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Catholics face ‘formidable task of passing on the faith’, says new Chicago archbishop

Archbishop Blase Cupich walks down center aisle of Holy Name Cathedral (CNS photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, Reuters)

New Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich has urged his flock to fearlessly share their faith recognising that God calls them “to more” and “to greater things.”

At his installation at Holy Name Cathedral the ninth archbishop of Chicago said he had “a bit of a panic attack” when he saw the day’s Gospel reading was about Jesus walking on water and calling his disciples to follow him.

“I realise this new responsibility is going to be demanding,” he said, “but seriously folks, I don’t do ‘walking on water.’ I can barely swim. So I hope this image in today’s Gospel is not reflective of anyone’s expectations.”

The archbishop, who succeeds Chicago Cardinal Francis George, said the passage asks believers to “join Christ in seeking out, inviting and accompanying, by abiding with those to whom he sends us”.

In particular, he said Catholics today face the “formidable task of passing on the faith to the next generation, of evangelising a modern and sometimes skeptical culture, not to mention inspiring young people to serve the church as priests and religious.” That challenge, he said, “all seems so daunting, as daunting as walking on water.”

Archbishop Cupich noted that catechists and educators are “on the front line of this struggle,” along with parents, grandparents, bishops and priests who can “find that the good news is increasingly difficult to proclaim in the midst of great polarization in church and society.”

In moving forward, he said Catholics need to go back to where their journey of faith began – at their baptism – and be “willing to share it with the next generation.”

“Young people have always been attracted to authenticity of life, where words match deeds. Let’s not be afraid to let our young people know about our life with God and how it began,” he said.

He stressed that such authenticity would similarly be demanded of him as archbishop “particularly as I reach out to those who have been sexually abused by church leaders.”