I have been receiving questions about my retirement. What is a normal process governed by the canon law of the church has become the subject of public speculation here.
Bishops, in accordance with church law, submit to the pope a letter of resignation from their pastoral responsibilities when they reach 75 years of age. I hope to do that on Jan. 16, 2012. The pope accepts the resignation and appoints a successor on his own timeline. Often, bishops remain in office for a year or so after their 75th birthday, if their health permits and their mental powers have not noticeably declined.
Bishops who are cardinals of the Roman Church sometimes remain in office some years longer. This is because cardinals continue to serve in the Roman Curia and as electors of the pope until they are 80 years of age, and there should not be more than one papal elector in any particular diocese. We have never experienced this problem in Chicago, since all my predecessors died before they were 75. I am eager to be the first Archbishop of Chicago to retire!
I am looking forward to meeting my successor. I pray for him every day and would encourage others to do the same.
Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago