Cover image for A moral vision for America
A moral vision for America
Bernardin, Joseph, 1928-1996.
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Georgetown University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xi, 176 pages ; 24 cm
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BJ1249 .B42 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago was for twenty years the most influential U.S. Catholic bishop; he was also a beloved public figure whose views commanded respect from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. This posthumous collection of a number of his major addresses on central moral issues in contemporary American life voices the causes that were closest to his heart: the sanctity and protection of all human life, the reshaping of American society and institutions for the benefit of the poorest, the preservation of peace in the pursuit of justice, and the growth of mutual understanding and harmony within the Church.Spanning the period from the early 1980s to just weeks before his death in late 1996, these essays demonstrate a remarkably sustained and thoughtful effort to articulate an overall framework for moral decisions -- "a consistent ethic of life" -- and to affirm an active role for religious convictions in a pluralist democratic society. Cardinal Bernardin applies the Church's moral and social teachings to complex policy issues in a way that respects religious freedom and invites both reflection from Catholics and dialogue with people of other beliefs.Written in a clear and accessible style, this volume will be of value to everyone interested in Cardinal Bernardin's moral vision for political choices. It will also be important for a wide range of readers concerned with Christian ethics and the role of religion in the public sphere.

Author Notes

Joseph Bernardin was born on April 2, 1928, to Joseph and Maria Bernardin, who had immigrated to South Carolina from Italy in 1927. Four years later, while Maria was pregnant with their daughter Elaine, the elder Joseph Bernardin died. Young Joseph began his life of duty caring for his mother and his younger sister.

In the early 1950s, Bernardin entered the seminary to study for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1952 and served as an Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta (1966-1968), general secretary of the U.S. Bishops' conference in Washington, D.C. (1968-1972), Archbishop of Cincinnati (1972-1982), president of the Bishops' conference (1974-1977). He was installed as seventh Archbishop of Chicago on August 25, 1982 and quietly revitalized what had become a dispirited Catholic diocese. He became a cardinal in 1983.

In 1993 a young man who claimed "recovered memory" filed sexual abuse charges, which proved to be false, against Bernardin. Bernardin met these charges calmly and with dignity. The young man, who was dying of AIDS, recanted the charge and the Cardinal traveled to celebrate Mass for him and to extend his complete forgiveness. Those who witnessed the event described it as spiritually electrifying.

Just days before his death from pancreatic cancer on November 14, 1996, the Cardinal completed a book, The Gift of Peace.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This collection of representative addresses of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin covers issues of public policy and ethics and spans the period from 1983 until his death late in 1996. The major themes of these essays are Bernardin's proposal for a "consistent ethic of life" and the connection between religion and politics. Specific topics addressed include American foreign policy, religion and politics, abortion, the ethics of deterrence, euthanasia, economic justice, health care reform, managed care, and the Catholic Common Ground Project. The spiritual and pastoral side of Cardinal Bernardin was displayed in his best-selling journal written in the last months of his life, The Gift of Peace: Personal Reflections (1997). Here he is revealed as a public intellectual of depth and clarity. His concept of a consistent ethic of life fruitfully relates apparently disparate positions taken by the Catholic Church and strengthens the Church's voice in discussions of public policy. Cardinal Bernardin was a religious leader who is sorely missed and worth reading. This book belongs in every library. Recommended for general readers and all levels within academia. J. M. Thompson; Saint Joseph College