Lipinski Welcomes Archbishop Cupich, Thanks Cardinal George in House Floor Speech

Below you will find Congressman Dan Lipinski’s (IL-3) speech on the House floor today, welcoming Blase Joseph Cupich as the new Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and thanking Francis Cardinal George for his many years of service. 

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to welcome Blase Joseph Cupich as the new Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and to thank Francis Cardinal George for all his years of service to the Archdiocese.  Archbishop Cupich is being installed today at a Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. 

“After many years of study in the U.S. and in Rome, including a doctorate from Catholic University in August of 1975, Blase Cupich was ordained to the priesthood.  In his first assignment, he served as associate pastor at St. Margaret Mary Church and as an instructor at Paul VI High School in Omaha.  From 1981 to 1987, he served as Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciatureof the Holy See to the United States here in Washington, DC. 

“Cupich was appointed Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota by Saint Pope John Paul II on July 6, 1998.  Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cupich Bishop of Spokane on June 30, 2010, and he was installed as the sixth bishop on September 3, 2010.

“Cupich has served as Chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Protection for Children and Young People since 2008.  He has remained a strong advocate for children, saying that the Catholic Church needs to put children first and foremost.  In March 2013, he began a three-year term as chairman of the National Catholic Education Association.

“In addition to his dedication to Catholic education, Archbishop Cupich is committed to Catholic social teaching of reaching out to help the poor and others at the margins of society.  Yesterday at the Rite of Reception he spoke of the challenges that he will face including immigration reform, violence in the streets, drug problems, and staying connected to “real lives of people.”  I look forward to working together with our new Archbishop on these and other issues.

“Archbishop Cupich is succeeding Cardinal Francis George, who has been Archbishop of Chicago for 17 years.  Cardinal George was ordained to the Priesthood in 1963 at his home parish of St. Pascal Church in Chicago, Illinois.  His older sister, Margaret, remembers a young Cardinal George holding pretend Masses in his bedroom as a child.

“After earning several degrees including his Master of Theology from the University of Ottawa in 1971, George embarked on a journey across the globe as a student and missionary.  From 1974 to 1986, he served as Vicar General of the Oblates in Rome.  With this position, he led numerous priests and brothers as they journeyed across the world.  George then went on to earn two doctorates.  In 1997, he was appointed by Saint Pope John Paul II as Archbishop of Chicago and in 1998 he was elevated to Cardinal.

“Despite being diagnosed with polio at age 13 and battling cancer currently, Cardinal George has never slowed down.  “Even illness can be a gift in some way,” Cardinal George has said.  His spirited demeanor is well known to Catholics.  Bishop Francis Kane has said, “He’s involved on so many levels. He’s involved nationally, he’s involved in our whole archdiocese, and then he loves to go out to individual parishes.”

“But Cardinal George’s outreach goes beyond the Catholic community.  He is known to convene inter-religious discussions and shows deep respect for other faith communities.  And he is deeply committed to social justice that reaches to all corners of our society.

“On a personal level, the more that I have had the opportunity to get to know Cardinal George, the more I admire him.  He is an intellectual powerhouse who has a special ability to communicate great truths in a simple manner.  Every time I hear him speak I learn something that enriches my mind and my faith.  But his intellect is not a distant intellect of a philosopher in an abstract world, but it is well-grounded in an understanding of the everyday life of his people.  And as someone who appreciates directness, I have always liked his straightforwardness.  Maybe that is because Cardinal George and I are both Chicagoans.  I will never forget the time he took with my wife Judy and me two years ago in Rome on the eve of the installation of Pope Francis.  He truly is a remarkable man and a great shepherd. 

“Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me today in welcoming Archbishop Cupich and honoring Francis Cardinal George.  I offer both men my prayers as they enter into a new phase of their calling by God and the Catholic Church to the service of others.” 

# #

Lipinski Welcomes Archbishop Cupich, Thanks Cardinal George in House Floor Speech: