When Cardinal Francis George offered his mandatory resignation letter in January, he gave every indication he intended to continue to lead the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and its more than 2 million faithful for years to come.

Friday’s announcement that George is again battling cancer creates a degree of uncertainty for the archdiocese, but church experts say any decisions regarding the cardinal’s future at the helm of the local church remain in his hands.

“Nothing is going to be done in terms of governance of the Archdiocese of Chicago that isn’t Cardinal George’s request and preference,” said Rocco Palmo, an authority on the Catholic Church and writer of the blog “Whispers in the Loggia.” “I don’t think this will hasten anything unless the cardinal wishes otherwise.”

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