Cardinal Joseph Bernardin
Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was born on April 2,1928, in Columbia, South
Carolina. He was son of Mrs. Marie M. Simon Bernardin, and the late Joseph
Bernardin. Cardinal Bernardin attended Catholic and public schools and the
University of South Carolina in Columbia. He was later accepted as a candidate
for the priesthood by Most Rev. John J. Russell, then Bishop of Charleston. He
studied at the following Colleges: St.Mary’s, St. Mary, Kentucky, St.Mary
Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland, where he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in
philosophy. He also attended the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C.
where he received the Master of Arts degree in Education in 1952.
He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John J. Russell on April
26,1952, in St. Joseph Church, Columbia. His administrative skills were
immediately recognized. During his 14 years in the Diocese of Charleston, he
served under four bishops in many capacities, including the officed of
chancellor, vicar general, diocesan consular, and administrator of the diocese.
On March 9,1966, Pope Paul VI appointed Msgr. Bernardin Auxiliary Bishop
of Atlanta. In doing this he became the youngest Bishop in the county. On July
10,1982, Pope John Paul II reappointed Archbishop Bernardin to Archbishop of
Chicago. His installation took at Holy Name Cathedral on August 25,1982. Later
Archbishop Bernardin went to the College of Cardinals. On February 2,1983 he
received his “red hat.”
On September 9,1996 President Clinton awarded Cardinal Bernardin the
Presidential Medal of Freedom. In presenting the Metal, the President cited
Cardinal Bernardin’s work on behalf of racial equality and arms control and
noted he has been a persistent voice for moderation. Cardinal Bernardin was
Chancellor of the Catholic Extension Society and the University of St. Mary of
He is a founding member and Vice-Chairman of the Religious Alliance
Against Pornography. In the more recent years before his death, he was a member
of the Catholic Charities USA National Development Task Force and the Board of
Trustees of the Catholic Health Association as well as chairman of the ad hoc
Committee on the Structure and function of the NCCB/USCC.
Cardinal Bernardin received numerous honorary doctorates from colleges
and universities in the US and Europe. Cardinal Bernardin’s extensive writings
touch open a variety of topics, religious, moral and social. One of these is
the famous and challenging Consistent Ethic of Life, a collection of ten major
addresses on the topic of the “Consistent Ethic.”
He touched us all!