Cardinal George: "I'm Doing Pretty Well"

Catholic leader provides update on cancer fight

By Mary Ann Ahern
|  Tuesday, Dec 11, 2012  |  Updated 10:52 PM CDT
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Francis Cardinal George says it's been so far so good when it comes to fighting cancer for a second time.

Francis Cardinal George says it's been so far so good when it comes to fighting cancer for a second time.

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Francis Cardinal George says it's been so far so good when it comes to fighting cancer for a second time.

Six years ago he underwent surgery for bladder cancer and this past August, he learned he had cancerous cells in his kidney and liver.

"Given the fact they're systematically poisoning me, I'm doing pretty well, and I'm very grateful for that," George joked, referring to the chemotherapy he's receiving."

Next month George will learn more as to whether the medical treatments he's been receiving are successful.

"We don't know what the final results are, but the preliminary exams are very positive," he says.

Some see George not only as the leader of Chicago's 2.3 million Catholics, but also as the "intellectual leader" of the American Catholic church. He's not afraid to speak his mind on Obamacare or gay marriage. He disagrees that all employees, even those who work for Catholic schools and hospitals have the right to receive insurance-backed birth control and says "the religious freedom issues really hasn't been discussed."

On gay marriage George says "the church didn't invent marriage, nature gives us marriage." He adds "it's not that, nobody wants anyone to be unhappy, obviously people shouldn't be put down, persecuted; we're all against that."

The Cardinal has also moved beyond his disagreements over the years with Father Michael Pfleger. Now, Pfleger is the Cardinal's point man to speak against violence.

"I've always had a good relationship with Father Pfleger. I've had no problems. sometimes he says things I can't agree with," George says.

The Cardinal says he has no immediate plans to retire, but as is church custom, a year ago on his 75th birthday, he penned his retirement letter to Pope Benedict XVI. He hopes to retire in perhaps two years and concentrate on working with the poor.

He would also like to meet his successor.

"If I can live long enough to know my successor, I'll be able to do a service that no other archbishop of Chicago has been able to do. When I was here, my second or third year especially, a lot of things came up. I often wondered what would Cardinal Bernardin do, what would he advise," George says.

George said he fully expects to remain in place for at least two more years.

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