Cupich Dismisses Viganò Claims as a ‘Rabbit Hole’

Archbishop of Chicago says Pope Francis has a ‘bigger agenda’ to worry about, including defending migrants and protecting the environment.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, pictured in Rome in 2015.
Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, pictured in Rome in 2015. (photo: CNA)

CHICAGO — Archbishop of Chicago Blase Cupich has dismissed recent allegations made by a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., saying that Pope Francis has a “bigger agenda” to worry about, including defending migrants and protecting the environment.

Speaking Aug. 27 to Chicago’s NBC 5, Cardinal Cupich said that the Pope has “got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church.”

Cardinal Cupich described the contents of Archbishop Carlos Maria Viganò’s 11-page testimony, published Aug. 25, as a “rabbit hole” that he does not think the Church should be going down.

Archbishop Vigano’s testimony claimed that Pope Francis had removed restrictions on Archbishop Theodore McCarrick that had been imposed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. It also stated that McCarrick was instrumental in Cupich’s appointment as archbishop of Chicago in 2014.

McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals in July of this year, following a series of public allegations against him concerning the sexual abuse of minors, seminarians and priests. The dioceses of Newark and Metuchen, New Jersey, subsequently confirmed they had previously reached two out-of-court-settlements with adult accusers.

Cardinal Cupich dismissed the claims of McCarrick’s influence in his appointment, telling NBC 5: “It’s not as though I just fell out of the sky.”

Archbishop Cupich was elevated to the College of Cardinals in November 2016. He was ordained a bishop in 1998. Before becoming the Archbishop of Chicago, he led the Rapid City, South Dakota, and Spokane, Washington, dioceses.

The cardinal also defended Pope Francis’ record on combating sexual abuse, saying that “the record shows, whenever there’s actionable information, Pope Francis acts.”

Cardinal Cupich also implied that racism was a motivating factor behind the release of Archbishop Viganò’s letter and the ensuing criticism of the Pope.

“Quite frankly, they also don’t like him because he’s a Latino,” said Cardinal Cupich. Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents of Italian descent.

Last week, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said that the Catholic Church “has a moral obligation to provide its parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois.” Each of the state’s six bishops agreed to assist with this report.

During the Monday interview, Cardinal Cupich noted that child sexual abuse is not a problem limited to the Catholic Church and that the state should be investigating other organizations, as well.

“It’s not just about the Catholic Church. Let’s look at all the agencies and institutions that deal with children on a day-to-day basis.”