Over the weekend I saw many people speaking out in frustration over Pope Francis putting Cardinal Cupich of Chicago on the planning committee for the February meeting in Rome addressing the abuse crisis. Those critical of this appointment are, unsurprisingly, conservative American Catholics who generally distrust the pope already. They are presenting Cupich’s appointment as yet another reason to doubt the pope and this upcoming meeting. This mistrust of Cupich largely rests on three recent events which themselves rely on unsubstantiated accusations, poor reporting, and unnamed sources.
The first event is Archbishop Viganò’s infamous letter. There Viganò seeks to discredit Cupich, and other American prelates, by associating them with Archbishop McCarrick. He alleges that McCarrick played “kingmaker” in making Cupich a cardinal. Thus, as Catholics critical of Francis say, the recent appointment of Cupich should make us doubt the pope and be critical of the February meeting.
No surprise though, Viganò fails to produce any evidence to support such claims, and all the prelates he discredits just happen to be his ideological opposites. However, as they did with all of the accusations in Viganò’s letter, American Catholics who already distrusted the pope (and didn’t really like Cupich anyway) latched onto this “guilt by association” tactic to confirm their doubts and dislikes.