Chicago, Ill., Apr 17, 2015 / 04:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The death of Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago on April 17 was met with an outpouring of prayer, as well as gratitude for the life and service of the prominent Church leader.

Archbishop Blase Cupich, who currently heads the Chicago archdiocese, remembered his “beloved” predecessor in a press conference shortly after the news was announced.

Around the United States, other bishops and Catholic organizations also offered their reflections and prayers, remembering the cardinal for his courage, intellectual contributions and selfless service to the Church.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of U.S. bishops’ conference

The death of an exemplary churchman such as Cardinal Francis George brings much sadness at a time of joy and resurrection. We find peace in knowing that, after so much suffering, he has been raised up with our Lord. As archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Cardinal George led as a kindly servant and unmatched intellectual, a man who encouraged everyone to see how God makes us all brother and sister to one another. I join with my brother bishops in thanking God for the gift of his witness and invite all to pray for the faithful repose of his soul.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C.

It was with great sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cardinal Francis George, whom I have known and had the privilege of working with for over 25 years. As brother bishops, we had many opportunities to work together on a number of committees in service to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Over our many years of association, I appreciated Cardinal George’s many intellectual contributions to the conference, his pastoral concern for the faithful in his diocese, and his example of faith and courage. Particularly over the last couple of years as he fought his illness with great grace, he was an example of faith in the Lord.

I offer my prayers and sympathy to Cardinal George’s family and friends and the many people whose lives he touched by his ministry over the years and ask the Lord to grant him eternal rest.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York

While we have all realized for a while that it was near, the passing of Cardinal Francis George still comes as a jolt, and leaves us with a sense of emptiness and loss.

I assure Archbishop Cupich and the Catholic family of Chicago of our love, condolences, and prayers here in New York.

I will miss him as a pastor, friend, and guide, and can only thank God for the gift that he was and will ever be.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia

I was deeply saddened today to learn of the death of Cardinal Francis E. George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago.

Cardinal George was a close friend over many years, from the time I was a young bishop in Rapid City. We talked often. He was a constant source of good counsel and encouragement. As a fellow religious, he was a model for me of living the Beatitudes well, despite the daily crush of leading a large local Church. As a bishop and a scholar, he was the finest intellect the Church in America has seen in many decades. The only consolation in losing him is knowing that he served the Lord well, and the Lord has welcomed him home.

On behalf of the Church in Philadelphia, I extend prayerful condolences to Cardinal George's family and many friends as well as Archbishop Blase J. Cupich and the priests, religious, and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

I ask the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to offer prayers for Cardinal George, and our priests to offer Masses for the repose of his soul. All of us are very grateful for the gifts of his life and service to the Universal Church. May God grant him the gift of eternal life, and give peace and consolation to all those who loved, admired, and respected him.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles

Cardinal George was a friend and a strong Church leader. I will miss him.

He was a good priest and a good bishop, a man of prayer and a scholar. I admired him as an apostle of the new evangelization, and especially his commitment to bringing American culture to a new encounter with the beauty and truth of Catholic teaching.

On behalf of the family of God here in Los Angeles, I extend my condolonces to Cardinal George’s family and friends and to all the faithful in the Archdiocese of Chicago. We thank God for the gift of his ministry and we offer our prayers for the repose of his soul. May God grant him peace.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver

This morning Cardinal Francis E. George, a true shepherd and faithful son of the Church, passed on to his eternal reward. His life was a testament to his love for Jesus Christ and devotion to the Blessed Mother. This same love moved him to place his strong leadership skills and towering intellect at the service of the Church. He will also be remembered for his great sense of humor and ability to relate well to people from all walks of life.

The Archdiocese of Denver is blessed to have been the place where Cardinal George delivered his last public talk, which was fittingly dedicated to the work of forming priests in the 21st Century. Those present heard a man of great courage and fidelity speak from the heart about his personal journey to the priesthood.

I ask that the faithful of the Archdiocese of Denver and all those of good will join me in praying for the repose of this gentle, loving and wise shepherd’s soul and entry into the eternal joy of Heaven.

Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois

I was very sorry to learn of Cardinal George’s death. I had the great privilege of working with Cardinal George for over 15 years. He was one of the most holy and intelligent men I have ever met.  He was my boss, but also an important mentor, and I dare say, my friend. I will miss him greatly.

Cardinal George served as chairman of the Catholic Conference from his installation as Archbishop of Chicago in May 1997 until his retirement In November 2014.

Monsignor Michael M. Boland, president of Catholic Charities of Chicago

Today we mourn the loss of an incredible leader, guiding spirit and loyal friend. Cardinal George had compassion for all. You saw this compassion in his eyes as he visited with the poor and most vulnerable in our communities.

He was a wonderful mentor to many, including me. He always supported the work of Catholic Charities and it was an incredible blessing to have his leadership help guide us for 17 years. He helped us tackle some of the most difficult issues facing our communities, always with faith and concern for the poorest of the poor. He exemplified our call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, showing mercy and kindness to all and leading by example.

Personally, Cardinal George served as an inspiration to me, as I know he did to many in the Archdiocese and around the world. He was unwavering in his support of the mission of Catholic Charities and his deep-rooted faith and love of the Lord shown through in all he did.

John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America
We at The Catholic University of America were fortunate to have Cardinal George as a member of our Board of Trustees for more than 20 years, including during the entire time that he was cardinal archbishop of Chicago. I was honored to have the opportunity to publicly thank him for his wise counsel to me and for his long and devoted service to his alma mater at our December board meeting last year. He was a man who put his great intellectual gifts at the disposal of Jesus Christ and his Church and who candidly spoke the truth in season and out.
Cardinal George received a Master of Arts degree from Catholic University in 1965. He was on the board of trustees for more than two decades.


Chicago, Ill., Apr 17, 2015 / 12:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Francis George, the Emeritus Archbishop of Chicago, passed away Friday morning after a long batter with cancer.

Archbishop Blase Cupich, who currently heads the archdiocese, remembered Cardinal George as “a man of peace, tenacity and courage.”

At an April 17 press conference, Archbishop Cupich lauded the cardinal for his bravery in overcoming challenges, which included a battle with polio as a teenager that left his legs permanently weak.

“Cardinal George was a respected leader among the bishops of the United States,” Archbishop Cupich noted, particularly pointing to his work to fight the clerical sex abuse scandal: “He stood strong among his fellow bishops and insisted that zero tolerance was the only course consistent with our beliefs.”

The 78-year-old cardinal had been fighting cancer for several years. He was first diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2006 and underwent a five-hour surgery to remove his bladder and other parts of his body affected by cancer. In 2012, his doctors discovered that the cancer had returned, this time to his kidney and liver.

In an effort to battle the returning cancer, Cardinal George took part in a cancer drug clinical trial last year, which experimented with helping the body recognize cancerous cells through the immune system. After it was determined that his trial was proving to be ineffective, he halted the treatment in January.

The first Chicago native to become the city’s archbishop, Cardinal George retired in 2014 amid his battle with cancer and was succeeded by Archbishop Cupich. He had shepherded the archdiocese since 1997.

Last year, he said that the cancer would likely be the cause of his death, but that he was counting on prayers so that he “might be of service to the Lord and His Church in the time left.”

Cardinal George leaves behind a robust legacy as a leader among the American bishops and an influential figure in the global Church.

He worked with the U.S. bishops and Vatican to fight clerical sex abuse, prominently speaking in favor of a “zero tolerance” policy.

He was also a religious freedom advocate, strongly opposing regulations under the Obama administration that would require Catholic organizations to cooperate with providing abortion and contraception.

A long-time commenter on the state of culture, Cardinal George is known for once saying that he believed he would die in bed, his successor would die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square, but that the following successor would pick up the fragments of society and help to rebuild civilization.

Born Jan. 16, 1937, Francis Eugene George joined the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and was ordained a priest in 1963. He obtained a master’s degree in philosophy at The Catholic University of America and a doctorate in American philosophy at Tulane University in New Orleans. He later studied at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, where he earned Doctorate of Sacred Theology.

Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Yakima in 1990. He became Archbishop of Portland, Oregon in 1997 and was appointed the following year to be the Archbishop of Chicago.

Elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1998, Cardinal George was appointed to numerous Vatican councils and congregations, including the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum.”

Cardinal George was a papal appointee to the Synod of Bishops on Consecrated Life in 1994 and served as a delegate to the synod of bishops on several other occasions.

The cardinal served as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007-2010. He was a member and advisor for numerous other committees at the U.S. bishops’ conference, including those dealing with doctrine, missions, evangelization and catechesis, pro-life activities, divine worship, African American Catholics and religious liberty.

He was a board member for numerous organizations, including The Catholic University of America, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities.

During his time as archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal George wrote pastoral letters on evangelization and the problem of racism. He also wrote two books reflecting on faith in relation to culture and the common good.

Archbishop Cupich recalled Cardinal George as a man who was close to the diocese that he led, “always choosing the Church over his own comfort and the people over his own needs.”

He praised the cardinal for his example throughout his life, including his final battle with cancer.

“Let us heed his example and be a little more brave, a little more steadfast and a lot more loving,” the archbishop said.

San Francisco, Calif., Apr 17, 2015 / 04:13 am (CNA).- A group of Catholics promoting a full-page advertisement asking Pope Francis to remove Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone don’t represent San Francisco Catholics and misrepresent the facts, the archdiocese has said.

“The advertisement is a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching, a misrepresentation of the nature of the (archdiocese’s) teacher contract, and a misrepresentation of the spirit of the archbishop,” the San Francisco archdiocese said April 15.

“The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the signers presume to speak for ‘the Catholic community of San Francisco.’ They do not.”

The ad also drew criticism from Eva Muntean, a local Catholic who is an organizer of the group

“It’s truly astonishing that a group of self-proclaimed ‘prominent Catholics’ has become so self-absorbed that they believe they can demand that the Holy Father remove an Archbishop because he refuses to sacrifice teaching Catholic values to children in our Catholic schools,” Muntean said April 16.

“We stand with Archbishop Cordileone and support his leadership,” she said.

The full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle presented an open letter signed by over 100 people, including business executives, business owners, prominent attorneys and charitable foundation leaders. Signers included parishioners and people with present or past connections to the archdiocese and area Catholic schools.

Among the signers is Clint Reilly, a businessman and former political consultant whose firm Clinton Reilly Campaigns boasted past clients like U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sens. Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, and former San Francisco mayor Frank Jordan. Reilly is a past president of Catholic Charities CYO’s board of directors and has been a major donor to Catholic Charities.

Another signer, Brian Cahill, is a former executive director of the local Catholic Charities affiliate. He has been an outspoken critic of Catholic teaching on homosexual relationships. He has also criticized several U.S. Catholic bishops, whom he claims are less pastoral than Pope Francis.

Other signers include Tom Brady, Sr., an insurance firm principal who is the father of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady; and Charles Geschke, past chairman of the University of San Francisco board of trustees, who is the chairman of the tech company Adobe Systems.

“Please provide us with a leader true to our values and your namesake,” the ad asked the Pope. “Please replace Archbishop Cordileone.”

The ad accused the archbishop of fostering “division and intolerance.” It objected to the archbishop’s addition of an explanation of Catholic moral teaching to faculty and staff handbooks for the archdiocese’s four high schools.  The ad claimed the explanations of Catholic teaching showed “absolute mean-spiritedness” that “sets a pastoral tone closer to persecution than evangelization.” They claimed a Catholic morality code would violate individual conscience and California labor law.

The ad also objected to Archbishop Cordileone’s selection of a pastor at Star of the Sea Parish who decided only to have altar boys and not female altar servers.

The ad claimed that the archbishop has “isolated himself from our community” and that he has a “single-issue agenda” that threatens the archdiocese.

In response, the archdiocese said it has met with a “broad range of stakeholders” and “engaged in a constructive dialogue on all of the issues raised in this ad.”

“We welcome the chance to continue that discussion,” the archdiocese said.

Muntean charged that the ad is “a slur on a good and decent man who has devoted his life in service to others.”

San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross said that neither the Chronicle’s business department nor the ad sponsors would say how much the ad cost.

“We’re told, however, that full-page ads typically run in the tens of thousands of dollars,” the columnists said April 16.

Some high school students, teachers and parents have publicly protested the archbishop's proposals. But other money has also been connected to the controversy.

Some opponents of Archbishop Cordileone have hired Sam Singer of the public relations firm Singer and Associates to back their cause. Singer has represented the oil giant Chevron for decades. He was hired by the directors of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District during a 2013 labor dispute with public transit unions.

On Twitter, Singer published or re-tweeted over 40 tweets highlighting the anti-Cordileone ad.

The voices of the city’s leaders are “loud and clear” that “Cordileone must go,” Singer said in an April 16 tweet. In a public post on his Facebook profile, Singer linked to a story about the ad, writing “the heat is on.”

While a February report in the SF Weekly indicated that Singer had been hired due to controversy in the Catholic high schools, Singer later told the National Catholic Reporter he had been hired by alumni, parents and their supporters involved in the dispute over Star of the Sea Catholic School, a K-8 institution connected to the parish of the same name.

On Feb. 18, Ash Wednesday, Singer said on the social media site Google+ that “everyone is praying that the Pope will remove the San Francisco Archbishop.”
The campaign against the archbishop is intimidating some Catholics.

A Catholic teacher who has worked at an archdiocesan high school for several years told CNA in March that the media campaign against Archbishop Cordileone “has caused fear among his supporters.”

The controversies in the Archdiocese of San Francisco come after significant activist funding. One Archbishop Cordileone opponent is the group Faithful America, a partner of the Berkeley, Calif.-based Citizen Engagement Lab. The group was the recipient of a $75,000 Arcus Foundation grant in 2014 to “promote greater media visibility for Christians who denounce the abuse of religious-freedom arguments to oppose full equality for LGBT persons.”

An early petition against the archbishop was created by Jim Fitzgerald, executive director of Call to Action, a decades-old dissenting Catholic group. The group’s “JustChurch” project specifically opposes morality clauses in Catholic schools.

The group is part of the Equally Blessed Coalition, with the LGBT activist groups Dignity USA and New Ways Ministry. The coalition has received at least $200,000 from the Arcus Foundation to “counter the narrative of the Catholic Church” ahead of the Synod on the Family, according to grant listings on the foundation website.

Archbishop Cordileone was Bishop of Oakland, Calif. from 2009 until 2012. He has served as the U.S. bishops’ conference’s ad hoc committee for the defense of marriage. He has also served on a governing body for Courage, a ministry for people with same-sex attraction who want to live a life consistent with Catholic faith and morals.