CHICAGO (CBS) — Ever since his third cancer diagnosis last year, Cardinal Francis George has known it would likely be the cause of his death, and facing that truth, the late archbishop said months ago that, despite his faith in heaven, he feared facing the end of his life on Earth.
The cardinal told WBBM Newsradio’s “At Issue” program in November he feared the experience of dying, and when it comes to heaven, he is in the dark just like everyone else, and has to rely on faith.
“I fear the unknown, and what happens after death is unknown. I mean, in faith we believe that we will live forever, and that God calls us to live with him if we cooperate with his Grace. I believe that sincerely, profoundly, but I don’t know what that means,” he said.
One thing George is certain about, heaven is not a place.
“Spirits don’t inhabit space and time. Bodies inhabit space and time. So it’s not a place, and we don’t know what that means either,” he said. “For example, we talk about – in technical terms – a beatific vision; that is, to see God as the blessed see him. What does it mean to see without eyes? We don’t know what it means to live without a body,” he said.
George said there is so much about life, and the afterlife, that is unknown, and that we can’t figure out anyway, so we just have faith.
“That’s what faith is about and I hope I have that trust,” he said.
George’s funeral mass was being held at noon Thursday at Holy Name Cathedral. Afterward, he will be buried in his family plot at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines.