When the world’s Cardinals gather in Rome April 27 for the canonizations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George will be watching from home.
Cardinal George told us last month that his cancer, which had metastasized from his bladder to his kidney and liver, had again become active. Doctors found new cancer cells in his right kidney, meaning that he would once again be undergoing chemotherapy.
His Eminence has now received two doses of chemotherapy, one of which led to his hospitalization. The chemo treatments mean that his immune system is impaired; so Cardinal George explained, in a talk this week at St. Xavier University, that his doctors advised him not to travel to Rome for the canonizations:
“They spelled out the dangers. I can’t risk another infection… It will be very crowded… It would be very foolish to go over there.”
With overseas travel curtailed, Cardinal George will remain in Chicago for Holy Week, and will celebrate Mass and officiate at Holy Week services in Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. However, with his weakened immune system, he is likely to avoid distributing communion or personally greeting the worshippers.
Cardinal George has been upbeat about the curtailment of his travel; but he must be disappointed to miss the canonizations–especially for Pope John Paul II, who appointed him a bishop and elevated him to cardinal.
Last Tuesday evening, Cardinal George spoke about the search for his successor. He has asked Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, to urge Pope Francis to begin the process of identifying a successor–a process which is likely to take six to nine months.
“Given the state of my health,” said Cardinal George, “it’s a good idea to start the process.”
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In March 2010, Cardinal George announced that he was beginning an official investigation into the life and virtues of Father Augustus Tolton, an African-American priest from Chicago’s South Side, with a view to opening the Cause for his canonization. When the cardinal’s cancer recurred in 2012, Chicago’s auxiliary bishops called on people to pray for the intervention of Father Tolton.
I’m linking here to the article I published about the life of Fr. Tolton and the ongoing study of his life and virtues.
And I’m including below the Prayer which Chicago auxiliary bishops urged Catholics to pray on behalf of their cardinal. It seems an appropriate time to again seek Fr. Tolton’s intercession.
Prayer to Father Augustus Tolton
we give you thanks for your servant and priest, Father Augustus Tolton,
who labored among us in times of contradiction,
times that were both beautiful and paradoxical.
His ministry helped lay the foundation for a truly Catholic gathering in faith in our time.
We stand in the shadow of his ministry.
May his life continue to inspire us
and imbue us with that confidence and hope
that will forge a new evangelization for the Church we love.
Father in Heaven,
Father Tolton’s suffering service sheds light upon our sorrows;
we see them through the prism of your Son’s passion and death.
If it be your Will, O God,
glorify your servant, Father Tolton,
by granting the favor I now request through his intercession
(mention your request)
so that all may know the goodness of this priest
whose memory looms large in the Church he loved.
Complete what you have begun in us
that we might work for the fulfillment of your kingdom.
Not to us the glory,
but glory to you O God, through Jesus Christ, your Son
and our Lord;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are our God, living and reigning forever and ever. Amen.
Once again, you can send your well-wishes and prayers to Cardinal George in care of the Archdiocese of Chicago, at the following address:
Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
835 North Rush Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611