With Pope’s cardinal picks, Bernardin’s ‘seamless garment’ is back

Pope's choice of three new American cardinals telegraphs direction in which he wishes U.S. Church to go
Pope Francis waves to faithful at the end of a jubilee mass in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. The pontiff has named 17 new cardinals _ 13 of them under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect his successor. (Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.)

Pope Francis waves to faithful at the end of a jubilee mass in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. The pontiff has named 17 new cardinals _ 13 of them under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect his successor. (Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.)

The following comes from an October 9 Crux article by John L. Allen Jr.:

By naming Blase Cupich of Chicago, Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis and Kevin Farrell, formerly of Dallas, as cardinals, Pope Francis has moved the senior leadership of the American Catholic Church to a centrist, non-cultural warrior stance reminiscent of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s “seamless garment.”

Pope Francis on Sunday engineered what may prove to be a seismic shift in the Catholic hierarchy in the United States, elevating not one or two, but a full three new American cardinals seen as belonging to the centrist, non-cultural warrior wing of the country’s hierarchy.

The pontiff announced a consistory, the event in which new members are inducted into the Church’s most exclusive club, for Nov. 19, coinciding with the end of his special jubilee Holy Year of Mercy.

The list includes 13 new cardinal-electors, meaning those under 80 and eligible to vote for the next pope, and features three Americans after Francis bypassed the U.S. in both 2014 and 2015.

The three Americans are Archbishops Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis, as well as Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, recently chosen by Francis to head his new “dicastery,” meaning a Vatican department, on Family, Laity and Life.

Had Francis held more to convention in his American picks, the logical candidates beyond Cupich would have been Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, both American cities historically led by cardinals.

There also would have been logic in each case, as the Mexican-born Gomez would have been the first Hispanic cardinal in U.S. Catholic history, and Chaput was Francis’s host when the pontiff visited Philadelphia last September for the World Meeting of Families.

Both Gomez and Chaput, however, are broadly perceived as more “conservative,” and thus would have reinforced what’s already seen as a strong conservative majority among the American cardinals, who tend to have an outsize influence on setting the tone for the Church both in terms of media perceptions and also internal leadership.

Cupich was well known at Francis’s two Synods of Bishops on the family for parting company to some extent with the more traditionalist bloc, signaling openness on issues such as finding new pastoral approaches for LGBT believers and also opening the door to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to potentially receive Communion.

Tobin is a former superior general of the worldwide Redemptorist religious order, who served from 2010 to 2012 as the number two official at the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, better known as the “Congregation for Religious,” during the time when the Vatican was conducting two separate investigations of American nuns.

Tobin was publicly critical of those probes, suggesting they had been launched without dialogue or consultation with the women religious, and behind the scenes that didn’t always sit well with some of the prelates who had pushed for them in the first place. Many observers believed at the time his 2012 transfer to Indianapolis, before the usual five-year term in a Vatican office was up, reflected some unhappiness with his more conciliatory line.

More recently, Tobin clashed with Indiana Governor and Republic vice presidential nominee Mike Pence over Tobin’s determination to welcome Syrian refugees in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis despite Pence’s objections.

As for Farrell, over his years in Dallas he’s tried to steer the University of Dallas into a more centrist, mainstream position, at times running afoul of the sentiments of more conservative forces at the university. He’s also emerged as a leader in favor of gun control, something of a bold stance in the context of Texas, and also on immigration issues.

In one fell swoop, therefore, Francis has reshaped the character of the most senior level of the American hierarchy, steering it away from what some see as the partisan stance of the last two decades and back towards what might be described as the “consistent ethic of life” ethos associated with the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, also of Chicago.

Bernardin also used the phrase “seamless garment” to capture that view.

In 2011, the widely respected American Catholic writer George Weigel penned an influential essay in First Things declaring “the Bernardin Era is over and the Bernardin Machine is no more,” after Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York defeated Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson in the race for president of the US bishops conference, and at the time Weigel’s diagnosis was hard to dispute.

What neither Weigel nor anyone else could have anticipated, however, was the rise of a Latin American pontiff who would revive that legacy in his neighbor to the north.


  1. this might help give ‘hermeneutic context’ to the recent lightning that struck st peter’s cupola again. the reporter whi captured the latest flashdown reports that there were two, but he fumbled the first attempt and was surprised when a second flash followed, but was ready and caught it.

  2. The Seamless Garment Theory has been discredited for years and should be left on the ash heap of history. Not all issues are equal, regardless of politically minded churchmen who believe otherwise. Shame!

  3. Cultural Marxism wins the day. Roger Cardinal Mahony will be celebrating.

    I pray daily that Benedict XVI may have a long life.

  4. Linda Maria says:

    I am surprised that both Abp. Gomez, of Los Angeles, and Abp. Chaput, of Philadelphia, have been denied the rank of Cardinal! I wonder if at some point, later, they will be given their “red hats?” I can’t recall a time, when the Archbishop of Los Angeles– (maybe the largest Archdiocese in the U.S.?) was without the title of “Cardinal!” Of course, we all know, the Pope’s tragic intentions, for leading and guiding the Church, and the long-term consequences, which we all will have to endure, patiently. Without solid religious and moral guidance, I wonder if many Catholic married couples with families, will turn perhaps to conservative, Bible-based Protestant churches, for needed support??

    • Linda Maria says:

      If Abp. Chaput and Abp. Gomez are to be forever denied their “red hats,” what a terrible and cruel insult to them– as historically, their great Archdioceses have always been led by Cardinals! I had wondered when they would be getting their “red hats,” but now we see what is going on in the Church! Very sad!

      • Linda Maria says:

        It hurts a lot, to think of all the many tines that the wonderful Abp. Chaput has valiantly defended Church teaching, publicly, and the many times that the Pope has failed to do so! It is so sad!

        • Respectfully, the insult isn’t so much to Chaput et al., but rather to all faithful Catholics. This pope has made himself indistinguishable from rank and file globalist progressives everywhere which dominate world Marxist politics. In other words, he has just about disappeared into the woodwork of irrelevancy. What do we need a pope for if this is what we get? The end game of PC is world government, a necessary precursor to the seat of antichrist. Incredibly, this Catholic pope is facilitating that.

          • Linda Maria says:

            Ralph, I appreciate your post– especially, your illustration of world events, and the Holy Father’s tragic role! Very interesting, very sad and very true— although I had hoped things would not go this way, as prophecies had foretold! Well, may God help us all! Oh– I see the above reply to the post of drewelow, is misplaced– sorry! These computers goof-up, at times!

        • Your Fellow Catholic says:

          It is curious and interesting that the Pope has clearly decided that the Bishops withe biggest diocese shouldn’t necessarily be made cardinals. He hasn’t managed to tell us why, so far as I know. If he wanted greater representation in Africa, where cities aren’t so large, it would make sense. I suppose it is a little like American state capitals, which are not always the largest cities in the state (think: Sacrament, Albany, Harrisburg, Austin, Tallahassee, etc), but I’m not sure of his intentions.

    • linda, i saw somewhere that arcgbshp gomez fell out of favor for his resistance to the gay rights movement and insistence that marriage is only between men and women. chaput also has been less than thrilled with the new trends in rome, so chastisement is their reward. the new cardinal for madrid, osoro sierra shut down madrid’s major pro=life march . this and other things have put stars min his crown among the new princes.

      • Linda Maria says:

        drewelow, I appreciate your post! So sad, what is happening in our Church!

        • Linda Maria says:

          LOVE BOTH your posts, drewelow, to include the first one, about the lightning that struck the cupola of St. Peter’s, in Rome– TWICE! I recall in 2013, when lightning struck the cupola, the day Pope Benedict XVI resigned! Are these incidents perhaps signs from God?? I wonder about that!

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            No, they are not signs from God. They are signs that St. Peter’s Basilica is the second tallest building in Rome & subject to unusually frequent lighning strikes.

            We build tall churches to lift our eyes to the heavens. It is a natural result that they are struck by lightening more often than common buildings. Remember Benjamin Franklin? Kites, ligthening rods, etc???


          • linda, i inserted an update to the story of the lightning striking st peter’s as a reply to yfc;s angry take on thelightning episode, just a few comments down. it hit on the morning of the feast of the rosary .

          • Steve Phoenix says:

            Evidence yet again (the lightning strikes of St Peter’s “are not signs from God”) that the Fellow Catholic does not believe that God controls and directs all events, even evil, for good (Gen. 45:5-8).

            But that is consistent with his belief aired some time ago that the Ascension was not an actual physical raising up of Our Lord into the heavens, regardless of what Acts 1 states: Everything is merely physical phenomena, and God, if He even exists, is just a concept.

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            Steve Phoenix – I’d like to see the reference that I didn’t regard the Ascension as the physical raising up of Jesus into Heaven. I think what I probably said is that heaven isn’t “up there”. Where heaven is, nobody knows, but it probably isn’t perpendicular to the spot on earth where Jesus spent his last physical moment on earth. Of course, I could be wrong, but it’s not something our Church has ever held.

          • Steve Phoenix says:

            “All the Creeds affirm the fact, and the Church teaches that He ascended into heaven in body and soul (Denzinger Index 801, new numbering). He ascended into heaven by His own power, as God in divine power, and as man, in the power of his transfigured soul, which moves his transfigured body. In regard to the human nature of Christ, one can also say with the Scriptures, that it was taken up or elevated into heaven by God (Mk 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9-11).” Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John Hardon

            The point is: it was an actual physical elevation, a real event, something denied by the rationalists.

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            The Ascencion isn’t denied by me, Steve Phoenix. what is your point?

      • Your Fellow Catholic says:

        you “saw somewhere” that x did y and therefore z.

        I love your ability to nail the logic and facts here, drewelow. I myself “saw somewhere” that the moon is plunging to earth and that we will all be dead by Christmas.

        • Linda Maria says:

          Don’t be silly, Your Fellow Catholic! Of course this is not “logical and factual,” as human beings know it! God is very “creative,” in what He does, to our very limited point of view– but from God’s point of view, when He does something that looks somehow “strange,” “illogical” — or even “miraculous!” — to us, it is perfectly natural and logical, according to “God’s logic!” Wonder why the “sun danced in the sky,” at Fatima?? What do you think of that? Of course, you do not have to accept this phenomenon, as a Catholic! Lightning strikes are fun to wonder about!

        • yfc, my ‘somewhere’ was aleteia.org, oct 7, ‘lightning strikes tghe dome of st peters’, for part of it. article by diane montagna. i did not reference anything for the lightning ;fact’ bbecause i thought it had been reported more widely, but i see it wasn’t. my other ‘somehwere’ concerning archbishop gomez and cardinal osoro sierra came from infocatolica . you’ll see on aleteia that this lightning in rome was quite pronounced, causing quite a shuddering of buildings, attested to by the swiss guard. this is quite different from your plunging moon sarcasm .

    • Ann Malley says:

      I’m not surprised at all, Linda Maria. The Truth is under attack and the confusion of the faithful is well underway.

  5. Clinton R. says:

    Brick by brick, Pope Francis is building a church in his image. Out goes tradition and sound doctrine. If you are a bishop who is heretical, pro LGBT, and has a disdain for the TLM, you get a red hat. If these ‘princes’ of the Church do not stand for upholding all the Church has taught for 2 millenia, then what will they stand for? What will they die for? All they seem to care about is false ecumenism and tree hugging while the Mohammedans are slaughtering Christians and taking over Europe. The destruction of the Church continues unabated under this pontificate. Only Christ can save His Bride from further abuse.

  6. There is an interesting article this morning in the Big Pulpit about the choices of Cardinals. The short review of the article is that the Pope is ensuring that his desired changes in the Church will not be reversible for centuries. If that is assessment is correct, we should get ready for a wild ride over the next century or so.

    • Yes Bob One may it lead to a schism so that you and the rest of the liberals can have everything you want gay marriage, abortion, contraception and we can finally purge the Church of the Left and its corrupt influence…Meanwhile us trads will maintain the Faith….and we will watch your side crumble into dust

      • Bohemond, everything, well almost, is relative. Among the “liberals” in my last two parishes I was pretty much relegated to the “ultra-conservative” group. In a couple other parishes over the years I was too “liberal.” I don’t approve of gay marriage, abortion, etc., so I don’t think that puts me in the “liberal” camp. I sometimes think that we need to go back and learn from our history. This country was founded by two groups of people: Protestants and Deists. Catholics were persecuted and given Maryland for the “Catholic State” which is why our mother church is in Baltimore. Because we were a Protestant country, the beliefs and values of northern Europe became our for the most part. The church in the rest of the world…

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      Isn’t that what Popes are supposed to do with their consistories? Isn’t in fact what everyone expects of a Pope?

      • No, I do not think anyone expects of a Pope, even a Jesuit Pope, the destruction of matrimony in favor of cohabitation and sodomitic unions. Pope Francisco wants to be loved by the World and he is, but corrupting the American Church with Cultural Marxist Cardinals will not restore the Culture of Life that St. John Paul II so wisely promoted. Our Argentine Pope gives a bad name to his own country through his actions.

  7. This article is disingenuous, to be charitable.

    Francis is the embodiment of the culture warrior, American cardinals don’t set policy, the USCCB does. And the USCCB has acted with great purpose in pushing Francis’ Marxist redistributive politics and delegitimizing of tradition. Show me an American cardinal to opposes open borders and perhaps I will reevaluate my position.

    • FromThePew says:

      William, Article of interest? The great Cardinal Burke speaking about the dangers of Islam. http://www.pewsitter.com/view_news_id_247691.php/
      It is the step after opposing open borders. He should be our pope, someday God willing. Right now, Francis has him in the ‘papal woodshed’ for his outspoken support of conservative, traditional Catholic values.

  8. I see that the Lavender Mafia has been set up for the long term. The retiring (due to age) prince of the LM in DC has set up his protege to inflict gay bishops upon the US Church for a couple decades. God help us!

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      Which of these bishops is gay, FrMichael?

      • YFC the ones who refuse to crack down on fey priests that will not preach the hard moral truths of the Faith and have let this nonsense go on and on for decades. You are willfully blind and just plain happy that these corrupt Bishops give cover to gays that have infected the ranks of the clergy.

    • FromThePew says:

      Typed in the name of the Wash. DC cardinal & it’s true, he sent in his retirement letter to Francis due to age. Type: donaldwuerl.com or donald wuerl
      Eye opening. Apparently it is easy to hide scandals if you have the proper connections & are pro-active. Sadly true at the highest levels of the church just like in our government. The un-named protege is easy to guess. A new appointment to the Papal – Congregation for bishop panel. Francis just elevated this ArchBishop to a cardinals hat too. God defend us.

  9. First of all we must pray to the Holy Spirit for the Catholic Church and for the Pope. We can hope that the next Pope will once again appoint Raymond Cardinal Burke as the Prefect of the Signatura,, and appoint Cardinal Cupich to be the new patron of the Order of Malta. Archbishop Cordileone should be elevated to Cardinal and made the head of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Rome. Cardinals Tobin and Farrell can both serve as cathedral administrators in their respective dioceses. At the first consistory of the new pontiff – Gomez and Chaput receive red hats – are elevated to cardinal. I can always dream!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am on my second 54-day Rosary Novena with the intention of Trump winning the election. With one moe liberal Supreme Court Justice we will have no religious freedom. Pope Francis isn’t helping us…

  11. FromThePew says:

    Recent appointments are CENTRIST? What? Bernadine was Saul Alinsky’s mentor/supporter. Seamless garment = community organizers = Catholic Charities. The Pope went OUT OF HIS WAY to snub conservatives & promote liberals in the USA. NOT shocked? Article @ http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/10/09/new-cardinal-picks-pope-francis-sidelines-conservatives-promotes-progressives/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+breitbart+%28Breitbart+News%29/
    Weep for ‘Catholic’ America. The balance of good vs evil has shifted and the assault is from within. Much like Supreme Court appointments, Cardinal appointments change everything for a long time. God help us!

  12. Linda Maria says:

    I wonder what Our Lady had in mind, regarding her request at Fatima, of the consecration of Russia, by the world’s bishops. Very controversial! I don’t know if Sr. Lucia was correct, in saying this had been done appropriately, by Pope St. John Paul II– or if the now-deceased Fr. Nicholas Gruner was correct (poor priest, I felt so sorry for him!). I also do not know, as to the events in Russia, in which Christianity (particularly, both the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches) seems to be now slowly blossoming once again– as was mentioned, in the Fatima prophecies.

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COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.