Exclusive interview with Cardinal Blase Cupich

An ABC7 Eyewitness News Exclusive
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's Cardinal Blase Cupich is marking one year as a cardinal this month and his three-year anniversary as Archbishop of Chicago.

In an exclusive interview Friday, he spoke with ABC 7's Alan Krashesky about key issues affecting Chicagoans, especially his fight against violence.

"By raising my voice about this, I'm saying 'enough,'" Cardinal Cupich said.

He's determined to do what he can; he's been seen taking to the streets of Englewood, rallying others and praying for peace.

The archdiocese will soon have a person dedicated to coordinating anti-violence efforts while the cardinal stands up for what he calls "sensible" gun laws, and against those who insist laws should not be changed.

"There's a lot of money in this. This is about money. This is not about guns. This is about people making money," he said.

He's calling again for a ban on assault weapons and the so-called "bump stocks" used by the Las Vegas shooter.

"Those mass murders would not have happened if they did not have that type of gun," Cupich said.

He watched the latest act of terrorism in New York with great concern, but that concern includes his fear that large numbers of people will be categorized and marginalized because of one terrorist's action.

"If we're going to continue to stigmatize immigrants, particularly of a certain ethnic group or religion, all we're going to do is ensure the radicalization of their youth," he said.

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Chicago's Cardinal Blase Cupich is marking one year as a cardinal this month and his three-year anniversary as Archbishop of Chicago.

He also stomped out the rumors that the pope may call him to fill a top position in Rome.

Alan Krashesky: "Are you leaving Chicago?"

Cardinal Blase Cupich: "I am not. I have the best job in the world here in Chicago, why leave?"

In fact, if the pope asked, the cardinal's ready to say "no thank you".

He goes to Rome once a month anyway where he's a conduit to Pope Francis on issues affecting the Catholic Church in the United States.

"I had a nice conversation with the pop once. He said, 'There's a lot to do in Chicago.' I said, 'Well, I'll be around for a decade or more.' He said, 'Well, God may call you home sooner,' and then he laughed. I said, 'I Don't think that's so funny,'" Cupich said, laughing himself.

The pope is making headlines by reportedly asking Brazilian bishops to study allowing married men to serve as priests.

Krashesky: "How about the United States?"

Cupich: "I do not see that as something that is presently bubbling up."

What is percolating, though, is the need for people to lead Chicago parishes.

Cupich: "Our real crisis is not the numbers, but the quality of people who can be leaders."

Those leaders are men and women.

Cupich: "We've collapsed orders, ordination and power together too firmly. I think we need more decision-making by women of the church."

The cardinal said 80-percent of parish workers are women and the pope is at least considering women deacons.

Cupich: "They don't hear confessions, administer the sacrament of the sick or celebrate the Eucharist."

The cardinal also bears the weight of the archdiocese finances, which is one reason why he's backing the plan for a new skyscraper across from Holy Name Cathedral. It is also why the fate of the old archbishop's mansion at State Street and North Avenue is again in play.

Cupich: "I don't want to keep property that's not in good shape. Deferred maintenance is more costly."

Krashesky: "Sounds like you're considering selling."

Cupich: "I'm considering all options."

He has not yet made a final decision. The archdiocese holds about 70 events a year at the mansion, but the property needs millions of dollars to pay for maintenance.
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