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Cardinal Cupich at The University of Chicago Institute of Politics Nov. 6, 2017. Facebook / University of Chicago IOP

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CHICAGO, Illinois, January 21, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago rebuked the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for issuing what he called an “ill-considered” statement on the day of President Biden’s inauguration. The USCCB warned in its Jan. 20 statement about Biden’s pledge to pursue anti-life and anti-family policies that would advance “moral evils” in the areas of “abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender.”

“Today, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued an ill-considered statement on the day of President Biden’s inauguration,” said Cardinal Cupich. “Aside from the fact that there is seemingly no precedent for doing so, the statement, critical of President Biden came as a surprise to many bishops, who received it just hours before it was released.”

The “Statement on the Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden” was penned by conference president Archbishop José Gomez. Noting that Biden is the country’s “first president in 60 years to profess the Catholic faith,” Gomez pointed out that the incoming president’s agenda does not square with Catholic teaching.

“So, I must point out that our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences,” he wrote.

Gomez stressed that abortion will remain the “preeminent priority” for American bishops during the Biden administration.

“For the nation’s bishops, the continued injustice of abortion remains the ‘preeminent priority.’ Preeminent does not mean ‘only.’ We have deep concerns about many threats to human life and dignity in our society. But as Pope Francis teaches, we cannot stay silent when nearly a million unborn lives are being cast aside in our country year after year through abortion,” he wrote.

“Abortion is a direct attack on life that also wounds the woman and undermines the family. It is not only a private matter, it raises troubling and fundamental questions of fraternity, solidarity, and inclusion in the human community. It is also a matter of social justice. We cannot ignore the reality that abortion rates are much higher among the poor and minorities, and that the procedure is regularly used to eliminate children who would be born with disabilities,” Gomez added.

Some ecclesial drama unfolded yesterday when the Vatican ordered the USCCB to hold back on releasing its statement until Pope Francis had released his own statement about Biden’s inauguration. Sources in the Vatican told The Pillar that the statement was, in the words of The Pillar, “spiked after intervention from the Vatican Secretariat of State, hours before it was due to be released.” According to The Pillar, sources familiar with the situation said there was, in the words of The Pillar,  “concern in the Vatican that a statement from Gomez seen as critical of the Biden administration might seem to force the pope’s hand in his own dealings with Biden.”

Cupich said that the USCCB statement “was crafted without the involvement of the Administrative Committee, a collegial consultation that is normal course for statements that represent and enjoy the considered endorsement of the American bishops.”

“The internal institutional failures involved must be addressed, and I look forward to contributing to all efforts to that end, so that, inspired by the Gospel, we can build up the unity of the Church, and together take up the work of healing our nation in this moment of crisis,” he added.

A number of US bishops have, however, expressed public support for the USCCB’s statement. These include the following (special thanks to The Pillar for some of the resources) Note: the following include excerpts, not necessarily the full statement:

  • Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Colorado: “I strongly support Archbishop Gomez’s statement that we desire as bishops to work with President Biden to advance policies that are rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the social teachings of his Church. […] My prayer is that when his party seeks to advance ‘moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender,’ he will have the courage to stand up for the truth of God’s love and plan revealed to us by Jesus.”

  • Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, California: “Archbishop Gomez’s timely call for healing as a country as the new administration assumes office is both very welcome and needed.  I thank him for clarifying how Catholics approach the broad range of issues facing us that pose threats to human life and dignity.  In particular, I am grateful to him for stating clearly once again that opposing the injustice of abortion remains our ‘preeminent priority,’ while acknowledging that ‘preeminent’ does not mean ‘only.’”

  • Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Michigan: “I stand with the @USCCB  and @ArchbishopGomez in his witness to the Gospel and its implications for our civic order. May God bless our leaders and beloved country.”

  • Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska: “I join @ArchbishopGomez in applauding President Biden for the way his Catholic faith 'has brought him solace in times of darkness and tragedy’ and ‘his longstanding commitment to the Gospel’s priority for the poor.' But I also share @ArchbishopGomez deep concern for President Biden’s ‘pledge to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils that would threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage and gender.’”

  • Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin: “Together, Americans need to continue to seek solutions to the pandemic, poverty, unemployment, and the immigration question. The Catholic Church will seek to work with the new administration on issues where we find convergence. Regarding the difficult issues of divergence, such as abortion, contraception, religious freedom, and gender, the Church will challenge our leaders to embrace the full vision of the human person, as revealed by God and inscribed in the human heart through the natural law. Archbishop Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles and the current president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a thoughtful letter today which I recommend everyone to read [here]. He pledges support of and prayers for President Biden, a willingness to work together to solve our many and vexing problems, and challenges the president to rethink his stance on particular moral issues.”

  • Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois: “The statement released today by @ArchbishopGomez [here] marking the inauguration of President Joe Biden, is a welcome message of unity and collaboration. I fully support the message and agree with it in its entirety. It is true that the Catholic Church shares the President’s concern for justice in matters of the economy, health care, and immigration. It is also true that several of the President’s policy positions are at odds with Catholic teaching about the dignity and integrity of human life. In this regard, given the President’s public profession of full communion with the Church, I am pleased that Archbishop Gomez has spoken on behalf of all the bishops of the United States. I join Archbishop Gomez and my brother bishops in praying that President Biden will be an effective and virtuous leader of our great nation and that he will truly seek healing and unity, which will necessarily include respect for the God-given freedom of people of faith to practice their religion freely.”

  • Bishop Steven Raica of Birmingham, Alabama: “I would like to share Archbishop Jose Gomez's statement on the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., as the 46th President of the United States of America. I join the archbishop in prayer for our nation's new leader.”

  • Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana: “I strongly support the statement of Archbishop Jose Gomez, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on this day of the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden […]. I am grateful for the Archbishop’s clear articulation of our position as non-partisan pastors in relation to our newly elected president […]. I called on the faithful to hold fast to the teachings of the Church and not to adopt positions of either political party that are inimical to the truths of our faith, and not to be blinded by political ideology. […] There are issues and policies of President Biden and the Democratic Party with which the Church agrees. I look forward to progress in working together for comprehensive immigration reform, eradicating racism, abolishing the death penalty, protecting the environment, etc. At the same time, there are issues and policies of President Biden and the Democratic Party with which the Church profoundly disagrees because they ‘would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender’ (Archbishop Gomez’s statement). Our religious liberty is another deep concern. We will engage with the new Administration and with Congress, as we always have done, to protect human life, to support marriage and family life, and to guard religious freedom.”

  • Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island: “The statement of @ArchbishopGomez on the inauguration of President Biden is excellent. It is reasoned, balanced, charitable and challenging. It reflects well, I believe, the sentiments of many, perhaps most, of the members of the Bishops Conference.”

  • Bishop James Wall of Gallup, New Mexico: “Thank you @ArchbishopGomez for your statement in your role as the President of the USCCB.  Let us pray for President Biden, that he truly live out his baptismal call, especially in defense of human life #ProLife.”

  • Bishop Rick Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee: “Excellent comments from Archbishop Gomez today upon the inauguration of President Joe Biden. The valid election of President Biden does pose a difficulty in terms of faith and his understanding of the horrific nature of abortion, a violation of the human dignity of the child yet born. Both the USCCB and recent Popes have stressed abortion as the preeminent issue before us. It seems that some in leadership of the Church might wish to be ‘politically correct’ and not offend the new President. Abortion and those who support it are offensive.” 

  • Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon: “As we pray for our new President, I offer my full and strong support for the statement issued today by Archbishop Gomez, President of the USCCB.”

  • Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona:I gratefully support Archbishop Gomez’s statement to President Biden, which speaks powerfully to our role as bishops and, more fundamentally, Catholics in this historic moment. Indeed, as bishops we are committed to work with every elected official and government beyond partisan dichotomies for the good of our brothers and sisters across the country. There likely will be strong disagreements and shared passionate goals with President Biden and his administration, as there has been with every administration, but I pray that this work will be fruitful. […] Essential in these principles is the right to life of every human person. The tragedy of abortion remains for the U.S. bishops the “preeminent priority,” for the dignity of the human person is damaged at every level of this act. Millions of unborn lives have been lost, women scarred, and families broken. This damage is happening at a higher rate in minority communities and for those children that would be born with disabilities. Thus, our desire for fraternity and solidarity demands that we call for justice for all who have suffered and all who are at risk from abortion. Therefore, it is my prayer and sincere request that President Biden hear the cry of the poor and work with Church leaders to craft just policies that respect the right to life, the needs of parents, and the essential role that families play in the health of our country.”

  • Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas: “I commend Archbishop Gomez, President of the USCCB for his statement urging President Biden to deeply consider the teachings of his Catholic faith on life, family & morality. The Catholic faith brings the Light of Christ to the problems we face in the world. We must be faithful.”

Cupich, who was made a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2016, is considered by grassroots Catholics to be one of the most so-called progressive bishops in the United States.

During the fall 2019 gathering of the USCCB, Cupich was among those who argued that the US bishops should more closely align themselves with Pope Francis’ embrace of what amounts to the “Seamless Garment” view, which assigns equal weight to an array of important life issues, including abortion. “[Francis] speaks about the need to make sure we avoid those kind of ideological frameworks that our society today is so paralyzed in our political discourse by,” the Cardinal said at that time.

Cupich has said, contrary to Church law (Canon 915) that he would give Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He sees no problem for same-sex couples and the divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion in accordance with their consciences. Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago said they felt as if they were being “persecuted” by Cupich on account of his severe restrictions on access to sacraments during the COVID outbreak.