Remembering Cardinal George

Francis Cardinal George, who died last week, was beloved by the Catholic community in Chicago as a pastor and spiritual leader.  Perhaps a less well-known fact was that the Cardinal was also a leader in the ecumenical movement.  He had a passion for bringing together Christians of all backgrounds and traditions to engage in dialogue, to study the Bible and to learn from each other. 

It was only three years ago that the Cardinal joined us in a series of ecumenical Bible studies during Lent.  Two Catholic scholars, one of whom was the Cardinal, joined with two Protestant scholars to read and share the gospel story of Jesus’ journey to the cross.  The Bible, and especially the Gospels, is a place of common ground for all Christians.  We may disagree on some points, but we all worship Christ, whose story is told in the Gospel narratives. 

At Chicago Bible Society, we practice what John Armstrong calls “missional ecumenism.”  Both in reading the Bible together and in working together to comfort those in need, we cross confessional lines and achieve in some small measure the vision of the Church that Jesus prayed for in John 17.  Reading the Bible is a common practice of all Christians, and at Chicago Bible Society, we put into practice that vision by providing the Bible to the whole Church.   

Together with the Catholic community in Chicago, we grieve the loss of the Cardinal, but also rejoice in his memory.  The calm voice, the patient demeanor and easy friendliness will continue to have an impact on all of us who knew him.