This stunning quote is usually only presented in part. But there was more to the quote. It was considered reactionary by the liberal left (of course) but accurate by most Christians.
In 2010, speaking to a group of priests, Cardinal George said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. 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.”
The second sentence is usually left off, but it is crucial for the big picture. The Catholic Church has been here for 2,000 years suffering untold societal upheavals, persecutions and the rise and fall of empires, kingdoms and nations. But when collapse comes, it is not the end. No, the Church is always there to help pick up the pieces and rebuild civilization from the ashes. Like a mother she gently brings back civility, compassion, learning, truth, culture and freedom.
Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. How sad that we Americans with such a rich history, such of magnificent social and cultural foundation are so foolish as to let it be robbed from us. But all civilizations rise and fall – look at Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire and now the toppling United States.
One thing to remember: the Chair of St. Peter has been occupied for 2,000 years (and the Chair of Moses 1,300 years before that). The Papacy is the longest existing institution or office in the world. It will endure until the end of time though all others are destined to topple.
The Church is always there to pick up the pieces, preach peace and compassion and bring sanity back to the world. Though populated by people, the Church is not primarily a human institution; rather, it is built and sustained by Jesus Christ himself!