Cody, John Patrick
CODY, JOHN PATRICK
Cardinal archbishop of Chicago; b. St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 24, 1907; d. Chicago, Ill., April 25, 1982. He was ordained a priest Dec. 8, 1931. While a seminarian at the north american college in Rome (1926–32), Cody earned doctorates in philosophy and theology and later a doctorate in canon law. From 1933 to 1938 he served on the staff of the Secretariat of State under Giovanni Battista Montini (later paul vi).
In 1938 Archbishop John J. glennon of St. Louis appointed him his secretary and, two years later, chancellor, a post he held until 1950. Consecrated bishop on July 2, 1947, Cody served as auxiliary to the archbishop of St. Louis, Joseph E. ritter, until 1954 when he became coadjutor to the bishop of St. Joseph, Missouri, succeeding to that see in the following year when Bishop Charles H. Leblond resigned. He was transferred in 1956 to the newly united diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph as coadjutor to Archbishop Edwin Vincent o'hara, who died in the same year. In 1960 he was appointed both to the National Catholic Welfare Council's Episcopal Commission for the Liturgical Apostolate and to the Preparatory Commission for Studies and Seminaries of the Second Vatican Council. During the council he was a member of the Commission on Seminaries, Studies, and Catholic Education.
Named coadjutor to the archbishop of New Orleans, Joseph F. rummel, in 1961, and Apostolic Administrator of the archdiocese the following year, Cody became the archbishop following Rummel's death on Nov. 8, 1964. Rummel had ordered in 1961 that all Catholic schools of the archdiocese be desegregated by September of 1962, and Cody executed this mandate, refusing to yield to segregationists who threatened a boycott of schools and collections. In this way he gained national recognition for his firm stand on racial justice, which was regarded as a model for educators in the South.
After the death of Cardinal Albert meyer, Cody was installed as the sixth archbishop of Chicago, on Aug. 24, 1965. In the consistory of June 26, 1967, Cody was created cardinal priest of the title of Santa Cecilia. He was attached to the Congregations for the Clergy and for the Evangelization of Peoples and to the Council for the Execution of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and was later transferred to the new Congregation for Divine Worship.
After Vatican II. Cody executed the decrees of the Second Vatican Council according to the norms issued by the postconciliar commissions and devoted particular attention to the clergy. In a major administrative reorganization, he divided the archdiocese, first into seven vicariates under vicars delegate and later into twelve vicariates under urban vicars nominated by the clergy. Early in 1967 he announced a master plan, called Project: Renewal, to raise money for the modernization of parishes and schools. With a portion of the funds he himself directed the renovation of the Cathedral of the Holy Name, which had become structurally unsound and liturgically outdated. He compelled old and ineffective pastors to retire and kept a close watch over priests from elsewhere residing in the archdiocese. In 1966 he permitted the establishment of the independent Association of Chicago Priests, which made constructive suggestions at first but then more radical demands until finally, in 1971, by a close vote, it censured the archbishop and his auxiliaries for not having presented its views at the spring meeting of the National Council of Catholic Bishops in Detroit. At the end of that year, he established the long-planned Presbyteral Senate but subsequently found it sometimes to be more an adversary than an advisory body.
Cody's decision to close four inner-city schools in the summer of 1975 provoked vociferous protests both in newspapers and to the Apostolic Delegate and the pope. In 1978 the Association of Chicago Priests, by now much shrunken in size, complained to the Congregation of the Clergy about his governance of the archdiocese and requested an official visitation; a year later it appealed directly to the pope himself. Apparently some of the priests who had been embittered by his treatment of them brought the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois allegations of improper use of tax-exempt church funds, and on September 10, 1981, the Sun-Times revealed that a federal grand jury was investigating whether the cardinal had illegally diverted as much as $1 million to enrich his "stepcousin" (the stepdaughter of his maternal aunt), a lifelong friend, or her children. These "slanderous and nasty innuendos," as Cody termed the attacks, hastened the decline of his health, ultimately resulting in a fatal heart attack.
Large of stature, Cody was jovial, affable, sociable, and genial, but also choleric, jealous of his power, reluctant to consult others or delegate authority, sensitive to injuries or slights, inclined to defer major decisions to the last minute, and wont to fail to answer letters or requests that displeased him. He faced problems unknown to his predecessors, such as numerous defections of priests and a decline in priestly vocations as well as in the ranks of teaching sisters and brothers, a diminution of respect for episcopal authority, a falling off of church attendance, and public criticism, ridicule, and denigration, even from priests. On the other hand, he was esteemed by most of the black clergy and laity. The sad conclusion of his brilliant career dramatized the troubled transition of the Church in the postconciliar age.
Bibliography: c. w. dahm, Power and Authority in the Catholic Church: Cardinal Cody in Chicago (Notre Dame, Ind. 1981). h. c. koenig, ed., Caritas Christi Urget Nos. A History of the Offices, Agencies, and Institutions of the Archdiocese of Chicago, 2v. (Chicago 1981).