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.”