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Whither Cardinal Egan?

posted by awelborn

An article in the NYSun about his low profile -which, if you compare it to Cardinal O’Connor is worth noting:

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.



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Tony

posted July 29, 2006 at 9:44 am


Kudos! I do wish that church leaders, especially those with a high profile diocese, would speak up. To speak is to teach and I’m afraid many teaching opportunities are being lost. To speak also provides much needed guidance and encouragement to us lay people. Anyway, for what it’s worth.
Cheers from Canada. Tony.



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Rosemary Bogdan

posted July 29, 2006 at 10:05 am


Why is it that so many bishops seem to see themselves as administrators and not shepherds. The lambs are confused, looking at up at them, and they don’t even notice because they’re looking at accounting books. Are they scared to speak out publicly? Do they fear criticism? Or worse, do they not take their spiritual responsibility seriously?
My own governor, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, who vetoed some time ago a partial birth abortion ban in the state, has now posted on the official State of Michigan website an online petition urging Mich. lawmakers to allow embryonic stem cell research. She is a practising Catholic living in Lansing, in the diocese of Lansing. Is the bishop watching?
If you’re in Michigan you can send her a message from the website. http://www.michigan.gov
I suppose you could send her a message even if you’re not. She’s a baptized Catholic. She must have some remnant of a conscience.
Maybe it would be more effective to write to the bishop? Then again, maybe not.



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Kathy

posted July 29, 2006 at 10:42 am


I think Providence is fascinating. No human being could be everything that we need as a bishop. So we have these aspects of good bishops, one after another. Over the life of a diocese, maybe if you put them all together, they made one complete bishop.
In other words, maybe “Not like the last one/ But doing a really good job” is all we should really hope for or expect.



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John Foster

posted July 29, 2006 at 11:02 am


What the article doesn’t mention is that Egan brings some baggage with him from his tenure as bishop of Bridgeport.



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Will Barrett

posted July 29, 2006 at 11:40 am


Archbishop Egan is a total disaster. How John Paul II ever chose him is beyon me. He should never have been made a bishop in the first place.



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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted July 29, 2006 at 11:44 am


There are no perfect bishops. Even those who have been canonized were not perfect. We acknowledge the good that they do, encourage them in those areas which are lacking, pray to God to help them do their job. I have yet to discover the bishop who is the “complete package.”



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Morning's Minion

posted July 29, 2006 at 1:03 pm


I know little about Egan. But I do know that he has alienated his priests, and that’s not a good sign in any bishop. They don’t trust him.



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Rob

posted July 29, 2006 at 1:20 pm


“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.”
I want each bishop to be a thunder-voiced apostle, too. But with the screw-ups made by the last episcopal generation (sex-abuse scandals), we need people who can get out finances in gear. Some dioceses are ready to implode.
“he has alienated his priests”
Tough financial decisions can alienate people in any organization. But I do not know anything about the Cardinal and am only speculating.



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thomas tucker

posted July 29, 2006 at 1:49 pm


It would be hard to fill O’Connor’s shoes- he became the semi-official public voice of American Catholicism. But not impossible. And that would be something that I personally would consider in choosing a bishop for this high-profile diocese. The cleaning up of finances could be delegated to a competent but quiet auxiliary bishop.



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jack bennett

posted July 29, 2006 at 2:06 pm


I remember when Egan got the post it was said that the main reason was to clear up the archdiocese’s debt (Card. O’Connor was never willing to close down any schools or parishes) and that he has done. But he is hardly what I call a leader or a shepherd like Card. O’Connor was. Everything Paul Baummann said in the article about changing demographics and the loss of “temporal” power of the Cardinal was true in O’Connor’s day but when he was alive he was a force to be reckoned with just on his personality. Egan is never anywhere to be seen. Even after 9/11 the greatest tragedy in this city’s history he dawlded in Rome awhile before coming home. By contrast Bishop DeNardo of Brooklyn who just got his job has been more approachable and visible in his first year than Egan has been in his 6. Hopefully next year the Cardinal can retire to the place which he really considers home – Rome.



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mary

posted July 29, 2006 at 2:16 pm


The name of the bishop of Brooklyn is actually DiMarzio.



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Andrew

posted July 29, 2006 at 2:35 pm


Jack got part of the 9/11 thing right — Eagan was in Rome but (and this is still unbelievable to me) he went AFTER 9/11 because he had to be there for meetings.
The man has no pastoral sense at all, which should come as no surpprise: his lone experience as a parish priest was the the 4th or 5th assistant at Chicago’s Cathedral in the late 50′s.
Yes, he has alientated his priests — but not over finances. He is sporadic (at best) in celebrating priest funerals, has met with his priests for non-legal reasons only once in six years, he abolished Card. O’Connor’s policy of having an open door for any priest who wished to talk to him every Wednesday (Egan refuses to meet eith any priest individually, his own secretary must be present), he has vitually destroyed the New York Seminary system, vocations are down to barely a trickle, etc., etc., etc.
There is little positive to be said about the man. He may or may not be a good administrator (btw, the Archdiocese still has very serious financial problems, operates at a deficit and has lost essential services), but he is a poor bishop and (dare I write) not much of a Christian at all.



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padrechillin

posted July 29, 2006 at 2:51 pm


Andrew,
I have not been terribly impressed with Cd. Egan’s leadership in comparison to Cd. O’Connor and the real need to for the cardinal be outspoken in the NYC “sharktank” and media capital of the world either, but please be charitable. I mean how can you say he is not much of a Christian? That is REALLY out of line.



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Morning's Minion

posted July 29, 2006 at 2:59 pm


Yes, Andrew’s analysis is in line with what I have heard from priests in the archdiocese of New York. They are praying for his retirement..



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Paulus

posted July 29, 2006 at 2:59 pm


Cardinal O’Connor was always in the headlines and did defend Catholic teaching, yet he had his share of gaffes. For example, his remark about possibly excommunicating Cuomo (a measure I would have cheered) was something of a gaffe, since Cuomo was not his subject (Cuomo’s residence being the Diocese of Albany). O’Connor could deny the sacraments to a notorious sinner or heretic, but he couldn’t literally excommunicate someone not subject to him.
O’Connor was inept at finances, too, often out of great generosity. Still, someone had to clean that mess up, and Egan was able to do it.
Some of the bishops these days are too problematic. If at all possible, I try to focus on Christ the Good Shepherd and ignore the assistant shepherds, who are often little more than hirelings who abandon the sheep to the wolf. I think liberal bishops are somewhat worse, but conservative bishops are nothing to brag about, either.



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Clare Krishan

posted July 29, 2006 at 4:52 pm


Perhaps our Heavenly Father permits these lacuna in his Church’s hierarchy as the real “teachable moment” – whose account is really in deficit? The diocese’s temporal one at their bank or the faithfuls’ spiritual one in heaven? Would the laity or priests in NY be aware of the virtues necessary for service in high office if another ‘super celebrity’ had been given the responsibility absolving them of any effort?
We cannot shirk responsibility for the welfare of souls. We earn the money in the world so we should use it to pay for Catholic schooling for our own kids and those of the indigent. That would require doing unpleasant political legwork to get vouchers passed. Or even more radically, making demands (on the political parties we’re more loyal to than our own Church) that the taxes deducted from our wealth be used by those we elect to fund Catholic public schools in all communities (like in the UK or Canada)! Wow that’s a bit radical – that would require ordinary Catholics to take a stand. OOOh Nooo – we’d lose our comfortable friends and commercial influence if we had to identify with Catholic civil rights. We’d rather the Bishop did the dirty work of articulating the Catholic position. That’s his job not ours.
Wasn’t that the problem Vatican II tried to remedy?



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jack bennett

posted July 29, 2006 at 5:26 pm


>>>The name of the bishop of Brooklyn is actually DiMarzio.>>>>
Oops, sorry. Thanks for the correction, Mary. I see him on the Prayer Channel here in NYC all the time, he wasted no time in taking over for Daily (thats a good thing).



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Tim

posted July 29, 2006 at 8:27 pm


Cdl. Eagan has been an “empty cassock” as far as Church leadership is concerned. This is probably due to his Bridgeport record in handling The Scandle. His resignation, like that of Cdl. McCarrick, will be immediately accepted.



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Jon W

posted July 29, 2006 at 9:43 pm


Part of me can’t wait for the time when all of our beautiful churches, magnificent cathedrals, extensive programs and organizations have been stripped from us and sold to rich secularists. Then there will be no reason not to give us good pastoral/theologian bishops rather than these administrators.
Buildings can go to the devil.



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padrechillin

posted July 29, 2006 at 10:00 pm


Tim,
You hit the nail on the head- according to a priest I know in Bridgeport who is very familiar with the situation there. Egan for good or bad is a bishop of the scandal era who needs to move on- with our prayers of course.



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padredavid

posted July 29, 2006 at 10:15 pm


After the trashing Neuhaus gave McGarrick containing half truths and outright lies I would not use his as a gauge or barometer on any member of the hierarchy!



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Ted

posted July 30, 2006 at 12:49 am


Who’s McGarrick?
Are you talking about Weigel’s recent column on McCARRICK?



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Matt C. Abbott

posted July 30, 2006 at 2:57 am


Egan is no O’Connor — that’s for sure.



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JP

posted July 30, 2006 at 10:19 am


Jon W,
You hit the nail on the head. Too many times I get the impression that out Church is being led by graduates from Carnegie Mellon’s MBA school.



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Effer

posted July 30, 2006 at 11:01 pm


I think the Pope needs to replace the vast majority of NY state bishops. Hopefully he will start with Albany, proceed to Rochester, and then NYC.



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Effer

posted July 30, 2006 at 11:01 pm


I think the Pope needs to replace the vast majority of NY state bishops. Hopefully he will start with Albany, proceed to Rochester, and then NYC.



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padredavid

posted July 31, 2006 at 8:23 am


Yes,
Weigel-Neuhaus. Aren’t all pontificating neo-cons interchangeable?



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GregY

posted July 31, 2006 at 2:07 pm


Leaving aside any comment on Egan’s leadership one way or another, Cardinal O’Connor was special that I think just about any successor would’ve had a tough job. He was a true pastor of souls. Everyone should read Terry Golway’s great little book of stories about him, “Full of Grace”. His example will inspire you to become a better soul.



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Marv

posted July 31, 2006 at 4:21 pm


padredavid:
Please, please tell me you’re not:
a. a priest under the age of 70; or
b. a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Uncle!!



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Jeb Protestant

posted July 31, 2006 at 7:05 pm


Can anyone name a liberal priest or professor that O’Connor removed from his position?



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