Court papers of the lawsuit, pending in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, identify the physician as Dr. Thomas Fahey, who treated Cooke at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for leukemia in 1983. Fahey is senior vice president at Sloan-Kettering. He refused comment to United Press International.
"I was more stunned by the practice, and I was very uncomfortable with the fact that I had to be the one delegated to deal with it," the plaintiff, Holly McMunn, told the New York Daily News. "I just don't feel that handing out a body part is appropriate for someone of my level." A relic is an object, a part of the body of clothing, that remains as a memorial of a departed saint.
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York City said Friday the diocese had no knowledge of the doctor's alleged actions. However, the diocese emphasized that Cooke is not a saint, but being considered for sainthood by the Vatican, and therefore the blood slides cannot be considered relics.
McMunn is suing Sloan-Kettering, where she worked for five years before being fired by Fahey after working for him for eight months in 1994. She said Fahey fired her because she had breast cancer, which she said he claimed would keep her out of work too much.
The single mother said Fahey kept more than one slide of the cardinal's blood in his desk at the New York City hospital. McMunn has a letter dated July 19, 1994 from a patient of Fahey's thanking him for loaning the cardinal's blood slide as a relic that the family prayed over for the healing of a niece who had been suffering from cancer.
A spokesman for the hospital said they didn't know of Fahey's alleged actions, but noted Cooke and Fahey were friends.
According to the Roman Catholic Church "saints were so dear to God, that God does honor to such relics by performing miracles in their presence." Cooke died on Oct. 6, 1983.
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