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Chicago's Cardinal George starting more chemotherapy after cancer cells return

Cardinal George Cancer.JPEG

FILE - In this March 14, 2013 file photo, Cardinal Francis George speaks during an interview at the North American College in Rome. On Friday, March 7, 2014, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced that George is starting another round of chemotherapy to address signs of cancer returning to the area around his right kidney. He was diagnosed with cancer in August 2012 and had chemotherapy then. The diocese says the cancer was dormant for more than a year. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File) (The Associated Press)

Cardinal Francis George is starting another round of chemotherapy to address signs of cancer returning to the area around his right kidney, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Friday.

During the next two months, he'll receive a more aggressive chemotherapy drug than the one doctors used to fight his cancer in 2012.

George, 77, informed parishioners about the treatment plans and asked for their prayers in a column marking Lent in the archdiocese newspaper Catholic New World. The archdiocese serves more than 2 million Roman Catholics and George is its spiritual leader.

"While I am not experiencing symptoms of cancer at this time, this is a difficult form of the disease, and it will most probably eventually be the cause of my death," George wrote. The cardinal said the news of the cancer's return might "increase speculation about my retirement," but added the pope "hasn't told me" when that will be.

George submitted his resignation when he turned 75, as bishops are required to do by church law.

He survived bladder cancer eight years ago and was diagnosed with urothelial cancer in August 2012. Chemotherapy then appeared to work and the cancer was dormant for more than a year. Now the newly seen cancer cells are confined to the area of his right kidney.

George plans to keep working, but may reduce his workload occasionally because of lowered immunity caused by the treatment.

In his Lenten message in the archdiocese newspaper, George reflected on his work in the archdiocese, saying he'd concentrated on "the formation of people" through programs such as the seminary system, lay ministry programs and the preparation of teachers and principals.

"Whoever comes next as archbishop will have people he can trust and depend on," George wrote.

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