RELIGION

Cardinal Francis George, whose Chicago archbishop nod showed church's conservative shift, dies

  • FILE - In this April 11, 2013 file photo, Chicago Cardinal Francis George pauses while speaking at a news conference in Chicago. George, a vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who led the U.S. bishops' fight against Obamacare and played a key role in the church's response to the clergy sex abuse scandal, has died. He was 78. George, who retired as Chicago archbishop in the fall of 2014, died Friday morning, April 17, 2015, after a long fight with cancer, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

    FILE - In this April 11, 2013 file photo, Chicago Cardinal Francis George pauses while speaking at a news conference in Chicago. George, a vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who led the U.S. bishops' fight against Obamacare and played a key role in the church's response to the clergy sex abuse scandal, has died. He was 78. George, who retired as Chicago archbishop in the fall of 2014, died Friday morning, April 17, 2015, after a long fight with cancer, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE -- In this April 16, 2008 file photo Pope Benedict XVI embraces Chicago's Cardinal Francis George after addressing the bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Cardinal Francis George, a vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who played a key role in the church's response to the clergy sex abuse scandal, has died. He was 78. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    FILE -- In this April 16, 2008 file photo Pope Benedict XVI embraces Chicago's Cardinal Francis George after addressing the bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Cardinal Francis George, a vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who played a key role in the church's response to the clergy sex abuse scandal, has died. He was 78. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2014 file photo, Cardinal Francis George, retiring leader of the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese speaks at a news conference in Chicago. George, a vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who led the U.S. bishops' fight against Obamacare and played a key role in the church's response to the clergy sex abuse scandal, has died. He was 78. George, who retired as Chicago archbishop in the fall of 2014, died Friday morning, April 17, 2015, after a long fight with cancer, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.  (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2014 file photo, Cardinal Francis George, retiring leader of the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese speaks at a news conference in Chicago. George, a vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who led the U.S. bishops' fight against Obamacare and played a key role in the church's response to the clergy sex abuse scandal, has died. He was 78. George, who retired as Chicago archbishop in the fall of 2014, died Friday morning, April 17, 2015, after a long fight with cancer, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.  (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)  (The Associated Press)

Cardinal Francis George, a vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who played a key role in the church's response to the clergy sex abuse scandal, has died. He was 78.

The Chicago archdiocese says George died Friday after a long fight with cancer.

Appointed to lead the archdiocese in 1997, George became a leading figure of his era in the American church.

He oversaw the contentious new English-language translation of the Roman Missal, one of the biggest changes in Catholic worship in generations. In 2002, at the height of the sex-abuse crisis, he led a group of U.S. bishops who persuaded Vatican officials to more quickly oust guilty priests.

George also spearheaded the fight among bishops against President Barack Obama's health insurance plan, arguing it allow taxpayer money for abortion.