Although his headquarters was in Chicago, the life and very public death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin has touched people worldwide, including Utah.
Staunchly pro-life, Cardinal Bernardin made headlines in the 1980s when he opposed the proliferation of nuclear weapons during the Reagan administration.In a 1984 speech at Georgetown University, Cardinal Bernardin said that the church's stand should be "a consistent ethic of life" that supports a "seamless garment" of many social justice and moral issues that are interconnected throughout all of life.
His speech made waves and provoked debate not only in religious communities, but also in political, academic, social service and business circles.
"The idea of the seamless garment, that we must have reverence for life at every one of its stages from conception until death, drew together a number of efforts and groups within the church," said Catholic Bishop George H. Nie-der-auer, the spiritual leader for Utah's Catholics.
"It challenged the church and those who were active in pro-life issues to confront what Pope John Paul II later called `the culture of death,' " Bishop Niederauer said.
In fact, Bishop Niederauer said that there was "a resonance" of Cardinal Bernardin's sentiments in the introduction to a later encyclical by Pope John Paul II.
"He was a very beautiful soul - a light and sign of grace to people everywhere," said the Right Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.
"Certainly he was an exemplary Christian and the kind that all Christians ought to admire," said the Rev. Grant Aaseng, pastor at Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church.
"His death was a brave statement about living," said the Rev. Ron Hodges, senior pastor at Christ United Methodist Church. "It's a sad loss for us all as Christians."
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued this statement:
"We note with sadness the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. The Catholic Church has lost a faithful servant.
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had an institutional relationship with this good man through the national Religious Alliance Against Pornography, and our representatives found him to be a man of wisdom and integrity.
"We were touched by his positive attitude and his courage upon learning of his terminal illness. In the struggle with his illness, he defended the sanctity of life to the end. We express our deepest condolences to his friends and associates and to the church that will sorely miss him."