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.