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Cardinal Francis George dies at 78

Cardinal Francis George, a vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who played a key role in the church's response to the clergy sex abuse scandal, has died at the age of 78.

The Chicago archdiocese said he had fought a long battle with cancer.

Appointed to lead the archdiocese in 1997, Cardinal George became a leading figure of his era in the American church.

He oversaw the contentious new English-language translation of the Roman Missal, one of the biggest changes in Catholic worship in generations.

In 2002, at the height of the sex-abuse crisis, he led a group of U.S bishops who persuaded Vatican officials to more quickly oust guilty priests.

He also spearheaded the fight among bishops against President Barack Obama's health insurance plan, arguing that it allowed taxpayer money for abortion.

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