Cupich, Gomez to headline summit on overcoming polarization

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago regarded as 'liberal,' Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez 'viewed as having conservative leanings," get top billing at June conference aimed at overcoming divisions within Church

Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles will headline a summit on overcoming polarization. (image: CNS)

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles, who at least on some matters, would be regarded stereotypically as representing “liberal” and “conservative” views, will headline together a major convening of Catholic leaders this June aimed at overcoming division, building relationships, and strengthening the Catholic community’s contribution to the common good.

“Through Many, One: Overcoming Polarization Through Catholic Social Thought,” will take place June 4-6 at Georgetown University and is a project of the university’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life in response to what its organizers have described as “the harmful divisions within our Church.”

Cupich – who was appointed to Chicago in 2014 – is widely perceived as one of Francis’s closest allies in the U.S. Church and has been a strong champion for worker’s rights, immigration, and the “consistent ethic of life”. Gomez has led the nation’s largest and most diverse diocese since 2011 and is currently the vice-president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). He was ordained a priest through Opus Dei, a movement that is widely viewed as having conservative leanings, and has been a vocal advocate for pro-life and religious liberty causes. In recent years he has also become one of the most vocal leaders within the U.S. Church hierarchy calling for comprehensive immigration reform.

The gathering will focus not on internal Church issues, but on “the neglected challenge of bringing Catholic principles to public life so as to truly be ‘salt, light and leaven’ in a divided society.”

John Carr, the Initiative’s director, and Kim Daniels, a member of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications and a consultor to the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, are leading the conference, which will bring together 60 select attendees from across the ideological spectrum with the stated goal of exploring ways to help overcome division and to help forge a more unified witness.

In an interview with Crux, Carr said Catholics have an unprecedented opportunity with Francis’s leadership to bring Catholic teaching into the public square, but he believes internal divisions among some are squandering that prospect.

“We felt there was an urgent need to bring some Catholic leaders together to build bridges across political, ideological, ethnic and ecclesial lines for civil and substantive dialogue,” he told Crux. “More specifically, we want to explore how principles of Catholic Social Teaching can offer affirmative ways to pursue the common good and build unity in our Church. We can’t get distracted from the good that we can do together at a time when our nation needs our principles and common witness,” Carr lamented.

Carr also added that the convening “is a way to respond to Pope Francis’s challenge in his new apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, to answer the ‘call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities.’”

In addition to Cupich and Gómez, a Public Dialogue will include Helen Alvaré, a professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, and Sister Teresa Maya, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. It will be open to the public.

Daniels told Crux that these individuals were asked to headline the conference as they represent differing ecclesial perspectives, but a shared commitment to serving the common good through the Church’s social teaching.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington will celebrate Mass on the opening day of the conference.

The rest of the three-day conference will involve only the invited participants and panelists, and will explore a range of themes, including human life and dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity, human rights and responsibilities, and the priority of the poor and vulnerable, illustrating, as Carr pointed out, that “the most important word in Catholic social teaching is ‘and.’”

Daniels and Carr have worked together on several projects in recent years. In an interview with Crux, they recounted the beginning of their own friendship, which has convinced them that personal relationships are critical in forging common ground.

When Daniels was being considered for a USCCB position, Carr was suspicious based on what he’d heard about her background. Similarly, Daniels had heard only a one-sided account of Carr’s work.  After the two met and began to work together, however, they realized they have much more in common than they disagree on, leading to mutual respect and a friendship that has led them to work together on a number of projects, despite different perspectives on certain matters of policy.

Full story at Crux.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Church conferences have never been as big a business nor as big a waste of time as they have been over the past 50 years. It seems every month there’s some sort of Church conference for one thing or another taking place, but things just keep getting worse. Do these conferences just provide the illusion of doing something effective? Archbishop Gomez should concentrate on cleaning up his own annual conference: the Religious Education Congress.

  2. Elizabeth M. says:

    Two of the most polarizing clerics. And they’re going to figure out what?

  3. Cardinal Cupich would represent the Marxist view, I think.

  4. Perhaps these two esteemed leaders in the Church can show us the way! Maybe using St Thomas Aquinas’s quaestiones disputatae method they can model for the rest of our country, and the world, the manner in which to have a civil, respectful and charitable conversation about controversial matters.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cardinal Cupich and Cardinal Burke; Cardinal Cupich and Cardinal Sarah; Cardinal Cupich and Cardinal Schnieder. would make sense..
    What difference is there between Cupich and Gomez?
    There is a organizational principle which says Deal with your biggest problem first.
    The biggest problem is the internal divisions. They are saying that the internal divisions are only important because they are keeping Catholics from working together to influence public policy. So let’s ignore those and make our common ground Catholic social teaching.
    Not gonna work on the ground.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This might be off subject but I saw on Father James Martin’s twitter page that he is using the Pope’s apostolic exhortation to bash President Trump.
    Father James Martin was welcomed with open arms by Cardinal Cupich a few weeks ago in Chicago.
    I’m not trying to start a new problem but this, to me, is symptomatic of the “polarization” in the Church.

    • Anonymous says:

      The polarizers never think they are the ones polarizing. They always blame their opponents for the polarization that they create. Look at the Democrat Party and how it incessantly berates conservatives for being polarizing and divisive, when the Democrats are the ones being polarizing and divisive through false claims of racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, and so forth. They divide, blame others for the divisions, and make empty appeals for “coming together” in order to boost their political clout.

    • Faithful and True says:

      Priests should not be political activists.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Polarization 101
    Cardinal Tobin; “What I say to people in same-sex relationships and want to teach [in Catholic schools], I say, ‘How do you do it?’ Help me understand. How do you communicate the fullness of the Catholic position on the moral question and justify…the choices you’ve made with your life? Just help me understand that,” he said. “Sometimes people do.”

    • Faithful and True says:

      Great recipe for losing one’s faith. Conversing and consulting with those in mortal sin to convince yourself the sin is ok. Wow, that’s messed up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Intrinsic evil is something which is always evil, no matter the circumstances or rationale. If an act is intrinsically evil, it cannot be justified by the intention or by the circumstances (the environment, social pressure, emergency situation, etc.)

  8. St. Christopher says:

    This is a knee-slapper. Both of these clerics are on the Liberal side of the Church; Abp. Gomez is just a bit more camouflaged.

    Get some true Catholic Traditionalists in there. And, to top off the pre-determined outcome of this, just look at who is saying the opening Mass: Cardinal Wuerl. Hahaha.

  9. “In an interview with Crux, Carr said Catholics have an unprecedented opportunity with Francis’s leadership to bring Catholic teaching into the public square…” With respect, I believe Francis is the source of the divisions in the Church. Cupich and Gomez are rather two peas in a pod; all I can envision is their urging respect for Francis’ teaching but from different perspectives. For a real look at the divisions in the Church, pit Cupich against Sarah or Burke.

  10. If there is one defining attribute that defines the Catholic Church, it is the clarity of her doctrine. At the end of the day, any confusion or “division” is a contrived condition meant not for achieving clarity in a particular situation, but to change something. The CCC, apostolic exhortations, bulls, even encyclicals (until recently) have been laser beam specific without ambiguity in part because, they’ve never contradicted what the Church has always held. Prudential judgement is a thing, however, and it is recognized by the Church as applying in a host of different issues, none of which, it seems are at issue with the present tumult of “division” within the Church. If prudential judgement does apply to a “divisive” issue, then…

  11. Gratias: please provide some actual evidence to back up your opinion that Cardinal Cupich is a Marxist.

  12. Lou Varini says:

    The only polarization is being caused by those who wish to re-define the teachings of the Church, including Cardinals Cupich and Gomez, Cardinal Burke, and the rest of the faithful clerics addressed this issue with clarity and without equivocation or clarification noted here:

    Here also:

  13. One cannot get more polarizing that Cupich. As for Gomez, what a huge disappointment. He cannot even move the Religious Education Conference back to orthodoxy. All he seems to care about is supporting illegal immigration.

    • You got that right. With Gomez it’s illegal immigration this, illegal immigration that. I’m tired of being told I’m a bad Catholic for wanting my country to be safe and great.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are acting like a dysfunctional family where little things can be talked about but you better not talk about the real problem (the elephant in the room). The people most at odds cannot talk to each other without intermediaries.
      There are three main problems in the Church. Most Catholics don’t even attend Mass so they are not even in the picture. Of those who attend Mass, there are a great many who do not accept all of the Church’s teachings on faith and morals, especially morals. Of those who do accept the Church’s teachings on faith and morals, there is the problem of clerics who appear wishy-washy or even dismissive of them.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Illegal immigration is polarizing. But both prelates are on the same side.
    Consistent ethic of life can be polarizing if people take it to mean that all life issues are of equal weight.
    Worker’s rights? Haven’t seen much on that either way.
    Pro-life is polarizing in the secular world but not in the Church.
    Religious liberty is polarizing in the secular world because of LGBTQ issues but I’v never seen divide Catholics.

  15. Faithful and True says:

    Unity is maintained through Doctrine faithfully applied in pastoral action which confiorms with Tradition and Sacred Scripture per Magisterial Teaching. The primacy of the Papacy versus the destructive concept of “decentralization” is a safeguard against individual Bishops’ Conferences distorting the Doctrine and causing the shredding of the Church we see occurring now. Unity of Doctrine and faithful pastoral application of this Doctrine is key. The proposed model of shared “mutual social goals” is not a unifying focal point for the abuses of Doctrine unfolding in the Catholic Church – but an operational plan for a socially aware non profit organization based on ideological and philosophical approaches to resolving difficult human issues…

  16. Faithful and True says:

    Recall, Christ said, “The poor you will always have with you; but Me, you will not.” I’d be careful of dialogue if this nature which forces agreement on externals. Talk about the Truth if Christ, Hus Eucharistic Presence and keeping His Commandments. That is the unifying bedrock of the faith.

  17. Vince Ryan says:

    Pope Benedict had said that in the future the Church may be much smaller but more faithful. This ” conversation about unity” is not likely to accomplish much. Pope Francis has now made a series of statements which given the most generous interpretation are highly ambiguous, calling into question traditional Church teaching. A very dry season is upon us. The shrinking of the Church will almost certainly continue. A schism is not out of the question.

  18. Jim Grisafi says:

    Hopefully, the Holy Spirit will be present at this invited only meeting. However, we should not expect public policy differences to change. Partisan alignments, personal political relationships, and ideology are the elephants in the room, and it is not likely they will be suppressed for a sustained and transforming kumbaya moment.

  19. Anonymous says:

    In a Church of 70 million (US) a conference for 60 select attendees is going to fix division in the Church? I don’t think the Church is divided anyway. I think a few very vocal people are frustrated because the leadership does not appear to be leading people to heaven. Others are frustrated because the leadership won’t give a green light to the sins they want to commit. Most Catholics are just trying to get through the week. Some with very heavy burdens are just trying to get through the day. God bless everyone.

  20. Linda Maria says:

    This probem is not about “polarization,” nor is it about “liberal” vs. “conservative” viewpoints. It is much more simple than that! The whole problem should be called: “Overcoming Rebellion of Catholic Clerics to Christ’s Teachings!” No maturity, no discipline! That is the problem!! We need a complete Reform, back to authentic Catholic teaching, in the Church!! And to firmly tell wayward clerics- like Cardinal Cupich and Fr. James Martin—– “NO!” And MEAN it!! They have FAILED THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO CHRIST!!!!

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