CHICAGO (CBS) — On the second day of visitation for Francis Cardinal George, leaders from several different religions gathered to honor the retired archbishop who died last week.
It may come as a bit of a surprise just how much time Cardinal George spent with leaders of non-Christian faiths. CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports the payoff from the time spent was closer ties and respect and affection shown today by those of other faiths who came to say goodbye.
One by one, each in his or her own distinctive style, dress and dialect, the faith leaders of Chicago came together to praise the man they’d come to know as a friend and partner.
“I think it’s reflective of the fact that the cardinal cared so much of Chicagoans of all races, of all religions. It showed in everything that he did,” said David Inlander of the American Jewish Committee.
The inter religious observance gave testimony to the late cardinal’s contributions to race and religious relations in the city.
“Particularly between Bronzeville and Bridgeport and the hostility that existed between those two communities around the Lenard Clark beating and all that, Cardinal George stepped into that and he helped to reconcile deep, deep wounds and deep, deep hurts between those two communities,” said Rev. Herbert Martin of the Progressive Community Church.
Jewish leaders talked about his role in creating jobs for Christians in Israel.
“The project was a great success the center continues today as a testimony to this Catholic-Jewish effort,” said Steven Nasatir with the Jewish Federation of Chicago.
The observance was organized by the priest who’s dedicated his life to improving inter-faith relations.
“Somebody asked me how long it took to me put the interfaith observance together and I replied to them 35 years,” said Rev. Thomas Baima. “The only reason we were able to do this is these relationships were already in place.”
“I want to assure all of you from various faith traditions,
that I stand ready to do every possible to build on that friendship,” Archbishop Cupich said.
The archbishop had welcomed Mayor Emanuel when he arrived this morning. The mayor, in turn, greeted others including a group of students from St. Mary of the Lake Parish School on the North Side, which the archbishop called the next generation.
George told Levine through the years that better relations with other faiths was absolutely critical, especially with the Islamic world and it was clear Tuesday those efforts have paid off.
On the second day of visitation, the line for visitation has not been long and those who came shared personal stories, like the women who didn’t realize the cardinal spotted her sleeping during his homily.
“He says ‘Oh, so you think I am a good preacher?’ and I said ‘Oh, yes Father, you are an excellent preacher,’ and he just is smiling he says, ‘Next time you go to confession, you’re going to tell them that you lied to me,’” said Lucy Maestro.
The body of the late cardinal has been lying in state since Tuesday afternoon, right beneath the red galero’s, the ceremonial wide-brimmed hats of late cardinals which hang from the cathedral ceiling. The hats are no longer issued by popes. Cardinal George’s was commissioned by seminarians and it’ll join the others next month.