From an interview with Francis Cardinal George by Catholic New World‘s editor, Joyce Duriga:
CNW: There’s a rumor going around that you’ve been told you have two years until they will accept your retirement.
Cardinal George: I don’t know how anyone can assume that, because I’ve not discussed my retirement with the Holy Father. Much depends, of course, upon health and the demands of the local situation.
CNW: You’ve often said that one of your goals is to live to see retirement, since the other archbishops of Chicago haven’t. God willing that happens, where would you go from there?
Cardinal George: I would stay in Chicago. I would do what my successor wants me to do. I would hope that I could return to some of the things that I really wanted to do as a priest: hearing confessions, helping in parishes, giving some conferences, perhaps. Work with the poor. I’ve always done direct work with poor peopl e in places I’ve been, except in Chicago. I would like to be able to do that again, serving in soup kitchens and things of that nature.
CNW: You mention your successor. Looking back at your experience, what characteristics do you think your successor should have?
Cardinal George: A bishop has to be able to preach, teach and hand on the Catholic faith in its integrity. He has to see to it that the seven sacraments are available to the faithful. And he has to see to it that the faithful are pastored by well-prepared priests, deacons and others so that they are loved in Christ’s name as they gather into parishes. Those are the three things he must do: the bishop governs, the bishop teaches, the bishop sanctifies.
Part of seeing that the sacraments are available means that he himself confirms, he ordains, he does the sacramental functions that a bishop is supposed to do. After that, each bishop brings particular interests and particular skills and all the rest. But as long as he can do those three things, that’s what counts.
Governing also, especially in a big diocese, means contact with a lot of other people. There is a lot of administration. There are a lot of corporate, legal and financial concerns. You have to have somebody who can grapple with that. You have a lot of help to do that, of course, but it can be complex.
It comes essentially, however, to three tasks — he governs, he teaches, he sanctifies. He’s shepherd, prophet, teacher, priest, because that is what Jesus is: shepherd, teacher and priest.
Read the entire interview on the Catholic New World site.