The initial stages have started in the search to replace Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, who is fighting cancer for the third time, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, papal nuncio to the U.S., told Cardinal George that the consultation process has begun, the publication reported May 22. It is expected that the process will be finished in late fall.
In March, Cardinal George revealed that after more than a year of dormancy, the cancer in his right kidney was “showing signs of new activity.”
He made the announcement in a column for archdiocesan newspaper the Catholic New World, explaining that after numerous tests, he would be entering aggressive chemotherapy over the next two months. Still he said, “this is a difficult form of the disease, and it will most probably eventually be the cause of my death.”
During an April 11 press conference, the cardinal announced that he had asked the nuncio to start the process of looking for his successor, the Catholic New World reported.
He explained at the time that “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.”
The cardinal submitted his resignation two years ago, when he turned 75, as is required by Canon Law. As of March, he said that he had not received a response from the Pope. However, he cautioned that due to his cancer treatments, he may not be as active in the archdiocese as he would like to be.
The 77-year-old cardinal has faced cancer twice before. After being diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2006, he underwent a five-hour operation to remove his bladder, prostate gland and sections of his ureters, the tubes which connect the kidneys to the bladder. In August 2012, cancerous cells were discovered in his kidney and in a nodule that was removed from his liver. He underwent chemotherapy, and the cancer cells in his kidney became dormant.
Cardinal George was born in Chicago on Jan. 16, 1937 and is the first native of Chicago to become archbishop of the city. Pope John Paul II named him Bishop of Yakima in Washington State in 1990. After serving for five years, he was appointed archbishop of Portland, Oregon, on April 30, 1996.
Less than a year later, on April 8, 1997, Pope John Paul II named him the eighth Archbishop of Chicago after the See had fallen vacant with the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin on Nov. 14, 1996.
The process for choosing a new bishop involves a consultation of priests, laity and religious to examine the state and needs of the diocese. Recommendations are made by the papal nuncio and by the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. The final decision is made by the Pope.