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Bishop Cupich, named to Chicago, presses immigration reform

Newly selected archbishop Blase Cupich chats with Nada Stockton before giving opening remarks at the Caring for Kids benefit luncheon Thursday at the Double Tree Hotel in downtown Spokane. (Colin Mulvany)
Newly selected archbishop Blase Cupich chats with Nada Stockton before giving opening remarks at the Caring for Kids benefit luncheon Thursday at the Double Tree Hotel in downtown Spokane. (Colin Mulvany)

Bishop Blase Cupich of the Spokane Catholic Diocese pressed the urgency of immigration reform as an important national security issue and humanitarian cause Friday in a press conference called to highlight his appointment as the next archbishop of Chicago.

Cupich called for immigrants to have legal status in the United States, though not necessarily citizenship.

It would help the country better account for people living within its borders, provide stability for families and help businesses, such as farm and orchard owners, who employ thousands of immigrant workers, he said.

Immigration reform “has been held hostage, I think, by too many views that need to examine whether or not the common good is being served,” Cupich said.

He noted immigrants are taxpayers and play an important role in the nation’s economy and the Catholic Church, of which 44 percent of parishioners are Hispanic.

He said the important issues of the day require people to listen and find common ground.

“We all have to act like adults. We have serious problems in the city of Chicago, in our nation, in our world,” Cupich said. “If I can contribute in some way to leaders coming together, putting aside their own partisan views, their own agendas, to take up important issues, I think we can get a lot done.”

Cupich will have a role with many others in helping Pope Francis choose a new bishop for Spokane.

He said he is preparing to leave the local diocese with greater financial stability than when he came.

The Spokane Diocese keeps a lean and balanced budget, he said.

The diocese bankruptcy is ongoing, though Cupich noted many issues, including the threat of foreclosing on parish properties, have been resolved.

Cupich has sued the law firm that represented the diocese in its bankruptcy. It’s a controversial lawsuit bound for trial in February that has exposed rifts within the Spokane Catholic community about how the diocese dealt with dozens of people who claimed they were sexually abused by priests decades ago.

The bankruptcy involved $50 million in payouts to abuse victims and lawyers.

While Cupich noted there are hurdles ahead, he said he is “convinced that people are encouraged, filled with hope about the future … and not naive about the challenges.”

In Chicago, he will assume leadership on Nov. 18 of a diocese with 2.2 million Catholics. The Spokane diocese has about 90,000.

Furthermore, he will oversee about 300 administrative employees in Chicago. There are about 12 in Spokane.

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