For Immediate Release
Cardinal Francis George passed on to new life on Friday, April 17, 2015 at his residence in the Gold Coast of Chicago.
He will be most probably be remembered for his war on LGBT rights, and his handling of the clergy sexual abuse.
The cause of his death was cancer.
The Cardinal lead the Archdiocese for 17 years.
He was a quiet, cerebral man. He was appointed to lead the Archdiocese by Pope John Paul II. He was the first native Chicagoan to hold that position.
He had played a prominent role in responding to the clergy sexual abuse scandal, both locally and nationally, he lead the bishops conservative wing in their opposition to Obama Care, and was the Bishops leader in making war on the LGBT Community.
In 2004 members of the Rainbow Sash Movement were denied Communion by the Cardinal, he continued to deny Communion to LGBT Catholics up until his death at Holy Name Cathedral at Holy Name Cathedral, He justified his denial by saying of gays “When you come with a statement about yourself, that’s not the way to receive it,” said Cardinal George in an interview on the “Catholic Community of Faith” radio show May 28, 2004.
He was also credited for promoting the Zero Tolerance policy after initially opposing it for clergy who sexually abuse young children.
He opposed the women’s priesthood movement both locally and nationally. Women had their place an it was not in the priesthood and/or leadership roles.
The foster care program of Catholic Charities closed in 2011 after he refused to comply with an Illinois state requirement that charities that receive state funding must not reject same-sex couples as potential foster care and adoptive parents.
He became president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops between 2007 – 2010, and it was in this position he lead the homophobic attacks on the LGBT Community.
It was also during this time that a fellow-Chicagoan, Barack Obama became president of the United States. The Cardinal’s first action to President Obama was to send him a blunt letter in 2008 warning him not to consider expanding abortion rights as part of Obama Care.
The bishops conference supported government health care reform, but early on Cardinal George took the lead in the group’s opposition to Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act because of its mandate that employers include coverage of birth control in their health plans.
Even among his own clergy he was known as “George the Corrector” because of his style of leadership that could not handle any form of public criticism.
Joe Murray, Executive Director of the Rainbow Sash Movement (LGBT Catholics) said Francis Eugene George was born in Chicago on Jan. 16, 1937. He attended Catholic schools and showed an early interest in joining the priesthood. His father was an engineer with the public school system, and his mother had worked at an advertising agency, according to The Chicago Tribune. Both were active Catholics. His survivors include an older sister, Margaret.
In taking command of the Chicago archdiocese, the third largest in the American church, with 2.3 million members, Cardinal George was among a wave of theologically conservative bishops appointed by John Paul. At a forum sponsored by Commonweal, a liberal Catholic magazine, in 2004, he declared, “Liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project,” adding, “It has shown itself unable to pass on the faith.”
Murray further said our prayers are with the family of Cardinal George at this time, and it is our hope he rests in peace, but Chicago LGBT Community bore the brunt of his war on LGBT people and I think he will not be missed in that community. George was a human being and as such had his faults as well as his gifts.
Rainbow Sash Movement