Chicago’s Cardinal Blaise Cupich told a group of “anguished” seminarians, who described being physically ill over the Catholic Church’s most recent sex abuse scandal, that he isn’t bothered by allegations that Pope Francis and his predecessors protected members of the clergy accused of sexual crimes.
Cupich, speaking to a group of 200 Chicago-area men training to be priests at the presitgious Mundelein Seminary, said that he “thought this was over,” that the bishops had “done their jobs,” and that he was “at peace” and sleeping soundly, even as the Catholic Church is roiling with controversy.
A source told the Chicago Sun-Times that Cupich told the young men, “I feel very much at peace at this moment. I am sleeping OK.”
He followed up by repeating an earlier contention that the Church — and the Pope — have bigger things to attend to than allegations of widespread corruption within the Church’s hierarchy, and credible reports of sexual abuse networks that span several American states.
“We have a bigger agenda than to be distracted by all of this,” Cupich said, adding that he was focusing on helping the homeless, the sick, and victims of violence.
A seminarian present at the talk independently confirmed the content of Cupich’s talk to the Daily Wire. The Cardinal is scheduled to speak again at Mundelein next week.
According to sources, the seminarians were left in “disbelief” at Cupich’s comments, with many shaking their heads, calling the Cardinal “non-pastoral.” To make matters worse, several seminarians approached Cardinal Cupich before his talk to ask for advice, seizing the opportunity to speak to one of the Church’s top officials about how to handle their own response to the Church’s sexual about scandal and how to properly counsel Catholics looking to them for leadership.
“I’m hurting, I can’t sleep, I’m sick,” one seminarian told the Cardinal.
“The people of God need to know that their seminarians care,” another seminarian told the Sun-Times. Adding that the Church needs to know their future priests “aren’t going to repeat the mistakes of the past — not only not repeat them but have them cleaned up.”
Cupich has fallen under deep criticism for his seemingly emotionless response to allegations, made in a public letter from Archbishop Maria Vigano — allegations which have left many dedicated Catholics scandalized, and allegations that seem to be borne out by separate evidence, including a recently released document showing that Vatican officials were aware of complaints of sexual misconduct made against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in the year 2000, when Pope John Paul II was in power.
Instead of reassuring his flock, Cupich has done his best to distract from the issue, accusing the Pope’s critics of everything from “distraction” to racism. He is not alone. Many of the Church’s left-leaning clergy have, indeed, circled the wagons, preferring to allow the scandal to blow over rather than address it directly.