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MAHONY LEADS FUNERAL MASS AS 1,300 MOURN CHICAGO CARDINAL.

Byline: Peter Steinfels The New York Times

It was a very long goodbye, and it had to be. For three days, all of Chicago, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, seemed to be bidding farewell to Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, whispering one last prayer and blinking away a final tear for a soft-spoken religious leader whose life and death touched so many here.

Although the ceremonies Wednesday had a magnificence and a solemnity suited to Bernardin's high rank in the church, the funeral liturgy was ultimately the same one, the Mass of Christian Burial, as for the humblest believer. And it carried the same message, repeated over and over: ``that God has created each person for eternal life and that Jesus in death and resurrection has broken the chains of sin and death,'' as Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, whom Bernardin had asked to be the chief celebrant of the Mass, said at its outset.

Starting Monday, more than 100,000 people wound day and night past the cardinal's open coffin in Holy Name Cathedral, a procession interrupted by a series of memorial services conducted not only by Roman Catholic clerics but also by leaders of other denominations and even other religions.

And it was not just Chicago that grieved for its archbishop, who died of cancer Nov. 14 at the age of 68. Wednesday, in final ceremonies that rivaled any major state funeral, a cathedral full of religious and civic dignitaries, including Vice President Al Gore and personal representatives of Pope John Paul II, commended to God a churchman whose personality and leadership transcended class, race and even creed.

Then the church bore Bernardin's coffin to Mount Carmel Cemetery in the nearby community of Hillside, a journey that, like the cardinal, spanned the city in all its parts. One hundred cars strong, the funeral procession passed down Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile through the newly gentrified near West Side close by the convention center where the Democrats met in August.

It continued through poverty-shattered neighborhoods, where the people lining the streets were as likely to be Baptist as Catholic and where African-American and Latino children from Catholic schools sang and tossed flowers at the passing hearse. Earlier, from the pulpit of Holy Name Cathedral, Monsignor Kenneth Velo, the fellow worker of many years whom Bernardin had asked to give the funeral sermon, addressed 1,300 dignitaries, relatives and friends of the archbishop.

They included not only the vice president and his wife, Tipper, but also Donna Shalala, secretary of health and human services; Henry Cisneros, secretary of housing and urban development; Leon Panetta, the White House chief of staff; Jim Edgar, the governor of Illinois, and Richard M. Daley, the mayor of Chicago.

But Velo said he was speaking as well to people listening on their car radios or watching television in hospitals and nursing homes.

``You are all dignitaries,'' Velo said, ``for God has touched you through the life of Cardinal Bernardin.''

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Photo: Cardinal Joseph Bernardin's coffin is led from Holy Name Cathedral.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 21, 1996
Words:507
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