Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cardinal George Thanks St. Agatha's and Installs New Pastor to Parish

Quoted from CNA.
Cardinal Francis George faced the mostly African-American congregation at St. Agatha Church on Sunday and thanked them for their patience during "that terrible tragedy of sexual abuse," reported the Chicago Sun-Times.

It was the first time Cardinal George had addressed parishioners since St. Agatha's former pastor, Daniel McCormack, was sentenced July 2 to five years in prison for molesting boys.

"I'm grateful to you and proud to be your bishop," Cardinal George reportedly said, prompting applause. "I thank you also for your patience as we have tried to figure out where were the betrayals, what went wrong."

The parishioners were delighted to see the Cardinal at their parish and anxious to have a clean start with a new priest.

"We're starting fresh," said Marcy Bledsoe-Hicks. "I want to let bygones be bygones. I don't think this will ever happen again."

Cardinal George has publicly apologized for mishandling aspects of the case and allowing children to be in the presence of McCormack even after the allegations of sexual abuse. But both he and the parishioners appeared ready to move on as the new pastor, Fr. Larry Dowling, was installed, reported the Sun-Times.

Outside the church, representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) urged Cardinal George to refuse the presidency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).


Memo to SNAP: I don't think Cardinal George nor most faithful catholics care what you think.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cardinal George reacted Monday to the landmark clergy abuse settlement in Los Angeles

Cardinal George who was attending a dedication of a new senior residence in Chicago on Monday offered his thoughts about the Los Angeles settlement saying, "The process is come to a conclusion, and anything that helps healing and brings a sense of order and peace to victims' lives is a very good thing. This is obviously a very large number of people, and I hope that the settlement will be very helpful to them. We all pray for that."

He also set the record straight over comments about Fr. McCormack's guilty plea made from his spokeswoman, Colleen Dolan.

"Abuse is abuse," George said. "A child's life is interrupted, and the consequences are severe. We had nothing to do with the pleading or anything else -- that was the state moving in a criminal case and the lawyers took care of that. So, whatever happened, it wasn't because of anything that the Archdiocese had anything to do with. We have to try to respond to the victims now, and we'll try to respond as best we can."


The process of formally removing Fr. McCormack from the priesthood which must also be passed through the Vatican is underway.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

joyful soundings of ecumenical goodwill

H/T to Whispers in the Loggia:

As all systems rev up for his November coronation as maestro of the US hierarchy, the archbishop of Chicago conducted some joyful soundings of ecumenical goodwill last night:

Cardinal Francis George took the baton as the guest conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and its orchestra at Ravinia Wednesday night, shocking attendees.

The gesture was an outgrowth of the [2004] expression of regret passed by the Legislature at the request of state Reps. Dan Burke and Jack Franks over the death of Mormon leader Joseph Smith outside Nauvoo in the 19th century, and the forced expulsion of his followers, known as the Latter-day Saints.

Even Ald. Ed Burke, who attended Ravinia with his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, was unaware of the cardinal's decision.

One of the Windy City's top power couples, while the alderman had drafted the original regret resolution, his jurist-spouse is better known in church circles as the former chair of the bishops' National Review Board on sex-abuse.


According to an attendee, George guided the ensemble through the paces of "This Land is Your Land."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cardinal George Recipient of "Agent Of Hope" Award

Cardinal George was the recipient of the "Agent Of Hope" award from Gilda's Club during a luncheon at the Ritz Hotel. The cardinal was diagnosed and treated for bladder cancer last year. The “Agents of Hope” Award, celebrates the full and abundant life many people with cancer are living. Gilda’s Club Chicago is the only cancer support community in the city dedicated to men, women and children diagnosed with any type of cancer, and family members and friends.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Top 10 Lessons Cardinal George has learned in his 10 years as Archbishop

Article by Susan Hogan/Albach Special to the Daily Southtown

1. The grace of God works. "This is the most important lesson I've learned," he said. "The immense outpouring of concern and support during my illness was very humbling. But it means I can count on that. Others can, too. It's there for everybody."

2. What's unexpected can be a blessing and a curse. "Much of the response to the sexual abuse scandals has been on how to contain it. But you have to respond in a way that leaves your integrity intact. You also need to help people find hope in the midst of all the sin and the scandal."

3. People's biggest fear is fear of love. "It's the reason there are fewer priests, nuns and marriages. When people betray us, our lives become more brutal. The lack of trust is the reason for much unhappiness."

4. You can't have a church without bishop pastors. "Of all the positions I've held, this is the one that most constrains me and keeps me locked in administrative duties and (religious) celebrations. That doesn't leave a lot of time to be with people. Consequently, I've asked our auxiliary bishops to be with the priests and the people a lot more."

5. It's a lot of fun to be a cardinal. "Sometimes, I get impatient because it can seem pretentious. But I don't think it is. Chicago is not a city given to pretension."

6. Electing a pope makes you self-conscious of history. "Most of my life is bound up with day-to-day things. When the (papal) conclave happened, all of a sudden I was in an arena where the whole world was watching. It's a momentous decision to put a name on a piece of paper. You realize this is only the 265th time this has happened."
7. When working with popes, listen very carefully. "You only have a limited time with the pope -- make best use of it. But don't be afraid to speak up about your concerns. They expect that."
8. Health is a gift; cherish it while you have it. "I know what I have to do to maintain health -- eat sensibly and do more exercise. But if I find the time to do it, I often don't have the will to do it. I'm awfully fond of chocolate."
9. When closing schools and parishes, involve as many people as possible. "People resent change. There's anger and sadness, even when they recognize it's necessary for financial reasons. Assure them that even though the institution has closed, the church has not abandoned them."
10. Religion protects freedom and is not a danger to freedom. "Historically, the effort to create purely secular utopias has resulted in great human misery and death. You think of ... communism. No God was permitted. I don't want our own history to go that way in the name of individual rights."

May God bless Cardinal George and all others in positions of authority throughout the world.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Cardinal George Celebrates Decade In City

Congratulations to Cardinal George as he celebrates his 10 year anniversary as head of the Chicago Archdiocese.

In his 10 years here, the challenges have come one after the other. First and foremost was the difficulty in replacing one of the best-loved,most-respected church leaders in America, closing of schools and churches and,finally, the sex abuse scandal. He took a leadership role with his fellow bishops, but also listened to the victims in those incidents.He has been moved by the victims and challenged to come up with an appropriate response -- not an enviable dilemma.

I hope we all take time to pray for Cardinal George as he continues to lead all faithful Catholics in the Chicago land area.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cardinal George Attends Canonization and will meet with Vatican Officials this Week

Cardinal George attended the canonization ceremony of Mother Theodore Guerin while in Rome as the Vice President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

On Monday, he will meet with various Vatican officials to discuss issues of USCCB conern, including the current condition of American Catholic seminaries. He also hopes to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.

Source: WBBM Chicago

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cardinal George Resumes Public Schedule

Almost 2 months after having his cancerous bladder removed, Cardinal George resumed his public schedule yesterday. One of the thoughts he experienced after the first surgery, was that of death, in the belief that he was dying.

From Catholic OnLine:

"The important thing when you die is to be ready to surrender your whole life to the Lord," he said. "When you've done that, when you've given the Lord your life, that brings a certain peace. After that, it's up to the Lord to take care of you, and he will. That's his end of the bargain."

And, while being in pain makes it difficult to think, Cardinal George said he could feel the prayers thousands of people were saying for him.

"I knew I wasn't alone," he said. "I could sense that I was in people's prayers. I could also sense the presence of the Lord. The Lord was with me, and he brought his friends – and quite a few of my friends, too."

Thankfully, Cardinal George will remain with us for a while longer, until the Lord calls him to His side.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Second Surgery

The Archdiocesan website reports that Cardinal George had to undergo an additional surgery to repair a bleeding blood vessel in his pelvis after the Cardinal experienced unstable blood pressure and a falling blood count after receiving repeated transfusions. The second surgery was successful, the bleeding was stopped and Cardinal George is again resting comfortably. Again, please keep him in your prayers.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Cardinal George Update

The Archdiocese of Chicago website reports that Cardinal George's surgery today for bladder cancer was successful and that he is doing well. If you go to the Archdiocesan webpage and scroll down you will see an amazing schedule of prayer and all night vigils for the Cardinal's recovery.

This is a very encouraging display of the love and concern that so many in the Archdiocese have for their spiritual father. Would that all Catholics throughout the world come to appreciate, pray for, and honor the shepherd that Christ has put there to guide them in thier own dioceses as these in Chicago are doing. Would that all shepherds be as faithful and deserving of this kind of response as is Cardinal George.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Please Keep Cardinal George in Your Prayers

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Authentic Spiritual Fatherhood: A Testimony

Recently, a sharp critic of Cardinal George's provided a moving testimony to the Cardinal's great gift as a spiritual father. Thomas Roeser describes Cardinal George's visit to one of his dying priests, who happened to be Roeser's cousin. Roeser writes:
The hospital room was filled with elderly priests, one in a wheelchair, colleagues of Fr. Helfrich, his family, and loved ones: priests who had not spent much time in the presence of a bishop. They made way for the cardinal to approach the bedside. Lowering his head and speaking distinctly so as to be heard by Fr. Helfrich, the prelate spoke in calm, measured, and powerfully edifying tones.
“George, the Lord Jesus Christ loves you,” he said in a voice that gave a kind of thrilling affirmation of the fact. “Moreover, all the suffering you are enduring now and have endured is being put up for you as a treasure for your eternal reward. And let there be no mistake: All of us must, one day, face the same trial you do today — and God grant that we will do so with the courage you are exhibiting today which is such an inspiration to us all. You are indeed a champion and we are proud of you and love you.”
It was not just the exquisite words but the tender solicitude of a loving father that Cardinal George displayed; the gentle stroking of the dying priest’s brow, the brushing back of his unkempt, disheveled hair (incredibly for this always preoccupied elderly priest who never primped and had to be reminded to go to a barber, not a gray strand among it), the prelate’s soft patting of the patient’s sagging, stubble-filled cheeks with the skill of a medical nurse — all done with such care that the medical personnel, standing around, waiting to react in case of emergency, were stunned.
This was a cardinal who knew how to soothe, who could easily become, with the delicacy and grace he showed, an expert caregiver himself. The soft words, barely audible, reflected the cardinal’s praise for the life of Fr. Helfrich that was so humble. Cardinal George stirred Fr. Helfrich, himself an intellectual, to see that the nature of the priest was to repudiate the egotistic pleasure employed since Adam to find fulfillment beyond and above himself. It was the cardinal’s greatest sermon, delivered to an audience of one.
Cardinal George is much more than simply an intellectual. He is more than just an orthodox bishop. Rather, he also has the heart of Christ; one who puts into practice the faith he professes and the vocation to which he has been called. I am sure that he would be the first to say that he is no saint; though, I would add, he certainly appears to be one in the making. Let us pray for his continued fidelity to his calling.

Source article:

Thursday, May 25, 2006

SNAP Continues To Show Its Colors

On Tuesday of this week, reports started coming out that Cardinal George has asked a priest to step down from his parish while allegations of misconduct dating back to the 1980s are being investigated. The priest has agreed to do so and is staying at a private residence away from the parish. The Archdiocese has announced the information above to his parish.

The Archdiocese has also reported the allegations to the Cook County State's Attorney's office and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The Archdiocese has not released the priest's name because they do not yet have enough information to even begin an investigation or to determine the credibility of the allegations.

Unfortunately, one news source revealed the parish of which he is pastor though (laudably I suppose?) not releasing his name, another went ahead and published his name. O.k. so what is the issue here?

Our mistress of suspicion, SNAP founder and president Barbara Blaine is reported to have said that the Archdiocese is still cloaking abuse allegations in secrecy. She complains that the Archdiocese did not tell the current parish or the priest's previous parishes that the allegations were of sexual abuse of a minor. Blaine said that Cardinal George should visit the priest's previous parishes to take questions and apologize for having made such a vague announcement.

Blaine, as usual, jumps to the conclusion that an allegation means that the priest is guilty. The Archdiocese has said that they do not even have enough information yet to begin an investigation. Nevertheless, SNAP thinks they should act as if he is guilty. One might even argue making this announcement as it is, is unfair to the priest (though we do not know how much information the Archdiocese has...nor do we need to know). Even if one does not trust the Archdiocese (though I contend there is little rational justification for such mistrust) there is obviously no secrecy. It has been publicly released (Blaine knows about it) and the authorities have been notified. It seems to me that Blaine's reaction reveals a pathological distrust of the Church and Church authorities that undermine her credibility and her relevance.

SNAP's paranoia and the media's fetish with the issue of suspicion about priests has gone too far. An anecdote demonstrates what over reporting can lead to: a couple of years ago, there was a Catholic conference in a small town in central Illinois. During the lunch break, a group of priests went out for a stroll through a nearby neighborhood. Unbelievably, a woman called the police reporting that priests were wandering through her neighborhood and there were children present. Even more unbelievably, the police actually came out to the conference to investigate what was going on. When it got to the mayor, cooler heads prevailed and he came to the conference to apologize. While anecdotal, but does help to show what the ramifications of the lopsided media treatment of this issue.

When the estimates are that the incidents of minor abuse is much lower among Catholic priests, even with the spike in the 70's and 80's, than in the public at large, than among Protestant clergy, and especially among public school employees, but the only systematic treatment of the problem the press has cared to look at is with the Catholic Church, one is not out of line to suspect an agenda is afoot. You even have some hacks throwing up the abuse issue amidst completely unrelated complaints, which of course reveals mushy headed thinking and/or very weak arguments supporting their main concern. This is not surprising but it is an indicator of the way that these hacks see that media coverage has affected public thinking about the Church.

It is time for the leadership of SNAP to seek professional help with their unresolved "issues" if they really want to be of service to those who have been abused at the hands of priests. However, if they continue to hyperventilate and point accusatory fingers at the most responsible of Church leaders, they will soon be seen as the reactionary skeptics that they are. Their relevance will wane when the press finally tires of this issue.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"Christ’s resurrection and the mystery of God’s mercy"

Cardinal George's latest column:

Christ’s resurrection and the mystery of God’s mercy

Christmas is easy. The lovely manger scene and the sentiment that surrounds it make an immediate appeal. Christmas tugs at the heartstrings of millions of people who may or may not understand the mystery of the incarnation of the eternal Son of God.

Easter is, literally, another story. The historical event itself is a challenge. Jesus, who truly died on the cross, just as truly rose in his body from the dead. Though the Gospels and the letters of St. Paul affirm this truth, they do not actually describe how it happened. It is a divine event attested to in human history, but it is finally beyond the grasp of both history and our human intellects.

Read the rest.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Church is changed but vital, involved - Catholic New World

From the Catholic New World, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago:

By Tom Sheridan
Editor

Cardinal George painted a picture of a vital—if reduced—Catholic Church in Chicago, a church engaging society at many levels and striving to tell people that God loves them at an April 6 talk to the City Club of Chicago.The cardinal acknowledged that the church has changed in the last half-century, but said it continues to confront important issues, within and without its own community. [More]

Friday, April 14, 2006

Matters take a nasty turn in Chicago: an overview.

A very sad occurrance occured today in the Cathedral of Chicago:

A man was arrested for criminal trespass after he reportedly yelled at Cardinal Francis George during a mass Thursday at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, according to police.

Colleen Dolan, communications director for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, said the cardinal told her that the man carried a knife and a sign demanding the cardinal step down, but police said they found no knife or sign.

The incident occurred sometime after 5:15 p.m.

Police said that the man had been warned against entering the church, but that he went inside and created a disturbance. He was charged with criminal trespass, according to Police Officer Hector Alfaro.

According to the cardinal's version, the man stood up at the rear of the church and began shouting at him. [source]

A bit more backstory has since been revealed:

(STNG) CHICAGO A man has been charged with criminal trespass after he was arrested for causing a disturbance at Holy Name Cathedral on Thursday.

Joseph Quinn, 46, was charged with one count of criminal trespass after entering and causing a disturbance at Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St., about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, according to police News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak.

Quinn, of the 7300 block of South Phillips Avenue, had been previously warned not to be on the property, Kubiak said.
...
Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said protesters were outside the cathedral Thursday evening, but she said she had not heard about the arrest.

A grassroots gathering of those calling for the cardinal's resignation was scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. Friday in front of Holy Name, according to Blaine. A speech would be made at the gathering, she said.

Dianne Dunagan, spokeswoman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, said she was aware that a group was planning to meet outside the cathedral Friday, but could not
immediately provide information about Thursday's alleged incident."

Maybe this guy got a jump on the planned activity, I don't know," Dunagan said. [source]

The group holding the protest outside the Cathedral, according to my sources, was the Louisville chapter of Voice of the Faithful,* who now join S.N.A.P. and the Rainbow Sash Movement in calling for the Cardinal's resignation.

The United Press International reports that Quinn's mother, who lives on the South Side of Chicago, said she hadn't seen him in more than a year. [source]

In recent weeks, two more groups have called for the Cardinal's resignation (as Shelray has blogged on below):

Michael Tario of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Prevention of Clergy Sex Abuse, and Paul Picchietti of the Roman Catholic Faithful lambasted George as being unresponsive to parishioners' concerns about sexual misconduct committed by priests.

They made their allegations at a press conference held outside the Archdioceses of Chicago's offices at 155 E. Superior.

"It just doesn't seem like our leadership is willing or able to do anything about it," said Picchietti, whose group condemns homosexuality and nontraditional Latin masses.
...
Tario asked all Catholics to withhold donations to the church during the Easter weekend because he believes the money will be misspent on payoffs to keep victims of priest sex abuse silent.

Roman Catholic Faithful founder Stephen Brady said the week's religious significance was also a factor in his group's decision to publicly call for George's resignation.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [SNAP] national director David Clohessy, whose group organized Wednesday's press conference, said he welcomes the support of the conservative groups.

"We don't necessarily agree with them on a whole host of issues," he said, "but we will gladly accept the help of any organization that seeks Cardinal George's resignation."

News coverage of groups that have been supporting the Cardinal, however, seem to be relegated to last-paragraph mention:

While the archdoicese preferred to comment off camera on Wednesday, Ahern said a spokesman pointed out that a large group gathered Tuesday night at Holy Name Cathedral in support of the cardinal. The group met, she said, knowing that the cardinal is facing tough criticism. [source]

It looks like the Cardinal and the members of the Archdiocese of Chicago could use all of ours prayers, especially this Good Friday.

* Oddly enough, it seems that the Chicago-based VOTF membership has not joined in calling for the Cardinal's resignation - source.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"Conservative" Catholic Groups Join in Call For Cardinal George To Resign

There are two more groups who are asking for the resignation of Cardinal George. These two groups, the Ad Hoc Committee for the Prevention of Clergy Sex Abuse and the Roman Catholic Faithful have gone as far as to call for all donations to be withheld on Easter Sunday, as it is believed that this money will be spent on "payoffs" to keep victims of sexual abuse silent.
These two groups have been assumed to be "conservative" and catholic. They join in with the other packs, including SNAP, in seeing that Cardinal George is removed from office.

For "conservative groups", I find their tactics and paranoid demands very disturbing. Withhold offerings because they believe the funds will be used to pay off victims?!! How long do they recommend doing that? Just Easter? If "payoffs" was their only concern, don't they think the "payoffs" could just wait another week? I think someone needs to "shake" themselves and come down off what ever trip they're on, and just think about what they are doing! Something is wrong here. I guess just because one has similar "conservative" opinions as the church, doesn't necessarily make one a good Catholic. Who knows, I maybe way off base and the "paranoid one".
CBS2 Chicago

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Cardinal George on John Paul II

A short (~ five minutes) but very moving interview with Cardinal George (and a couple others) on the memory of John Paul II:

Click here to watch (pop-up window)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Mission Chicago seeks to ‘jump-start’ evangelization"

From the Catholic News Agency:
Chicago, Mar. 29, 2006 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Chicago has taken on a mega-evangelization project in an effort to draw back lapsed Catholics and to re-energize practicing Catholics in their faith. It’s called Mission Chicago 2006 and, according to a New York Times report, Chicago is the largest archdiocese to organize such wide-ranging events focused on evangelization. [more]

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Absence of Logic

Chicago freelance columnist, Dennis Byrne, has decided to weigh-in on the recent issues affecting the Chicago Archdiocese. In an op-ed piece he not surprisingly got published in the Chicago Tribune, and which he publishes on his website, he demonstrates able rhetoric devoid of logic or facts. He calls it "Absence of Moral Authority."

Now it is no doubt a fact that what has happened in Chicago recently does reduce the moral authority of the Church in the eyes of not a few. However, Byrne, who seems to think that the perceptions of the masses dictates reality, takes this as an opportunity to call into question the basic structure of the Church and the sacramental priesthood. He must have been uncritically reading SNAP and Voice of the (un)Faithful tracts.

His main point seems to be that based upon the problems found in the recent independent investigation, this proves that the entirety of Catholic Church leadership is incompetent and unworthy of trust. Of course, he tries to make his case in the form of questions. Most of which are inane and point out that either he did no research whatsoever before spawning his blather or he did the research and finding it did not support his argument, he ignored it and hoped none of his readers would either.

Some examples of questions that he says should be posed:

Are clergy more prone to child abuse? Are they more prone to same-sex abuse? Do other denominations have this problem and to what extent? If they don't, is there something specific about the Roman Catholic priesthood that leads to greater incidence of child sexual abuse? Is the something related to the vow of celibacy? Does it have something to do with the priesthood's male-dominated environment? Is it an institutional problem, flowing from the authoritative, hierarchical structure of the church?


His first commenter provides him with a link to an article that answers most of the questions. Essentially, the answer is that the problem of sexual abuse seems to be lowest among Catholic clergy, followed by clergy of other denominations. It is much higher in the general public and if we are really concerned about our children's safety, we will start paying serious attention to the child sexual abuse pandemic in public schools.

At the end Byrne throws in a canard about Church silence during the holocaust (I am surprised he left out many of the others, he must have been in a hurry) as he only datum for trying to extend the problems in Chicago to the entire Church and so suggest that She cannot be trusted. He finally implies that perhaps it is time for the laity to rise up and take over.

Rhetoric is very effective in cases like these because trust is a very fragile commodity and suspicion in our fallen state is so tempting. Byrne may not be very gifted in his theological understanding of the Church or his ability to compose a tight logical argument with compelling facts to support it. However, he is sufficiently clever to realize that in the current context he need not be; he can take advantage of suspicion to make common cause with those who would wish to undermine the ability of the Church established by Christ, to bear witness to the Gospel in an increasingly hostile world.