Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (1928-1996)
Background on Cardinal Joseph Bernardin:Born: April 2, 1928 in Columbia, S.C.
Childhood: His father, an Italian immigrant stonecutter, died when Joseph was six. His mother, Maria Bernardin, worked for the Works Project Administration and as a seamstress. He had one sibling, a sister.
Education: He graduated from high school at 16 and began studying pre-med at the University of South Carolina. After changing his direction to theology, Bernardin graduated summa cum laude from St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore in 1948. He also attended Theological College in Washington D.C., and Catholic University for advanced studies.
Career: In 1952 he was ordained a priest, at age 24, and was assigned as curate to St. Joseph's Church in Charleston.
In 1966, after serving in Charleston for 14 years, he was ordained a bishop, the youngest in U.S. history.
Beginning in 1968, he served four years as the general secretary of the National Conference of Bishops and the United States Catholic conference.
In 1972, Pope Paul VI named the Rev. Bernardin as Archbishop of Cincinnati, a post he would hold for ten years.
In 1982 he was named Archbishop of Chicago, the second largest archdiocese in the U.S. Barely 100 days after his appointment he was named by Pope John Paul II to the College of Cardinals.
Death: In August 1996 Cardinal Bernardin called a press conference to announce that he was dying of pancreatic cancer. Up until a few weeks before his death, he continued to work and to visit other terminally ill patients in hospitals. He died in the early hours of Nov. 14, 1996.
"Recovered memory" lawsuit:In 1993 Cardinal Bernardin was named in a lawsuit brought by Steven J. Cook, who claimed that Bernardin and the Rev. Ellis Harsham of Beavercreek had sexually abused Cook when he was a high school student at St. Gregory Seminary in Cincinnati.
Cook claimed that he had blocked the memory of the abuse until recently recovering it.
However, Cook later recanted his accusation against Bernardin, and charges against Harsham were settled out of court.
In 1994 Bernardin publicly forgave Cook after meeting with him as he lay dying of AIDS in a Philadelphia hospital.