Cupich's Spokane tenure began in aftermath of scandal

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Archbishop-Designate Blase Cupich spent four years as Bishop in Spokane, Wash., a tenure that began in the aftermath of a child sex abuse scandal and financial turmoil. (WLS)

Archbishop-Designate Blase Cupich spent four years as Bishop in Spokane, Wash., a tenure that began in the aftermath of a child sex abuse scandal and financial turmoil.

Cupich has yet to return to Spokane after the announcement in Chicago Saturday. In the meantime, during Mass Sunday, parishioners offered up a special prayer for the man, who in response to a congratulatory text message is said to have replied, "Pray hard."

VIDEO: Washington state sad, proud of Cupich's new assignment

It was the first time parishioners at Spokane's Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral gathered for Sunday services since the surprise announcement that their bishop, Blase Cupich, was headed to Chicago.

"I'm going to miss him. I liked him here. So now you guys are taking him from us," said parishioner Justin Bullock.

The Archbishop-Designate came to Spokane four years ago in the aftermath of great turmoil. The diocese had been forced into bankruptcy as a result of a mountain of lawsuits related to the child sex abuse scandal that rocked the church. Attorney John Allison represented several of the victims.

"He said the right things as he got here, but once he was here I did not personally perceive that he was out front and making it an issue," Allison said. "It felt like he was rather trying to calm the waters and quiet things down than keep talking about it."

In fact, while Cupich is widely credited with saving the diocese from financial ruin, he also took the risky move of turning around and suing its own lawyers for malpractice. The trial date for that is coming up in February. If it goes forward the archbishop himself might have to testify.

"We're very hopeful now that with this appointment, or maybe because of it, it will speed a mediation along, which is what archbishop Cupich always wanted, to do this in mediation," said Father Mike Savelesky, Vicar General. "He hasn't sought out litigation or trial because the diocese frankly is very tired of that."

At the end of the day, both diocese leaders and parishioners believe Cupich is leaving the diocese in much better shape than he found it in.

"You're getting a gem of a man, an astute businessman, a very prayerful man, a very wise man. As said when he came here, it's not his first rodeo," Fr. Savelesky said.

"It was a tough time several years ago with all that went on and he's been able to get us through that rough patch and, you know, hopefully people can start focusing on the bigger picture," parishioner Joel San Nicolas.

The Archbishop-Designate will be installed in Chicago on November 18. In the meantime, the vicar general said that Cupich has requested and received approval from Pope Francis to remain in Spokane to wrap thing up in Washington.



Related Topics:
religioncatholic churchpriest sex abusebankruptcy
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