When President Bush deployed the first veto of his presidency on a bill that would expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research last week, Edward Cardinal Egan was not available for comment. A few weeks earlier, after New York’s highest court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage, the cardinal, spending two weeks in Vatican City for a series of meetings, was silent.
Had Cardinal Egan’s predecessor, John Cardinal O’Connor, been at the helm of the powerful Archdiocese of New York, some said, decisions about embryonic stem cell research or gay unions, both of which the Catholic Church explicitly opposes, might have warranted a public statement, even a press conference where reporters could all but count on a witticism or two.
Cardinal Egan is 74, and papal law requires bishops to submit an offer of resignation at age 75, when the pope can accept or reject the proposition.
If Benedict XVI were to review Cardinal Egan’s record now, he’d find that the cardinal has erased the archdiocese of New York’s $20 million annual operating deficit, in part by making tough decisions such as closing 16 diocese schools. He’d also find that Cardinal Egan, the former bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., keeps a more modest public profile than did O’Connor, who led the Archdiocese of New York for 16 years until his death in 2000.
The sprawling archdiocese is home to about 2.5 million Catholics, and comprises Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx, in addition to Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties.
The editor in chief of a New York-based religion journal, First Things, Father Richard John Neuhaus, said the cardinal’s priority seems to be reconciling church finances. He praised the cardinal for facilitating a smooth church realignment, including school closings, which has been "relatively peaceful" when compared to diocese shake-ups in cities like Boston, Detroit, and Cleveland.
Father Neuhaus, speaking by phone from Krakow, Poland, where he teaches during the summer, said he knows of few people who have cultivated an intimate personal relationship with Cardinal Egan. "He seems to have great confidence in his own judgment," he said. "New York is the capital of the world, and it’s certainly the communications capital of the world. It strikes many people as strange that the institutional leadership personified in the archbishop of New York is largely absent from public life. I, too, think that is missed."
The article admittedly is focused on style, not substance, but it’s odd that the contrast laid out is :
Egan has a quieter leadership style than O’Connor/But he’s doing a really good job..
Not taking note of critics who think he’s not doing a really good job…
Or the possibility that in New York, in particularly, being the public face of Catholicism and available for comment and reaction might be part of the responsibility of the Archbishop of New York.