(America) In a highly significant move, Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago to the Vatican Congregation for Bishops thereby giving him a voice and important role in the selection of candidates to be bishops for dioceses in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. (Candidates to be bishops in dioceses in Asia, Africa and the Middle East are handled by other Vatican offices.)
The announcement was made by the Vatican at noon today, July 7. Archbishop Cupich now becomes a member of this very important Vatican congregation whose main task is to identify and propose suitable candidates to the pope to be bishops in over 2,000 dioceses across the globe. The pope reviews their choices and then makes the final decision.
The congregation at present has 26 members from many countries; 20 are cardinals, five are archbishops and one is a bishop. There is only one other from the United States on this Vatican body: Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C, who was also chosen by Francis to serve on it.
To understand the import of this appointment it is worth recalling that several U.S. cardinals have been members of this congregation in past decades under St. John Paul II or Benedict XVI, including Bernard Law, Justin Rigali, Raymond Burke and, until last June when he reached the age of 80, William Levada. It is well known that they played a very influential and often key role in the selection of the candidates to be diocesan bishops in the United States, and so contributed significantly to determining the present leadership of the Catholic Church in this country. [More]