Chicago Cardinal Francis George Dies At Age 78
Cardinal Francis George, a vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who played a key role in the church's response to the clergy sex abuse scandal, has died. He was 78.
The Chicago archdiocese says George died Friday after a long fight with cancer.
Appointed to lead the archdiocese in 1997, George became a leading figure of his era in the American church.
He oversaw the contentious new English-language translation of the Roman Missal, one of the biggest changes in Catholic worship in generations.
In 2002, at the height of the sex-abuse crisis, he led a group of U.S. bishops who persuaded Vatican officials to more quickly oust guilty priests.
George also spearheaded the fight among bishops against President Barack Obama's health insurance plan, arguing it allow taxpayer money for abortion.
Chicago Catholics are remembering George as a compassionate and courageous leader.
Lifelong parishioner Jim Coleman showed up at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral to say a prayer for George after learning the cardinal died Friday.
Coleman says it's a day of sadness and rejoicing, because George was a significant part of Chicago history and "meant so much to so many people.'' He says George treated everyone equally.
Brigid Cashman is an administrator at the Francis Xavier Warde School at Holy Name. She says George was a symbol of courage and bravery because he battled polio as a child and cancer as an adult.
Cashman says she never heard George complain, and he taught people to deal with life's challenges with "grace and gratitude.''
In a statement, Gov. Bruce Rauner said the Cardinal "shepherded the Church through some of its most trying times, but leaves behind a strong community of faith that has tremendous positive impact on the people of Illinois, regardless of their creed."