Pope Francis on Thursday named Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago to the Vatican’s all-important Congregation for Bishops, in effect positioning the Chicago prelate to help shape the next generation of bishops in the United States and around the world.
The Congregation for Bishops is composed of roughly 30 senior prelates from around the world, and is the body that submits recommendations for new bishops’ appointments to the pope. Although the final decision is always up to the pontiff, with relatively few exceptions, popes generally accept the panel’s recommendations.
As a result, the Congregation for Bishops is widely considered among the two or three most influential departments in the Vatican, and generally appointing someone as a member is a sign that they have the favor of the present pope….
By tapping Cupich, Francis has extended his effort to put a more moderate-to-progressive stamp on the Congregation for Bishops, and, by extension, the global episcopacy.
In December 2013, Francis removed several members of the congregation seen as more conservative, including Cardinals Raymond Burke of the United States and Mauro Piacenza of Italy, replacing them with twelve new figures perceived as more centrist and pastoral.