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Cardinal to undergo more tests in latest cancer battle

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Archdiocese of Chicago released a statement Monday about Cardinal Francis George, three days after it was learned that cancerous cells were found in his kidney and liver.

The cardinal rested over weekend, but the archdiocese says he remains active in his administrative duties.

Cardinal George is attending an annual retreat this week. At the same time, the archdiocese says he'll be undergoing more tests. That will help doctors - and the cardinal - determine a course of treatment and how active he can be in the weeks and months ahead.

When he revealed his battle against bladder cancer six years ago, Cardinal George won praise for his candor, and there is every expectation that won't change as he faces his newest challenge.

"I think that's an endearing quality for Cardinal George because he's very honest, open. He speaks his mind and I cannot imagine he'd do anything less," said Dr Susan Ross, Loyola University, chairman of the Department of Theology.

If the cardinal's health were to dictate a slowdown in his duties, there are six auxiliary bishops that serve under him as well as Reverend Peter Snieg who on July first started work as the top administrator of the archdiocese.

"There's no concern about governance of the archdiocese, and there's even a hope that he'll be filling his public appearances in the near future for all I know," said Prof. Peter Casarella, DePaul University Dept of Catholic Studies.

Late last year, Cardinal George sent Pope Benedict XVI his letter of resignation, which is mandatory at age 75, but the matter of succession is not something handled overnight.

"He can accept it when he wants to," George told ABC7 in December of 2011. "He usually waits one year. In the case of a cardinal it's two years, sometimes three. I would hope it's something between one and two years, but it's up to him finally."

With new health concerns, the Vatican's study of possible successors may be expedited a bit.

"That process has already begun but given this situation, I think it'll receive more attention," said Dr. Ross.

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin performed many of his public functions nearly a year after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And like Bernardin before him, George is known for his stamina.

"Cardinal George very graciously agreed to give a presentation to two groups of DePaul students the week after next, and I'm hoping not to have to prepare that lecture," said Casarella. "I expect him to be there from all the information I have. I expect him to be teaching that class."

A statement on the Archdiocese web site says that Cardinal George this week will maintain his previously scheduled public commitments, and that his course of treatment will determine what happens in the days ahead.

Full Statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago

As announced on Friday, August 17, Cardinal George learned from his doctors that test results from a procedure earlier in the week showed there were cancerous cells in his kidney and in a nodule that was removed from his liver.

The Cardinal rested at home this weekend and was actively engaged in a number of his administrative responsibilities. This week he will continue additional testing, participate in his annual retreat and maintain his previously scheduled public commitments.

After the Cardinal meets with his doctors regarding a plan for a course of treatment, further information about his upcoming public schedule will be announced.

Until further information is available, Cardinal George has asked for continued prayers for all affected by cancer and the doctors and medical staff that work with patients and their families, as well as for himself.

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