Monday, April 14, 2014

Replacing Chicago's Cardinal George

Recently, the names of two archbishops who were speculated to be on the short list of candidates to replace Chicago's Francis Cardinal George, are currently dealing with leadership issues in their respective diocese.

Cardinal Francis George presided over the blessing of the palms before mass at Holy Name Cathedral Sunday morning.

Employees in some of Seattle's Catholic dioceses are experiencing credit card fraud.  Their social security numbers have been usurped and they have been billed for purchases they never ordered.  Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia has been criticized for building and moving into a $2.2 million dollar residence.  The situations in both dioceses have placed the archbishops in compromising positions.  Speculators have now added to the list the name of Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky.

Francis Cardinal George's cancer has recurred and he is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy.  It is questionable about how much longer he can effectively fulfill his diocesan duties.  He had hoped to travel to Rome for the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.  However, due to his health, he has followed his doctor's recommendation not to travel to Rome. 

He is quoted in Saturday's (4/12/14) issue of the Chicago Sun-Times as stating that the official process to replace him has not yet been launched, but that he has urged Catholic officials to start it.  He is further quoted as remarking, "the fact that my health is's just not fair to the archdiocese to have someone who may not be able to do the job as well as I believe it should be done...I'm not going to be dying I don't think in the next few months..."  He said, "Hopefully, the chemo will not only slow the cancer down, it will shrink whatever tumors are there and contain it."  He said that once his successor is chosen, he hopes to meet with him "to be able to be of service if he wants it...Inevitably after 17 years...I know a lot of people, and if he wants to ask questions, I will be available for service." 

Although Archbishop Sartain is in no way involved in the credit card scam in his diocese. It is having a devastating financial impact on employees in his diocese.  However, it is occurring on his "watch."  I understand that his is "pulling out all stops" to correct the situation.

On March 31, 2014, conservative Fox News Associated Press posted an article about Atlanta's Archbishop Gregory's purchase of a $2.2 million mansion.  There was speculation in the article that the purchase of the property was part of a real estate deal made possible by money by Joseph Mitchell 's estate.  Joseph Mitchell is said to be the nephew of Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With the Wind," a Civil War epic that made his family wealthy.  When Mitchell died in 2011, according to the article, he left to the archdiocese as estate valued at more than $15 million on condition that it be used for "general religious and charitable purposes." 

Millions spent on Catholic clergy anger parishioners photo 

It was reported that Archbishop Gregory's intent in purchasing the $2.2 million property was to design a home with large meeting spaces and rooms for receptions and gatherings.  It was reported that cathedral officials were planning to expand the Archbishop's old home where its priests could live while freeing up space on the cathedral's cramped campus.  The Fox article listed tax record as one of its sources.

Archbishop Gregory responded immediately to the criticism, taking full responsibility for the purchase of the property.  According to an April 5, 2014 press release, Archbishop Gregory convened a meeting at the Chancery with three archdiocesan consultative groups to seek their counsel.  Following the meeting, Archbishop Gregory was quoted as saying, "After consultation with members who were available to attend, from the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Archdiocesan Finance Council and the Council of Priests, and hundreds of well-meaning parishioners of differing points of view -- some who sent written observations -- as well as my own personal reflections and prayers, I have decided to sell the Habersham property and invest the proceeds from the sale into the needs of the Catholic community."

Archbishop Gregory's reported plan is to vacate the residence in May and to move to another archdiocesan property, not his previous residence.   

Archbishop Gregory's forthrightness, his humility and his impeccable record of leadership, definitely  make him worthy of being elevated to the level of Cardinal.  

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