CHICAGO (WLS) --Archbishop Blase Cupich will be elevated to cardinal in a ceremony in Rome next month. Sunday morning, Pope Francis announced that he'll name 17 new cardinals as part of a consistory on Nov. 19.
Archbishop Cupich will be the city's seventh Roman Catholic cardinal and has long been seen as a lock for a red hat. From the moment Pope Francis personally chose him to lead Chicago's archdiocese, Archbishop Cupich faced questions about when he'd be named cardinal.
When he drove across Washington State with Alan Krashesky, he said he wasn't thinking about it.
Krashesky: There's a likelihood you'll become a cardinal, do you think about it?
Cupich: I really don't. First of all, this pope is full of surprises.
In a statement released Sunday morning, Cupich said being elevated to cardinal is "both humbling and encouraging."
"The role of Cardinal brings new responsibilities, but with your prayers and help, we will continue the task we have begun of renewing the Church in the archdiocese and preparing it to thrive in the decades ahead," Cupich said in the statement.
Since Archbishop Cupich's time began here in Chicago, Pope Francis has named cardinals in smaller cities and areas that traditionally have not received the honor.
Archbishop Cupich has told ABC7 repeatedly that he didn't think about being a cardinal and instead chooses to focus on his responsibilities here in Chicago - saying "being Archbishop of Chicago is enough."
However, in July 2016, Pope Francis signaled a larger role for Archbishop Cupich when he named him to the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops. That's the body that recommends which priests become bishops around the world. Most of the others serving in that capacity are
Cardinals and that new job puts Chicago's Archbishop more frequently in Rome with the Pope.
"It is a balance, you have to be able to make sure that you don't bite off more than you can chew, and I have assignments with the bishop's conference as well but I do see that my primary focus is here and trying to make sure that nothing gets in the way of things here," Archbishop Cupich told ABC7 this summer.
Now, he'll be traveling to Rome again. This time, to become a member of the College of Cardinals - a "Prince" of the Roman Catholic Church with the most important role of choosing the next Pope when the time comes. Since Blase Cupich himself was chosen by Pope
Francis, this is one way the Pope has influence on continuing his legacy.
The elevation will come exactly two years and one day since Cupich was installed as Archbishop of Chicago. Cupich will join 16 other bishops and priests for the ceremony, 13 of whom are under the age of 80, meaning they will be eligible to vote for the next Pope in a conclave when that time comes.
Two other Americans are becoming cardinals: Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis and Bishop Kevin Farrell from Dallas. Tobin was the pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in the Lakeview neighborhood back in the early 90s.
The list of new cardinals is diverse and widespread, covering five continents and only one of the new cardinals is from Italy. This shows the Pope's desire to have cardinals represent areas that have not had a strong voice in the past.
CHICAGOANS REACT TO NEWS OF CUPICH ELEVATION
The mood was celebratory at Holy Name Cathedral Sunday morning as Chicago Catholics first learned of Cupich's elevation.
"If anybody deserves to be a cardinal, it would be Blase Cupich, he's an absolutely wonderful man," said Holy Name parishioner Jim Decorrevont.
"It's terrific," said Holy Name parishioner Sandra Olson. "I am grateful to the Pope because I think that Archbishop Cupich has been very promising here and I think it's great and it's very much deserved."
"I love him," said parishioner Ada Torres. "I come to this church whenever I come to visit my daughter. I love his homilies and he's a very humble man."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office said that he called Archbishop Cupich to congratulate him. In a statement, Emanuel said. "Amy and I want to congratulate Archbishop Cupich on the great honor of being named a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, and thank him for his continued service to the people of the City of Chicago. In just a short time serving our city he has made a tremendous impact as a voice for the voiceless in the name of inclusion - for those living in poverty and on the margins of society, for immigrants and new Americans, and for children and families across the city and around the world. He is a light of inspiration for all of us, and a blessing to the City of Chicago. I want to thank Pope Francis for his recognition of Archbishop Cupich's leadership, not just in the church but in our society."
On Facebook, St. Sabina's Father Michael Pflefer posted a statement: "Congrats to Archbishop Cupich on being named Cardinal....I spoke with him this morning and told him Congrats, that he and the other appointments now can continue to carry Pope Francis vision to all of America."