US Bishop: Opposition to Cardinal Cupich ‘guided by the Evil One’

Bishop Robert Gruss condemned Roman Catholic Faithful, which will visit South Dakota later this month to learn more about parishioners' experiences with the now-Archbishop of Chicago.
Wed Feb 13, 2019 - 8:27 pm EST
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Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago in an interview with Salt and Light, May 1, 2017.

February 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Robert Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota, said this past weekend that a lay Catholic group’s effort to force Cardinal Blase Cupich out as archbishop of Chicago is "evil and guided by the Evil One."

The campaign by Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF) to uncover specifics of Cupich’s leadership during the cardinal’s 1998-2010 tenure as bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City is merely to besmirch Cupich, said Gruss, who stood by the controversial cardinal in the letter he ordered his priests to read from the pulpit at all Masses in his diocese for the weekend of February 9-10.

“It seems to me that their goal appears to be to try to uncover ‘dirt’ on Cardinal Cupich so that they can tear down his reputation,” he said. “They are accusing him of promoting a pro-homosexuality agenda in the Church, tolerance of abortion, and other issues which go against Catholic teaching.”

“The Diocese of Rapid City wants to affirm our respect and admiration for Cardinal Cupich,” Gruss stated in his letter. “During his tenure as our bishop, he was an effective leader and shepherd, leaving a legacy that will long mark the ministry of our diocese. When he was the bishop of Rapid City, Cardinal Cupich upheld the teachings of the Catholic Church and encouraged dialogue as a means to change the hearts and minds of people, leading them to the truth of Jesus Christ and His Church.”

A “moment of unity as a Catholic church”

While he was bishop of Rapid City, Cupich locked parishioners of a Traditional Latin Mass parish out of their church when they wanted to celebrate the Easter Triduum, attributing his action to “an opportunity on an annual basis for us to all worship together, for one moment of unity as a Catholic church.” The Catholics were forced to conduct Good Friday services on the sidewalk.

Cupich’s handling of the Tradition-minded Catholics is one of several reasons that Roman Catholic Faithful puts forth for why he should be removed.

There’s more

Also on the list is the fact that Cupich, as bishop of Spokane, Washington, as it was learned this past December, had been made aware that seven Jesuit priests credibly accused of sexual abuse were living unsupervised on the campus of Gonzaga University, and he allowed them to continue in that situation.

The Illinois-based RCF had disbanded in 2009 after 12 years of working to expose corruption in the Catholic Church and then reassembled to continue its work amid the resurgence of clergy sex-abuse scandals last summer, in particular the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report.

Gruss’ letter and response to it from RCF board member and Catholic attorney James Bendell were the subject of a column from Renew America’s Matt Abbott.

Also on the RCF list is Cupich’s banishment of Father Paul Kalchik without due process.

Kalchik, himself a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest and a neighbor, had this past fall overseen some of his parishioners’ burning of a blasphemous rainbow flag containing a cross that had been used in his church’s sanctuary with the permission of the now deceased previous pastor.

The rainbow flag burning was a private act of exorcism conducted after the flag had been discovered in parish storage, much the same as other similarly sacrilegious items found previously. Kalchik remains in hiding for fear of Cupich having him forcibly committed for psychiatric evaluation.

Additionally on the RCF list, Cupich permits individuals in same-sex “marriages” to receive Communion and ecclesiastical funeral rites, he has apologized for the Catholic Church’s attempt to convert Jews to the faith, and while bishop of Spokane he directed his priests and seminarians to not take part in the 40 Days for Life pro-life vigil.

RCF plans to visit Rapid City on February 23 to gather information from local Catholics about their experience with Cupich in their diocese, placing an ad in advance of the visit in the local newspaper seeking the input of Catholics.

“Our organization is seeking information on the political actions, the spiritual direction, and the troubling issues concerning the administration of Catholic prelate Blase Cardinal Cupich," the ad said.

Gruss cited the RCF ad in his letter.

“The question on my mind: ‘Is their true goal to rid the Catholic Church of clerical corruption or is it an attempt to destroy the reputation of Cardinal Cupich with whom they disagree regarding his approach to certain Church teachings?’” he said. “Based upon what I have read in their materials, their goal is to attempt to destroy the reputation of Cardinal Cupich. Therefore, their mission is evil and guided by the Evil One. Any group that seeks to divide the Church by sharing false information is doing the work of Satan.”

RCF held a similar conference in the Chicago area in early January, attended by hundreds, a Church Militant report said, at which the group laid out its reasoning for seeking Cupich’s ouster.

Stephen Brady, the group’s founder and president, said at the event that his goal was to see Cupich gone from Chicago by the end of 2019.

Bendell echoed Brady's audacious vow, according to Church Militant, garnering significant applause.

"Our message to Cardinal Cupich is this,” Bendell said. “We are going down that rabbit hole. And you are coming with us. I'm here to tell you, one year from now, Cupich will be gone."

Cupich had told a local NBC affiliate in late August that Pope Francis had a “bigger agenda” than dealing with former Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s charge that Francis knew about and rehabilitated accused serial predator Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

“He’s gotta get on with other things of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church,” Cupich stated. “We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”

He also told a gathering of seminarians in his archdiocese shortly thereafter that, while the Church’s “agenda” indeed involves keeping children safe from harm, “we have a bigger agenda than to be distracted by all of this,” citing helping the homeless and sick.

Bendell challenged Gruss to a public debate in response to Gruss’ letter on the question of whether Cupich has “promoted perversion and error, and he has betrayed the faithful during the times that he has served as bishop prior to being named Cardinal and assigned to Chicago." 

Cupich, whom Francis named archbishop of Chicago in 2014 and elevated to cardinal in November 2016, was also appointed by the pope to organize the upcoming global summit on summit on clergy sex abuse of minors later this month.

Communion for Catholics in non-marital unions

He had laid out a pathway at the 2015 Synod on the Family for same-sex couples and the divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist in accord with their consciences.

In March of last year, Cupich removed Father Frank Phillips – founder and former superior of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantiusas pastor of St. John Cantius Church, in spite of a review board's finding that Phillips did not violate any criminal, civil or canon law after his been accused of improper conduct with adult men.

And in August 2015, following release of the Center for Medical Progress videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts trafficking scandal, Cupich wrote in an op-ed that unemployment and hunger are on the par with the millions unborn children killed by abortion. He equated abortion with lack of "decent medical care," "a broken immigration system," "racism," "hunger, joblessness and want," gun violence and capital punishment.

  abortion, archdiocese of chicago, blase cupich, carlo vigano, catholic, clergy sex abuse, diocese of rapid city, diocese of spokane, frank phillips, paul kalchik, rainbow flag, robert gruss, roman catholic faithful, theodore mccarrick, traditional latin mass

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