Francis Eugene George
|Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago|
Cardinal George at the May 2011 inauguration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel
|Appointed||April 7, 1997|
|Installed||May 7, 1997|
|Term ended||November 18, 2014|
|Successor||Blase J. Cupich|
|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
by John Paul II
|Birth name||Francis Eugene George|
January 16, 1937 |
Chicago, Illinois, USA
|Motto||Christo gloria in ecclesia
(To Christ be Glory in the Church)
|Coat of arms|
|Ordination history of Francis George|
|Principal consecrator||Agostino Cacciavillan (Apos. Pro-Nunc. USA)|
|Date of consecration||September 21, 1990|
|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 García-Siller||March 19, 2003|
|George James Rassas||February 2, 2006|
|Alberto Rojas||August 10, 2011|
|Andrew Peter Wypych||August 10, 2011|
|David John Malloy||May 14, 2012|
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
Francis Eugene George, OMI (born January 16, 1937) is an American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago. He was the eighth Archbishop of Chicago (1997-2014) and previously served as Bishop of Yakima (1990–1996) and Archbishop of Portland, Oregon (1996–1997).
A member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, George was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1998. He served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010.
On September 20, 2014, Pope Francis accepted George's resignation and appointed Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Washington, to succeed him as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. In this unusual circumstance, George was permitted to remain as the incumbent archbishop until Cupich was installed to succeed him on November 18, 2014.
Early life and education
Francis George was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Francis J. and Julia R. (née McCarthy) George. He has an older sister, Margaret. He received his early education at the parochial school of St. Pascal Church in Chicago's Northwest Side.
George contracted polio at age 13. 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. He joined the Missionary Oblates on August 14, 1957. He continued his studies at the Oblates novitiate in Godfrey before entering Our Lady of the Snows Seminary in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
On December 21, 1963, George was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Raymond Hillinger at his home parish of St. Pascal Church. He received a Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.) 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. 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).
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. 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. 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".
On July 10, 1990, George was appointed the fifth Bishop of Yakima in Washington by Pope John Paul II. 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. He took as his episcopal motto: Christo Gloria in Ecclesia (Latin: "To Christ be Glory in the Church").
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). 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.
On April 30, 1996, George was appointed the ninth Archbishop of Portland in Oregon. 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.
Archbishop of 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, which occurred at the consistory at the Vatican on February 21.
George was one of the 2005 cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave which selected Pope Benedict XVI, and one of the 2013 cardinal electors in the papal conclave of 2013 that selected Pope Francis. 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 2005 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."
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 newspaper, Chicago Católico.
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 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 has been referred to 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.”
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. In 2009, he condemned negationist declarations made by bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the Society of Saint Pius X.
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," 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.
Later in 2010, he further outlined the degree to which he believed religious freedoms in the United States and other Western societies were 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." The quote was originally published online without the second sentence.
In a 2014 interview on his retirement, he said:
I didn’t think there was any press there when I said it. I was talking to a couple of troubled priests who are worried about the secularization of our culture. I was telling them they should take the long view, step back, and renew their confidence in the providence of God. I was saying that even if the worst possible case scenario happens, we’ll be okay. It was a mental game in the Kantian sense … let’s imagine the worst thing that could happen. Instead of wringing your hands, let’s imagine the worst possible scenario and then figure out what our role might be.
In the 2014 interview Cardinal George said:
I’ve always said that the only thing I’d like people to remember about me is that he tried to be a good bishop. I think I have been a good bishop, in many ways, and I take some pride in at least having tried my best. That’s enough. On the liturgical stuff, I knew it had to be done and that I was in a particularly key spot to see to that what’s most important in handing on the traditions of the Church, namely our way of prayer and our liturgy, was going to be more faithfully presented to the people. That meant a lot to me, because the worship of God is the most important thing we do.
In the same interview, when asked if he saw himself as conservative, George replied:
The liberal/conservative thing, I think, is destructive of the Church’s mission and her life. I’ve said that publicly a lot at times. You’re taking a definition that comes out of nowhere, as far as we’re concerned, it’s a modern distinction, and making it the judgment of the Church’s life. It’s because we’re lazy. You put a label on people, you put a label on something, and it saves you the trouble of thinking".
Pope John Paul II appointed George to several offices of the Roman Curia:
- Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
- Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
- Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
- Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church
- Congregation for Oriental Churches
- Pontifical Council for Culture
- Pontifical Council Cor Unum
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 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 The 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.
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.
George was mentioned as potential candidate to succeed Pope John Paul II and to succeed Pope Benedict XVI as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 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 George Chair of Systematic Theology at Mundelein Seminary, the school's second such named endowed chair.
In July 2011, George was chosen one of eight U.S. bishops to serve as catechists at the August 2011 World Youth Day celebration in Madrid, Spain.
On January 16, 2012, George turned 75 and formally submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI. George 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, Rector of St. Joseph's Seminary at Loyola University Chicago, the Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese. At that time George anticipated remaining in office for about another two or three years.
Comments on homosexuality
When a new route was proposed for the 2012 annual Chicago Pride Parade that would take it past a Catholic church, George told an interviewer: "you don't want the Gay Liberation Movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism." In response, LGBT advocates in Chicago called for George's resignation, but George said: "When the pastor's request for reconsideration of the plans was ignored, the organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church.". Two weeks later, George apologized: "This has evidently wounded a good number of people. I have family members myself who are gay and lesbian, so it's part of our lives. So I'm sorry for the hurt." He said he was "speaking out of fear that I have for the church's liberty and I was reaching for an analogy which was very inappropriate.... Sometimes fear is a bad motivation." LGBT rights advocates accepted his apology.
On January 1, 2013, in a pastoral letter to the Archdiocese, George stated that the passage of a same-sex marriage legislation in Illinois, which appeared imminent, 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".
In September 2014, in his column in the archdiocesan newspaper, he wrote that American government and society were now approving sexual relationships so at odds with Roman Catholic belief that "the church's teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes" and that "those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger." He also cited the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. He wrote that "It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law."
George was diagnosed with an aggressive but localized form of bladder cancer in 2006. In August 2012 the Archdiocese announced that his bladder cancer had returned in his kidney and liver, and that he would undergo chemotherapy. The cancer returned in March 2014, and plans for aggressive chemotherapy treatments renewed speculation about his retirement. He was hospitalized for a few days at Loyola University Medical Center in March 2014 after showing flu-like symptoms and signs of dehydration. In April 2014, on medical advice, he canceled a trip to the Vatican. He and the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, have agreed that the process for selecting his successor should begin. Though still weak, he was well enough to perform the Holy Week services and briefly greet worshipers at Holy Name Cathedral and to continue writing his column; he received an honorary doctorate from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois on May 18, 2014, and performed the annual diaconal and presbyteral ordinations that same month.
George's eligibility to vote in papal conclaves ceases with his 80th birthday in 2017.
- "Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.". Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.
- McCloskey, Pat. "Part 2: Cardinal George's Second Job". American Catholic.
- "Archbishop Francis Eugene George, OMI". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland.
- "Cardinal George a hero to polio survivors". Catholic News Agency. September 8, 2006.
- Kerrill, Tamara (April 9, 1997). "The pride of St. Pascal's". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Miranda, Salvador. "GEORGE, O.M.I., Francis Eugene (1937– )". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church.
- Cheney, David. "Francis Eugene Cardinal George, O.M.I.". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.
- "Coat Of Arms". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.
- Cardinal calls for textual revision, Martin, Ben, Telegraph.co.uk, October 6, 2007.
- "President of U.S. Bishops Says Holocaust Denial 'Deeply Offensive and Utterly False'". PR Newswire. 3 February 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- LDS, Catholics must defend religious freedom, cardinal says at BYU, Israelsen-Hartley, Sara, Deseret News, February 24, 2010.
- Tim Drake (24 October 2012). "The Myth and the Reality of 'I'll Die in My Bed'". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Francis George (21 October 2012). "The Cardinal's Column - The wrong side of history". Catholic New World. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "Chicago’s exiting cardinal: ‘The Church is about true/false, not left/right’". Crux. 17 November 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Obama Meets With Cardinal Francis George, America's Top Bishop, Gilgoff, Dan, U.S. News and World Report, March 8, 2009.
- "Cardinal’s statement on archdiocesan governance". Catholic New World. 15 January 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "Cardinal Francis George Warns That Chicago Gay Pride Parade Might 'Morph Into Ku Klux Klan'". Fox News Chicago. December 21, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- "Cardinal Defends KKK Analogy, Stokes Controversy". NBC Chicago. 28 December 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Erbentraut, Joseph (December 29, 2011). "Cardinal George Stands By KKK Comment, Calls For His Resignation Continue". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- Brachear, Manya A. (January 7, 2012). "Cardinal George apologizes for remarks comparing gay rights movement to KKK". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
- "Cardinal Apologizes For Linking Gay Parade To KKK". Huffington Post. January 7, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- "Cardinal George warns against Illinois same-sex marriage law". National Catholic Reporter. January 3, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- George, Francis (September 7–20, 2014). "The Cardinal’s Column". Catholic New World. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- Hirst, Ellen Jean (December 2, 2013). "Cardinal George celebrates hope, Advent". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
- "Cardinal George says cancer is showing 'signs of new activity'". Chicago Tribune. March 7, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
- Ford, Liam (March 18, 2014). "Cardinal George hospitalized with 'flu-like' symptoms". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
- Pashman, Manya Brachear (April 11, 2014). "Cardinal regrets missing meeting with pope 'to report on Chicago'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
- George, Francis (May 18–31, 2014). "Mary’s month". Catholic New World. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "News and Events". Archdiocese of Chicago. August 22, 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- Press Office of the Holy See (20 September 2014). "Rinunce e nomine, 20.09.2014". Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Pashman, Manya; Manchir, Michelle; Mills, Steve (September 20, 2014). "Vatican names Spokane bishop to succeed Cardinal George". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- Cardinal George Fanclub – News Coverage, Commentary & Resources
- Archdiocese of Chicago – Official Site
- Catholic New World Newspaper
- Parish Directory
- Schools Directory
- George's catholic-pages bio
|Catholic Church titles|
William Stephen Skylstad
|Bishop of Yakima
Carlos Arthur Sevilla SJ
|Archbishop of Portland
John George Vlazny
|Archbishop of Chicago
Blase J. Cupich
Mario Revollo Bravo
|Cardinal-Priest of San Bartolomeo all’Isola
William Stephen Skylstad
|President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Timothy Michael Dolan
|Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago