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A wonderful illustration of how our lives can be transformed by God’s peace is found in the life of Archbishop of the Chicago diocese, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin’s. In his little book, The Gift of Peace, which he was working hard to complete just a year ago, there is a gripping and moving account of his meeting with Steven Cook, the young man who had accused Cardinal Bernardin of sexual abuse. It is an event best forgotten except for the extraordinary way it concluded. In 1993, the accusation became public, and Cardinal Bernardin had to live in the glare of public curiosity, constant media attention and the deep pain of experiencing his credibility and integrity questioned by many people who simply assume that an accusation is the equivalent of guilt. And then, over time, Mr. Cook acknowledged that the charges were false, and the case was dropped. The Cardinal plunged back into his busy schedule but he kept thinking about Steven Cook, his accuser, now critically ill with AIDS, living alone.


So Cardinal Bernardin did the most remarkable thing. He located Mr. Cook and invited him to meet at a seminary outside Philadelphia. Cardinal Bernardin explained that his only reason for wanting to see Mr. Cook was to tell him that he, Cardinal Bernardin, harbored no ill feelings. He wanted to pray with Mr. Cook.


Steven Cook accepted that invitation and said that he wanted to apologize for the hurt and embarrassment he had caused. When the meeting happened, Mr. Cook told his story, including his alienation from the church. They ...

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