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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 14, 1996


Hillary and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death last night of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, the Archbishop of Chicago, one of our nation's most beloved men and one of Catholicism's great leaders.

Hillary and I loved and admired Cardinal Bernardin very much. In my conversation with him yesterday, I had the opportunity to remind Cardinal Bernardin of our deep feeling for him and of our admiration for his life's work. I am grateful today that I had that opportunity. Our conversation reminded me of the strength, grace and dignity with which he lived his life on Earth and with which he prepared to leave this life for the next.

Throughout his life, Cardinal Bernardin devoted himself to bringing out the best in humanity and to bringing together those who were divided. He fought tirelessly against social injustice, poverty and ignorance. As I said in September when I had the honor of presenting Cardinal Bernardin with the Medal of Freedom, Cardinal Bernardin was both a remarkable man of God and a man of the people.

Both in life and in death, he taught us the important lessons of community, caring and common ground. To quote the Archbishop himself from one of his last public appearances on October 24 of this year: "A dying person does not have time for the peripheral or the accidental. He or she is drawn to the essential, the important. And what is important is that we find that unity with the Lord and within the community of faith for which Jesus prayed so fervently on the night before he died. To say it quite boldly, it is wrong to waste the precious gift of time given to us on acrimony and division."