the Planned Parenthood scandal with all the other horrors taking place around the world, it’s curious that he doesn’t mention the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East. If he’s restricting his focus to the US, then his claim that “thousands” of people die “daily” because they lack access to medical care is shameless hyperbole. But it gets worse.


Joblessness? I’ve been unemployed. I’d like to think that upon reading this, you feel a pang of sympathy. But if you would be “no less appalled” to learn that I had been chopped into pieces, and the parts sold to the highest bidder, I’m afraid I can’t count you as my friend.

At Rorate Caeli, New Catholic cites Lawler, then takes the case further:

Not only as Catholics, but as simple human beings, we are appalled by this outrageous and indecent moral equivalency that only tries to give cover to Blase’s (that’s his preferred way of being called) political friends. But this is so much beyond any political friendship!… Can’t he realize that? Can’t he have the decency to at least avoid cheap political equivalencies at such a horrendous moment? Will you, Blase, please?… Respect these chopped up and sold brethren! Please, do not try to score cheap political points with their livers and brains, with their beating hearts and hands, with their crushed skulls! This is not the time, this is not the moment, this is not decent! By drawing such equivalencies, you, Blase, are being indecent and causing grievous scandal. Shame on you.

These are just a few of the reactions. Search the Catholic Blogosphere (well, any of the outlets that don’t rely too heavily on cozy relationships with America’s bishops as part of their business model) and you’ll see more of the same.

But just after Archbishop Cupich offered us a glimpse of his Bizarro World view of human dignity and Catholic morality, news was breaking that he has been invited to participate in this October’s session of the Synod on Marriage and Family in Rome.

I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself.

So now that Pope Francis has invited Archbishop “No Less Appalled” Cupich to Rome — when Archbishop Cordileone, who has fought an intense, public battle in San Francisco to uphold Church teaching on marriage and family was the other candidate put forward by the USCCB — what can we expect? First, there’s this, from Phil Lawler again, in May of this year:

A contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times reports that he had a friendly exchange with Archbishop Blaise Cupich on the topic of same-sex marriage, and reproduces large chunks of that exchange for his readers. Naturally the archbishop says that he does not support legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Yet columnist Neil Steinberg observes: “To me, everything the archbishop said, except for his conclusions, is an argument for gay marriage.”

That sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Yet if you read the entire column you may find yourself hard-pressed to cite evidence proving Steinberg wrong.


The archbishop is saying that parents need help, and the laws that give special protection to marriage provide some of that help. Gay activists will immediately counter that same-sex couples should have the same sort of help so that theycan raise children.

As Steinberg recognizes, Archbishop Cupich “isn’t slyly advocating for gay marriage.” But he isn’t making an effective argument against it, either. There’s a hint—just a hint—when the archbishop says that he thinks there’s “something unique about the marriage between a man and a woman.” But what is it? If you can’t or won’t address that question, it may be better not to address the issue at all.

If that weren’t enough to make you wonder if Cupich will be using his super powers for good this October, it gets worse. When it really comes to understanding Cupich’s approach to the Synod, it’s best to go straight to the source. He took the trouble to spell it all out for us in January in an interview with Commonweal:

[Interviewer]: The ethic of accompaniment seems to have guided the pope’s design of the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family. Some bishops expressed some confusion about that meeting—whether it was over the media’s coverage of the synod, or what actually took place.

BC: The media is not to blame at all. I think the media reported what actually took place. What really took place at the synod was that a majority of the bishops voted for all the proposals that were there in the final summary document. And I think Cardinal Timothy Dolan said that at the November bishops meeting. It’s true that three of the paragraphs [about divorce and gay people] did not get two-thirds majority support, but they got more than a majority. That’s what’s new. That’s the story. Those hot-button topics had been highlighted, and the majority of synod bishops voted for proposals that said we need to consider aspects of these issues.

The pope has a firm belief that the spirit of the risen Lord is working in our midst and is alive in the hearts of people—and we cannot squelch that voice. We have to look for ways to listen to how the Lord is working in the lives of people. That’s why the pope said to the synod fathers, “Don’t come to the synod and say ‘You can’t say that’”—because it may be the spirit of Christ who is calling us to say these things. And we have to listen to that.

[Interviewer]: The Vatican has developed another document for the world’s bishops in advance of next October’s synod, asking them for more input from the people in the pews. How do you intend to implement that here in Chicago?

BC: I have met with my archdiocesan women’s council, the presbyteral council leadership, and my archdiocesan pastoral council. I gave them the relatio of the synod [the summary document] and asked them to propose a way in which there can be an effective—not necessarily widespread—consultation with their various constituencies, so that I can be informed, and our priests can be informed to speak articulately to our people. That will help me respond to the Holy See. It will also help me while talking with my brother bishops about this, since we are probably going to address this at our June meeting.

What I did last year in Spokane I want to do here too. We’re going to have a day-long presentation for priests on two things: First, what are the canonical issues here? A good canonist will tell you that there are multiple ways in which we can be sensitive to our people’s needs. Second, we have to unpack this notion of the theology of the family. Cardinal Walter Kasper gave a talk about this to the cardinals last year, which has been published as a book called The Gospel of the Family. In Spokane, I gave all my priests a copy. 

I can’t help but wonder if this was his application for a seat at the Synod. It seems to have done the trick.

Just for contrast, let’s recall Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s somewhat different assessment of the Synod last November:

During the Synod there had been moments of obvious manipulation on the part of some clerics who held key positions in the editorial and governing structure of the Synod. The interim report (Relatio post disceptationem) was clearly a prefabricated text with no reference to the actual statements of the Synod fathers. In the sections on homosexuality, sexuality and “divorced and remarried” with their admittance to the sacraments the text represents a radical neo-pagan ideology. This is the first time in Church history that such a heterodox text was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope, even though the text only had a preliminary character. Thanks be to God and to the prayers of the faithful all over the world that a consistent number of Synod fathers resolutely rejected such an agenda; this agenda reflects the corrupt and pagan main stream morality of our time, which is being imposed globally by means of political pressure and through the almost all-powerful official mass media, which are loyal to the principles of the world gender ideology party. Such a synod document, even if only preliminary, is a real shame and an indication to the extent the spirit of the anti-Christian world has already penetrated such important levels of the life of the Church. This document will remain for the future generations and for the historians a black mark which has stained the honour of the Apostolic See.

I don’t know if it’s more honest to say that Cupich was appointed to Chicago or inflicted on it. The same question applies to his invitation to the Synod. And with the coinciding news that the Rev. Msgr. David O’Connell — one of the new auxiliary bishops appointed to Los Angeles — is reported to have said, “women should be ordained and clergy should be able to marry”, the list of “What Was He Thinking?!” papal appointments continues to grow faster than I can keep up with.

If I were to ask a Magic 8 Ball whether this October’s Synod was going to uphold Catholic teaching on marriage, the most accurate response would be, “Outlook not so good.”

Of course, if Pope Francis would just respond to the 445,000 Catholics who signed this petition asking him to affirm that he will uphold the Church’s teaching, we wouldn’t have to wonder.

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