Cardinal Francis George said Saturday he intends to continue to contribute to the public life of the church after his successor takes over as head of the Archdiocese of Chicago in November as long as his health allows him.
The 77-year-old leader of Chicago’s more than 2.2 million Catholics is battling cancer and has undergone chemotherapy.
At a news conference to introduce his successor, Bishop Blase (BLAYZ’) Cupich (SOO’-pihch), of Spokane, Washington, George was asked about his health and whether he would try to make a delayed trip to Rome to meet with Pope Francis in November.
“I hope to have the strength,” George said, adding that he also wanted to make the trip to take part in meetings of the various conferences he is a part of. George explained that cardinals continue until they are 80 years old to serve as advisers to the pope through their work in those conferences.
“Besides that I’d also like to talk to the pope personally — I haven’t had a chance to do that — just because he’s a nice man and I’d like to get to know him a bit better,” George said.
George said his responses to the drugs being used to treat his cancer were hard to predict. In particular, he mentioned muscle weakness that was causing him to walk “in a clumsy fashion.”
“There’s all kinds of puzzles that I have to think about and help the doctors think through and that takes time,” he said. “But you know we’re in the hands of God and I think I’m reconciled to that.”