Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Preacher-Prophet on the signifiCant social issues
Lukasz krauze, omi
Francis Cardinal George, born in 1937, died in 2015. A longtime shepherd of the Archdiocese of Chicago (1997-2014), one of the richest in the number of Catholics in the United States. President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (2007-2010). A philosopher, theologian, intellectual1, pastor2, authority3. He is known.
1 George had two doctorates: in philosophy – Tulane University, New Orleans (1965); and in theology – Pontifical Urban University, Rome (1988). He was the author of the following books: The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion, and Culture (2009) – collection of essays about the relationship with God, about responsibility for the community and the transformation of culture; God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World (2011); A Godly Humanism: Clarifying the Hope That Lies Within (2015). He spoke in French, Italian, Spanish, and a little German. As a child, he showed musical abilities – he played the piano – and painting talents. At the age of 13, he fell ill with polio. Consequently, he could not develop many skills. See: G. Weigel, Świadek nadziei. Biografia papieża Jana Pawła II, Kraków 2000, 1059.
2 Thomas rosica: “When I think of Cardinal Francis George three qualities come to mind: clarity of though, simplicity of life, holiness”. [n.a.], Francis Cardinal George – „You are my Legacy”, https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=DDFbriSPvwQ&t=317s [22.04.2019]. Francis George was the outstanding exception to this rule in the entire history of the American episcopate: a first-class intellectual who became both a suc- cessful local bishop and a major figure in the national conference of bishops. G. Weigel, Cardinal Francis George, https://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/12/cardinal- francis-george [23.04.2019].
3 Robert Barron: “A number of bishops have said to me over the years their national gathering many bishops would speak. But when Cardinal George rose to speak everybody listened. The whole room went silent because they recognize him as their leader”. The Legacy of Cardinal Francis George, https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=3I3uVpZl5tY [22.04.2019]. A vaticanist, John Allen called him “the American Ratzinger”. D. giB- son, Chicago Cardinal Francis George dies at 78, https://eu.usatoday.com/story/ news/ nation/2015/04/17/francis-george-cardinal-chicago/25960223/ [23.04.2019].
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above all for the following words: “I expect to die in bed, my succes- sor 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 hu- man history.”4 George said this in the private conversation for several priests. By saying this he wanted to express the threats stemming from the fact that society is secularized. He personally commented on this popular idea: “What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse”5.
No matter what opinion the Cardinal expressed about this famous phrase, whether he wants it or not, his words have a prophetic charac- ter. According to Christopher H. Peisker, the action of the prophet has nothing to do with making prophecies, because he only speaks with ref- erence to the present. Even if he speaks of the future, not as a fortune- teller, but in relation to the present6. He understands God’s intentions towards a history and penetrates his divine view7. He calls people to give up their own view of reality and look at their lives and the world around them with the eyes of God8. Pope Benedict XVI recalled: “We
4 Tim drake, Cardinal George: The Myth and Reality of ‘I’ll Die in My Bed’. What Cardinal Francis George Really Said, http://www.ncregister.com/blog/tim-drake/ the-myth-and-the-reality-of-ill-die-in-my-bed [22.04.2019].
6 C. H. Peisker, Die Propheten, in C. H. Peisker, Kleine Predigt-Typologie, t. II: Das Alte Testament, Stuttgart 1965, 160. The Prophet is internally connected with the Lord of history and with the pilgrim people on the earth. He is not an expert in predict- ing future events but communicates the meaning of the future in order to light up the present situation in this perspective along with the opportunities and dangers inherent in it. R. haJduk, Osoby konsekrowane – prorocy we współczesnym świecie, “Studia Redemptorystowskie” 3 (2005), 247.
7 Prophets bring a message that is new. This is because they are looking at real- ity from God’s point of view. For people of God, the view of reality is always some- thing amazing and surprising, because it breaks human standards, which often remain in opposition to God’s law. Therefore, the prophetic proclamation extends between exposing human unfaithfulness and the call to conversion. P. mariotti, Contestazione profetica, in S. de Fiores, T. Goffi, Nuovo Dizionario di Spiritualità, Cinisello Bal- samo 1985, 281.
8 J. daniélou, Le Christ prophète, „La Vie Spirituelle” 78 (1948), 164.
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History know that in times of crisis and upheaval God has raised up great saints and prophets for the renewal of the Church and Christian society” 9.
Francis George appears as a preacher-prophet not only because of the famous sentence, but above all the content of the preaching which is the expression of his prophetic disposition10. In this article, in the first place, the “environment” in which he matured as a preacher-prophet will be presented. Next, the main social themes that he realized in his preaching will be shown. Practical conclusions, finalizing the text, will indicate how to become a preacher-prophet who is sensitive to important social issues present on the ground of the local Church.