A member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, George was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1998. He served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010.
On September 20, 2014, Pope Francis accepted George's resignation and appointed Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Washington, to succeed him as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. In this unusual circumstance, George was permitted to remain as the incumbent archbishop until Cupich was installed to succeed him on November 18, 2014. He was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2006, and died from the disease in 2015.
Francis George was born on January 16, 1937 in Chicago, Illinois, to Francis J. and Julia R. (née McCarthy) George. He has an older sister, Margaret. He received his early education at the parochial school of St. Pascal Church in Chicago's Northwest Side.
George contracted polio at age 13. Due to his disability, he was rejected by Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary, and instead enrolled at St. Henry Preparatory Seminary in Belleville, a high school seminary of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He joined the Missionary Oblates on August 14, 1957. He continued his studies at the Oblates novitiate in Godfrey before entering Our Lady of the Snows Seminary in Pass Christian, Mississippi.