The key Catholic orthodoxy voice, Cardinal Francis George died on Friday morning, at 10.45, after a long and tiring struggle with cancer. The Archdiocese of Chicago announced his death soon after the Cardinal gave his last breath. At his death he was surrounded by the staff of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Blasé J. Cupich, the auxiliary bishops and one of his closest friends.
He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2006, which later on returned to his kidney and liver in August 2012, when he decided to take chemotherapy treatment. However, the cancer came back in a more aggressive form in March 2014, when he was hospitalized at Loyola University Medical Center. On September 20, 2014, the Vatican accepted his resignation and Blase J. Cupich was appointed as his successor. After undergoing many treatments that were not able to cure him, the cancer spread to his vital organs, causing his death on the 17th of April 2015.
Funeral services will take place on Thursday, April 23, at Holy Name Cathedral. He will be buried at All Saints Cementery in Des Plaines, Illinois, as he wished.
Francis George was born on January 16, 1937, in Chicago, Illinois. He received a religious education from early childhood. It was his dream to dedicate his life to God. He was ordained to priesthood in 1963 at St. Pascal Church and afterwards got a Bachelor of Theology, an MA in Philosophy, a PhD in American Philosophy and a Master of Theology. He served as vicar general from 1974 to 1986 and he obtained a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1988. In 1990, he became the fifth Bishop of Yakima in Washington and received his Episcopal consecration in 1991, taking as his Episcopal motto “Christo Gloria in Ecclesia” (translated from Latin: “To Christ be Glory in the Church”). In 1996, he became the ninth Archbishop of Portland, Oregon and, less than a year later, he was appointed as the eighth Archbishop of Chicago. He was a teacher, a preacher, a writer and member of many important boards and committees. He spoke many languages and wrote several important books.
As cardinal, he was sometimes extremely harsh in his statements. He made comments against the gay liberation movement. These prompted a request for his resignation in 2012, but he apologized for the insults later on and LBGT right representatives accepted his apology.
He was one of the most active figures in combating clergy sex abuse. In spite of that, he was heavily criticized in 2006, when he did not immediately exclude Reverend Daniel McCormack after facing abuse allegations. He also became a fierce opponent to the Reasonably priced Care Act stating that Obama’s well-being insurance law would allow funding abortion. The Obama administration was sued in 2012, for allowing employers to supply health insurance that covered contraception.
All his actions made Cardinal George Francis well respected in the community. Archbishop Base J. Cupich described him as “a man of peace, tenacity and courage”, an example to all the bishops in the United States, who stood and fought for what he believed, thus establishing his place a a key figure in the Catholic world.
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