DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     April 21, 1999     vol. 10, no. 78


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      This new feature that we introduce today will spotlight each member of the Conclave. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

46.   Cardinal Francis E. George, OMI

          Absence makes the heart grow fonder and, after 34 years away, Archbishop Francis E. George, OMI returned to his roots, the home hearth where his heart was: Chicago. This ministry's Spiritual Director Father Al Svobodny, OMI has not only been longtime good friends with Archbishop George, a fellow Central Province Oblate, but also was extremely close to the Archbishop's now-diseased parents Francis Sr. and Julie who worked closely with Fr. Al in the 60's promoting vocations in the Chicago area through the Oblate Crusaders of Chicago, the very city where Francis Jr. was born in 1937. Francis George sought to be a diocesan priest but a bout with polio and a resulting limp prohibited him from entering Quigley Seminary there and the diocese' loss was the Oblates' gain by enrolling as a seminarian at St. Henry's Minor Seminary in Belleville, Illinois in the fall of 1957, the same time this editor entered the Oblates' other Minor Seminary in Carthage, Missouri at Our Lady of the Ozarks. The Vocation Director at that time: none other than Fr. Al Svobodny, OMI. Francis continued his studies through the Novitiate at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Godfrey, Illinois high above the Mississippi River overlooking St. Louis where seven years later this editor discovered his true vocation in life was to the lay ministry as a husband and father rather than the priesthood. The new Archbishop of Chicago then went on to Pine Hills, Mississippi on the Gulf Coast just outside Pass Christian to the Oblates' Major Seminary Our Lady of the Snows and was ordained in his home town of Chicago in 1963.

          After ordination he returned to the south to teach at Pine Hills while commuting roundtrip to New Orleans to achieve his doctorate in American philosophy from Tulane University and where he subsequently taught the same subject before moving on to teach philosophy at Creighton University in Omaha when Our Lady of the Snows Scholasticate was closed in 1968. In 1972, less than ten years after ordination, he was appointed Provincial of the Oblate Central Province in the United States but that lasted only a short time for the Oblate Superior General Monsignor Marcello Zago, OMI, now secretary for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, summoned him Rome to become the second highest in the missionary order of over 6,000 priests as Vicar General from 1974 to 1986. While there he received his Ph.D in Theology from the Pontifical Urban University. Returning to the United States he worked closely with Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston while attaining his Masters from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. In 1990 Pope John Paul II elevated him to bishop and assigned him to the Diocese of Yakima, Washington. Because the diocese was 50% Hispanic, he took a three-week crash course in Mexico on the Spanish language and Hispanic culture before his installation in May 1990. Six years later he was promoted to the Diocese of Portland where he was installed on May 27, 1996. Less than a year later, he was on the move again, being named to succeed the deceased Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in the vast Archdiocese of Chicago on April 8, 1997. He was installed on May 7, 1997 and less than a year later was afforded the great honor of joining Cardinal James Francis Stafford as the only two American prelates to be named in the most recent Consistory of February 21, 1998. Along with the esteemed red-hat, he received the titular church of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island.

          He is also being groomed in various curial responsibilities, holding memberships in the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum". At only 62, he is projected to be one of the bright shining lights among the College of Cardinals and if any American prelate would be considered papal quality, he would have to rank right up there. Watch for this bright, loyal and orthodox cardinal to rise quickly within ecclesiastical ranks. Already he has made a tremendous impact in the Chicagoland area where a group of liberal priests challenged him and he didn't blink but treated all in the utmost charity, but firmly as a shepherd should.

          Cardinal George is one of three Oblate bishops in the United States along with Bishop Roger Schwietz of Duluth, Minnesota and Bishop Michael Pfeiffer of San Angelo, Texas who remarked about his recent elevation to Archbishop of Chicago that preparation as Vicar General and his educational background gave him "the solid grounding in large scale international administration that involve complex problems." And problems did face the new Archbishop who ventured into the jungle following in the footsteps of progressive leader Cardinal Bernadin. One of Archbishop George's first acts was to venture directly into the jungle of crime and hurt to visit and comfort a young 13-year old black youth Lenard Clark who was beaten by three Catholic High Schoolers. Always a crusader for the handicapped and downtrodden, the new Archbishop is comfortable speaking to prince or paupers. His experience and culture of being a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, whose main mission is ministering to the poor, serves him well in the city by Lake Michigan where there is a plethora of cultures. His mastery of five languages, phenomenal intelligence, and gentle manner will serve him well as Christ's chosen shepherd and his appointment has been great news for loyal supporters of the Church and a blow to the progressive liberals who practically canonized Bernardin, a liberal-minded mediator who was one of the leaders of the liberal agendas proposed at the Bishops Conferences. For loyal Catholics in the Windy City and throughout the USA it has been a welcome change as the pendulum swings back to a more orthodox position.

April 21, 1999       volume 10, no. 78


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