Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago (USA), was born in Chicago, the son of Francis J. George and Julia R. McCarthy, on January 16, 1937. He is the first native of Chicago to become Archbishop of the city.
After attending Saint Paschal Grade School in the north-west of Chicago and the Saint Henry Minor Seminary, Illinois, he entered the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate on August 14, 1957.
He studied theology at the University of Ottawa in Canada and was ordained priest by Bishop Raymond P. Hilliger on December 21, 1963.
Cardinal George pursued undergraduate studies in philosophy at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. and then doctoral studies in philosophy at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. In these years, he also taught philosophy at the Seminary of the Oblates in Pass Christian, Mississippi (1964-69), at Tulane University, (1968), and at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska (1969-73).
From 1973 to 1974 he was Provincial Superior of the Midwestern Province of the Oblates at Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was then elected Vicar General of the Oblates and worked in Rome from 1974 to 1986.
He returned to the United States and became co-ordinator of the Circle of Fellows of the Cambridge Center for the Study of Faith and Culture in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1987-90).
At that time he pursued doctoral studies in theology at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, with a specialization in ecclesiology (1988).
Pope John Paul II named him Bishop of Yakima in Washington State on July 10, 1990. He was ordained to the episcopate on September 21, 1990 and was installed as the fifth Bishop of Yakima on the same day.
After five and a half years at Yakima, he was named by Pope John Paul II as Archbishop of Portland, Oregon, on April 30, 1996. He took possession of the See as the ninth Archbishop of Portland on May 27, 1996.
Less than a year later, on April 8, 1997, Pope John Paul II named him the eighth Archbishop of Chicago, since the See had fallen vacant with the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin on November 14, 1996.
The installation took place on May 7, 1997, and Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, Apostolic Nuncio in the United States of America, presided at the celebration, which took place in Holy Name Cathedral.
He was appointed by the Pope to the Synod of Bishops on Consecrated Life in 1994, and as Delegate and Special Secretary to the American Synod in 1997. He has also served on several Commissions of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in the U.S.A, including The Church in Latin America (from 1994), Doctrine (1991-94 and from 1996), Missions (from 1991), the Adhoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism (from 1995) and the Adhoc Committee on Shrines (from 1992).
From 1994 to 1997 he worked on the Committees on Religious Life and Ministry and the American Board of Catholic Missions within the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He has been a consultor for the NCCB on the following commissions: Science and Human Values (1994-97), Hispanic Affairs (1994-97), Evangelization (1991-93). He was also President of the NCCB’s Commission for Bishops and Scholars (1992-94).
He is the representative of the NCCB on the International Commission for English in the Liturgy. He is also on the Council of the Catholic Church Extension Society and of St Mary of the Lake University, Mundelein, Illinois. He is a member of the Council of Administration of the Catholic University of America (since 1995) and of the Basilica of The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (since 1997). He is also a member of the Pontifical Foundation (since 1997) and of the Council of Administration of the Pope John XXIII Center, Boston, Massachusetts (since 1994).
Since 1990 he has been the Episcopal Moderator and member of the Council of the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities. He brings personal experience to this work, since at the age of thirteen he was stricken for five months with poliomyelitis which caused irreparable damage to his legs.
He was also the Episcopal Moderator of the Cursillo Movement, Twelfth Region, from 1990 to 1997. He is the honorary Conventual Chaplain of the Federal Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Grand Prior of the North Central Lieutenancy of the United States for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and a member of the Council of Kohl McKornick Early Childhood Teaching Awards.
Since 1988 he has been a member of the Council of Administration of the Oblate Media at Belleville, Illinois. He is also a member of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, of the American Society of Missiologists, and of the Catholic Commission on Intellectual and Cultural Affairs.
At the Sixth General Congregation of the recent American Synod (Thursday November 20, 1997), he spoke on the theme, "A Comparison of Cultures".
Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (November 2004 - November 2007).
In November 2007 he was elected President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of February 21, 1998, of the Title of S. Bartolomeo all'Isola (St. Bartholemew on Tiberina Island).
- Congregations: for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; for the Evangelization of Peoples; for the Oriental Churches;
- Pontifical Councils: Cor Unum; for Culture;
- Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church ;
Committee Vox Clara;
- Special Council for America of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.