Pope Francis' first major appointment in the United States is a moderate on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

Bishop Blase Cupich, of Spokane, Washington, on Saturday was appointed the archbishop of Chicago.

When he takes over the post in November, he'll succeed Cardinal Francis George, an ardent opponent of marriage equality, who is fighting a cancer diagnosis.

In 2011, gay rights activists called on George to resign over comments he made comparing the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan.

“The rhetoric of the Klu Klux Klan, the rhetoric of some of the gay liberation people. Who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? The Catholic Church,” he told Fox Chicago at the time.

He's also criticized Illinois' law allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

“The law now holds that men and women are interchangeable in marriage, as if children did not need both a mother and a father to be born and raised with some security. These are laws that mark societies in decline, demographically as well as morally,” he wrote in a July op-ed.

Cupich has also repeatedly upheld the church's view on marriage but he's often couched his remarks with reminders of the prejudice gay men and lesbians face.

At a press conference in Chicago, Cupich, 65, said he was surprised and overwhelmed by the appointment.