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Terence Cooke

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Title: Terence Cooke  
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Subject: Francis Spellman, Theodore Edgar McCarrick, John O'Connor (archbishop of New York), Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Dennis Joseph Sullivan
Collection: 1921 Births, 1983 Deaths, 20Th-Century Roman Catholic Archbishops, 20Th-Century Venerated Christians, American Cardinals, American Roman Catholic Clergy of Irish Descent, Burials at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, Cancer Deaths in New York, Cardinals Created by Pope Paul VI, Catholic University of America Alumni, Deaths from Leukemia, Participants in the Second Vatican Council, People from New York City, Roman Catholic Archbishops for the United States Military Services, Roman Catholic Archbishops of New York, Saint Joseph's Seminary (Dunwoodie) Alumni, Servants of God
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Terence Cooke

His Eminence
Terence James Cooke
Servant of God
Archbishop Emeritus of New York
Church Roman Catholic Church
Archdiocese New York
Metropolis New York
See New York
Appointed March 2, 1968
Installed April 4, 1968
Term ended October 6, 1983
Predecessor Francis Spellman
Successor John Joseph O'Connor
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo
Vicar Apostolic for the United States Armed Forces
Ordination December 1, 1945
by Francis Spellman
Consecration December 13, 1965
by Francis Spellman
Created Cardinal April 28, 1969
by Pope Paul VI
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1921-03-01)March 1, 1921
New York City, New York,
United States
Died October 6, 1983(1983-10-06) (aged 62)
New York City, New York,
United States
Buried St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York
Nationality  American
Parents Michael Cooke & Margaret Gannon
Previous post
Motto Fiat Voluntas Tua
(Thy Will Be Done)
Coat of arms }
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Title as Saint Servant of God
Attributes Cardinal's attire
Styles of
Terence Cooke
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See New York

Terence James Cooke (March 1, 1921 – October 6, 1983) was an American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of New York from 1968 until his death. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1969.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Ministry 2
  • Auxiliary Bishop 3
  • Archbishop of New York 4
  • Illness and death 5
  • Recognitions 6
  • Cause for canonization 7
  • Views 8
    • Relations with the Soviet Union 8.1
    • Abortion 8.2
    • Homosexuality 8.3
    • Church movements 8.4
    • Irish Republican Army 8.5
    • Grace Kelly 8.6
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Early life and education

The youngest of three children, Terence Cooke was born in New York City to Michael and Margaret (née Gannon) Cooke.[1] His parents were both from County Galway, Ireland, and named their son after Terence MacSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork who died on a hunger strike during the Irish War of Independence.[2] His father also worked as a chauffeur and construction worker.[3] At age 5, he and his family moved from Morningside Heights, Manhattan, to the northeast Bronx. Following his mother's death in 1930, his aunt helped raise him and his siblings.[2]

Cooke, after expressing an early interest in the priesthood, entered the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of New York in 1934. In 1940, he entered St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers.[2]


Cooke was ordained a priest by Archbishop Francis Spellman on December 1, 1945.[1] He then served as a chaplain for St. Agatha’s Home for Children[4] until 1947, when he moved to Washington, D.C., to pursue his graduate studies in social work at The Catholic University of America, from which he obtained a Master of Social Work degree in 1949.[2]

After he returned to New York, Cooke was then assigned to serve as a curate at St. Athanasius Parish in the Bronx, while also teaching at Fordham University's School of Social Service,[2] until 1954, when he was appointed Executive Director of the Youth Division of Catholic Charities and procurator of St. Joseph's Seminary.[1] In 1957 he was appointed by Cardinal Spellman to be his secretary, a position in which he remained until 1965.[1] Cooke was named a Privy Chamberlain of His Holiness on August 13, 1957, and Vice-Chancellor for the Archdiocese in 1958, rising to full Chancellor in 1961.[1]

Auxiliary Bishop

On September 15, 1965, Cooke was appointed an auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and titular bishop of Summa by Pope Paul VI.[5] He received his episcopal consecration on the following December 13 from Spellman, with Archbishops Joseph Thomas McGucken and John Joseph Maguire serving as co-consecrators, at St. Patrick's Cathedral.[5] He selected as his episcopal motto: Fiat Voluntas Tua, meaning, "Thy Will Be Done" ( Luke 1:38).[4]

Cooke played a prominent role in arranging Pope Paul's visit to New York in October,[3] and became Vicar General of the Archdiocese two days after his consecration, on December 15, 1965. He was diagnosed with acute myelomonocytic leukemia, a form of cancer, that year as well.[4][6]

Archbishop of New York

Following the death of Cardinal Spellman in December 1967, Cooke was named the seventh Archbishop of New York on March 2, 1968.[5]

Cooke's appointment came as a surprise; likely contenders for the post included Fulton J. Sheen, a television personality and Bishop of Rochester; and Archbishop Maguire, who had been Spellman's coadjutor but did not hold the right to succession.[3] In addition to his duties in New York, he was named Vicar Apostolic for the U.S. Military on April 4, and was installed in both positions at St. Patrick's Cathedral.[5]

That same day, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, leading to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 100 cities. In response, Cooke went to Harlem to plead for racial peace[2] and later attended King's funeral.[7] After the death of Robert F. Kennedy, he baptized Kennedy's youngest child, Rory Kennedy.[8]

In 1969, Cooke delivered the benediction at the inauguration of President Richard Nixon.

Cooke helped implement the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the Archdiocese, and adopted a more conciliatory managerial style than his predecessor, Cardinal Spellman.[9] Pope Paul VI created him Cardinal-Priest of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Rome (the traditional titular church of the New York archbishops starting in 1946) in the consistory of April 28, 1969.[5] At the time of his elevation, he was the second youngest member of the College of Cardinals after Alfred Bengsch, who was six months younger than Cooke. Cooke was theologically conservative but progressive in secular matters.[3]

During his tenure as archbishop, Cooke founded nine nursing homes; Birthright, which offers women alternatives to abortion; the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid for inner-city Catholic schools; an Archdiocesan Housing Development Program, providing housing to New York's disadvantaged; and the Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper.[4] In 1974, he went to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he attended lectures on the Second Vatican Council given by his future successor, Edward Egan.[10] His leukemia was deemed terminal in 1975.[4]

Cooke was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the conclaves of August and October 1978, which selected Popes John Paul I and John Paul II, respectively. In 1979, he received the Dalai Lama [9] and Pope John Paul II at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Illness and death

In late August 1983, Cooke revealed his illness to the public; he announced that he was expected to live for a few more months, but would not resign his post.[6] He was on almost constant chemotherapy for the last five years of his life.[11] In an open letter completed only days before his death, he wrote, "The gift of life, God's special gift, is no less beautiful when it is accompanied by illness or weakness, hunger or poverty, mental or physical handicaps, loneliness or old age."[9]

Cooke died from his battle with leukemia in his episcopal residence,[1] at age 62. He is interred in the crypt under the altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral.


Cause for canonization

Cooke was widely regarded as a holy person by many New Yorkers during his episcopal ministry as Archbishop of New York and, soon after his death in 1983, a movement to canonize him as a saint began. In 1984, with the support of Cooke's successor, Archbishop (and future cardinal) John Joseph O'Connor, the Cardinal Cooke Guild was established. In 1992, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints officially designated Cooke as a Servant of God, a first step in the canonization process that leads to beatification and then canonization as a saint. On the 14 of April 2010, Pope Benedict XVI was presented with the positio, the documentation on the cardinal's life, work and virtues. The document was then given to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to be examined by theologians. If the document is approved, Cardinal Cooke, who is currently a Servant of God, will receive the title of Venerable, the second step leading to sainthood.

The Reverend Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., was the postulator for the cause while it was in its initial stages in New York. Since the process was accepted by the Holy See, Andrea Ambrosi, J.D., serves in that position.[4]


Relations with the Soviet Union

An anti-Communist, he opposed the majority of his fellow bishops when he spoke out against nuclear disarmament in 1982.[9] He once stated that deterrence was not satisfactory or safe, but could be considered morally "tolerable".[12]


He was an outspoken opponent of abortion, which he called the "slaughter of the innocent unborn",[13] and once served as chairman of the Bishops' Pro-life Committee.


He was the founder of Courage International, a ministry that promotes chastity and support for gay and lesbian Catholics.

Church movements

Cooke supported the Cursillo Movement, Christian Family Movement, and Charismatic Renewal, and was instrumental in bringing the Missionaries of Charity to New York.[4]

Irish Republican Army

Cooke, opposed to the militant policies of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, remained inside St. Patrick's Cathedral during the 1983 St. Patrick's Day Parade, until the grand marshal, Michael Flannery, had passed by. Flannery was an outspoken supporter of the IRA.[14]

Grace Kelly

He once described Grace Kelly as "a lesson in Catholic motherhood".[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Miranda, Salvador. "COOKE, Terence James". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Terence Cardinal Cooke (1921–83)". All for Mary – American Saints. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Succession to Spellman".  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Who was Terence Cardinal Cooke?". Terence Cardinal Cooke – Cause for Canonization. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Terence James Cardinal Cooke". 
  6. ^ a b "Milestones".  
  7. ^ "Saintly Shepherd". Catholic New York. March 9, 2003. 
  8. ^ "People: Jan. 24, 1969".  
  9. ^ a b c d "I Am a Human Being: a Monk".  
  10. ^ "Great Tribute". Catholic New York. October 9, 2008. 
  11. ^ Treaster, Joseph B. (October 5, 1983). "'"Cardinal Cooke 'Close to Death.  
  12. ^ "Battling the Bomb in Church".  
  13. ^ "Abortion on Demand".  
  14. ^ Byrne, James, Philip Coleman, and Jason King. Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics and History. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. 826. Print.
  15. ^ "The Princess From Hollywood".  

External links

  • Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, official website
  • Archdiocese for the Military Services of the United States. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
  • Cause for Canonization for Terence Cardinal Cooke
  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York Official Website
  • Terence Cooke at Find a Grave
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
See Created
Titular Bishop of Summa
1965 – 1968
Succeeded by
Daniel Liston, C.S.Sp
Preceded by
Francis Spellman
Vicar Apostolic for the Military Services
1968 – 1983
Succeeded by
John Joseph Thomas Ryan
Archbishop of New York
1968 – 1983
Succeeded by
John Joseph O'Connor
Cardinal-Priest of Santi Giovanni e Paolo
1969 – 1983
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