Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

A letter from Cardinal George

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last weekend I was back in Yakima, Washington, to dedicate a gymnasium named in my honor at a high school I helped to get started while I was still bishop there. In Rome, the Synod on the Family was beginning, and it helped me to reflect once again on how the church is a family, a special kind of family, sharing Christ’s own life. A bishop has a familial relationship to the diocese he serves, and I felt, for those few days in Yakima, back with a family of which I had once been part.

My time as archbishop of Chicago is coming to an end, and my relationship to this archdiocese will change. It will still be my family, but I will be present in a very different way, still to be worked out. One is part of a family not because of what one does but because of the relationships that form through sharing in people’s life. As is the case with any family, some days are better than others, but the family bonds hold in the church because Christ is always faithful to us, even when we distance ourselves from him and from those whose life we once shared in his body, the church.

Family members come to know one another in various ways, and I am especially grateful for the archdiocesan councils whose members, over the years, have told me about their life of faith and invited me into their minds and hearts. Some years ago, I started taking notes to write a “letter” with many of these insights, explaining how they have helped me to understand my work as bishop here. While the “letter” won’t be written, I now step back from my responsibilities as archbishop with a changed mind and heart because of what so many of you have shared with me over these past 17 and a half years. Recently, I’ve received a number of letters telling me how I have influenced others in ways I didn’t even realize, and that information also helps to fill out the experience of my years as archbishop here. I am grateful.

The life of the church is life in Christ, and that life remains the same no matter who is the bishop or what he does. It does help, however, if the family members help an archbishop work successfully and with good purpose. I am sure that all the faithful of the archdiocese will pray for Archbishop Cupich and work with him to strengthen the mission of the church here. He comes into a vital local church, and he will bring much to it. Let my last request to you, therefore, be to welcome him warmly, for the sake of Christ whom he will represent here as head of the church.

May Christ bless all of us and keep us close to him and to one another in the time ahead. To all of you, many thanks.


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