Cardinal ‘urged’ nuncio to start search for successor

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cardinal George speaks with the media about the upcoming canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II at the Archbishop Quigley Center on April 11. He also answered questions about his health and the search for his successor. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

During an April 11 press conference at the Archbishop Quigley Center to discuss the upcoming canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, Cardinal George told reporters that he recently “urged” the papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, to begin the process of searching for his successor as archbishop of Chicago.

“It’s a question of being able to spend your entire energy on what is my responsibility as archbishop of Chicago. This is a position that demands a lot of constant attention,” he said. “Now it looks as if I’m going to have to be spending a little more attention on my health and so it’s just not fair to the archdiocese to have someone who may not be able to do the job as well as I believe it should be done.”

Cardinal George planned to attend the April 27 canonizations of the two popes but he and his doctors decided against the trip.

“I got an infection, as you know, after the first chemo round this time and I wouldn’t want to go through that again,” he said.

He is undergoing a strenuous schedule of chemotherapy now. At the end doctors will conduct tests to see if the treatment was successful in shrinking and containing the cancer tumors.

“It would be very unusual if it would simply eradicate it,” the cardinal said.

In light of his health concerns, Cardinal George said he told the nuncio that it made sense to start the process to look for the next archbishop of Chicago.

The cardinal said the process formally starts when the nuncio writes him and that hadn’t occurred as of April 11, he said.

Cardinal George explained the process to reporters saying the nuncio first writes to him asking for his sense of the archdiocese and names of people who might succeed him. Since the Archdiocese of Chicago is a major see with national and international importance, the nuncio also contacts the other cardinals and archbishops around the country. He will also consult the other dioceses in Illinois, laypeople and others.

“It’s a confidential process but for something like this he will ask a lot of people,” Cardinal George said.

After the consultations, the nuncio will put together a report and submit three names to the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican. This could take several months, the cardinal said.

Members of the congregation gather every two weeks to go over all of the appointments before them from around the world.

“Most of the people there of course are not Americans but they will rely, I think, on the Americans who are present as part of that congregation. Most of all they will rely on the nuncio.”

The congregation doesn’t have to accept the nuncio’s suggestion of three names. They can ask him to do the process over. But once the congregation is satisfied it gives a list of three names to the Holy Father.

“He can chose anybody he wants to,” Cardinal George explained. “He doesn’t have to choose anybody from that list provided he has someone in mind himself.”

The cardinal said he is looking forward to meeting his successor — partly out of curiosity but more to be of service to the next archbishop should he want that.


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