NEW YORK (AP) - The familiar melody and lyrics of ``Happy Birthday'' echoed off the stone walls of St. Patrick's Cathedral Sunday as worshippers saluted Cardinal John O'Connor the day after he turned 80.

``Well, this is wonderful, but does anybody have a job for me?'' the cardinal quipped after the singing and a standing ovation from the 3,000 parishioners ended.

Cardinals lose their voting power for new popes once they turn 80, and Pope John Paul II is expected to name a replacement for O'Connor soon. O'Connor is also in frail health, unable to stand for long periods as he slowly recovers from a brain tumor that was removed in August.

``At this time when your illness makes new demands upon your spiritual and physical resources, I pray that you will press forward, with faith and hope,'' the pope said in a letter read during the Sunday service.

Traditionally, the Vatican announces new appointments for U.S. posts on Tuesdays, and O'Connor's successor could be named as early as this week.

At a gala Saturday night marking his birthday, O'Connor displayed a healthy sense of humor. ``I will soon be evicted,'' O'Connor joked Saturday night at the Waldorf-Astoria. ``I will have the distinction of bring the first living cardinal to be thrown out.''

Included among the 1,500 people attending were several men whose names have been mentioned as possible successors: Archbishop Justin Rigali of St. Louis; Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, who heads the archdiocese for the U.S. military; and Bishop Henry Mansell of Buffalo, a former top aide to O'Connor. The dinner raised $5.2 million for Catholic charities, including support for parochial schools in the New York Archdiocese and funding for a seminary position named for the cardinal.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Legal Disclaimer - Copyright ©2000 - iSyndicate, Inc.

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad