Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago from 1997 until 2014, died on Friday at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer, Archbishop Blase Cupich says. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago from 1997 until 2014, died on Friday (April 17) at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer, Archbishop Blase Cupich said. Known for his intellectualism and strong defense of church dogma - including sometimes controversial statements against gay marriage - George halted his treatment for bladder cancer early in 2015. Pope Francis accepted his resignation in September 2014 and appointed then-Bishop Cupich of Spokane, Washington, to succeed him as head of the nation's third-largest archdiocese, which includes Chicago and surrounding areas. "Let us heed his example and be a little more brave...," Cupich said in a brief televised announcement. George was president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops between 2007 to 2010, helping to set policy for the U.S. church. George also participated in the conclaves that elected the last two Catholic pontiffs, Benedict XVI in 2005 and Francis in 2013, and had been considered a candidate himself. In nearly two decades as the head of the Chicago Archdiocese - which serves a population of 2.2 million Catholics - George oversaw a diverse church with a variety of liturgical styles. His insistence on proper liturgical practice earned him the nickname "Francis the Corrector." Known as a conservative, George spoke out strongly against Illinois' gay marriage law in 2013, saying it would "contribute over the long run to the further dissolution of marriage and family life." He opposed the Affordable Care Act's requirement that insurers provide birth control, which is forbidden by the Roman Catholic Church. George faced a scandal in Chicago when a priest was charged with sexually abusing two boys. It emerged that church officials had failed to remove him after earlier abuse allegations. George expressed remorse over the case.