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Catholic church poised to name new bishop

Tue., June 29, 2010, 10:09 p.m.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane will announce a new bishop Wednesday. While as of this evening the Vatican had not issued a formal announcement, Blase Cupich is widely expected to be named to the post.

Cupich, now the bishop of Rapid City, S.D., has been frequently named over the years as a possible candidate for other bishop posts around the country. Sources confirmed the pending appointment of Cupich, whose name has been widely circulated from multiple corners of the Spokane Catholic community.

The new bishop will be named today at a 10 a.m. press conference.

Cupich, 61, who was born in Omaha, Neb., would take over for Bishop William S. Skylstad, 76, who has reached the mandatory retirement age.

Bishops are chosen by the pope.

Cupich is chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on the Protection for Children and Young People and is a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Scripture Translation. He has been in Rapid City since 1998, overseeing a diocese with about 29,000 Catholics, according to his office.

He is a respected leader who writes messages for the laity and has had articles printed in Catholic publications, including a recent essay outlining 12 things bishops have learned from the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal.

His recent writings have hit on other hot-button topics of prohibiting embryonic stem cell research, repealing the death penalty, stamping out racism and ending abortion. He is known for using moderate language rather than inflammatory arguments.

According to his rèsumè, Cupich earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas in 1971. He went to seminary at North American College and Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained in 1975.

He has served as a parish priest, a secretary for the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Washington D.C., a college administrator and educator.

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