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No cancer cells present in Cardinal George’s kidney

Updated: February 21, 2013 8:44PM

Cardinal Francis George has been given a clean bill of health — just as he gets set to head to Rome to help select a new pope.

“I don’t want to overstate [my improving health] because these things have a tendency to fool you, but for the moment I’m very grateful,” said George about tests conducted this week that determined there weren’t any cancer cells present in his body.

George said he will continue to have to go in for testing every three months.

It’s the second time George has beaten back cancer.

George announced last August that cancer had been found in his left kidney and liver. He then began chemotherapy, which ended in December.

Seven years ago, surgeons removed his bladder, prostate and part of his right ureter following the discovery he had bladder cancer.

Meanwhile, George isn’t ruling out the election of a first American or Third World pope but said he doesn’t know which one is more likely. He said the United States might have a chance because it isn’t quite so powerful as it once was.

“In a global economy, we’re one economy now. There are other nations that are almost as important as we are. ... And so that does open up possibilities for an American pope who wouldn’t be considered an agent of the U.S. government,” George said.

George added the cardinals will look more closely at the person rather than the place. On whether Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley would make a good pope: “Cardinal O’Malley is a wonderful man and I’m glad to see his name mentioned as a candidate.”

The process of selecting a pope might take some time because there are so many good candidates, George said.

“You really don’t know until the first ballot. A lot of people are talked about. You don’t know who has support until people vote.”

But a conclave that drags on too long would be bad for the Church because people are impatient and may question what’s causing the delay.

“A conclave is pretty intense,” George added. “And if it goes on a long time — you’ve got a lot of elderly gentlemen there. It gets difficult.”

Contributing: AP

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