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Pope Francis expresses his esteem for Cardinal George, will say more later

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CHICAGO — Pope Francis says he had "great esteem" for Chicago Cardinal George and was very close to him during his suffering.

George, who retired last year as Chicago's archbishop, died Friday after a long fight with cancer.

Father Lombardi, an English-language spokesman for The Vatican, says the announcement of the George's death came in the late evening Friday in Rome. Because of that, Lombardi says the pope won't issue a statement on George's death until Saturday.

George was strong in upholding Catholic orthodoxy and drawing a more definitive line about what could be considered truly Catholic.

Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Blase Cupich as George's successor. Cupich has a record of taking a less confrontational approach on divisive social issues and works to build ties with those who disagree with church teaching.

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