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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Two views on Cupich.

The first is from Thomas Peters, and is grounded in optimism, and little else. A handful of statements on hot-button issues back during Benedict's papacy--and nothing since? Eh. Saying one thing with his words, and contradicting them with his actions. Where have I heard that before?

Well, OK--Peters missed Cupich's visible waffling on the HHS mandate, but that's obviously not helpful to the Ice Bucket/Psych-job Hypothesis.

The second view is from a knowledgeable member of Cupich's diocese who has actually interacted with him, Gonzaga Prof. Douglas Kries. Peters' hopes for a robust defense of Catholicism...are likely to be disappointed, given the actual track record (emphasis added):

Bishop White Seminary at Gonzaga, which was nothing short of an extraordinary success story until Cupich became bishop, fell quickly into desuetude after his arrival. Moreover, when Gonzaga University refused to continue club status for Gonzaga’s campus Knights of Columbus council, Cupich, it is widely whispered, told the remaining seminarians not to discuss the matter with the press. It has also been widely reported that Cupich did not want his diocesan priests involved with certain pro-life groups that he considered too strident. Cupich may not even know it, but at the time, students involved with Gonzaga’s Right to Life Club felt abandoned, even though they were not his direct target.

I once wrote to him expressing in particular my concerns about the direction of Gonzaga’s core curriculum. His reply was polite, but he made it quite clear that he had no interest in involving himself in such matters. Gonzaga adopted, and is now planning to implement, a core curriculum that diminishes the number of courses that students take in “Catholic or Christian religion” from three to one.

The formerly required course on the Bible is being eliminated and the course in applied Christianity, which often in practice meant Christian morality, is being changed to world religions. Gonzaga students, many of whom belong to Cupich’s diocese, will soon be devoting only a single semester course in four years of college (3 out of 128 credits, or 2.34 percent) to the study of “the Catholic or Christian religion.”

The local Spokane newspaper describes Cupich as “a moderate who has called for civility in the culture wars,” since he has said that Pope Francis doesn’t want “ideologues.” From what I can tell, the description is inaccurate. Real moderates engage all sides, trying to find common ground, if it is available, that will permit them to advance their principles. By not inserting his office into conflict situations, Cupich has often, whether intentionally or not, quietly ceded much ground to one side, and without advancing his principles. 

"Moderate" is the term progressives usually use to describe either (1) one of their own, or (2) someone who doesn't cause them any trouble. It looks like No. 2 is a good bet. Either way, it's good news for them--and no one else. I imagine there will be plenty of dialogue, though, and the progressives and media (but I repeat myself) will offer the new Cardinal Archbishop no end of plaudits for his inclusive civility. 

And that's really what matters, isn't it? 


  1. Thanks for opening your blog back up. I was wondering if you were always going to keep it on private.

    The comment section of the two pieces are full of interesting testimonials from those who endured Cupich as priest or bishop. The most bizarre thing I've read about Cupich was from Amy Welborn. He banned Al Kresta and Mark Shea from speaking in his diocese.

  2. I hadn't seen that he'd banned Mark, too. I'm beyond words on that.

  3. A "robust defense of Catholicism"? I stopped hoping for anything close. I'd settle for a mild but steadfast maintaining of the line. Which I don't see forthcoming.

  4. Well, if Cupich banned Shea from speaking in his diocese, he can't be all bad.... ;)