Pope’s Chicago pick will be key to U.S. Catholic church

by Francine Knowles, Chicago Sun-Times  |  published on February 9, 2014

Shake-ups at the Vatican will reverberate this year within the Archdiocese of Chicago, where the next leader will play a major role in helping Pope Francis shape the future direction of the U.S. Catholic church, home to more than 75 million followers.

The stage is set for Francis to make what will be the first major U.S. appointment of his papacy.

And Francis’ choice to lead the third-largest diocese in the country will signal his plans for the U.S. Catholic church, which could be on the verge of significant changes.

“There are very few major appointments coming open in the immediate future in the U.S., [but] Chicago is the most important one,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter. “It’s a very large archdiocese. It’s one that’s historically played a leadership role in the church, and it’s one where everyone expects the archbishop to eventually become a cardinal.”

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