Pope Francis breathes new life into Cardinal Bernardin’s contested legacy

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(1983) Pope John Paul II places a red biretta on the head of Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago as he was elevated to cardinal during a Feb. 2 consistory at the Vatican. Cardinal Bernardin was one of 18 new cardinals invested at the service. Religion News Service file photo

(1983) Pope John Paul II places a red biretta on the head of Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago as he was elevated to cardinal during a Feb. 2 consistory at the Vatican. Cardinal Bernardin was one of 18 new cardinals invested at the service. Religion News Service file photo

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(RNS) “The point that (Bernardin’s) consistent ethic makes is exactly the same point that Pope Francis is making – let’s look at the whole picture and not just focus almost exclusively on three or so issues,” said Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, N.M.

  • Tom Allio

    One of the sad chapters in the past 30 years was when Cardinals O’Connor, Hickey and Law publicly discredited Cardinal Bernadin and the Common Ground initiative. Invoking Bernadin is “spot on” David. Bishop Anthony Pilla of Cleveland, who served as President of the USCCB in the early 90’s, embraced the consistent ethic of life and was a friend of the Cardinals. Pilla played a crucial role in President George W. Bush’s support for the refundable child credit, which lifted 500,000 children out of poverty. John Carr recognized this as one of the greatest accomplishments of the USCCB.

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  • Magdalene

    To have an ‘ethic of life’ you first have to have life.

    Bernardin was a disaster. It is not fair to compare P. Francis to him.

  • Magdalene writes: “To have an ‘ethic of life’ you first have to have life.”

    If the US Catholic hierarchy actually cared about the poor and cared about life after the womb, they would not have opposed the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” which the actual deliverers of care, the religious orders of nuns, supported. Instead, the hierarchy, right-wing supporters of the Republican party, preferred to allow the poor to go without adequate medical care (and pre-natal care) and in many cases to die prematurely as a result. The voices of the hierarchy were silent during the government shutdown which affected the delivery of nutrition and health care for many including the poor and aged. The old Papal encyclicals defended the quality of life after the womb even insisting on a living family wage that would allow workers to live in indignity. The true Catholic understanding of life goes beyond mere existence and considers the quality of life, even the non-material qualities such as dignity.

    As a result of the nun’s testifying on behalf of the Affordable Care Act, the bullying male hierarchy demanded their silence even on issues of prudential social policy. The only notable accomplishment of the present hierarchs has been their continuing protection of child sexual abusers in their midst.

  • Craig Gould

    Magdalene- you must be from outside of Chicago, since only people outside of here would think of Cardinal Bernardin as a disaster. The majority here still mourn his loss- of both his life and his incredible teachings that are trying to be killed

  • William

    This is the biggest bunch hooey. Bernardin was a disgrace. Read some of Malachi Martin’s work.

  • David

    I’m from Chicago the Archdiocese is in schambles. I don’t miss Bernardin and only feel sadness for Cardinal George who inheritated his mess. If the Chicago gay men’s choir sings at your funeral and the masons induct you postmortem…enjoy your seemless garment.

  • Don Schenk

    What’s adding new life to liberal spins on the Catholic Church’s teachings isn’t Pope Francis, it’s a new deluge of misinformation about what the current pope said. (This has been going on since Vatican II.)

  • Patricia Johnston

    “I find it ironic that it’s almost easier for Christians to talk to Jews or Muslims than it is for some Catholics to talk to each other” Sadly, some of the comments above show this to be true.

  • Jack

    There are a number of testimonies which were brought up about Cardinal Bernardin being an active homosexual who abused many priests an seminarists.
    Are they hearsays, slanders or confirmed facts?
    For example, Mr Stephen Brady http://www.rcf.org has a thick file on him and many other gay clerics among his acquaintances.
    He is so quoted in Mrs Randy Engel’s book “The rite of sodomy” and that of Michael Rose “Good bye good men”

  • cermak_rd

    The Archdiocese was much healthier under Bernadin that it has been under George. I remember when Cdl Bernadin spoke, he had no trouble getting a microphone and someone from the news media. Cdl George pretty much has to say something inflammatory to get anyone to pay any attention to him.

  • John Hobson

    They were slanders. The one time a serious accusation was brought against Bernardin, the accuser admitted that his accusation was false and begged Bernardin’s forgiveness for lying about him.

    I would suggest that rcf.org is not a good witness in this matter. To expect rcf.org (now, happily, out of business — any website which praises Malachi Martin deserves to be put down) to tell the truth about Bernardin would be like expecting Ann Coulter to start telling the truth about those on her political left.

  • John Hobson

    The real mess was caused by Bernardin’s predecessor, Cardinal Cody. Cody died just before he was to be indicted for embezzlement. ($1 million was known to be missing from diocesan funds.) Cody was, of course, a staunch conservative.

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  • Paul Frantizek

    I have to agree. The so-called Consistent Life Ethic/Seamless Garment was a horrifying development. It directly contradicted the teachings of both Augustine and Aquinas as well as the traditions and history of the Church. It seemed wholly constructed to simply provide political cover to pro-abortion liberals.

    But then again, Bernardin was always more of a Leftist political activist than sincere and faithful Catholic clergy. It was a job well-done when JP II and Pope Benedict rejected the CLE.

  • Paul Frantizek

    As recent events have proved, the ACA is ultimately going to result in fewer people with health insurance and less available health care.

    It was a disgrace for clergy or religious to lobby in support of that abomination.

  • Robert-Paul LeMay

    Dear God, I am so bloody sick & tired of whining, weeping right wing catholic whackos. JPII that grinning politician and Benedict the Rotweiller, Yes indeed, just what we need more of. Thank God we have a pope from South America who knows what it is to watch his country and the rest of Latin America kowtow to the good ol’ fascist USof A both politically and religiously. It’s great fun listening to all the whining apologists on so-called catholic radioio explaining what Francis “really”meant when he spoke. Well, if we still believe that the Holy Spirit has a name in picking the person for the job then I’d suggest that Francis meant exactly what he said and this country and its so-called catholic church better get use to it. It’s a new day gentlemen and ladies and the high drag ecclesiastical carnival with Benedict spending a fortune on his costumes is over. Spellman and Hoover are gone and soon so will Benedict go to his judgement. If any could match the US for persecuting the people of Latin America it would be Benedict.

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  • Mary Ellen

    Everyone is on Coulter’s political left!

    Yes I agree… the only serious allegation was retracted on the man’s deathbed as he begged forgiveness from Cardinal Bernardin… It was a memorable act of forgiveness on the cardinal’s part…

  • Chris Halkides

    IIRC the allegations collapsed when the dates of the alleged activities failed to make sense logically. Cardinal Bernardin said a mass to support Mr. Brady’s spiritual and physical health.

  • Chris Halkides

    Sorry, my comment was in error with respect to the name of the accuser. Mr. Stephen Cook was the seminarian who claimed that Cardinal Bernardin (then in Cincinnati) abused his position of authority.

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  • Three months after Cardinal Bernardin’s death- I had a dream. I had not even been thinking about him. it seemed more than a dream. please don’t laugh. This was something unsought. In this dream Cardinal Bernardin said he was going tom perform two miracles. he was going to cure an old man and an infant. he said that he was going to be known as the ” patron saint of the falsely Accused” Now I was NOT looking to be the news bearer of this. I honestly did not know what to do because this was more than a dream. I feel that I failed the poor man. I tried to find out if Bernardin was canonized or if a petition had been started on his behalf. now I have to let you know that I was not and am not a fanatical catholic. I was NOT a regular church goer so this dream unnerved me and I just know that no one would believe me. But has there been a petition started to canonize him? He showed a great deal of compassion for the man who accused him of abuse,.

  • The black and white generalizations of this article are not “news.” It’s a slanted, biased opinion that leaves out large parts of the picture and ultimately divides. Considering Francis and Bernadin in the contrived “conservative v liberal” paradigm is so superficial and adds absolutely nothing to the discussion. This is a hack piece.

  • Hanora Brennan

    Has anyone done research on the Chicago Boys’ Club? One of the detectives is still alive if you want the goods on Bernardin. Andrew Greeley knew the shenanigans that went on when priests died in strikingly similar circumstances and Bernardin tried to muscle the cops out of finding out too much. Strange that the woman involved with one of the priests died suddenly too. I wonder does Himself in Rome know about this. I sure hope so.

  • Hanora Brennan

    Fully agree. He needs to be exposed for what he really was.

  • Hanora Brennan

    Healthy? Bullying more like.

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