CHICAGO -- After a valiant cancer battle, Francis Cardinal George died Friday. He was 78 years old.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued the following statement following the cardinal's death:
“Cardinal Francis George led a remarkable life of faith and service As Chicago’s first native-born Archbishop, his journey took him full-circle from growing up in Portage Park to serving in far-flung missions around the globe, and eventually back home to shepherd the City of Chicago towards a better future. He lent his counsel to those in distress, his comfort to those in despair and he inspired us all with his courage in his final days. He could always be counted on to provide those granite qualities to the countless people who relied on them when it mattered the most. Amy and I join every Chicagoan in extending our deepest sympathies to Cardinal George’s family, his many friends, and the Archdiocese of Chicago during this difficult time.”
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner also issued a statement:
"Francis Cardinal George was the spiritual leader of millions of Catholics in and around Chicago and touched the lives of countless others through the Church's schools, pastoral care and social services. He 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. Diana and I pray that he rest in eternal peace."
Executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Robert Gilligan said:
“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.”
Bishop Larry Trotter issued the following statement:
"Today I have lost a true friend. While we obviously came from two different backgrounds, our common denominator was our love for God. Cardinal George was very supportive of my own battle with cancer. He prayed with me and cheered me into recovery. I will miss Cardinal George. He was a great human being."
Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk said:
“A Chicago native, Cardinal Francis George led his flock through difficult times with unwavering faith for 17 years. Cardinal George was a voice for all of Chicago’s citizens, especially the most vulnerable, and today I join the Chicago area’s more than 2 million Catholics in mourning his passing.”
U.S. Congressman Robert Dold said:
"Cardinal Francis George will be remembered as a respected leader who helped guide millions of Catholics in the Chicagoland area. Regardless of faith or creed, we can all learn from his steadfast beliefs and unwavering faith. I join today with our community’s Catholics to mourn his passing and heed his example to live our lives with love and bravery.”
Others took to social media to remember the cardinal:
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"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." Read Monsignor Boland's full press statement at www.catholiccharities.net