(CBS) – A wide range of politicians and spiritual leaders were among those who offered tributes Friday to Francis Cardinal George, who passed away this morning.
“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,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a written statement.
“He lent his counsel to those in distress, his comfort to those in despair and he inspired us all with his courage in his final days. He could always be counted on to provide those granite qualities to the countless people who relied on them when it mattered the most,” Emanuel added.
“Amy (Rule, the mayor’s wife) and I join every Chicagoan in extending our deepest sympathies to Cardinal George’s family, his many friends, and the Archdiocese of Chicago during this difficult time.”
Here is a roundup of other public statements issued Friday.
The White House
“For seventeen years, His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, served his community and his fellow Catholics as Archbishop of Chicago – his beloved hometown. The President and First Lady offer their thoughts and prayers for his family and to all who saw him as a leader, a guide, and a friend.”
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
“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. 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.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk
“A Chicago native, Cardinal Francis George led his flock through difficult times with unwavering faith for 17 years. Cardinal George was a voice for all of Chicago’s citizens, especially the most vulnerable, and today I join the Chicago area’s more than 2 million Catholics in mourning his passing.”
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Chicago
“I am saddened to learn of the death today of Francis Cardinal George. Not just Chicago Catholics but the world has lost a man who was a great leader in the Catholic Church and a man who cared deeply about everyone no matter their faith. He overcame many personal challenges, from polio at age 13 to the cancer that took his life, but he always persevered and kept giving. From his days as a teacher to his time as Archbishop of Chicago, he gave his all to spread God’s word and God’s love. His outreach went beyond the Catholic community. He convened inter-religious discussions and showed tremendous respect for other faith communities. And he was always extremely committed to social justice that reaches to all corners of our society.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
“We add our thoughts and prayers on the passing today of Cardinal George. The Cardinal was a compassionate voice to not just those within the Archdiocesan Roman Catholic community, but also to those from other faith communities. He showed admirable bravery and determination in confronting his own health issues these past few years while remaining a thoughtful mentor to many. Our deepest sympathies to his friends and family. May he rest in peace.”
Chicago Ald. Edward M. Burke
“Cardinal Francis George, Chicago’s only native-born Archbishop, was a religious leader of silent strength and humility whose long struggle with cancer spoke loudly about his strong faith in God and the Resurrection.
He never deviated from the Gospel message in which he so lovingly believed. And I am confident that all people of good will found in him a genuineness that inspired and enriched their lives.
Perhaps it was his own battle with childhood Polio that made him so sensitive to the needs of others. His one desire was to serve the people entrusted to his care, especially the poor, needy and afflicted.
He once said that he hoped that in the end he would be known simply as a good priest. He was indeed a great priest, Archbishop and Cardinal, a true leader and teacher. I share in the confidence that the Lord will greet him with the words ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”
Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart
“Whether saying mass for detainees at the Cook County Jail on Christmas mornings; ministering to his flock; or serving as an inspiration to people of all faiths living with cancer, Cardinal Francis George made a mark on all our lives and will be missed.”
Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., President of DePaul University
“The DePaul University community is saddened by the death of Cardinal George. Whether it was because he was a former university professor or that he had taken courses in DePaul’s music school in the 1960s, the cardinal always seemed relaxed and at home with our students. He rarely refused an invitation to say mass for them, lecture in classes or speak at major conferences. His presence to our students meant a great deal to them over the years, and we will always be grateful to him for it. May the Lord bless him abundantly.”
Jack Wall, President of Catholic Extension
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Francis Cardinal George and have nothing but deep gratitude and appreciation for his 17 years of leadership and service as Chancellor of Catholic Extension during his term as head of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
We will carry with us fond memories of the Cardinal’s missionary zeal and are blessed to have received his wise counsel as our leader. Cardinal George accelerated our capacity to meet the urgent needs and priorities of all 94 of our mission dioceses. Since Cardinal George became our chancellor in 1997, Catholic Extension granted a total of $300 million to strengthen the church’s mission and helped construct 1,800 churches in the poorest regions and most challenging communities in the U.S. His legacy and the impact he has had on all of us will be an inspiration for years to come.”
The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago
“We recall his deep intellect, compassion, integrity, humor and personal courage. Cardinal George was an active member of the Council and he was devoted to interreligious cooperation to serve the greater good of our community. We all looked to him for his wisdom and advice and deeply appreciated his challenging questions. Cardinal George was an initial honoree of the Council and received our Interreligious Leadership Award in 2014. He will be greatly missed.”
Bishop Larry Trotter
“Today I have lost a true friend. While we obviously come from two different backgrounds, our common denominator was our love for God. Cardinal George was very supportive of my own battle with cancer. He prayed with me and cheered me into recovery. I will miss Cardinal George. He was a great human being.”