Cardinal George cancels Rome trip after resuming chemo

April 8, 2014 (CHICAGO)

The Cardinal may be battling cancer, but you wouldn't know it from his energy level Tuesday night. He gave an hour long theology lecture here at St. Xavier University and did address his decision to cancel that trip. Cardinal George appeared in public just hours after announcing a major change in his schedule because of his health.

Cardinal George entered the lecture room Tuesday night through a side door, declining to answer questions from reporters. He began his talk with a quip about his health after a glowing introduction from the opening speaker.

"Advantages of being seriously ill is that you hear your obituary before you die," said Cardinal George.

Before the lecture, the archdiocese announced the cardinal had resumed chemotherapy for a recurrence of cancer in the area of his right kidney.

The treatment had been delayed last month after the 77-year-old had to be hospitalized for flu-like symptoms.

"I prayed for him even today as I thought of him coming here tonight in light of his health battles and health issues, and I just see him as a beacon of light in the church," said Maureen Craigmile.

The archdiocese also announced Tuesday that the Cardinal will no longer travel to Rome later this month to attend the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, who appointed George as Cardinal.

"He had great affection for John Paul II, so I'm sure to see that wonderful ministry being recognized through canonization would have been a very powerful moment for him," said Prof. Graziano Marcheschi, St. Xavier University.

After cameras were asked to leave the room, the cardinal during an audience question and answer session said of traveling to Rome: "It would be foolish. If I got sick, it would be dangerous. . . The event will go on whether I'm there or not. It's not the end of the world."

Last month, the Cardinal hinted at such a decision.

"It all depends on where that falls. I can't take a long plane trip if my immune system is weakened," said Cardinal George, on March 30.

Instead of Rome, the Cardinal will be here in Chicago during Holy Week. The archdiocese saying he will be participating in all scheduled activities, including Easter Sunday Mass at Holy Name Cathedral.

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