Cardinal Francis George, the former archbishop of Chicago, died Friday at the age of 78 after a long battle with kidney cancer.
George's successor, Blase Cupich, confirmed the news in an announcement.
"A man of peace, tenacity and courage has been called home to the Lord," Cupich said. "Cardinal George’s life’s journey began and ended in Chicago. He was a man of great courage who overcame many obstacles to become a priest."
George stepped down as leader of the Chicago Archdiocese in November. He stopped receiving an experimental drug treatment in December, and said in January that his doctors had "run out of tricks." He was admitted to Chicago's Loyola University Medical Center in March for evaluation.
The news of his death caused reactions within the Chicago Catholic community and across Illinois as people remembered George for being a "man of peace."
"Today we mourn the loss of an incredible leader, guiding spirit and loyal friend," said Monsignor Michael M. Boland, president of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. "Cardinal George had compassion for all. You saw this compassion in his eyes as he visited with the poor and most vulnerable in our communities."
"He always supported the work of Catholic Charities and it was an incredible blessing to have his leadership help guide us for 17 years," Boland continued. "He helped us tackle some of the most difficult issues facing our communities, always with faith and concern for the poorest of the poor. He exemplified our call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, showing mercy and kindness to all and leading by example."
"Francis Cardinal George was the spiritual leader of millions of Catholics in and around Chicago and touched the lives of countless others through the Church's schools, pastoral care and social services," said Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. "He shepherded the Church through some of its most trying times, but leaves behind a strong community of faith that has tremendous positive impact on the people of Illinois, regardless of their creed. Diana and I pray that he rest in eternal peace.”