“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” – Cardinal George
With the latest news in episcopal appointments about Bishop Blaise Cupich being appointed as the new Archbishop of Chicago, I can’t help but reflect on Cardinal George’s warning given in 2010. Chicago is not only an increasingly secular society but also increasingly violent, with gun violence being out of control. Literally lives are at stake due to the purposelessness of many lives who live in the darkness of Chicago.
In many ways this was probably not unlike the society in which the North American martyrs found themselves in. Evangelizing to the First Nations came bundled with similar perils – attentive adherents and dangerous dissenters. Antony Daniel was shot and burned, Isaac Jogues was violently kidnapped and slashed, Chabanel was killed by an apostate (baptized but later recanted his Christianity). They were caught in the midst of warring tribes and suffered as enemies of one or the other even though they came in the name of peace.
Archbishop-elect Cupich will find himself trying to stay upright in the midst of warring gangs, warring political factions, and the anti-spiritual push of secularism. He will have a lot of learning to do and new relationships to form, even though there are others who are already trying to define him. Being Archbishop of a big city these days seems to be a harder job than ever, especially as we see the burdens and dilemmas placed on men like Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Collins, or Archbishop Sartain. May the example and prayers of SS. Anthony Daniel, Charles Garnier, Noel Chabanel, Isaac Jogues, John Lalande, John de Brebeuf, Gabriel Lalemant, & Rene Goupil be with them all and for now especially Archbishop Cupich.