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Editorial: Tough cardinal shows quiet grace

Cardinal Francis George  |  Sun-Times file photo

Cardinal Francis George | Sun-Times file photo

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Updated: September 22, 2012 6:17AM

Cardinal Francis George is a pretty tough guy.

We like to think that might have something to do with the cardinal being a Chicago boy, through and through, though his illustrious career has taken him all over the world. And we feel sure that this inner toughness will serve him well now, as it has before, as he faces the next great challenge of his life, the return of serious cancer.

Our thoughts and our prayers go out to His Eminence.

Cardinal George, 75, has faced daunting medical challenges in the past and struggled through them, even rose above them, without complaint.

As a boy of 13, growing up in St. Pascal’s parish on the Northwest Side, he contracted polio. For that reason, he was denied admission to Quigley Preparatory Seminary. But he would not be deterred from his goal of becoming a priest. He enrolled instead at a high school seminary in Downstate Belleville.

In 2006, he was diagnosed with cancer for the first time and underwent radical surgery to remove his bladder and prostate and part of his right ureter. We recall no great public drama. We recall only that he continued to serve his flock.

A year later, when he broke a hip, he handled it with such quiet grace that many Chicagoans, even Catholics, never knew of it.

Now Cardinal George’s doctors have found cancerous cells in a kidney and in a nodule, and medical experts warn that his condition is “quite guarded.”

Over the years, we have not always agreed with the cardinal, but we have always respected his strength of conviction and intellectual rigor. We have always detected in him something of the Chicago schoolboy on the playground who stands up for himself — and for his beloved church.

Get well, Cardinal George.

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