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INTERVIEW: Cardinal Cupich: 'Pope Francis Is Saying We Are With You'

In ZENIT Exclusive, Archbishop of Chicago Speaks on Nomination, Francis, Message He Tries to Live By

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Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago says Pope Francis is saying loud and clear we are with you.
In an exclusive interview with ZENIT in the lead up to the consistory, the Archbishop of Chicago said this while speaking on the Pontiff’s choices for new cardinals from the peripheries.
In this interview, the new American cardinal addresses how many believe that he represents aspects of Pope Francis’ vision for the Church and whether he feels a close identification with Francis’ unique style as Pontiff.
He also speaks to ZENIT about what it feels like to be named a cardinal, the importance of his nomination for the American people, and whether this responsibility affects his leading a very large local church.
Moreover, the new Cardinal shares how Pope Paul VI’s words have given him a model to live by.
ZENIT: What does it feel like when you’re named a cardinal? 
Cardinal Cupich: It doesn’t really feel any different. I have been a bishop for nearly 20 years and do not see that this appointment will in any way make me change my approach.
ZENIT:  What is the importance of this nomination for the American people?
Cardinal Cupich: I am just one of several cardinals in the US but the fact that three US bishops were chosen may help to further the message that the Holy Father deeply regards the Church in this country and I hope that gives people a sense of greater confidence.
ZENIT: You are the leader of a very large local Church. How does being a cardinal affect that responsibility?
Cardinal Cupich: Honestly, I think it will not mean any significant change in this regard.
ZENIT: At the last consistory, Pope Francis advised that the new cardinals not overly celebrate (i.e. have luxurious, opulent gatherings) nor to see becoming a cardinal as reaching a career objective. Why do you think he gave that advice?
Cardinal Cupich: First, I agree with that advice, which he gave to me as well, in a letter. This is why I decided that the Archdiocese of Chicago would not be sponsoring a trip to Rome. Instead, given that the Catholic Extension Society, based in Chicago and which helps nearly 100 mission dioceses was planning a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi for the close of the Jubilee Year, I encouraged people to join that group if they wished to attend the consistory.
In fact, instead of a big banquet for me, I agreed to attend a dinner after the consistory that will benefit the work of Extension as they support those mission dioceses along the US-Mexican border which are impacted by immigration the most. In this way, the spotlight is on those mission dioceses and not me or the Archdiocese of Chicago.
ZENIT: The choices of Pope Francis in the past consistories have been a bit surprising for some, emphasizing also places on the “peripheries.” Why do you think Pope Francis chooses in this way? 
Cardinal Cupich: Well, it is obvious to me, that the Holy Father is shedding light on the universality of the Church as well as the periphery. He is also recognizing those Churches that have and are struggling, whether that be by the appointment of the priest from Albania or the Nuncio in Syria. Pope Francis is saying loud and clear to these Churches that we are with you and asking all of us to do the same.
ZENIT: Some say that as a pastor, you particularly represent aspects of Pope Francis’ vision for the Church. Why do you think people say that about you? Do you feel a close identification with Francis’ unique style as Pontiff? 
Cardinal Cupich: I do not think that I have changed my approach over the years. Since the day I was ordained a priest, I have taken my lead from the words of Pope Paul VI, which he told our class that year for the Holy Year of 1975: “Know how accept reproach which the world often unjustly hurls against the messenger of the Gospel, the groan of the poor, the candid voice of the child, the thoughtful cry of youth, the complaint of the tired worker, the lament of the suffering and the criticism of the thinker. Never be afraid.” I have tried to live by that message.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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