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Catholic Church Begins Process To Replace Cardinal George

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The process to replace Francis Cardinal George has begun, and Pope Francis is expected to name the successor late this year.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Papal Nuncio to the United States, has informed Cardinal George that he has begun the consulting process to identify his successor as Archbishop of Chicago.

The process is expected to be completed in late fall.

George has already officially informed the Vatican of his intention to retire, which is required of any cardinal over the age of 75.

George, 77, is being treated for cancer and is undergoing a more aggressive chemotherapy treatment.

The cardinal wrote about his diagnosis earlier this year in a column for Lent for the Catholic New World newspaper.

"My cancer, which was dormant for well over a year, is still confined to the area of the right kidney, but it is beginning to show signs of new activity," he wrote.

In February 2013, the cardinal said his doctors had given him a clean bill of health after finding no signs of cancer activity. However his doctors found signs of cancer activity in his right kidney.

"After many tests, scans, biopsies and other inconveniences, the settled judgment is that the best course of action is to enter into a regimen of chemotherapy, with drugs more aggressive than those that were used in the first round of chemo. This treatment will take place over the next two months, when my reaction to the chemo will be evaluated," George wrote.

The Archdiocese said the cardinal plans to keep his administrative and public schedule while he undergoes treatment, although his schedule might occasionally be reduced due to lowered immunity from chemotherapy.

In addition to his first bout with kidney cancer in 2012, George also was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2006, and had his bladder removed.

George has led the Chicago Archdiocese since 1997 and is the first native Chicagoan to serve in that role.

Four church leaders whose names have been mentioned as possible successors:

Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton Gregory
Archbishop of Louisville Joseph Kurtz
Bishop of St. Petersburg Robert Lynch
Archbishop of Seattle J. Peter Sartain

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