Cardinal Cupich Apologizes for Saying Church Had ‘Bigger Agenda' Than Abuse Allegations

Chicago’s Cardinal Blasé Cupich is apologizing for remarks he made earlier this year about the sex abuse crisis facing the Catholic Church in the wake of new allegations made by the former Papal Ambassador to the United States.

In an interview with NBC 5 in August, Cardinal Cupich said that the church had a “bigger agenda,” and that it would be a mistake for Pope Francis to “get into each and every one of” the sex abuse cases the Church is facing, and he apologized for that comment in a Chicago Tribune op-ed. 

“It was a mistake for me to even mention that the Church has a bigger agenda than responding to the charges in the letter by former Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano,” he said.

“What I should have said, because it has been my conviction throughout my ministry, is that nothing is more important for the Church than protecting young people,” he continued. “I apologize for the offense caused by my comments. It pains me deeply to think that my poor choice of words may have added to the suffering of victim-survivors.”

Here is Cardinal Cupich’s full comment on the matter to NBC 5 in August:

“But for the Holy Father, I think to get into each and every one of those aspects, in some way is inappropriate and secondly, the pope has a bigger agenda. He’s gotta get on with other things of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”

In his Tribune op-ed, Cupich calls for removing bishops who “fail to protect those in their care,” and reporting all abuse, past and present, to civil authorities.

"To begin to heal this wound on the soul of the church, we bishops must commit to facing our own failures — by looking into the faces of the victim-survivors and seeing Christ," he said. 

The cardinal also called for outside independent experts to review the Church’s history, records, and policies for accountability when it comes to its handling of abuse allegations.

Cardinal Cupich and the Church have been under scrutiny since Archbishop Vigano testified that Pope Francis had removed restrictions on Archbishop Theodore McCarrick that had been imposed by Pope Benedict XVI. McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals earlier this year amid allegations of sexual abuse of minors, seminarians, and priests.

Vigano also testified that Cardinal Cupich’s appointment to the Archdiocese of Chicago was largely engineered by McCarrick. Cardinal Cupich has said that McCarrick’s lobbying had little to do with his appointment, saying in a statement that he had been appointed to different positions by three different popes and that “people knew me in Rome.”  

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