CARDINAL JOHN CODY, Archbishop of Chicago and a leading Church figure, died on Sunday, aged 74. He had been in ill-health for some time, and it is believed he had suffered a heart attack.
Always a controversial leader, Cody aroused the hostility of both conservatives, who disliked his liberal policies, and liberals, who were angered by the autocratic measures he sometimes employed to increase the effectiveness of the Church in his diocese.
But he nevertheless commanded enormous support from the Middle American Roman Catholic congregations, and more especially from the black community, who recognised the great efforts he had made on their behalf, particularly in the desecration of Catholic schools.
This support was demonstrated last September by the huge numbers of people who rallied to his defence after the Chicago Sun-Times_a paper known to be critical of the Cardinal, published the news that he was under investigation by a federal grand jury for his alleged improper diversion of Church funds to a Mrs Helen Wilson, a life-long friend and step-daughter of his aunt.
John Patrick Cody was born in St Louis, Missouri, on December 24, 1907, and was educated at the St Louis preparatory seminary. In 1926 he was assigned to continue his studies for the priesthood at the North American College, where he earned doctorates in
philosophy and theology the latter degree ..slinuna cum laude.
He was ordained a priest in Rome in 1931, and he spent several years on the staff of the Vatican Secretariat of State where he worked closely with two future Popes.
When he returned to the United States in 1938 he became an auxiliary bishop in St Louis. Missouri. and began to build a reputation as a first-class administrator.
He became bishop of Kansas City in 1956, where he concentrated his efforts on two areas of pastoral cite, Catholic education and religious vocations. During. his five years in Kansas, he built ten new schools and enlarged or renovated many He also established a separate diocesan vocations office in the chancery, and within five years vocations had approximately doubled.
He was appointed to New Orleans in 1961, as coadjutor to Archbishop Joseph Rummel. At Archbishop Rummel's request he became apostolic administrator of the diocese, and one of his first acts was to force through the integration of Church schools.
Cardinal Cody had been active in the support of the integration movement in both St Louis and New Orelans, but it was during his period in New Orelans that a number of leaders of the segregation movement, including Leander Perez, were excommunicated, and opposition effectively quashed.
Cardinal Cody also inaugurated a central finance programme which resulted in the savings of tens of thousands of dollars, as well as making available low-cost loans to parishes.
He was named Archbishop of Chicago on June 16. 1965, assuming responsibility for some 2-t million Catholics. 527 parochial schools, and 12,000 priests and nuns. He was made a Cardinal in 1967.
Cardinal Cody had many critics. not least the priest's association which in 1979 complained to the Vatican about what were seen as his despotic methods. They also complained about his "disregard for the human dignity of priests and people."