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Chicago archbishop becomes cardinal


Call him Cardinal.

During a service in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome Saturday, Chicago’s archbishop, Blase Cupich received the red hat and title of a Roman Catholic cardinal, the church’s most prestigious title next to the papacy.

Dressed in red and white vestments, Cupich knelt before Pope Francis who then placed a four-cornered silk red biretta upon his head and a gold ring upon his right hand, signifying the elevation.

“Today each of you, dear brothers, is asked to cherish in your own heart, and in the heart is the Church, this summons to be merciful like the Father,” Francis told the new cardinals during the service called a consistory. “And to realize that “if something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life.”

Installed as archbishop in November 2014, Cupich, 67, received his red hat the day before the church’s Year of Mercy ends. The elevation means he will have a vote in future papal elections.

Though this is the first time Francis has named American cardinals, it was no surprise to some that Cupich’s name was on the list. Chicago’s last six archbishops were named cardinals, and Cupich’s star has been on the rise ever since he leapt to the third-largest U.S. archdiocese from the diocese of Spokane, Wash.

Last year, Francis hand-picked Cupich to participate in a worldwide meeting of bishops and cardinals to discuss how to make the church’s teachings on marriage, contraception, divorce and homosexuality relevant to contemporary Catholic families.

Then in July, Francis named Cupich to the influential Congregation for Bishops, a Vatican panel that helps vet bishop candidates around the world. At the time, experts said Cupich’s appointment indicated the pope’s desire to have a key pastoral voice involved in the selection of U.S. church leaders and signaled he was one step closer to becoming a cardinal.

vortiz@chicagotribune.com

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