Monday, November 17, 2014

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I - Chicago's Worker Archbishop

Juravit Dominus et non paenitebit eum/
Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech./
Dominus a dextris tuis,/
confregit in die irae suae reges.

(The Lord swore, and will not repent:Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech.The Lord upon thy right hand,shall wound even kings in the day of his wrath.)
Those are some tough words for hymn. The lyrics come form Pslam 110 and the tune from George Fredrick Handel ( Mr. Messiah). This Baroque hymn is sung at the ordination of priests.  I sang with with my pals Mike Kelly, Willie Bigane, Bobby Ryan, Kevin McEldowney, Phil Panatera, Tommy Walsh and other scapegraces from Little Flower Grammar School following weeks of training from Miss Alice Doney and beat downs from high school age choirmasters, like Terry McEldowney.  We got it right for a young guy's First Mass - I think his name was Corrigan.  I remember the beauty of hymn and sense of the sacred that got through to 7th & Grade miscreants aborbed with growing hormones, scatological humor and physically violent pranks.  We were told by Sister Mary Doralese and Sister Mary Gertrudis (RSM) that we were destined to 'die on the gallows. or worse.'  Well, you can't kill a man born to hang.

Nevertheless, our choir carried off the First Mass of a young priest from the neighborhood . . .splendidly. I recall that we were treated to a five spot ($5) each by the father of the priest and that was in 1965 dollars.

I though about the Handel hymn all weekend - every time the Chicago media announced that Francis Cardinal George will end his leadership of Archdiocese of Chicago on Tuesday, November 18th.

I though about the lyrics of Juravit Dominus and how real the words of the Psalm match the tenure of Cardinal George's stewardship of the Church in Chicago.

Cardinal George caught a bum rap from the newspapers, activist priests who play to the OP ed pontiffs from Oak Park to Englewood, gutless elected officials pandereing for more LGBTQ hozanahs and Planned Parenthood lucre and the blow-dried ninnies on Chicago television  I can think of no churchman who withstood more ambush activism and journalism than Francis Cardinal George for speaking the truth.  The truth runs counter to desires and impulses - always.

Cardinal George cleaned up the clergy abuse mess tolerated by his two predecessors, the racial animus inherited from Cardinal Cody's singular role in making Chicago a genuinely 'segregated' city and Cardinal Bernadin's enegetic closing of schools, churches and social institutions.

Even institutions run by the Church follow idiotic policies of goo-goo of State, County and City progressive one-size-fits-all procrustean policy.  Policy is for . . . .persons without the will to good for others.  Sometimes, it is necessary to work things like Catholic Chicagoans - outside of preening policy.

Cardinal George found time to counsel Leo students who came from horrible situations (abusive parents, crime addicted families, drug addled parent with legal custody & etc.)  and to call about their progress.  I have yet to pick up the phone to report back to Neil Steinberg, Carol Marin, Mike Flannery and Dane Placko of Fox News 32 on the condistions of an apartment at 40th & Wallace and how a kid manages to maintain a C+ average with running water and a diet of Cheetos.  The kid refused to abandon his little brother and suffered dysfunction, squallor, rats and loneliness.  Cardinal George partnered with Leo and helped - Old School Chicago.   Cardinal George calls about hurting kids all of the time.

Cardinal George is a working man's priest, bishop and Cardinal. An intellectual giant and ecclesiastical scholar of international reputation, Cardinal George never lost tough with the carpenters, electricians, cops, school teachers, firemen, or skilled tradesmen who remain in the Catholic pews of Chicago and who also shooulder the abuse from prentencious asses like Carol Marin, Eric Zorn, Michael Sneed, or Dane Placko with modest good humor.

Cardinal George is a great shepherd and a great guy -Order of Melchisedech notwithstanding.

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