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UCI Libraries - The Quest for Peace Interviews: Joseph L. Cardinal Bernardin Biography

 

Joseph L. Cardinal Bernardin

His Eminence Joseph L. Cardinal Bernardin is Archbishop of Chicago. Prior to his appointment, Cardinal Bernardin served the church in a variety of roles. He served as a priest in the diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, where he became assistant to the bishop, and was later appointed auxiliary bishop of Atlanta. He next served as general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and their social action agency, the United States Catholic Conference. His final position before going to Chicago was archbishop of Cincinnati.

Following his term as president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Bernardin became chairman of the Bishops' Committee on War and Peace. It was that committee which drafted the pastoral letter, "The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response." Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, the president of the University of Notre Dame, has called the pastoral letter "the finest document that the American Catholic hierarchy has ever produced..."

At a speech at the University of Notre Dame, Cardinal Bernardin's comments on the pastoral letter stated in part: "A purely political definition does not adequately identify the threat posed by modern warfare. Today, the stakes involved in the nuclear issue make it a moral issue of compelling urgency. The church must be involved in the process of protecting the world and its peoples from the specter of nuclear destruction. Silence in this instance would be a betrayal of mission. The premise of the letter is that nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy constitute a qualitatively new moral problem."

In November, 1983 Cardinal Bernardin received the Albert Einstein Foundation peace prize. The prize of $50,000 was given by the Cardinal to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops for the implementation of the pastoral letter.