I am of course riffing on Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous monologue in Pumping Iron where he claims that "it's not that hard" to give his friend Franco Columbu "the wrong advices" the night before they are going to compete against each other.*
After I watched Archbishop Cupich's halting, stuttering, equivocating and weirdly ungrammatical answer to a question in an ABC7 (WLS) interview - "you have to take serious people who are in a situations" - the prelate seemed to me to be not unlike a foreigner - perhaps an Austrian - trying to speak English. And of course I had been re-watching Pumping Iron recently.
As Archbishop of Chicago, Cupich is in one sense the spiritual leader of Chicago's Catholics, yet he cannot or will not give straight answers to what are, after all, fundamentally important questions - especially for divorced and remarried, cohabiting or sexually active gay (or unmarried straight) members of his Church.
To the question from the interviewer (see below), an honest man could have given one of three answers:
- Yes (or no) except in cases such as XYZ.
If someone is in a gay relationship, should they be able to have any leadership positions within a local parish?
I think that if a person is in a, uh, in a, in any kind of relationship that does not, um, uh, that, that is not, uh, a relationship that, uh, is uh, is open to, uh, the three promises of marriage, any kind of relationship outside of marriage, that is a cause of concern that the, the individual, uh, should take serious what the teachings of the Church are with regard to living that kind of life. Uh, we do have people who, uh, are, uh, in so-called irregular situation, in a situations that are working with their pastors in trying to, um, ah, look at their situations individually, in an individual cases. But, uh, to make a blanket statement would be, uh, I think ignoring the fact that you have to, uh, make sure that you see where people are, and then you go from there.People often come to God, or come back to God, gradually. Every faithful Catholic who has ever lived gets that. Every Catholic struggles with sin. And every Catholic is an individual in a particular situation who could presumably benefit, at least in part, from individually tailored pastoral advice.
Thus, Cupich's implicit claim that he and his allies are the first Catholics in history to "see people where they are" is narcissistic nonsense. Indeed, the claim is almost Orwellian in that for Cupich and his allies, it doesn't seem to matter where people really "are." They're all going to get the same wrong advices.
At least Arnold was more honest about it.
You can see this part of Cupich's video interview here (via Badger Catholic). It comes at about 1:20 into Part Two.
And here's that scene from Pumping Iron:
*Actually, the director of Pumping Iron later revealed that much of the "documentary" was made-up or at least exaggerated (see the Raw Iron: the Making of Pumping Iron on the DVD). It is true that Schwarzenegger was mischievous and hyper-competitive. But as far as I know, there is no evidence that he actually betrayed Columbu in the manner suggested.