The “shards of a ruined society”

By Tom Quiner

In my previous blogpost, “The State is Making itself into the Church,” I shared this famous quote from Cardinal Francis George, who died today:

“I expect to die in bed. My successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

A final phrase is usually omitted, and the Cardinal set the record straight in a column he wrote for the Catholic New World. Here is what he said:

“Speaking a few years ago to a group of priests, entirely outside of the current political debate, I was trying to express in overly dramatic fashion what the complete secularization of our society could bring,” writes the Cardinal.

“I was responding to a question and I never wrote down what I said, but the words were captured on somebody’s smart phone and have now gone viral on Wikipedia and elsewhere in the electronic communications world.

I am (correctly) quoted as saying that I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. What is omitted from the reports is a final phrase I added about the bishop who follows a possibly martyred bishop: ‘His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.’

What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse.”

Today, Cardinal George died in his bed.

Let us pray his successors do, too.


  1. parrillaturi on April 17, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    The way things are going, I do believe that it was a prophetic utterance by Cardinal Francis.

  2. The Gospel of Barney on April 17, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Incredibly prophetic!