R v. Cupich

Prior to becoming a bishop, Blase Cupich served as rector of Canton, OH’s Pontifical Josephinum. Concern has been bruited in Traditional Catholic circles (e.g. this from Angelqueen, and also and this) over a particularly noxious wreckovation of the Josephinum’s chapel that dates to Cupich’s tenure and is therefore attributed to him. This is something worth talking about, because if it is true that the “naive and ignorant modernist ideologue[]” responsible for the wreckovation has just been appointed Archbishop of Chicago merits scrutiny, that would deepen the sense of alarm over Cupich’s appointment. (The quoted text is from this piece by Father Dwight Longenecker, who coyly avoids mentioning what strikes me as the most serious part of the saga, to wit, +Cupich’s involvement vel non.)

If it’s true. Alas, the facts are quite muddy. Cupich was appointed Rector of the Josephinum “in 1989.” But when exactly in 1989? It matters because we learn from this contemporary article that the wreckovation had “begun” (when?) by February 1989, at which time the Josephinum’s rector was still Monsignor Dennis Sheehan. It is quite difficult, then, to even speculate (let alone to say with confidence) just how much damage had already been done by the time that Cupich replaced the “naive and ignorant modernist ideologue[]” who presumably approved the plan, Msgr. Sheehan.

On the other hand, even if he was handed a fait accompli, Cupich failed to fix the damage in his remaining years at the Josephinum, a task that is significant enough that it is not yet complete, yet not so herculean that his successors have been unable to even think it. That is enough to make him an accomplice after the fact, even though it seems a lesser sin than that of Sheehan, seemingly the real villain of the piece. I should think that that would disqualify Cupich from any appointment more prestigious than dog-catcher, myself, but if we are going to fault Francis for appointing a man with such a track-record to Chicago, are we going to fault our beloved Pope-Emeritus, his holiness Benedict XVI, for appointing the same man with the same record to Spokane? Are we going to fault Pope John Paul II, for appointing the same man with the same record to Rapid City?

In any event, we need to be careful to get the facts straight, and the facts do not support the inference that Cupich is himself the principal in this crime.