Francis George

Catholic cardinal

Francis Eugene George, OMI (January 16, 1937April 17, 2015) was an American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago. He was the eighth Archbishop of Chicago (1997–2014) and previously served as Bishop of Yakima (1990–1996) and Archbishop of Portland, Oregon (1996–1997). A member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, George was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1998. He served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010.

Francis George


  • There are only two kinds of arguments for euthanasia. The first is based on owning your life. Already in the last century, some philosophers and novelists began to talk of suicide as the ultimate act of self-control or self-possession. That is, of course, an illusion, for death is the surrender of all control or possession; and killing oneself is always an act of despair. It means a person has given up all hope. The second kind of argument is based on escaping from suffering. In actual fact, pain control is so far advanced now that suffering can be alleviated in almost all cases. The fear of suffering, however, creates a strong case for accepting a “right to die”. Right or no right, we will all die. The basic question, therefore, is always: since I must die, what is the meaning of life?
    • "Cardinal's Column", The Catholic New World (December 27, 1998)
  • It's hard to discover that you're hated.
    • Headline of his "Cardinal's Column", The Catholic New World, about the September 11 attacks (September 23, 2001)
  • I was gazing toward the Circus Maximus, toward the Palatine Hill where the Roman emperors once resided and reigned and looked down upon the persecution of Christians, and I thought, ‘Where are their successors? Where is the successor of Caesar Augustus? Where is the successor of Marcus Aurelius? And finally, who cares? But if you want to see the successor of Peter, he is right next to me, smiling and waving at the crowds.
    • On his feelings at watching Benedict XVI, just after his election as Pope, waving from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica; quoted in Barron, Robert (6 September 2011). Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith. Crown Publishing Group. p. 35. ISBN 9780307720535. 
  • I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history."
    • Replying to a question about the secularization of Western culture in a meeting with a group of priests on circa May 2010.[1]
  • Since life is a gift from God, it does not have to be strong and independent in order to be valuable. A human being in a civilized society does not have to be 'wanted' by anyone in order to merit legal protection.
    • As attributed in Glorifying Christ, The Life of Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I. by Michael R. Heinlein, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Indiana 2023 pp.162-163
  • Jesus doesn’t talk about being conservative or being liberal. He talks about knowing the truth or living in darkness. It is true and false that define our internal dynamics and not politics or law directly.
    • As attributed in Glorifying Christ, The Life of Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I. by Michael R. Heinlein, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Indiana 2023 p.333
  • The workers saw themselves first as persons deserving of respect, and people demand respect more than they demand wages.
    • Source: Francis E. George, "Labor Day 2013: We Have a Dream," The Cardinal's Column, Catholic New World, September 1-14, 2013

God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World (2011)

  • Belief in God's presence and action in American public life, in social events, in education, in civic celebrations and political discussions, which for two hundred years had been considered broadly beneficent, changed radically on September 11, 2001.
    • Ch. 1 "God in American Public Life," p. 21.
  • Some have recently argued that pluralism by its very nature demands civic secularism. There seems to be no logical reason why respect for the beliefs of more than a quarter billion Americans, 90 percent of whom declare themselves to be religious, should require us now to eschew the public expression of religion, even in discussing political affairs that have moral foundations or implications.
    • Ch. 1 "God in American Public Life," p. 33.
  • In the long run, any attempt to reduce the complexity of the relations among the sacred, the properly secular, and the profane is doomed to failure, although each such effort can cause great human hardship in the short run. But in both the short and the long run, the Church, or the synagogue, or the mosque or the temple, is where you go when you want to be connected to the One who relates to everyone and every people. If the Church is where one goes to be truly free, how does the Church contribute to our understanding of who we are and what we should do in the activities that shape the world we live in, that fill the theater of secularity?
    • Ch. 1 "God in American Public Life," pp. 46-47.
  • When it comes to abortion, euthanasia, and other sanctity of life issues, we should not suppose that our choice is between reforming the law and working to change the culture. We must do both. The work of legal reform is necessary, though not sufficient, ingredient in the larger project of cultural transformation. Yes, we must change people's hearts. But no, we must not wait for changes of heart before changing the laws. We must do both at the same time, recognizing that just laws help to form good hearts, and unjust laws impede every other effort in the cause of the Gospel of Life.
    • Ch. 3 "Personal Freedom in American Culture: We Can't Act If God Can't," pp. 72-73.
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