CHICAGO (CBS) — After fighting a long battle with cancer, Francis Cardinal George has died.

Archbishop Blase Cupich, George’s successor, confirmed the cardinal died at 10:45 a.m. Friday at his official residence.

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“A man of peace, tenacity and courage has been called home to the Lord,” Cupich said Friday afternoon.

George had battled three bouts with cancer, his most recent diagnosis coming last year.

Cupich called George “a man of great courage who overcame many obstacles to become a priest.”

Born Jan 16, 1937, he contracted polio at the age of 13, leaving him with permanent leg damage.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke knew the cardinal well.

“He, every day, woke up, and all day until he went to sleep at night, had pain; and that’s not an easy thing to deal with, and try to function, and have a smile on your face all day long. I think he did a remarkable job,” she said.

Cupich said, despite George’s many health issues at the end of his career, he maintained his dedication to keeping busy with his duties leading the Catholic Church in Chicago.

“He pursued an over-full schedule, always choosing the church over his own comfort, and the people over his own needs,” Cupich said.

Last month, George had been re-admitted to Loyal University Medical Center for treatment of hydration issues and pain management

At the time, a church statement did not have any further information on Cardinal George’s condition, but did ask for prayers for the cardinal. Earlier in March, George was hospitalized after experiencing leg pain.

In late January, George announced his cancer treatments had stopped, and his doctors had run out of options, after an experimental drug proved ineffective for him.

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George revealed a year ago that he had begun chemotherapy for kidney cancer, his third bout with cancer. He had said he expected cancer to be the likely cause of his death.

In 2006, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and had his bladder and prostate removed. Cancer returned in 2012, when the disease spread to his kidney and liver.

Appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Chicago by Pope John Paul II in 1997, he was the first Chicago native to be named head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. He grew up on the Northwest Side, attending St. Pascal Elementary School, which is also where he was ordained as a minister.

In 2012, he was asked what kind of job he’d done in Chicago.

“I think I’ve been a faithful bishop, as far as I can tell. I’ve made a lot of mistakes,” he said with a laugh. “Sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of an inadvertence.”

He retired as Chicago’s archbishop last fall, and was succeeded by Cupich.

Cupich said George was very well respected by his fellow bishops, especially for the leadership role he took amid the priest sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church in recent years.

“He stood strong among his fellow bishops and insisted that zero tolerance was the only course consistent with our beliefs,” Cupich said.

Memorial services for George have not yet been announced.

Cupich said mourners should honor George by being “a little more brave, a little more steadfast, and a lot more loving.”

The tributes to George quickly began pouring in.

“Francis Cardinal George was the spiritual leader of millions of Catholics in and around Chicago and touched the lives of countless others through the Church’s schools, pastoral care and social services,” Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said in a statement. “He shepherded the Church through some of its most trying times, but leaves behind a strong community of faith that has tremendous positive impact on the people of Illinois, regardless of their creed. Diana and I pray that he rest in eternal peace.”

“Cardinal Francis George led a remarkable life of faith and service. As Chicago’s first native-born Archbishop, his journey took him full-circle from growing up in Portage Park to serving in far-flung missions around the globe, and eventually back home to shepherd the City of Chicago towards a better future,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a written statement.

Funeral arrangements have been announced. 

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