Cupich -- one of nine Americans attending the ongoing Oct. 4-25 Synod of Bishops and one of four personally appointed by Pope Francis -- said that when he counsels divorced and remarried persons he always tries "in some way to understand them."
Citing the Latin root for the word reconciliation -- which indicates not only forgiveness but a seeing of eye-to-eye -- the archbishop said: "If that's the case, then not only do I have to understand them but I also have to see how they understand me."
"I try to help people along the way," said Cupich. "And people come to a decision in good conscience."
"Then our job with the church is to help them move forward and respect that," he said. "The conscience is inviolable. And we have to respect that when they make decisions and I've always done that."....
Cupich also spoke in depth about German Cardinal Walter Kasper's proposal that there could be some sort of "penitential path" for divorced and remarried persons to be readmitted to the Eucharist in certain circumstances.
The archbishop said he had given the book in which Kasper makes the proposal, The Gospel of the Family, to all the priests of his archdiocese. "I wanted them to read that because I thought it was very rich theologically," he said.
"I think that he has reasoned this proposal well, given the theology that he offers," said Cupich. "I do think that we should look at a way in which people are not just accompanied but integrated and reconciled."
"We have to believe in the mercy of God and the grace of God to trigger conversion, rather than having it the other way around as though you're only going to get mercy if you have the conversion," said the archbishop. "The economy of salvation doesn't work that way. Christ receives people and it's because of that mercy that the conversion happens."
Cupich then told a story he said a priest had told him of celebrating a funeral for a young man who had committed suicide. The man's mother, he said, was divorced and remarried and also "very angry" at God and the church over what had happened.
When she came forward in the Communion line at the funeral Mass, she folded her arms, a common sign that she would not receive Communion but wanted a blessing. The priest said to her: "No, today you have to receive."
"She went back to her pew and wept uncontrollably," said the archbishop. "She then came back to visit with the priest and began reconciliation."
"Her heart was changed," said Cupich. "She did have her [first] marriage annulled; her [second] marriage is now in the church."
"But it was because that priest looked for mercy and grace to touch her heart," he said. "That's something we have to keep in mind. And I think the Holy Father has talked about that. It's not a straight line."
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