May 8, 2000
volume 11, no. 88
Because we are in "May Mode" during our pilgrimage, there are no sections for the next three weeks. This is because there are so few articles during this time. Therefore we recommend printing the text article below.
NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


    NEW YORK ( - Cardinal John O'Connor of New York succumbed to cancer and entered eternal life Thursday night, leaving the archdiocese he loved and served for 16 years.

    Cardinal O'Connor was 80 years old and had been weakened since undergoing brain surgery last August to remove a brain tumor. He had been weakened in recent weeks to where he was unable to publicly celebrate Easter Mass.

    The cardinal was ordained a priest in 1945 and became a Navy chaplain, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral and archbishop of the US Military Archdiocese over a 30 year career. At the age of 65, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he served for seven months before a surprise appointment to lead the New York archdiocese.

    "His Eminence John Cardinal O'Connor has completed his earthly journey and has gone home to God," said Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York. "May the Lord grant eternal peace to the soul of our loving and faithful archbishop." His funeral was scheduled for 2 pm Monday.

    The cardinal confounded many critics on both sides of the political spectrum, simultaneously opposing abortion and homosexual activism as well as welfare reform and immigration reform. A military chaplain, he was a co-signer of the US bishops' letter on nuclear weapons and peace and set up and personally visited AIDS clinics in New York. In March, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor. He also founded the Sister of Life religious order that made pro-life prayer and action the core of its charism.

    Cardinal O'Connor had said he feared he might be remembered for "the alleged -- and to me, the mythical -- power, about my purported political manipulations and all that kind of nonsense." He said, "What I would like my epitaph to say is simply that 'He was a good priest.'"


    NEW YORK, 4 (NE) Cardinal John O'Connor, Archbishop of New York, was called yesterday night to the Father's House. "His Eminence John Cardinal O'Connor has completed his earthly journey and has gone home to God. The cardinal died May 3, 2000, at 8:05 p.m., in his residence on Madison Avenue," said the statement read by the Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling, who announced the news of the Cardinal's death shortly after 10 p.m.

    Today at the Holy See, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Office Director, said that "the Holy Father is deeply saddened by the news of Cardinal O'Connor's death. Cardinal O'Connor was an extraordinary figure in the Catholic Church in the United States. He was a truly faithful shepherd and an outstanding witness to faith and human dignity. He performed his priestly duties in the most passionate manner, always helping those in need. His presence will surely be missed". Navarro-Valls also informed that the Holy Father has decided to send Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, as a personal envoy to Cardinal O'Connor's funeral.

    Cardinal O'Connor's health began to fail after he had a brain tumor removed in August last year. He had been experiencing a growing weakness over the past month and a half. This weakness caused the Cardinal to limit his public activities and appearances in early March, and to cease other official archdiocesan acts in late March. In the official statement read by the Archdiocese, it was informed that Cardinal O'Connor had received the sacrament of the sick last Saturday and on several other occasions during his illness.

    "One of the Cardinal's most passionate beliefs was that by uniting our suffering with the suffering of Christ on the cross, we can be instruments of enormous good in the world,", said the communique. "The Cardinal united his own illness and suffering of these past eight months with the suffering of Christ, and always accepted the changes in his condition with great faith in God, and in His mercy and gentle goodness."

    Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor was born in Philadelphia, in January 1920. He entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia at age 16 and was ordained nine years later. He spent most of his religious life in military uniform, joining the Navy in 1952 in answer to a call for more chaplains during the Korean War. After leaving the Navy in 1979, he was made an Auxiliary Bishop and assigned to the military vicariate under Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York. In May 1983 he was appointed Bishop of Scranton, and in 1984, he was named Archbishop of New York. Pope John Paul made him Cardinal in May 1985.


    NEW YORK ( - Even as tributes for the late Cardinal John O'Connor of New York poured in from around the country and the world on Thursday, speculation had turned toward a possible successor with one leading American prelate saying one had already been chosen.

    Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Newark, New Jersey, said he knew who the final candidate is and that he was not the one, but would not say any more. "We know who the final candidate will be .... We'll all be delighted with the choice," Archbishop McCarrick said as he arrived in Newark after a three-day visit to Rome during which he spoke with Pope John Paul II.

    While speculation has swirled around a short list of candidates including Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, 60, of the US Military Archdiocese, Bishop Edward Egan, 68, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Bishop Henry Mansell, 62, of Buffalo, New York, Bishop Sean O'Malley, 55, of Fall River, Massachusetts, and others. Archbishop Justin Rigali of St. Louis also said he had not been chosen as he arrived from Rome on Thursday.

    Although many observers confidently predict Bishop Egan will be named -- parish priests in New York have been saying this week they are certain he will be named -- Cardinal O'Connor was himself a surprise appointment, appointed after only seven months as bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania and not one of those on observers' "short lists".

    Meanwhile, many friends of the cardinal continued to express their sorrow at his passing. The American Jewish Congress praised Cardinal O'Connor for his "dramatic steps to improve Jewish-Catholic relations." Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge called the cardinal "one of Pennsylvania's greatest sons." He was born 80 years ago in Philadelphia.

    Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life said the apparent dichotomies seen by many media observers -- the cardinal was ardently pro-life and opposed to homosexuality but opened AIDS clinics in Catholic hospitals and reached out to all women through crisis pregnancy centers -- may confuse them, but were really a reflection of Cardinal O'Connor's belief in the dignity of the human person. "That dignity demands that we offer the person the full truth about the meaning of their lives, their freedom, their choices, and that we ourselves respond to that truth by serving their needs," he said.

    He added, "The cardinal constantly urged us never to be discouraged in carrying out the mission of the Church. Led by his shining example, let us redouble our efforts to bring that mission to its fulfillment."


    VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II led the Vatican in mourning the death of New York's Cardinal John O'Connor, who succumbed to a brain tumor on April 3 after a long illness.

    "The Holy Father is profoundly saddened by the news," the Vatican press office announced in morning, as Rome awakened to the word the Cardinal O'Connor had died late in the previous night. "Cardinal O'Connor was an extraordinary figure in the Catholic Church in the United States," the statement continued. "He was truly a faithful pastor and a great witness to the faith and to human dignity."

    Pope John Paul has asked Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, to be his personal representative at the funeral of Cardinal O'Connor, which will be held in New York on Monday, May 8. The presence of the Vatican's second-ranking official will be an unusual sign of the Pontiff's esteem for the late American prelate.

    Cardinal O'Connor had celebrated his 80th birthday on January 15. Although bishops are required to submit their resignations when they reach their 75th birthday, Pope John Paul had chosen not to accept the resignation of the New York archbishop.

    In a telegram addressed to the apostolic administrator who will guide the New York archdiocese until Cardinal O'Connor's successor is named, Pope John Paul spoke of the "personal loss" he felt upon the death of the New York prelate, whom he had viewed as a valuable friend. The cardinal had been "a profoundly spiritual man," as well as an energetic pastor and "a vigorous defender of human life." The Holy Father added that Cardinal O'Connor had provided him with valuable assistance and counsel for many years.

    With the death of Cardinal O'Connor, there are now 149 members of the College of Cardinals. Of these, 102 are less than 80 years of age, and therefore eligible to vote in a papal election.






May 8, 2000
volume 11, no. 88

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