Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

This year's best interview with an American cardinal

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 17, 2014

No, I don’t mean the troubling “60 Minutes” interview with Cardinal O’Malley. About that, the less said, the better.

If you’re interested in a wide-ranging interview with an influential American cardinal who actually speaks his mind (and if you don’t want to be interrupted by commercials for Viagra), the right choice is John Allen’s long exchange with Cardinal Francis George, on the Crux site.

Cardinal George—now entering retirement and the last stages of a long battle with cancer—speaks with unusual candor. Allen asks the right questions. So the interview includes several newsworthy items and many more useful observations. The reader learns:

  • Why Cardinal George took a lead role in improving English-language translations of the liturgy.
  • That he received very little useful advice when he first took over the Chicago archdiocese.
  • How he, as president of the US bishops’ conference, framed the opposition to the contraceptive mandate in President Obama’s health-care reform policy.
  • Why he dislikes being labeled as a “culture warrior” and believes that applying the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ to Church affairs is destructive.
  • What he meant by his famous statement that he would die in his bed, his successor in prison, and the next in line a martyr.
  • How he worked with then-Archbishop Bertone (who was representing then-Cardinal Ratzinger) to save the US bishops’ “zero-tolerance” policy when other Vatican officials threatened to scuttle it.
  • Why he has some pointed questions that he’d like to pose to Pope Francis, and what they are.

Frankly, most interviews with influential Catholic prelates are dull. Not this one. As a rule cardinals are very circumspect, speaking only in the most guarded terms. Cardinal George breaks that rule in this interview. Don’t miss it.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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