Cardinal George ‘fearful’ about cancer but vows to keep working

August 24, 2012

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The spiritual leader of more than 2 million Chicago-area Roman Catholics says he is expecting to hear more next week about cancer found in his body and about treatment options.

Cardinal Francis George on Friday night made his first public appearance since finding out a week earlier that cancerous cells were in his liver and kidney.

“We all live with the Lord as much as possible,” he told reporters before attending a fundraiser for his archdiocese’s Hispanic ministry. “If this is a call to be with him for eternity, then that’s a welcome call in that sense. But it’s also a fearful call, because there’s so much that’s unknown.”

George, 75, looked healthy but said medical tests had weakened him. He said Mayo Clinic physicians would help analyze the test results.

A 2006 cancer battle led to the removal of his bladder, prostate and part of a ureter. “I had felt I’d licked something and I didn’t,” the cardinal said. “And so that isn’t a good feeling.”

George grew up in St. Pascal Parish on Chicago’s Northwest Side. He has headed the Chicago archdiocese, which covers Cook and Lake counties, for 15 years. From 2007 to 2010, he was also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The cardinal said he would keep his public schedule unless treatment affected his immune system. He said he was waiting for more information about his condition before informing Pope Benedict XVI.