To the editors:
Mike Miner’s Hot Type story (December 3) was a good survey of charges against Cardinal Bernardin by Steven Cook, and the fallout on all sides at that time. Congratulations. In the media hoopla that followed the November 12 filing of Cook’s complaint in Cincinnati it was no small accomplishment.
May I add a postscript?
As Miner noted, I provided spiritual direction to Steven Cook (whom I’ve not met) over the telephone. I did so at the request of Cook’s attorney, Stephen C. Rubino, who knew my work helping victims of priest sexual abuse and their families. Steven Cook himself approved the contact.
I talked twice with Cook about his personal concerns, not the case. My only conversations with him were several days before the lawsuit was filed when, presumably, the complaint was already in final form.
This is important only because defenders of the Cardinal have suggested (some publicly, some behind the scenes) that I put Steven Cook up to the lawsuit, as a personal “vendetta” to “get” Bernardin.
While my disagreements with the Cardinal on Church doctrinal/disciplinary matters are no secret, they have no connection to the Cook case, except that some of his personal doctrinal/disciplinary “chickens” may have “come home to roost.”
Bernardin biographer Eugene Kennedy–who has never met or talked with me or Steven Cook, for that matter–went on WLS TV to suggest that I be put under oath to reveal what Cook and I discussed–something even ex-priest Kennedy must recall violates all canons of confidentiality between priest and client.
Similarly I have had no input into Cook’s lawsuit, although I knew it was being prepared. I provided Mr. Rubino with the correct addresses of two defendants before it was filed.
Bottom line? Neither I nor my actions are the issue. What Joseph Bernardin did or did not do to Steven Cook while archbishop of Cincinnati is. For that determination, we all await a Cincinnati trial by jury.
Father Charles C. Fiore