Cardinal Watch: Cardinal Egan turns 80

Dropping to 123, still 3 above the loose maximum, the cardinal electors today loose Cardinal Egan as one of their members. The former archbishop of New York turns 80 today, and so loses his vote in the conclave.

Born in 1932 as the third of four children in a family of Irish descent in Illinois, Edward Michael Egan received his education and formation for the priesthood at seminaries in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and later at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In 1957, he received his ordination to the priesthood from his former rector at the North American College, Archbishop Martin O’Connor, then the first President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Father Egan earned a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian and returned to Chicago to serve as curate of the cathedral, assistant chancellor of the archdiocese and secretary of the archbishop, Cardinal Meyer.

From 1960 to 1964, Fr. Egan again studied and taught and the North American College, after which he once more returned to serve as secretary, this time to Cardinal Cody. Taking on various important position in the archdiocese, he returned once more to Rome to teach and be a consultor for the Roman Rota and various Congregations. He was once of six canonists who reviewed the new Code of Canon Law before its publication in 1983.

Fr. Egan was appointed as auxiliary bishop of New York, with the titular see of Allegheny, in 1985, and in 1988 he moved to the Diocese of Bridgeport, to be its ordinary. In the early summer of 2000, Bishop Egan was appointed as archbishop of New York. As archbishop, Msgr. Egan concerned himself much with the education of future priests in the Archdiocese of New York. In February of 2001, Archbishop Egan was created a cardinal and given the title church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Soon afterwards, he was faced with the tragedy of 9/11, which saw the cardinal minister to the dead and dying amid the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Cardinal Egan was accused of concealing names of priests who had molested children, but was found not guilty. Much doubt about the cardinal’s role in dealing with abuse cases was cast last February, when he retracted an earlier apology about abuse cases in the Diocese of Bridgeport and repeatedly stated that nothing happened when he was bishop there.

Upon his resignation, in 2009, Cardinal Egan remained a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

A mosque in New York

Everyone will have heard of the plans that a mosque is to be built not too far from the place where the World Trade Center towers fell on 11 September 2001. Nor will the opposition in some quarters have gone unnoticed. Even our national madman, Geert Wilders, plans to protest the planned construction next month. You’d think he’d be too busy creating a coalition agreement he bears no responsibility for.

Anyway, back to the mosque (if only to keep the blood pressure down). I am, quite frankly, disappointed to see that Catholic websites, notably among them Rorate Caeli, join in the fear-mongering, painting a picture as if there is some holy war going on between Islam and Christianity. For the record, I am not a fan of Islam. I don’t agree with its tenets (I would have been a Muslim otherwise), and I think that it more easily leads to violence than most other faiths. But I will always support a Muslims right to express his belief and worship where he wants to (albeit not in Catholic churches, of course. Worship, but be sensible about it. Isn’t that one of the foundations of the Catholic faith>? I think so.

Photo showing the location of the proposed mosque relative to Ground Zero

Anyway, this mosque in New York, which won’t even be visible from Ground Zero, should be allowed out of the cherished freedom of religion that exists in the United States and most other civilised countries. And that freedom is not limited to Christianity, of course. It is thanks to this freedom, even though it is challenged more and more, that we Catholics can live our faith and worship in our own churches. To deny others the same right undermines the freedom we enjoy and renders it invalid. After all, freedom of religion is not a matter of faith or dogma. It is a legal measure, and as such not connected to any faith at all, and since it concerns all of society, that is where it belongs. Whether it is right or wrong can of course be discussed, like all legalities can, but as long as we make use of it and support it as Catholics, our protests when others want to exercise the same right have no basis in reality.

And as for the concerns that that mosque will tarnish the memories of those who died in 9/11? Rubbish. Any person capable of rational thought will realise that the terrorists acted out of terrorist motives. Perhaps their being Muslim made them more likely to be corrupted, but an unstable Christian runs the exact same risk. Look at the various crazy sects, founded on some misshapen form of Christianity, that exist.