Francis George

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His Eminence Francis Eugene George O.M.I.
Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago

Cardinal George at the May 2011 inauguration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel
See Chicago
Appointed April 7, 1997
Enthroned May 7, 1997
Predecessor Joseph Bernardin
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of S. Bartolomeo all’Isola
Ordination December 21, 1963
by Raymond Peter Hillinger
Consecration September 21, 1990
by Agostino Cacciavillan
Created Cardinal February 21, 1998
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Francis Eugene George
Born (1937-01-16) January 16, 1937 (age 76)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Nationality American
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Motto Christo gloria in ecclesia
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

Francis Eugene George, OMI (born January 16, 1937) is an American cardinal of the Catholic Church. He is the eighth and current Archbishop of Chicago, previously serving as Bishop of Yakima (1990–1996) and Archbishop of Portland (1996–1997).[1]

A member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, George was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1998.[2] He served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010.


[edit] Early life and education

Francis George was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Francis J. and Julia R. (née McCarthy) George.[3] He has an older sister, Margaret.[4] He received his early education at the parochial school of St. Pascal Church in Chicago's Northwest Side.[5]

George contracted polio at age 13.[6] Due to his disability, he was rejected by Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary, and instead enrolled at St. Henry Preparatory Seminary in Belleville, a high school seminary of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.[7] He joined the Missionary Oblates on August 14, 1957.[3] He continued his studies at the Oblates novitiate in Godfrey before entering Our Lady of the Snows Seminary in Pass Christian, Mississippi.[5]

George was then sent to study theology at the University of Ottawa in Canada.[2] He made his solemn vows as a member of the Missionary Oblates on September 8, 1961.[5]

[edit] Priesthood

On December 21, 1963, George was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Raymond Hillinger at his home parish of St. Pascal Church.[1] He received a Bachelor of Theology degree from the University of Ottawa in 1964, followed by a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1965.[2] He then taught philosophy at Our Lady of the Snows Seminary in Pass Christian (1964–69), Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana (1968), and Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska (1969–1973).[3]

During his teaching assignments, George earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in American Philosophy from Tulane University in 1970, and a Master of Theology degree from the University of Ottawa in 1971.[4] He served as provincial superior of the Midwestern Province for the Missionary Oblates in Saint Paul, Minnesota, from 1973 until 1974, when he became vicar general of his religious order.[5] Based in Rome, he served as vicar general for 12 years. He obtained a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in 1988, with a thesis entitled: "Inculturation and communion".[2]

George returned to the United States, where he served as coordinator of the Circle of Fellows at the Center for the Study of Faith and Culture in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1987–90).[4]

[edit] Early episcopacy

On July 10, 1990, George was appointed the fifth Bishop of Yakima in Washington by Pope John Paul II.[1] He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 21 from Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, with Bishops Roger Schwietz, OMI, and William S. Skylstad serving as co-consecrators, at Holy Family Church in Yakima.[1] He took as his episcopal motto: Christo Gloria in Ecclesia (Latin: "To Christ be Glory in the Church").[8]

George served the Diocese of Yakima for five and a half years. As a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), he served as chair of the Commission for Bishops and Scholars (1992–1994), and as a consultant to the Committees on Evangelization (1991–93), Hispanic Affairs (1994–97), and Science and Values (1994–97).[3] He was episcopal advisor to the Cursillo Movement (Region XII) from 1990 to 1997, and episcopal moderator of the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities from 1990 to 2008. He was a papal appointee to the 1994 World Synod of Bishops on Consecrated Life, and attended the Ninth Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Vatican City in October 1994.[2]

On April 30, 1996, George was appointed the ninth Archbishop of Portland in Oregon.[1] He was installed on the following May 27 at St. Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. During his brief tenure, he led the Archdiocese's response to a tape recording by the Lane County jail of an inmate's sacramental confession; the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled that the tape recording was an unconstitutional and illegal act.[5]

[edit] Archbishop of Chicago

Styles of
Francis George
Coat of arms of Francis George.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Chicago

Less than a year later, on April 8, 1997, Pope John Paul II appointed Archbishop George the eighth Archbishop of Chicago to fill a vacancy left by the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin on November 14, 1996. He was the first native Chicagoan to assume the office. On May 7 after his appointment, the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio Agostino Cacciavillan installed Archbishop George as Archbishop of Chicago in Holy Name Cathedral.

On January 18, 1998, Pope John Paul II announced Archbishop George's elevation to the Sacred College of Cardinals with the title of Cardinal-Priest of San Bartolomeo all'Isola. Newly named Cardinal George was awarded the privileges of the scarlet vestments and biretta in consistory at the Vatican on February 21.

George was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. He will be eligible to participate in any future papal conclaves that occur before January 16, 2017 when he will reach his 80th birthday.

At the conclave, he, like Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia, was known as a conservative supporter of Benedict, saying afterward in a press conference, "It was a choice that was apparent almost immediately."

Cardinal George publishes a locally well-read column bi-monthly in the Chicago archdiocesan newspaper of which he is Publisher, The Catholic New World, called "The Cardinal's Column". He is also the Publisher of the Archdiocese of Chicago's Hispanic and Polish newspapers, respectively Chicago Católico and Katolik.

He has published at least two pastoral letters. The first, "Becoming An Evangelizing People", was released on November 21, 1997. The second was a major discourse on the sinful and destructive nature of racism, Dwell in My Love, released on April 4, 2001.

The Cardinal is the author of two locally well-known books. The first, The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion, and Culture, was published in October 2009 by Crossroad Publishing Company. It is a collection of essays exploring our relationship with God, the responsibility of communion and the transformation of culture. His most recent book, God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World, was published in May 2011 by Doubleday Religion. In this collection of essays, he reflects on the significance of religious faith in the public sphere and underscores the unique contributions of religion to the common good.

As Cardinal Bernardin referred to himself as "Joseph your brother", George refers to himself as "Francis your neighbor".

George is also known for continuing the work of his predecessor Cardinal Bernardin, regarding young people in the church – specifically, by addressing the archdiocese's annual Theology on Tap gathering in 1997. In his invitation to the event, he wrote, “You are very important members of the Church. Your energy, talent and faith will give me much help as together we build up our local Church to be a vital presence in the Chicago area. Together we can continue the mission of Jesus Christ to bring the Gospel of love, forgiveness and holiness to all the places where we live and encounter others.”

[edit] Interfaith relations

In 2007, he asked Jews to reconsider descriptions of Jesus in the Talmud as a "bastard" in exchange for a softening of traditional Catholic prayers calling for Jews to be converted to Christianity.[9] In 2009, he condemned negationist declarations made by bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the Society of Saint Pius X.[10]

In 2010, he spoke at Brigham Young University about the continued need for Catholics and Mormons to stand together to protect religious freedom. "In recent years, Catholics and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have stood more frequently side by side in the public square to defend human life and dignity," Cardinal George said. He also praised the LDS Church for its efforts alongside the Catholic Church to combat poverty and pornography and the need to define marriage as between one man and one woman.[11]

Later in 2010, he further outlined the degree to which he believed religious freedoms (in the United States and other Western societies) was endangered. In a speech to a group of priests, he said, "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history."[12] Originally published online without the second sentence,[13] this statement has widely been interpreted as reactionary by liberal members of the American political left and accurate by conservative members of the American political right.

[edit] Extra-diocesan posts

Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal George to several offices of the Roman Curia:

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to the Pontifical Council for the Study of the Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See.

He was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the 1994 World Synod of Bishops on Consecrated Life and a delegate and one of two special secretaries at the Synod of Bishops for America in 1997. He was a delegate of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to the 2001 World Synod of Bishops, and was also elected to the Council for the World Synod of Bishops in 2001. He served as a delegate of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for the 2008 World Synod of Bishops on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.

He served as Vice President (2004–2007) and President (2007–2010) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is a member of its Committee on Divine Worship and its Ad Hoc Committee on Shrines. He also serves as a consultant to the Committee on Doctrine and Pro-Life Activities and the Subcommittee on Lay Ministry.

He has also served on Conference of Bishops Committees on Doctrine, on Latin America, on Missions, on Religious Life, the American Board of Catholic Missions, and on World Missions; on the Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism and the Subcommittee on Campus Ministry.

He was Chair of the Committee for Bishops and Scholars from 1992–1994, and of the Committee on Liturgy from 2001–2004, and a consultant to the Committees on Evangelization (1991–1993), Hispanic Affairs (1994–1997), Science and Values (1994–1997), and African American Catholics (1999–2002). He was the Representative to the International Commission on English and the Liturgy from 1997–2006.

Because of his position as Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, since 1997, when he assumed the office, he has been the de facto Chancellor of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary (the Archdiocesan Seminary in the suburb of Mundelein, Illinois; both the seminary and the town are named after Cardinal George Mundelein, a deceased former Archbishop of Chicago).

He is the Chancellor, since 1997, of the Catholic Church Extension Society. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Washington, D.C.-based Catholic University of America since 1993. From 1997, he has been a Trustee of the Papal Foundation. In 1994, he became a member of the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since 1997, he has been a member of the Board of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

He has been the Episcopal Liaison to the Catholic Campus Ministry Association Executive Board since 1998 and is now also the Episcopal Moderator for the Ministry of Transportation Chaplains, serving since 2003. He also served as Episcopal Advisor to the Cursillo Movement, Region XII, from 1990 to 1997.

From 1990 to 2008, he was Episcopal Moderator and member of the board of the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities (now known as the National Catholic Partnership on Disability). He brought personal experience to his role after a five-month bout with poliomyelitis at age 13 left him with permanent damage to his legs.

Cardinal George is Conventual Chaplain ad honorem of the Federal Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Grand Prior of the North Central Lieutenancy of the United States for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and a member of the Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Awards Advisory Board. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of Oblate Media, Belleville, Illinois, since 1988.

He is a member of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, the American Society of Missiologists, and the Catholic Commission on Intellectual and Cultural Affairs.

[edit] Recent events and speculation on retirement and succession

Cardinal George had been mentioned as potential candidate to succeed Pope John Paul II according to TIME magazine[citation needed], and later to succeed Pope Benedict XVI as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. However, Benedict appointed former Archbishop of San Francisco William Levada to fill that office. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Catholic University of America, the Chancellor of Mundelein Seminary and Loyola University Chicago, and a member of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. In May 2008, Father Robert Barron, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, was named the first holder of the endowed Francis Cardinal George Chair of Systematic Theology at Mundelein Seminary, the second such named endowed chair the university started.

In March 2009 Cardinal George met with newly elected United States President Barack Obama.[14] In the fall of 2010, he finished his three-year presidency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; he was succeeded by Archbishop Dolan of New York. Cardinal George turned 74 in January 2011, and as bishops are required to make an offer to the Pope to resign at age 75 (which may be deferred by the Pope until later), speculation is already beginning over who could succeed him given that George has had cancer, has fallen, and suffers from the after effects of childhood polio. However, he remains in relatively good shape considering those matters. He remains eligible to vote in future Papal conclaves until his 80th birthday in 2017.

In July 2011, Cardinal George was chosen to be one of eight U.S. Bishops- selected by the Roman Curia's Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Vatican body that convenes the event- to serve as catechists at the August 2011 World Youth Day celebration in Madrid, Spain.

On January 16, 2012, Cardinal George turned 75 and formally submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI. The Cardinal noted he is a rarity among Chicago's bishops for having lived to see the possibility of retirement. He named the Very Reverend Father Peter F. Śnieg, until then the Rector of St. Joseph's Seminary at Loyola University Chicago, as the Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese. Jimmy M. Lago remains as Chancellor. He has served for 12 years as Archdiocesan Chancellor. Śnieg will report to the Cardinal. He appointed the Reverend Father Paul C. Stein, until then pastor of Chicago's St. Sylvester Parish, as Father Śnieg's successor as Rector. The Cardinal anticipates remaining in office for about another two or three years so he can ensure a smooth transition, resolve certain issues and finish some current projects.[15]

[edit] Comments on homosexuality

A proposed change in route and start time for the 2012 annual Chicago Pride Parade (which would pass by a Catholic church on the new route) drew pointed criticism from Cardinal George. In a discussion with a Chicago Fox News Affiliate, the Cardinal said "you don’t want the Gay Liberation Movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan."[16] In response, LGBT advocates in Chicago have called for the Cardinal's resignation.[17] The growing outcry resulted in the Cardinal's apology "for the hurt" his remarks seemed to have caused; the Cardinal's motivation for the remarks was a growing concern that the federal and state governments were impinging on the rights of Catholics by forcing them to abide by policies, enacted into law recently, which practicing Catholics who follow the Church's example would find questionable or objectionable. The Cardinal implied in his statements that he had either family members or close friends who had dealt either with being gay or lesbian or having family members who were.;[18] debate remains in the LGBT community as to whether this apology is sufficient.[19]

Later, on New Year's Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2013, in an official pastoral letter to the priests and people of the Archdiocese that also served as his column in that issue of the The Catholic New World archdiocesan newspaper (co-signed by the incumbent Auxiliary Bishops of the Chicago Archdiocese and also appearing on the website of the Catholic Conference of Illinois), Cardinal George stated that the (likely imminent) passage of a same-sex marriage law in the state would be "acting against the common good of society. This proposed legislation will have long-term consequences because laws teach; they tell us what is socially acceptable and what is not, and most people conform to the dictates of their respective society, at least in the short run".[20]

[edit] Second finding of cancer

In August 2012, Cardinal George underwent routine tests at the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center at Loyola University Medical Center, in Maywood, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago- the institution where he had been treated six years prior in 2006 for bladder cancer in a multi-hour operation in which the bladder (cystectomy) and prostate (prostatectomy) had been removed, and doctors had eventually thought that the cancer had gone into full remission, the Cardinal having passed both the three- and five- year survival anniversaries that are traditionally used as benchmarks. He had been the only Archbishop of Chicago to be able to live to age 75 and submit his retirement while healthy- his predecessor and the Center's namesake, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, had himself died in November 1996 of recurrent, metastatic pancreatic cancer. Most believed George to be relatively healthy. However, on Monday, August 20, 2012, the Archdiocese released a statement to the media and the public on its homepage, saying, in part, that the disease had somehow returned:

"As announced on Friday, August 17, Cardinal George learned from his doctors that test results from a procedure earlier in the week showed there were cancerous cells in his kidney and in a nodule that was removed from his liver. The Cardinal rested at home this weekend ... This week he will continue additional testing ..."[21]

The above statement was updated later on Tuesday, August 28, 2012, which stated that, after his doctors at Loyola had consulted with his Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic doctors, and after confirming the two cancerous areas, a course of attempted chemotherapy involving multiple sessions had been agreed upon, which would seem to suggest that an attempt will be made to fight the cancer again despite its presence in two vital organs.[21] Officials of the Archdiocese have requested that parishioners recite the Tolton Prayer while praying for his health as he begins chemotherapy in September 2012. The prayer is named after the locally well-known Father Augustus Tolton, a black African-American priest of the Archdiocese whose Cause for Canonization (Sainthood) is being promoted by the Archdiocese.

Because of the recurrence of his cancer, though it is not yet a pressing issue, Cardinal George may eventually ask for permission from Pope Benedict XVI to retire earlier than the two years he had originally planned. Some have speculated that he will ask for a coadjutor archbishop, a type of auxiliary bishop who would serve as one of his vicar generals and who would automatically succeed him when he retires or dies.

The Cardinal, after celebrating Mass (with little help from aides) for the First Sunday of Advent on Sunday, December 2, 2012, at Chicago's Queen of All Saints Basilica, told Chicago Tribune reporters he was feeling relatively well, even if he was very tired some days, and was expecting at the time to finish his current rounds of chemotherapy in January 2013 (one woman remarked his color was very good and Cardinal George was overheard telling a man they should have lunch sometime after Christmas). This suggests that, so far, at least, he is holding his own in his second bout with cancer.[22]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d e Cheney, David. "Francis Eugene Cardinal George, O.M.I.".
  2. ^ a b c d e Miranda, Salvador. "GEORGE, O.M.I., Francis Eugene (1937– )". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church.
  3. ^ a b c d "Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.". Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.
  4. ^ a b c McCloskey, Pat. "Part 2: Cardinal George's Second Job". American Catholic.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Archbishop Francis Eugene George, OMI". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland.
  6. ^ "Cardinal George a hero to polio survivors". Catholic News Agency. September 8, 2006.
  7. ^ Kerrill, Tamara (April 9, 1997). "The pride of St. Pascal's". Chicago Sun-Times.
  8. ^ "Coat Of Arms". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.
  9. ^ Cardinal calls for textual revision, Martin, Ben,, October 6, 2007.
  10. ^ President of U.S. Bishops Says Holocaust Denial 'Deeply Offensive and Utterly False'
  11. ^ LDS, Catholics must defend religious freedom, cardinal says at BYU, Israelsen-Hartley, Sara, Deseret News, February 24, 2010.
  12. ^ [1], The Myth and Reality of 'I'll Die in My Bed (Tim Drake)
  13. ^ [2], The Cardinal's Column
  14. ^ Obama Meets With Cardinal Francis George, America's Top Bishop, Gilgoff, Dan, U.S. News and World Report, March 8, 2009.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Cardinal Francis George Warns That Chicago Gay Pride Parade Might 'Morph Into Ku Klux Klan'". Fox News Chicago. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  17. ^ "Cardinal George Stands By KKK Comment, Calls For His Resignation Continue". Huffington Post. December 29, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  18. ^ "Cardinal George apologizes for remarks comparing gay rights movement to KKK". Chicago Tribune. January 7, 2012.,0,7390730.story. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  19. ^ "Cardinal Apologizes For Linking Gay Parade To KKK". Huffington Post. January 7, 2012. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^

[edit] External links

[edit] Episcopal succession

Episcopal lineage
Consecrated by: Agostino Cacciavillan
Consecrator of
Bishop Date of consecration
Joseph Perry June 29, 1998
George Joseph Lucas December 13, 1999
Jerome Edward Listecki January 8, 2001
Francis Joseph Kane March 19, 2003
Thomas John Paprocki March 19, 2003
Gustavo Garcia-Siller March 19, 2003
George James Rassas February 2, 2006
Alberto Rojas August 10, 2011
Andrew Peter Wypych August 10, 2011
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William Stephen Skylstad
Bishop of Yakima
Succeeded by
Carlos Arthur Sevilla, SJ
Preceded by
William Levada
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.svg
Archbishop of Portland

Succeeded by
John George Vlazny
Preceded by
Joseph Bernardin
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.svg
Archbishop of Chicago

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Mario Revollo Bravo
Cardinal-Priest of San Bartolomeo all’Isola
Succeeded by
Preceded by
William S. Skylstad
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.svg
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Succeeded by
Timothy Michael Dolan