Mourners say final farewell to Chicago’s Cardinal George

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CHICAGO — Mourners said their final goodbyes to the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago Thursday, who was known as a vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy.

While the people at Holy Name Cathedral today might make up the church, they were all aware for that for the past 17 years Francis Cardinal George was the church.

As the sun was shining brightly, a final tribute was made to the man known as a good listener, a true intellect and a devout servant to all.

There was a who-who inside a packed cathedral with the mayor, the governor, the county board president and the city clerk rubbing elbows with people of faith from all over Chicagoland and the globe.

The Vatican was represented as well.

Readings at the Mass were in English, Polish and Spanish. There was sadness and joy, tears and laughter.

George died Friday at age 78 after a long fight with cancer. He had a reputation for being an intellectual leader in the church.

Pope John Paul II appointed the Chicago native to lead the nation's third-largest archdiocese in 1997.

George retired last fall before announcing his treatment for kidney cancer had failed. He was replaced by Archbishop Blase Cupich.

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