Cardinal Francis George Describes the Church in the U.S.
CINCINNATI—Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I., the archbishop of Chicago, received further responsibilities when the U.S. Catholic bishops elected him in November 2007 to serve a three-year term as head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). As USCCB president, Cardinal George faces the task of responding to the sexual-abuse crisis, traveling as a representative of the USCCB, plus focusing and developing the priorities of the conference.
Father Pat McCloskey, O.F.M., editor of St. Anthony Messenger, interviewed Cardinal George last summer about his role as the head of USCCB, work leading Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago and what he brings to this ministry. After December 22nd, the article in the January issue entitled “Cardinal George’s Second Job” will be posted at: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org.
Cardinal George is a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He has previously served as their vicar general in Rome, as coordinator of the Study of Faith and Culture Center, as bishop of Yakima, Washington, as archbishop of Portland, Oregon, and on various USCCB committees. Since 1997, Cardinal George has served the archbishop of Chicago.
He enjoys his work as a bishop because “I like the contact with people, visiting parishes, celebrating the Eucharist, preaching and getting people to work together. Every ministry needs to serve the purpose of the Church,” says Cardinal George.
As USCCB president, his “second job,” Cardinal George now has more responsibilities. “Responding to the sexual abuse of minors by clerics is one of the most difficult challenges facing Cardinal George as USCCB president,” writes McCloskey. Besides implementing goals from the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Cardinal George recognizes the importance of bishops offering to meet with victims. “These meetings with victims help one recognize the terrible consequences of abuse. I have met with individuals and with groups. These meetings have helped those who participated feel less isolated and have been part of the healing process,” Cardinal George says.
Besides the sexual abuse scandal, the USCCB has other priorities, such as strengthening marriage and family life, protecting the life and dignity of the human at every stage in life, fostering vocations to ordained priesthood and consecrated life, and profiting from the cultural diversity of the Church here, especially from the gifts of Hispanic Catholics.
Cardinal George serves as a representative of the USCCB on a global scale. He traveled to Israel and the Palestinian Authority territories last January and went to Rome twice in 2008 to meet with the pope and heads of the Holy See’s offices and to participate in the Synod of Bishops on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.” Cardinal George will continue the work the synod began by serving on the 15-member Council of the Synod of Bishops.
Cardinal George wishes that the Catholic Church in the U.S. would remember “that the Catholic Church is a universal communion, working to transform the world. Provincialism doesn’t serve the Church.” To try to avoid internal divisions, Cardinal George believes that Catholics “need to concentrate on evangelization, on spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ,” McCloskey writes.
Permission is granted to reprint this release.
The other article posted will be “Journey to the Right for Life” by Allison Welch.