Cardinal Egan

Memorial Services Begin for Former NY Archbishop Edward Egan

Cardinal Egan

Ceremonies began honoring the recently deceased Cardinal Edward M. Egan who was the former Archbishop of New York.

On Monday, St. Patrick’s Cathedral began a two-day viewing ceremony in which New York Catholics will be able to pay their respects to the recently passed Cardinal Edward M. Egan. Cardinal Egan passed away at the NYU Langone Medical Center from cardiac arrest last week. He was 82 years old.

Cardinal Egan was born in Oak Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago, on April 2nd, 1932. Unlike many other bishops who had working-class backgrounds, Egan was brought up in a well-to-do family. During his childhood, he suffered a bout with polio which left him with a lifelong limp.

He studied in Rome after he entered the seminary, and on December 15th, 1957, he was officially ordained into the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Afterwards, he returned to Rome and worked as a canon lawyer for several years. He was made an assistant bishop to O’Connor in 1985, and 3 years after that, he was named Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT. He eventually returned to New York where he served as Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar for Education for the Archdiocese.

In May of 2000, soon after Cardinal John O’Connor’s death, Egan was appointed archbishop. When he retired in February of 2009, he became the very first archbishop of New York City ever to leave office while still living. When he became archbishop of New York, the 2.7 million-member Archdiocese had an annual operating deficit of around $20 million, and they also had an outdated, outmoded infrastructure that was greatly in need of extreme overhauling. He handled the task with restructuring, fundraising, and layoffs. He improved the entire situation rather quickly.

Cardinal Egan was viewed as and considered to be somewhat of an outsider to the immense role of archbishop of New York. He was not as beloved by parishioners or priests the same other archbishops were. He also was criticized intensely for his role in fighting against claims of sexual abuse by clergies. He was accused of protecting sexual abusers. He believed that most of the accused clergy members were innocent.

In 2002, Cardinal Egan actually made a public apology about the way sexual abuse claims were handled in both Bridgeport and New York. A decade later, after his retirement, however, he publicly retracted his apology, claiming that he never should have apologized because he believed the church had not done anything wrong.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, he ministered to injured persons and he also buried those who died; however, a short time after the 9/11 incident, he had to leave for Rome to preside over a very important month-long Vatican conference.

After pleading with John Paul for permission to return to New York, he finally succeeded in doing so; however, on his absence only dogged his already unsteady reputation all the more. His loyalty to his city was being questioned and he claimed it was the worst thing that ever happened to him his entire life.

He first submitted his resignation to the pope back in 2007, at age 75, but it was not accepted until 2009.


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