If you’re looking for a column discussing the Pope’s recent trip to the United States, look elsewhere. The public hysteria and heated internet debates surrounding the Pope’s recent visit has been a bit too much, so the topic won’t be filling any Chicago Catholic Examiner columns. Instead, its time for Chicago’s late Cardinal Francis George to get the last word.
Cardinal George passed away in April 2015, so you may be wondering how he can comment on anything. The answer can be found in a recent book: “A Godly Humanism: Clarifying the Hope that Lies Within”, written by Cardinal George himself. He completed the book nine days before his death, and it has been published posthumously.
The seemingly contradictory title contains a lot of fascinating insights. The book is ultimately about exploring the life of the mind. Yes, Cardinal George chose to focus his final book on the human mind itself, and how we view ourselves and our relationship to the world. In the book, he brushes on such a diverse set of topics that includes politics, economics, morals, spirituality, friendships, and alliances. Cardinal George attempts to reconcile things that people claim are incompatible topics: reason and faith, intelligence and holiness, and ultimately God and man.
One example in the book that highlights “Godly” humanism can be found when Cardinal George discusses scripture. He points to a key passage in the new testament (found in all three Synoptic Gospels) when Jesus asks the disciples, who do they say he is, and Simon replies that he is “Christ, the Son of the Living God.” In the bible, Jesus notes that Peter didn’t learn this from his own experience. He knew that because God the Father revealed it to him. Then, Jesus reveals to Simon that he will be known as Peter.
In many ways , Cardinal George’s wisdom seem to speak from beyond the grave when one looks at the passages of A Godly Humanism. The content and tone is obviously filled with Cardinal George’s distinctive method of communicating, and one can visualize Cardinal George speaking the passages aloud as you read through the book, page by page and chapter by chapter.
Throughout the book, Cardinal George gives his thoughts of Jesus, the Bible, the prophets, and all the recent post-Vatican II Popes, including Francis. He once observed “The only thing we take with us when we die is what we have given away”, and as such, he spent much of his final weeks, and even his final hours, fine-tuning the manuscript for A Godly Humanism. His final correspondence about the book came just four minutes after midnight on the day he died.
If you’re curious what Cardinal George has to say, now you can read his last words. “A Godly Humanism: Clarifying the Hope that Lies Within” is available through Catholic University Press (retail price $19.95), and can be found throughout various online retailers like Amazon.com. You’ll find the late Cardinal George of Chicago had much to discuss.