The Pope has appointed Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago to the Congregation of Bishops.
The appointment is likely to give the archbishop significant influence over future episcopal appointments in the United States and elsewhere.
Archbishop Cupich was named Archbishop of Chicago by Pope Francis in 2014. He was regarded as a surprise choice to succeed Cardinal Francis George, who had held the post since 1997.
Vatican commentator John Allen said that the archbishop’s appointment to the Vatican congregation was a sign of papal favour.
“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,” he argued.
During the family synod, Archbishop Cupich was seen as a leading proponent of admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to Holy Communion.
Following the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the apostolic exhortation following the synod, the 67-year-old archbishop commented: “It can no longer be said, according to Pope Francis, that all those living in an ‘irregular situation’ are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.”
He added: “‘No one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel,’ the Pope insists.
“The goal of accompanying people is to help each person find ‘his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy.’ He is not speaking here only of ‘the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves’.”