Matt C. Abbott
Few would dispute that the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin exercised great influence in the Catholic Church in the U.S. Sadly, however, that influence was not for the good of the Church. The following are pertinent excerpts from Randy Engel's new book The Rite of Sodomy: Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church.
The Special Case of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin
This segment on Joseph Cardinal Bernardin was originally incorporated into the previous chapter on homosexual members of the American hierarchy. However, because of his extraordinary influence on AmChurch, I decided Cardinal Bernardin deserved a chapter all his own.
To do real justice to Cardinal Bernardin and his entourage of clerical homosexuals and pederasts and ancillary hangers-on who made up the Chicago-Washington, D. C. Homosexual/Pederast Axis would require more than one full size book.
This highly condensed summary of information on the role played by Bernardin in the building of the Homosexual Collective within AmChurch is intended to dispel the fiction that the late Cardinal Bernardin managed to fool all the people all the time.
That Bernardin's alleged sexual penchant for young men still remains an open issue even today, ten years after the cardinal's death, is reflected in the remarks made by writer A. W. Richard Sipe in his keynote address, "View From the Eye of the Storm," given on February 23, 2003 to the Linkup National Conference in Louisville, Ky.
According to Sipe, years before Bernardin was charged with sexual abuse by Steven Cook in 1993, "several priests who were associates of Bernardin prior to his move to Chicago revealed that they had 'partied' together; they talked about their visits to the Josephinum to socialize with seminarians."
"It is a fact that Bernardin's accuser (Cook) did not ever retract his allegations of abuse by anyone's account other than Bernardin's," said Sipe. He also told the audience that the Chicago Archdiocese's pay off to Cook before he died of AIDS was in the $3 million range.
Father Charles Fiore, the well-known Dominican, related much of the information recalled by Sipe to this writer in a series of phone interviews that spanned more than five years in the early 1990s, but in much greater detail. This information included the testimony of a seminarian who claimed he was forced into a sexual relationship with Bernardin and other American prelates, and who said he attended sexual functions at which the Archbishop paraded around a young man by the name of Steven Cook.
The Cook case, as we shall see, was not the first time that Bernardin's name had come up in connection with homosexual activities and sex abuse scandals, some of which involved occult practices.
Shortly before Cook filed suit against Father Ellis Harsham and Cardinal Bernardin in November 1993, Monsignor Frederick Hopwood, Bernardin's former roommate from Charleston, S.C., was accused of sexually abusing over 100 boys. Much of the alleged abuse took place when Bernardin was serving as Assistant Chancellor for the Diocese of Charleston under Bishop John J. Russell.
Cardinal Bernardin sent a team of Archdiocesan lawyers to Charleston to arrange an out-of-court settlement for Hopwood's victims. The records were sealed.
The Diocese of Charleston has long been recognized as seat of doctrinal "Progressivism" since the days of Bishop John England, and the city of Charleston is the historic hub of the "New and Reformed Palladian Rite" created by Freemason Albert Pike in the 1870s — a rite which hails Lucifer as the Light Bearer.
It was here in Charleston that the young Joe Bernardin lived out his early years.
Bernardin as the Dutiful Son
Joseph Louis Bernardin was born on April 2, 1928, one year after his parents immigrated to Charleston from Italy. The most traumatic event in his childhood was the death of his father, Joseph, from cancer when little Joe was six-years-old.
Thereafter, his world revolved around his mother, Maria, who, finding it impossible to return to Italy, managed to raise Joe and his younger sister Elaine on her meager earnings as a seamstress during the years of the Great Depression. The Bernardins lived with relatives until they could afford an apartment of their own. During these formative years, Joe assumed many of the domestic chores of the household including the cooking of dinners and the care of Elaine.
Joe Bernardin, who was only five when he started public grammar school during his father's long hospitalization, graduated from high school at age 16. He went to the University of South Carolina on a scholarship. One year later he left the University's pre-med program to study for the priesthood. His mother and friends were taken by surprise, as Bernardin was not a particularly religious young man.
Joe Bernardin received his AB, summa cum laude, from St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore in 1948. He went on to study at the Theological College, the national seminary of Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. operated by the Society of St. Sulpice.
In 1949, due to his mother's ill heath, Bernardin turned down a golden opportunity offered to him by Bishop Emmett Walsh of Charleston to study at the North American College in Rome. Three years later, on April 26, 1952, at the age of 24, Bernardin was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Charleston at St. Joseph's Church in Columbia, S.C.
A Meteoric Rise Up the Ecclesiastical Ladder
Father Joe Bernardin's first assignment was an associate pastor at St. Joseph's Church.
In 1954, only two years after his ordination, Bishop John Joyce Russell, Bishop Walsh's successor, brought Bernardin to work in the Chancery where he took on a wide-assortment of administrative tasks. He rapidly rose from chaplain to Director of Vocations, to Vicar General and Chancellor and Secretary to Bishop Russell. In 1959, at the age of 31, Pope John XXIII made Bernardin a Monsignor.
Among Bernardin's close friends was Monsignor Frederick Hopwood who also worked at the Chancery and lived at the rectory of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
Originally ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York in 1951, Hopwood was sent to Charleston by Cardinal Spellman in January 1952. The reason for the transfer is unclear. In November 1954, the same year that Bernardin began to work at the Chancery, Spellman gave permission for Hopwood to be incardinated into the Diocese of Charleston. Bishop Russell made Hopwood his Assistant Chancellor.
By the late 1950s, Msgr. Hopwood had gained a reputation as the Chancery's resident pederast. Hopwood routinely sexually abused young boys in his room at the Cathedral of St. John as well as Camp St. Mary in Beaufort. Such criminal activities could hardly have escaped the attention of Hopwood's superior Bishop Russell or his friend Msgr. Bernardin.
Hopwood's long record of sexual abuse, which involved more than 100 victims, did not come to light until December 1993 when the first lawsuit was filed against the priest.
All of Hopwood's victims who pressed charges were eventually paid off by the Diocese of Charleston with the financial and legal assistance from Cardinal Bernardin and lawyers hired by the Archdiocese of Chicago from the premier law firm of Mayer, Platt and Brown. The court records of the Hopwood case were sealed as part of the financial settlement with the priest's victims and their families. As of June 2004, Rev. Msgr. Hopwood was still listed as a priest (retired) of the Diocese of Charleston.
Whether or not Bernardin was an active pederast alongside Hopwood or simply a silent partner while the Hopwood follies were in full swing in the Diocese of Charleston is not known, and it is unlikely that Hopwood, who owes his freedom to the late Cardinal, will enlighten us on the subject any time soon.
As Paul Likoudis points out in Amchurch Comes Out, Msgr. Hopwood was not the only active clerical pederast in the Charleston Diocese during the Russell-Bernardin years.
There was Father Justin Goodwin who was ordained in 1953. He reportedly spent a great deal of his spare time at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. In June 1995, Goodwin was charged with the sexual abuse of male minors. Diocesan officials had moved Goodwin from parish to parish not only in the Diocese of Charleston, but also to out-of-state parishes in Washington, D. C., New York, and North Carolina before he left the priesthood.
Then there was Father Paul F. Seitz, a member of Msgr. Bernardin's close circle of friends. Father Seitz's record of sexual abuse went back to the early 1960s when Bernardin was Chancellor of the Charleston Diocese and Seitz was serving in Colleton County at St. Anthony's Church in Walterboro and St. James the Greater parish in Ritter. In December 1994, the ax fell on Father Seitz. He was accused of sexual molestation, and shortly thereafter, he resigned his office for "health" reasons.
New Mentors in Hallinan and Dearden
In September 1958, Bishop Paul J. Hallinan, one of AmChurch's rising stars, replaced Russell as the new Bishop of Charleston.
On February 19, 1962, Pope John XXIII appointed Hallinan the first Archbishop of Atlanta. Four years later, after contracting what proved to be a fatal case of hepatitis in Rome, Hallinan brought Bernardin to Atlanta. On March 9, 1966, Pope Paul VI appointed Bernardin Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta. Bernardin, the youngest bishop in the U.S., was consecrated by Hallinan on April 26, 1966 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
For a brief period, Bernardin served as rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta until he was tapped by Archbishop John F. Dearden, the first President of the newly created NCCB/USCC to serve as the bureau's first General Secretary. Bernardin resigned as Auxiliary of Atlanta on April 5, 1968 to become the first of a long, virtually unbroken line of homosexual and pro-homosexual clerics to hold the position of General Secretary and/or Presidency of the NCCB/USCC.
With the death of Cardinal Spellman of New York on December 2, 1967, there was a gradual shift in power away from individual kingmakers like Spellman and Mundelein. The new breed of prelates derived their power from their positions within the centralized AmChurch structure of the NCCB/USCC.
The massive reorganization of the old National Catholic Welfare Conference into the super bureaucracy of the NCCB/USCC proved to be an unbelievable boon to the Homosexual Collective within and without of the Church. It accelerated the rate of wholesale infiltration and colonization of dioceses throughout the United States and reached its zenith under the reign of Pope Paul VI.
One of Bishop Bernardin's closest friends at the NCCB/USCC was fellow homosexual Father James S. Rausch whose background has been thoroughly covered in Chapter 11. In 1970, Bishop Bernardin appointed Father Rausch, Assistant General Secretary of the NCCB/USCC. After Bernardin was made Archbishop of Cincinnati in November 1972, Rausch succeeded him as General Secretary.
Rausch was consecrated an Auxiliary Bishop of St. Cloud, Minn. by Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia on April 26, 1973. In January 1977, having served out his term of office at the NCCB/USCC, Rausch was made Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix.
Another close friend of Bernardin was Michael J. Sheehan, one of Bernardin's four Assistant Secretaries at the NCCB/USCC. He had the reputation of being Bernardin's "hatchet man." His main task was to fire the employees inherited from the old National Catholic Welfare Conference and replace them with more politically and morally "progressive" clerics and laymen. Sheehan later became the Archbishop of Santa Fe, a proverbial dumping ground for clerical pederasts on the run.
The reader may recall that Sheehan was the Rector of Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas which accepted the notorious Rudolph "Rudy" Kos as a candidate for the priesthood despite the fact that Kos was a divorced man and known pederast who had sexually abused his own brothers. The former rector of the seminary had warned Sheehan against Kos, but he was ignored.
Sheehan's folly brought a judgment of millions of dollars in out-of-court settlements and litigation fees upon the Dallas Diocese and helped Kos earn a life sentence. One of Kos's victims, Jay Lernberger, a former altar boy, took his own life at the age of 20, a tragedy that cannot be papered over with money.
An up and coming prelate to whom Bernardin was especially attached was Auxiliary Bishop John Roach who later became the Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Roach served as President of the NCCB/USCC from 1980 to 1983.
Bernardin and Roach, who some AmChurch observers characterized as "conjoined twins," dominated political life at the NCCB/USCC for decades, first directly, and later through the clerics they advanced to bishoprics and key positions within the American bishops' bureaucracy. The two men were frequent traveling companions and cooperated on a number of important NCCB documents including the 1983 Pastoral Letter "The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response" that challenged the morality of nuclear deterrence.
"The Boys Club" Murder
On May 30, 1984, Frank Pellegrini, the organist and choir director for All Saints — St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church on Chicago's Southside was found brutally murdered in his apartment. His hands had been tied with barbed wire and he had been stabbed more than 20 times. There was no sign of forced entry. Police officials investigating the case believed that the murder was committed either by a woman or a homosexual.
According to his girlfriend, Pellegrini had had a homosexual relationship with a Chicago priest and was part of a secret clerical "Boys Club" that not only included homosexual assignations, but also ritualistic, occult worship and the sexual abuse of young boys garnered from low income ethnic families in the city. Pellegrini's girlfriend told the police that Frank had told her that he wanted out of the Club and had scheduled a meeting with Chancery officials on the matter shortly before his death. She said that she and Frank had planned to marry.
Two young private Chicago investigators, Bill Callaghan and Hank Adema, were hired to look into the Pellegrini murder. They were able to confirm the existence of a clerical homosexual/pederast ring operating out of the Archdiocese of Chicago. It appeared that the alleged homosexual ring they had uncovered was the same one mentioned by Father Andrew Greeley in the paperback version of Furthermore! Memories of a Parish Priest written in 1999.
One of the puzzling mysteries surrounding the murder involved Cardinal Bernardin. According to the police who were present at the crime scene, shortly after Pellegrini's body was discovered, Cardinal Bernardin arrived at the murdered man's home to quiz the officers about the killing. The cardinal told police that he did not know the murdered man. This raises the obvious question of how he learned of the killing so quickly and of what special interest was Pellegrini to him since he did not know the victim. The Pellegrini case was reopened in the early 1990s, but to date, the crime remains unsolved and Father Greeley remains silent.
Bernardin and the Winona Seminary Scandal
Although the homosexual scandal at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minn. has already been covered in the previous chapter in connection with Bishop Brom of San Diego, it may be helpful to recall the case again briefly as Archbishop Bernardin was implicated in both the scandal and the subsequent payoff, and because it ties into the well-publicized Cook Affair.
As reported earlier, the details of the Winona scandal did not come to public attention until 2002. However, it had its genesis in the 1980s when a small group of homosexual prelates decided to scout out fresh meat from candidates for the priesthood at Immaculate Heart Seminary in the Diocese of Winona.
According to reports based on an investigation by Roman Catholic Faithful, the bishops involved in the sordid affair were alleged to be Joseph Bernardin, John Roach, Robert Brom, and a fourth bishop whose identity is not known.
At least two of the seminarians who were assaulted at Immaculate Heart Seminary took legal action, and it was through them that the existence of the predatory homosexual ring of bishops in Winona came to light.
One of the seminarians indicated that some of the homosexual activities at the seminary were connected to occult and Satanic rituals. He and other seminarians also mentioned that on occasion Archbishop Bernardin arrived at the seminary with a young traveling companion, Steven Cook. Years later, Cook gained worldwide notoriety as the man who accused Cardinal Bernardin of sex abuse in the late 1970s when Bernardin was Archbishop of Cincinnati.
Cardinal Bernardin's "Seamless Garment" later renamed the "Consistent Life Ethic," like "The Many Faces of AIDS," is another illustration of how Bernardin helped to advance the agenda of the Homosexual Collective. The Seamless Garment strategy set out by Bernardin in the 1980s sought to broaden the pro-life tent by expanding the movement's opposition to abortion, euthanasia, population control and school sex instruction to include other "social justice" issues such as war and peace, opposition to the death penalty, welfare reform and civil liberties. One of the immediate effects of the Seamless Garment ethic was the increase of power and financial resources of Social Justice offices at the diocesan level where the Homosexual Collective has always been strongly represented.
Since the Homosexual Collective has been extremely successful at framing the homosexual question in terms of a "civil rights" issue, the Bernardin strategy opened the NCCB/USCC and diocesan Social Justice Departments (and their considerable resources and manpower) to further exploitation by the Collective. At the same time the Collective benefited from the neutering effect the Seamless Garment strategy had on pro-life/pro-family forces within the Church that had become the backbone of public opposition to the political and social agenda of the Homosexual Collective. The Bernardin strategy served to breathe new life into the languishing Democratic Party and its pro-homosexual platform as well as promote the "big tent" inclusive policies of the Republican Party that sought to capitalize and exploit the political talents and financial wealth of the Homosexual Collective in America.
© Matt C. Abbott
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.