The late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin was a controversial figure. Beloved by some and scorned by others, the cardinal for many years exercised immense influence in the Catholic Church in the U.S. He died of pancreatic cancer in 1996.
In 1993, Bernardin was accused of sexual abuse by a former seminarian, Steven Cook, who died of AIDS not long after "recanting" his allegation, saying his memories were "unreliable." Jason Berry and Gerald Renner devote a segment to the Bernardin-Cook matter in their 2004 book "Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II." Bernardin was quoted at a press conference as saying:
"'I've been a priest for forty-two years...and a bishop for twenty-eight years...And you know, it's inevitable that anyone who is in a public position and who takes stands that are controversial is vulnerable. But it's interesting, only three accusations have been made against me, all within the current year" (p. 115)
"'What were the other two?' a journalist cut it.
"'One was from a lady outside the state trying to implicate me in a satanic rite that allegedly took place thirty-five, thirty-six years ago. The other allegation was from a young man in another state who accused me and several others of engaging in some kind of orgy with him. And those...are totally false.'" (p. 116)
The "satanic rite" allegation to which Bernardin was referring had been made by a woman who reportedly is married to an FBI agent. The following 2002 article contains more detailed information on the allegation:
The WorldNetDaily article also mentions that Bernardin visited the crime scene of Francis Pellegrini, a choir director and professor who was found stabbed to death on May 30, 1984 in his apartment on Chicago's South side. Attorney Sheila Parkhill, who for the past two years has been investigating the still-unsolved murder and its probable connection to a pedophile ring known as The Boys' Club, says this of Bernardin's denials: "He lied, pure and simple."
Parkhill also confirms Bernardin did indeed visit the Pellegrini crime scene, and is asking anyone with information on The Boys' Club or the murder to contact her at email@example.com .
Matt C. Abbott is the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee and the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League. He is a Catholic journalist and commentator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .