Today is Cardinal George's birthday. And not just any birthday, but a really big one. And not just big because he turns 75 today, but because that makes this the long-awaited day when he can tender his letter of resignation to the Pope. Cardinal George has already said several times that the Pope doesn't usually let a Cardinal retire that easily, but one gets the distinct impression that His Eminence hopes that just maybe he won't have to wait too long before welcoming a successor here in Chicago. As it is, George is the first Chicago archbishop to even reach retirement age, and this despite serious health problems (like the bladder cancer he underwent surgery for five years ago).
What would a retired Cardinal do? Well, this Cardinal gave me a hint when he greeted me at a meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council about two months ago. Cardinal George (a teacher at heart) expressed the dream of coming to our center a couple of times a week, just to be available to answer people's questions about the faith. ("We're going to hold you to that, Your Eminence," I told him.) So, yes, over here we are kind of hoping that the Pope will let Cardinal George "follow his dreams" sooner rather than later.