DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     August 23, 1999     vol. 10, no. 158


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      Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we spotlight each member of the Conclave in alphabetical order. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, The Official Catholic Directory, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

88.   Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor

          He serves as one of the strongest role models of what a cardinal should be today. We are speaking of America's own - Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor, the eighth Archbishop of New York who was born just 90 miles south down the turnpike in Philadelphia on January 15, 1920 long before there were superhighways. But connecting with others on the information highway of souls has always been his destination from an early age. After parochial schooling he entered the seminary in Philadelphia and was ordained on December 15, 1945 at the age of 25 and assigned by Cardinal Dennis Dougherty to pastoral work and to teach at St. James School and then Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia. In 1952, with the Korean War in full force, he entered the armed forces as a chaplain for the United States Navy and Marine Corps serving in that capacity overseas through the Korean conflict and the Vietnam War, being elevated in 1975 to Head Chaplain of the Navy.

          On April 24, 1979 Pope John Paul II made him Titular Bishop of Curzola and Auxiliary Bishop to the Military Vicar of the Armed Forces of the United States who was Cardinal Terence Cooke, Archbishop of New York. He was consecrated on May 27, 1979. Four years later on May 10, 1983 the Holy Father tabbed him as the Bishop of Scranton and he was installed on June 29, 1983. It was a position he would hold for only a year for later that same year on October 6, 1983 Cardinal Cooke died. The Pope knew the perfect replacement and on January 31, 1984 he was appointed Archbishop of New York and installed on the Feast of Saint Joseph a few months later at St. Patrick's Cathedral. He thus became the eighth prelate to head the country's second largest see with 45% of New York City's population claiming to be Roman Catholic. That's 2,347,100 Catholics out of a total population of 5,213,513!

          A year after being elevated to Archbishop of New York, the Pope continued the long illustrious honor of New York cardinals by bestowing the cardinalate on him during the Consistory of May 25, 1985. He received the titular church of Sts. John and Paul and was created a cardinal priest. During his fourteen year time as cardinal he has quickly moved to the top of the list of most influential American prelates, speaking out indefatigably for the Sanctity of Life against the growing, insidious culture of death and taking on both Madison Avenue and the media as well as the politicians in striving to imbue the morals and values Christ expects.

          Besides his tremendous involvement in the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and civic activities within New York City plus his fatherly shepherding of his flock, he is a member of several Curial offices including the Second Section of the Secretariat of State, the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for Oriental Churches, and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In addition he serves membership on the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People plus the Institute for Works of Religion. The latter is the commission that banks and administer funds for works of religion in which Cardinal O'Connor, along with Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano is heavily involved in. He is an expert in this field since he has also helped oversee the Vatican's economic affairs in this position. Aided by his auxilary Bishops Patrick Ahern, James Mahoney, Anthony Mestice and Francisco Garmendia he is able to make several working trips to Rome during the year.

          During his major scholasticate years and while in the military, Cardinal O'Connor achieved advanced degrees in Ethics, Clinical Psychology and Political Theory not to mention Theology and Philosophy. In short, he is an intelligent, well-versed prelate who has his pulse on these modern times but reins in his flock as a loving, loyal paternal shepherd. Were he twenty, even ten years younger, he would be a front-runner for the next papal election but he is five months older than the Holy Father and because of his age, will have to retire next year. It will be a great loss not only to New York but for all of Christiandom.

August 23, 1999       volume 10, no. 158


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