Francis Picks Spokane Bishop to Lead Chicago Archdiocese

Blase Cupich Is Nebraska Native, Grandson of Croatian Immigrants

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Pope Francis on Saturday named Bishop Blase Joseph Cupich of the Spokane Diocese as archbishop of Chicago, succeeding Cardinal Francis George. 

The appointment was publicized in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

Archbishop-designate Cupich has been bishop of Spokane, Washington, since 2010.

He was born March 19, 1949, in Omaha, Nebraska. He is the grandson of Croatian immigrants and one of nine children. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota and did further studies at the Gregorian University in Rome. He holds a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1975 and ordained as a bishop in 1998, appointed then to the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota.

As a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), he chairs the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe and is a former chair of the Committee on Protection of Children and Young People. 

Cardinal George is the first native Chicagoan to serve as Archbishop of Chicago. Born in 1937, he attended Catholic schools in Illinois before entering the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate on August 14, 1957. He served as bishop of Yakima from 1990 to 1996; and as archbishop of Portland in Oregon for less than a year before being named by Pope John Paul II as archbishop of Chicago in 1997. He was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals on Jan. 18, 1998. He served as president of the USCCB from 2007 to 2010.

In August, the archdiocese announced that the cardinal, facing his third bout with cancer, is participating in a clinical trial of a new drug being conducted at the University of Chicago.

There are an estimated 2.3 million Catholics living in the Archdiocese of Chicago, which comprises the two counties of Cook and Lake in Illinois.

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