Friday, April 17, 2015

Cardinal Francis George, dead at 78



     Personally, I was not a fan of Cardinal George. I found him harsher than he needed to be, and resistant to the new style embodied by Pope Francis. But I admired the cardinal's fidelity to the tenets of his faith, and his scholarship, and tried to write an obituary that was fair and accentuated his good qualities.   
     The day after Cardinal Francis George stepped down as leader of Chicago’s 2.3 million Catholics was a Sunday and Eleanor Franczak, a parishioner at St. Michael’s Church in Orland Park, summed the cardinal’s tenure this way: “He was one of us. He wasn’t any better or worse, just a normal person.”
     It was an assessment that Cardinal George, who died Friday morning after a nine-year struggle with cancer, would have wholeheartedly endorsed. When he learned that Pope John Paul II had named him as the successor to Chicago’s popular Cardinal Bernardin, the unassuming priest asked in surprise, “Are you sure the Holy Father has considered all the options?”
     But that modesty concealed a man who was an accomplished scholar, a skilled writer, and an unyielding defender of the faith. Raised on the Northwest Side, Cardinal George, 78, was the city's eighth archbishop and the first priest born in the Chicago archdiocese who rose to lead it.
     Archbishop Blase Cupich, who was the bishop of Spokane, came to Chicago in September to assume the role as George's successor, while George's title became archbishop emeritus.
     At the time of his appointment, in April, 1997, George initially set an inclusive tone.
     "The bishop is to be the source of unity in any archdiocese," he said the day he was introduced to the city. "The faith isn't liberal or conservative."


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8 comments:

  1. Speaking as a Catholic(a bit lapsed though), I'm sorry for his illness and sufferings, but didn't like his policies or thoughts on roles for women.

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  2. or his cover ups on pedophiles, but that's part and parcel of the Church. Still, Cath. charities does some good things, though that doesn't excuse it and we aren't as unscientific with Gensis as the fundamentalists. Let's hope this newer Pope makes some real changes, same with Bishop Kupich.

    Glad you could write this obit. instead of that other person.

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  3. You were far kinder to him than I would have been, so job well done.

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  4. Love the description of George's mother as so pious that she considered the saints her personal friends. I can see how that fortified his faith when undermined by his philosophical studies.

    John

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  5. John Kass's column today made me realize something about the man. He quoted George as saying he expected to die in bed, but his successors would be jailed and publicly executed.

    In other words, he was one of those idiots with persecution complexes who thinks they're being martyred when anyone pushes back against the criticism they so freely dish out.

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    1. I do not understand this victim mentality. This reasoning that says your very existence or insistence that your views be tolerated, if not accepted by us, is a crime against our religion. Does not the history of religious intolerance show this leads to persecution, rather than surrender to faith (as the Cardinal insisted in Kass' column)?

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    2. It seems you understand it quite clearly. Never underestimate the ability of people to hold to contradictory sets of values, one for themselves, one for others.

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    3. And no one weeps more than a bully, who of course is the injured party. due to the existence of those who must be bullied.

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