(CBS) — They are the topics Chicago Catholics want to know about: marriage and priests, the role of women in the church and more.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine was the first reporter to travel to Spokane, Wash. to talk with the future archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich, to see just where he stands.
Cupich climbs three flights of stairs each day to his office in a building once owned by the diocese. It was sold as part of a $50 million sex-abuse settlement
In the mail from Chicago was a Bears jersey and an invitation to his own installation as archbishop.
“How should I respond?” Cupich asks. “Regrets?”
He is easygoing, warm and friendly, with a good sense of humor, though he doesn’t shy away from controversy.
“I don’t look for conflict in life, but I’m not afraid of when conflict comes and we need to resolve something,” he says.
In the time Levine spent with him Seattle, they talked about some of the issues facing the church, like the possibility of married priests.
“(The pope) reportedly has said to people, ‘Your own bishop’s conference needs to talk about this, and then come back with their recommendation on this,’” Cupich said.
As for the role of women in the church: “When I have not listened to the voice of women, who bring a whole different perspective, and balance it with what I get from men, that’s when I make mistakes.”
Asked about gay Catholics, who often felt unwanted, even shunned, Cupich says: “I would say let’s walk together. The Holy Father said we need to bring people to an encounter with Christ, or share their encounter with Christ, and then accompany them, and I think that that’s the approach I would take.”
Cupich is not without his critics, like the former lawmaker who asked for his support for legislation to extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of children.
“He gave me the clear-cut impression that he was more in tune to saving the diocese money than to helping the victims of pedophilia,” Bob Ahern says.
“First of all, he didn’t have the votes, it was not even a real possibility,” Cupich counters. “It doesn’t mean that I don’t have principles, but in the political arena you always have to go with what is achievable.”
So, as Archbishop-designate Cupich prepares to move from the small city by the falls to the great city by the lake, he’s under no illusion that the transition will be easy. He’s asking only for people’s help and understanding as he tackles this new challenge.
Cupich will be installed Nov. 18.