Monday, October 02, 2006

Back to Work

Ahead of his slated 1 October rollout following recovery from bladder cancer surgery, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago met with the local media last week, taking interviews one by one. (Here's one with video.)

How's he feelin',
you ask?
"I'm feeling much better, obviously,'' George said. ''I don't have any pain. . . . My biggest problem is from time to time overcoming weakness.

"But they said that in convalescence, you have good days and bad days. Some days you feel just about what you always thought you were and other days you feel you can hardly get out of bed or lift a finger. But those days become fewer as you move forward.

"I'm getting more strength, more stamina. It's a challenge and it's gonna take some time. They said it could take five or six months until you really are pretty much who you want to be. But I feel pretty good and I'm fine."
The New World -- Chicago's archdiocesan paper -- reports that the cardinal's experience might just lead to some changes in the priorities and plans of the US' second-largest local church.
Since being named archbishop in 1997, Cardinal George has used the “Decisions” document created under Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to set the direction for the archdiocese.

While many of those priorities remain—some, like evangelization, will always continue—it’s time to take stock again, the Cardinal said.

“I think we need to focus on a spiritual renewal of the archdiocese,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in perpetual adoration and the liturgical life of the archdiocese has been renewed by the Liturgical Institute (at Mundelein Seminary/St. Mary of the Lake University), we see it in traditional devotions that people are looking for now.”

The move comes after the church secularized itself in the 1960s and 1970s, he said. It has now entered a “post-secular” period in which many young people are seeking more than material goods.

“There might not be many, but there are enough of them that want priests to be priests,” he said. “That means being a mediator and speaking with authority about life with God.”

Priests, he said, should “talk more about the Lord than about the parish. It’s a direction I want to test and talk to the priests about.”
He also said he plans to delegate more day-to-day responsibilities on a more permanent basis now, considering "how well the archdiocesan administration ran without him."

Speaking of which, there's been a bit of controversy in the local circles over the announcement that Chitown's famed Quigley Prep Seminary will close at year's end, its facilities to be converted into the archdiocese's new Pastoral Center. (The confluence of events prompted one of the most bizarre headlines I've seen in some time, courtesy of Chicago's NBC affiliate: "George Says He Needs to Build Stamina, Close Quigley." Sheesh.)

Sure, the place hasn't produced a priest in 16 years, but there are still those who see the Bird (i.e. Chicago vicar-general John Canary) as a pelican.... And what an analogy that is.

If his doctors give the go-ahead, the cardinal's planning to go to Rome for the 15 October canonization of Indiana's Mother Theodore Guerin and the biannual meetings of the USCCB leadership with the dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

Just maybe, given his interest in social anthropology and a brother's recent success at the move, the cardinal should consider blogging the trip.