Bernardin, Joseph

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Portrait of Joseph Bernardin (click to view image source)
Joseph Bernardin
(to view image author and license, click here)
Bernardin, Joseph Gender: M
Joseph Louis Bernardini
born on 2 April 1928 at 02:00 (= 02:00 AM )
Place Columbia, South Carolina, 34n0, 81w02
Timezone EST h5w (is standard time)
Data source
From memory
Rodden Rating A
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 12°18' s_mo.18.gif s_vircol.18.gif 10°01 Asc.s_capcol.18.gif 16°47'


American Roman Catholic Cardinal whose style was pastoral, not imperial. Conventional and soft spoken, he spent most of his life as a priest and a bishop behind a desk, yet became known as one of the moral giants of his day, the leader of Chicago's 2.3 million Catholics. A master mediator, he helped steer the U.S. church toward an anti-nuclear stance, and in 1987 struck a delicate balance as chief drafter of a document in which U.S. bishops agreed to educational programs on how to use condoms to prevent the spread of STD's. He was exemplar in his life and in his death for dignity and unpretentious simplicity of spirit.

Bernardin was the older of two kids of immigrants from northern Italy. When he was six, his dad died of cancer. His mom, who spoke only Italian, worked as a seamstress. He entered college with a dream of studying medicine, but decided on the priesthood in 1945. His family was so poor that his mom made his first priest's suit out of a bolt of black cloth.

Ordained in 1952, he was always an enemy of pomp, a diligent and accessible priest. A hard worker, soft spoken and skilled, he progressed through the steps of Roman Catholic advancement rapidly. On 4/26/1966, Bernardin was consecrated as the auxiliary bishop of Atlanta, at 38, the youngest bishop in America. His mom told him, "Walk straight and try not to look too pleased with yourself." He became the nation's youngest archbishop in 1972. He was named as the Archbishop of Chicago on 7/10/1982 by Pope John Paul II.

He first had cancer in March 1995, however, the disease went into remission. He announced on 8/30/1996 that the cancer, unfortunately, had returned, and that he had less than a year to live. It was actually three months, during which time he finished his book "The Gift of Peace" and completed his goodbyes. During the last years, he also had osteoporosis so severe that it caused continual pain or discomfort.

To top his medical problems, he also had to deal with the distress of a false charge of sexual molestation from an ex-seminarian. In November 1993, Steven Cook, a social worker in Philadelphia, filed a lawsuit claiming that Bernardin has sexually abused him 16 years earlier when he was a pre-seminary student in Cincinnati and Bernardin was the city's archbishop. Cook said that hypnosis had helped him "recover lost memories." The Cardinal showed grace and dignity in handling what he called, "the greatest period of agony and growth in his life," defending his innocence with vigor and humility. Three months later, Cook recanted his charges. In 1995 he died of AIDS.

Bernardin's last major undertaking was the Catholic Common Ground Project announced earlier in 1997, an effort to open dialogue with Catholics who dissent from church teachings on issues such as birth control, celibacy of priests and ordination of women. Some conservative Catholics criticized the project, but others applauded his tolerance.

A loving, gentle man who led by moral persuasion and personal example, never by force or fear, Bernardin died on 11/14/1996 at 1:33 AM as a vigil was held outside of his Lincoln Park home in Chicago. He reminded an American society uncomfortable with the processes of aging, illness and death, that for 2,000 years, Judeo-Christian tradition has taught that death has to be understood in theological as well as biological terms.

Link to Wikipedia biography



  • Misc. : Great Insight 1945 (Decided on the priesthood)
  • Work : New Career 1952 (Ordained a R.C. priest)
  • Work : New Job 26 April 1966 (Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta)
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  • Work : New Job 10 July 1982 (Named Archbishop of Chicago)
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  • Work : Gain social status January 1983 (Elevated to Sacred College of Cardinals)
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  • Crime : Law suit November 1993 (Sued for sexual abuse by Cook)
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  • Social : Secrets revealed February 1994 (Cook admitted that he had lied)
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  • Health : End remission 30 August 1996 (Cancer out of remission)
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  • Work : Prize 9 September 1996 (Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by Pres. Clinton)
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  • Death by Disease 14 November 1996 at 01:00 AM in Chicago, IL (Cancer, age 68)
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Source Notes

Romy Ransom quotes a nun whom she knows who worked as a housekeeper for the Cardinal, who asked him for his data


  • Traits : Personality : Hard worker
  • Traits : Personality : Loved by all (One of the most revered Catholic figures of his day)
  • Traits : Personality : Principled strongly (Moral giant)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Cancer (Terminal)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Osteoporosis (Severe)
  • Family : Childhood : Family traumatic event (Age six when dad died of cancer)
  • Family : Childhood : Order of birth (First of two)
  • Passions : Sexuality : Celibacy/ Minimal
  • Personal : Religion/Spirituality : Western (Priest, Bishop, Cardinal)
  • Vocation : Writers : Textbook/ Non-fiction
  • Notable : Extraordinary Talents : For Leadership (Guiding light)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession