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November 22, 1996     The Message
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November 22, 1996
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana In his final hours, "Cardinal talked to Pope, Clinton By JULIE ASHER Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In his last few hours before death, Cardi- nal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago received phone calls from Pope John Paul II and President Clin- ton, who both heralded his life and r work. The 68-year-old cardinal, who was suffering from terminal cancer, died before dawn on Nov. 14. His funeral was scheduled for noon Nov. 20 at Chicago's Cathedral of ' the HolyName. Robert Quakenbush, chief com- munications officer for the Chicago Archdiocese, told Catholic News Service Nov. 13 that the pope called the cardinal that day at his resi- denCe at 2i30 p.m. Chicago time -=- 9:30 p.m. Rome time -- to give him his blessing. "The Holy Father... thanked him for all he had done for the Archdiocese of Chicago and the uni- versal church," Quakenbush said a telephone interview from Chicago. "He expressed his hope that the cardinal would offer his suffering for the well-being of the people of the Chicago area and the United States during this difficult time2 The spokesman said the pope also spoke with Chicago Auxiliary I Bishop Raymond E. Goedert "and extended his apostolic blessing to the Archdiocese of Chicago.' ::,  Cardinal Bernardin also received iii:a:cgl! fro m President Clinton and Clinton "told the cardinal he had done wonderful work, and this country is proud of hint. He said that he and Mrs. Clinton loved him very much," he said. By late afternoon, according to Quakenbush, the health condition of Cardinal Chicago had deterio- rated to "grave." The next morning, at the final session of U.S. bishops' meeting in Washington, Cleveland Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, president of the bishops' conference, led the bishops . in prayer for their deceased brother. "Lord our God, you are the glory of believers and the life of the just," they prayed. Open the arms of your mercy to your faithful servant Joseph. "As you created him in your own image and called him for your ser- vice, welcome him forever into the presence of Christ in whom he trusted and whose Gospel he preached. :.." When the four-day meeting opened in Washington Nov. 11, i Bishop PiUa read a handwritten message from the cardinal in which ! he asked his brother bishops to pray "that God will give me the strength i and grace I need each day. Cardinal Bernardin, who had I surgery in June 1995 for cancer in i his pancreas, learned this August that his cancer had recurred in his liver and was inoperable. } He later abandoned chemother- ! apy and on Oct. 31 announced that I because of constant fatigue and ! fever from the disease, he was handing over his day-to-day arch- diocesan responsibilities to Bishop Goedert, his vicar general. At the closing press conference of i the bishops' meeting, Bishop Pilla said, "I am sure every bishop gen- ' uinely feels they've lost a friend, i =There were no airs, no sense of i superiority. He was a warm, won- i derful human being we will miss." i Bernardin Continued from page 1 his vicar general. Even as he lay in the final stages of death he continued to make his mark on the life of the church and the nation. One of his final acts was a letter to the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices plead- ing for reversal of two lower-court deci- sions that would legalize physician- assisted suicide as a constitutional right. "There can be no legal and moral order which tolerates the killing of innocent human life, even if the agent of death is self- administered," he wrote. Only days before he died he put the final touches on his last address to the nation's bishops -- delivered on his behalf Nov. 13 by Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb of Mobile, Ala. -- urging them to make the NCCB-USCC a more effective instru- ment of communion among bishops and pastoral service to their people. At the time of his death he was the senior active U.S. cardinal, having been appointed in 1983, and had long been one of the most prominent U.S. prelates in international as well as national church affairs. His death brings to 153 the current membership in the College of Cardinals, with 110 of them under age 80 and thus eligible to vote for the next pope. Ten car- dinals, including nine voters, are from the United States. Cardinal Bernardin represented the U.S. bishops at meetings of the world Synod of Bishops in 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983. 1987, 1990 and 1994. Beginning in 1974, he was elected five times to the synod's 15-member Ordinary Council, which follows up on each synod and plans the next. He was on the synod council when he died. He led the pro-life efforts of the U.S. bishops as head of their Committee on Pro-Life Activities from 1983 to 1989. Born of Italian immigrant parents on April 2, 1928, in Columbia, S.C., Joseph Louis Bernardin was ordained a priest April 26, 1952. He was ordained a bishop April 26, 1966 -- at 38, the youngest bishop in the country and two years later was called on to become first general secretary of the newly formed NCCB-USCC. It was in that pos t -- working the two conferences through their formative years and guiding conference committees through the massive challenges and changes they faced in trying to imple- ment the Second Vatican Council -- that he quickly gained a national reputation as the one who could reconcile seeming- ly intractable opposing factions through creative compromises that met the key concerns on both sides. In 1972 he was made archbishop of Cincinnati. Ten years later he was trans- iiii ,!i!ii Joseph Cardinal Bernardin is greeted following the funeral op Francis R. Shea on Aug. 22, 1994, at St. Benedict Church, -- Message file photo ferred to Chicago; an archdiocese torn apart in controversy over his predeces- sor, Cardinal John P. Cody. He quickly gained the trust of Chica- go's priests and people with his open, lis- tening manner, describing himself as "Joseph, your brother." Many people, especially in Chicago, remarked in the final months of Cardi- nal Bernardin's life that the crown of all his achievements was the profound peace and grace with which he faced the news of his own death. At a press co announcing that he had as a friend." Msgr. Velo, who in one of the cardinal's advisors, called the shepherd" whose ed boundaries: both denominational .... a man of great faith." Cardinal Bernardin praised by church * "How characteristic of this generous- hearted man that at a time when most of us would choose privacy he chose to share even his experience of death in the hope that it might service our nation in creating a better society," said Cardinal Bernard Law. Holy Cross Father Edward A. Malloy, president of the University of Notre Dame, said Cardinal Bernardin's "pas- toral acumen was transcended only by his personal holiness." In a letter to Bishop Pilla, Archbish- op Francis J. Slnce of Kingston, Ontario, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed the sorrow of conference members and called Cardinal Bernardin "a giant among us, a wise leader, a teacher in word and deed." "History will record Cardinal Bernardin as our nation's pre-eminent Catholic Church leader of the 20th cen- tury," said Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in a statement. *. Bishop David B. Thompson of Charleston, S.C., said Cardinal Bernardin was "a kingdom person" throughout his life. "He lived the Beatitudes in an authentic and eminent way." Bishop John J. Nevins of Venice, Fla., called Cardinal Bernardin "a devout follower of Our Lord who demonstrated time and again the Beatitude: 'Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see God." In New York, Cardinal John J. O'Connor said Cardinal Bernardin was "a fierce battler for the life, including the are vulnerable at any tence." "At a time of assisted suicide and Detroit Cardinal Adam dinal Bernardin teachable moment, his homily." Connections with the According to the structure of the Catholic Church in the United States the Diocese of Evansville and other dioceses in Indiana are part of the Province of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was Arch- bishop of Chicago; dioceses in Illinois are part of that province. The provinces which make up all of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin are known as Region VII. Cardinal Bernardin was the highest-ranking Catholic clergy- man in Region VII, and showed special interest in the dioceses of the region. Cardinal Bernardin western Indiana most occasion of the Funeral Francis R. Shea, Bishop Gerald A. other bishops of Region ly in a working settings. Bishop Gettelfinger ! with the Cardinal for tbq 7. Priests from" Chicago and bishops gathered on that day nal Bernardin.