CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich received a key appointment from the Vatican on Thursday as Pope Francis named Cupich to the Congregation for Bishops.
The group selects new bishops for the church and their recommendations go to the pope for final approval.
It is considered one of the most influential congregations in the Roman Curia, which is the administrative body of the Catholic Church.
In a statement, Cupich said: “I am humbled by the Holy Father’s trust and confidence in me.”
Cupich first met Pope Francis last June. Soon after, the pontiff asked him to attend a special synod on the family, and the two got to know each other better.
“It’s very clear some of the things I said, the interventions that I made seemed to hit home with the program that he has,” Cupich tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.
It was something the Pope already knew when he apparently ignored the recomendation of the very congregation he now joins to appoint him archbishop of Chicago.
“Archbishop Cupich is a shepherd, a pastor, a theologian, a thinker. He’s close to people, and he’s living in reality. That’s a really welcome thing in this day and age,” says Father Tom Rosica, chief executive officer of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.
Even Thursday, Cupich wanted to talk more about the church’s role in solving Chicago’s problems, which he says aren’t all that different from the church’s challenges.
“I think that people want us in church to make sure we address our problems and our challenges today,” he says.
What’s next for Archbishop Cupich? Thursday’s Papal appointment to a body filled with Cardinals seems to imply that his red hat is imminent. With word around the Vatican is that the next group of Cardinals could be named by the Pope Francis as soon as November.