Sep 19, 2014 9:11 PM

APNewsBreak: Cupich to be next Chicago archbishop

The Associated Press

Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Washington, will be named the next archbishop of Chicago, The Associated Press has learned.

Cupich will succeed Cardinal Francis George, according to a person with knowledge of the selection, who spoke Friday on the condition of anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to speak publicly. George, 77, has been battling cancer and has said he believes the disease will end his life.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has scheduled a news conference for Saturday morning. A spokeswoman for the archdiocese would not comment.

Pope Francis' choice for Chicago has been closely watched as his first major appointment in the U.S., and the clearest indication yet of the direction he will steer American church leaders. Cupich is a moderate, and is not among U.S. Roman Catholic bishops who have taken a harder line on hot-button topics. Francis has called the church's focus on abortion, marriage and contraception narrow and said it was driving people away.

An official from the Diocese of Spokane said he could not comment.

The Archdiocese of Chicago serves 2.2 million parishioners and is the third-largest diocese in the country. Chicago archbishops are usually elevated to cardinal and are therefore eligible to vote for the next pope.

The Chicago church has long been considered a flagship of American Catholicism, sparking lay movements of national influence and producing archbishops who shape national debate. Before George, the head of the archdiocese was Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, a hero to Catholics who place equal importance on issues such as abortion and poverty.

Cupich, 65, is a native of Omaha, Nebraska, where he was ordained a priest. He holds degrees from the Pontifical Gregorian University and The Catholic University of America.


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