Chicago’s Archbishop Emeritus, Francis Cardinal George died at 78 today, finally succumbing to a long battle with cancer. Doctors had told him it was terminal last December. George was appointed Archbishop of Chicago in 1997 after the death of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.
He served three terms as president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, leading the fight against Obamacare. In the midst of that fight, George and other Catholic leaders were often accused of “politicizing” religion. In a 2014 interview with America, a Jesuit Magazine, turned those charges right back on his accusers, saying, “I don’t believe the bishops have been more politically active in recent years, but it is true that our political activity is more adversarial as the law no longer permits the exceptions that used to safeguard believers whose conscience will not permit them to approve of what has become lawful.”
Perhaps his most famous statement came in 2010. Surveying the already growing assault on religious liberty, George said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” The first part of his prophetic witness has come to pass. May we pray and act in a manner that will forestall the latter two.
Rest in Peace, Cardinal George.