Edward Egan

For the police officer, see Eddie Egan.
His Eminence
Edward Michael Egan
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of New York

Egan in 2009
See New York (Emeritus)
Appointed May 11, 2000
Installed June 19, 2000
Term ended February 23, 2009
Predecessor John Joseph O'Connor
Successor Timothy M. Dolan
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo
Ordination December 15, 1957
by Martin John O'Connor
Consecration May 22, 1985
by Bernardin Gantin
Created Cardinal February 21, 2001
by John Paul II
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born April 2, 1932
Oak Park, Illinois, US
Died March 5, 2015(2015-03-05) (aged 82)
New York, New York, US
Buried St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, New York, United States
Nationality American
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Thomas J. and Genevieve Costello Egan
Previous post
Motto In the Holiness of Truth
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
Edward Egan
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Edward Michael Egan (April 2, 1932 – March 5, 2015) was an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Bridgeport from 1988 to 2000, and as Archbishop of New York from 2000 to 2009. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001.

Early life and education

The third of four children, Edward Egan was born in Oak Park, Illinois, to Thomas J. and Genevieve (née Costello) Egan. His father was a sales manager and his mother was a homemaker and former teacher; his parents' families were from County Mayo and County Clare, Ireland. In 1943, Egan and his older brother contracted polio, causing them to miss two years of school while convalescing at home.

He graduated from Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary, where he had been student body president and editor of the student newspaper and yearbook, in 1951. Egan then entered St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, from where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy. He was then sent to continue his formation for the priesthood at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, taking his academic courses in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.


Egan was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Martin John O'Connor on December 15, 1957, and earned a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Gregorian in 1958. Upon his return to the United States, he served as curate of Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago, assistant chancellor for the Archdiocese, and secretary to Cardinal Albert Gregory Meyer until 1960. During this time, he also taught evening classes for potential Catholic converts and served as a chaplain at Wesley Memorial Hospital.

In 1960, Egan returned to the Gregorian in Rome to pursue his doctoral studies. During his studies, he became assistant vice-rector and repetitor of moral theology and canon law at the Pontifical North American College. He received his doctorate in canon law summa cum laude in 1964. Egan, returning to the Archdiocese of Chicago, became secretary to John Cardinal Cody. As his secretary, he "saw Cardinal Cody take the heat for good causes" such as the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation.

Egan was later appointed Secretary of the Archdiocesan Commissions on Ecumenism and Human Relations, sitting on several interfaith organizations and establishing dialogue with Jews and Protestants alike. From 1969 to 1971, he served as co-chancellor for the Archdiocese. Egan once again returned to Rome in 1971, when Pope Paul VI named him an auditor of the Sacred Roman Rota. While serving on the Roman Rota, he was also a professor of canon law at the Gregorian and of civil and criminal procedure at the Studio Rotale. Egan served as a commissioner of the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and a consultor of the Congregation for the Clergy as well. In 1982, he was chosen to be one of the six canonists who reviewed the new Code of Canon Law with Pope John Paul II before its promulgation in 1983.

Episcopal career

On April 1, 1985, Egan was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York and Titular Bishop of Allegheny by John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on the following May 22 from Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, with Archbishop John Joseph O'Connor and Bishop John Richard Keating serving as co-consecrators, in Rome. He selected as his episcopal motto: "In the Holiness of the Truth" (Ephesians 4:24). As an auxiliary, he served as Vicar for Education in the Archdiocese from 1985 to 1988.

Bishop of Bridgeport

Egan was later named the third Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, on November 5, 1988. He was formally installed on December 14 of that year.

During his tenure, he oversaw the reorganization of Catholic schools. He also raised $45 million for diocesan schools through a fundraising campaign, "Faith in the Future." The diocesan Catholic Charities under his tenure became the largest private social service agency in Fairfield County. With regard to the 12 Hispanic parishes in the diocese, he brought Spanish priests to Bridgeport from Colombia. He also established a home for retired priests and a school for children with special needs.

Within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Pontifical North American College and of the Committee on Science and Human Values. He was also a member of the Committee on Canonical Affairs, the Committee on Education, the Committee on National Collections, and the Committee on Nominations, and served two terms on the Conference's Administrative Board.

Archbishop of New York

Egan was appointed Archbishop of New York on May 11, 2000, and installed in that position on June 19, 2000. Soprano Renée Fleming sang at the ceremony.[1]

On becoming archbishop of New York, Egan made it a priority to encourage vocations to the priesthood. Besides private initiatives, each year on the Feast of St. Joseph (March 19) he offered a Mass to which high school and college men attracted to the priestly vocation were invited. He appointed two priests as vocation directors to aid him in promoting the vocation to the priesthood.

He was elevated to the Cardinalate by Pope John Paul II at the Consistory of February 21, 2001 becoming the Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Ioannis et Pauli (Sts. John and Paul). This was the same title held by all of the archbishops of New York since Cardinal Francis Spellman in 1946 was given the title by Pope Pius XII, who had held it himself when he was Cardinal Pacelli.

A main concern of the Cardinal was the archdiocesan seminary in Yonkers, New York. In March 2001, he announced his decision to restructure the seminary faculty. A Staten Island pastor, Monsignor Peter Finn was chosen as seminary rector. Among others, the Cardinal added Avery Dulles, S.J., Sister Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., and Father John Augustine DiNoia, O.P. (before he was called to Rome to be undersecretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2002) to the faculty. The minor seminary, then in Riverdale, New York was moved to the campus of the major seminary. To maintain regular contact with the seminarians, Egan invited the seminarians to serve his 10:15 am Mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on one Sunday each month, and afterward would meet with them in his residence. Moreover, each year, he himself conducted a day of prayer and reflection for the seminary students and faculty.

For the retired priests of the archdiocese, Egan established the John Cardinal O'Connor residence in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. In 2002 the "Institución del Mérito Humanitario" with its seat in Barcelona (Spain) awarded him with the "Gran Cruz al Mérito Humanitario". In 2002 Pope John Paul II named Egan, along with five other cardinals, to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, the Church's highest court in matters of Canon Law.

In June 2003, Egan was accused of concealing the names of priests who have been accused of child molestation and found not guilty by the Church. His spokesman argued that the innocent should be protected, while groups such as Voice of the Faithful criticized the process as being out of the public view.

Egan was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI.

In December 2006, Egan began hosting a weekly program on The Catholic Channel of Sirius Satellite Radio in which he discussed a variety of topics, including events in the Archdiocese and issues in the Church. The station launched by the Cardinal's initiative also broadcast his Sunday Mass from the Cathedral. At other times scheduled programs included news, human-interest stories and inspirational themes, reflections on Scripture, Catholic education, social ministry, sacred music, interviews, call-in, and spiritual guidance. [2]

Egan, after more than a year of careful study and consultation, announced on January 19, 2007, that ten parishes of the Archdiocese would be canonically suppressed and eleven would be merged with other parishes. At the same time he made known that he had decided not to close or merge nine parishes and six missions originally recommended either for closing or merger. Moreover, five new parishes would be established, three in Orange County, and one each in Staten Island and Dutchess County due to population increases. Building projects were also approved for nine parishes.[3] The closures caused some discontent.[4]

Final years and resignation

On December 15, 2007, Egan celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest. He was appointed by the pope to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches on January 26, 2008. In January 2009, he publicly condemned the controversial statements made by Society of Saint Pius X Bishop Richard Williamson.[5]

Egan, in keeping with the Code of Canon Law, offered his resignation as archbishop of New York to Pope Benedict XVI on April 2, 2007, when he reached 75 years of age. His resignation became official on February 23, 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Timothy Dolan as his successor. Dolan took possession of the archdiocese on April 15, 2009. Egan was the first Archbishop of New York to retire; all previous Archbishops of New York had died in office, even after the introduction of the requirement for bishops to offer their resignation from their positions of pastoral care upon reaching age 75.

He was a member of the Board of Trustees at the Catholic University of America and a member of the Board of Governors at Ave Maria School of Law. He reached age 80 on April 2, 2012, and from then on ceased to be Cardinal-elector.

Egan was admitted to St. Vincent's Hospital on April 4, 2009, after experiencing stomach pains.[6][7] After undergoing various tests, he was released from the hospital on April 7, and was later given a pacemaker in a low-risk surgery.[8][9][10] He was well enough to preside over the following liturgical services for Holy Week.[8]

In addition to his native English, he spoke French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish.

Death and legacy

Cardinal Egan died, shortly after eating lunch, at his residence at the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, on Thursday, March 5, 2015, having been rushed to NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, after suffering cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead at 2:20 PM. [11] Before his death, he had been given the sacraments by his priest secretary, Father Douglas Crawford. His death was publicly announced by his successor, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.[11] Cardinal Egan was the 12th Bishop, 9th Archbishop, and 7th Cardinal of the See of New York. Many other bishops released statements mourning his abrupt death.[12] [13] [14]

Pope Francis, in an official telegram of condolence from the Vatican, stated: "To Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York: Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Edward M. Egan, Archbishop Emeritus of New York, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to the faithful of the Archdiocese. I join you in commending the late Cardinal's noble soul to God, the father of mercies, with gratitude for his years of episcopal ministry in Christ's flock in Bridgeport and New York, his distinguished service to the Apostolic See, and his expert contribution to the revision of the Church's law in the years following the Second Vatican Council. To all assembled in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, and to all those who mourn Cardinal Egan in the sure hope of Christ's Resurrection, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord. - Francis, Pp." [15]

The Mayor of New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio, stated in an official statement of condolence,: "Chirlane and I are saddened to learn of the death of Edward Cardinal Egan. He was a generous man who committed his life to serving others. His compassion was reflected in his deeds, and his ability to inspire those around him. As Archbishop-Emeritus, 12th bishop and 9th archbishop and 7th Cardinal of the See of New York, Cardinal Egan spread love and knowledge, and brought comfort to countless New Yorkers and others across the country and the world who sought his guidance and counsel – especially in the aftermath of 9/11. On behalf of all New Yorkers, Chirlane and I extend our deepest sympathies to Cardinal Egan’s family and his extended family at the Archdiocese of New York." [16]

The Governor of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo, stated in an official statement of condolence,: "I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Edward Cardinal Egan. Throughout his life, Cardinal Egan encouraged others to devote themselves to the greater good. His thoughtful and compassionate stewardship helped New Yorkers grieve and recover following the events of September 11, 2001. Cardinal Egan had a powerful and positive impact on our state and the world that will continue to be felt for years to come. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to the Cardinal’s family and friends, as well as the greater Catholic community throughout New York State." [17]

Views and controversies


In a strongly worded article published next to a photo of an unborn baby in the womb, Cardinal Edward Egan compared tolerating abortions to the reasoning used by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin to commit mass murders.[18] With regard to self-professed Catholic politicians who support abortion, Egan adhered to the Church's discipline of forbidding Holy Communion to such persons due to the public scandal. In April 2008, after newspapers had published photographs of former Mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani receiving Communion at a Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral offered by Pope Benedict XVI, Egan issued a public statement:

The Catholic Church clearly teaches that abortion is a grave offense against the will of God. Throughout my years as Archbishop of New York, I have repeated this teaching in sermons, articles, addresses, and interviews without hesitation or compromise of any kind. Thus it was that I had an understanding with Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, when I became Archbishop of New York and he was serving as Mayor of New York, that he was not to receive the Eucharist because of his well-known support of abortion. I deeply regret that Mr. Giuliani received the Eucharist during the Papal visit here in New York, and I will be seeking a meeting with him to insist that he abide by our understanding.[19]

Gay marriage

Cardinal Edward Egan assailed the notion of gay marriage and criticized Hollywood for "desecrating" marriage and destroying "something sacred and holy." Egan said the specter of legal same-sex marriage would have a devastating effect on traditional values already eroded by a crude pop culture, the Daily News reported.[20]

Abuse affairs in Bridgeport

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in May 2009 that records detailing sexual abuse allegations by priests in the Diocese of Bridgeport should be released, a case that may provide an embarrassing footnote to the career Cardinal Egan. The court's 4-1 ruling covers more than 12,600 pages of documents from 23 lawsuits against six priests that have been under seal since the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport settled the cases in 2001 (cf Sexual abuse scandal in Bridgeport diocese).[21]

In April 2002, in a letter read out at Mass, Egan apologized saying,"If in hindsight we also discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry."[22] Ten years later, in February 2012, the retired cardinal retracted his apology. In an interview with Connecticut magazine he said: “I never should have said that,” and, “I don’t think we did anything wrong.” He repeatedly denied any sexual abuse happened while he was leading Bridgeport diocese.[23][24]

Clerical celibacy

In a radio interview given on March 10, 2009, Egan stated that clerical celibacy in the Latin Rite could be open to discussion.[25][26] He added, "I think it has to be looked at, and I'm not so sure it wouldn't be a good idea to decide on the basis of geography and culture—not to make an across-the-board determination." He further noted that Eastern Rite priests are allowed to marry, with "no problem at all." Egan later moderated his statement, saying, "Celibacy is one of the Church's greatest blessings. I will have to be more careful about trying to explain a somewhat complicated matter in 90 seconds."[27]


  1. Barron, James; Nemy, Enid (June 16, 2000). "Public Lives". The New York Times.
  2. "His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan to Host Weekly Talk Show Exclusively on SIRIUS Satellite Radio" (Press release). New York, NY: SIRIUS Satellite Radio. COMTEX News Network. 6 December 2006. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  3. Eyewitness News Team (January 19, 2007). "Catholic church closures announced". wabc.com.
  4. McFadden, Robert D. (February 12, 2007). "Protest Vigil Begins at Church Set to Be Closed by Archdiocese". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  5. "Statement on Remarks by Bishop Richard Williamson". Archdiocese of New York. February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  6. Palmo, Rocco (April 5, 2009). "Ed On The Mend". Whispers in the Loggia.
  7. "Cardinal Egan To Receive Pacemaker On Monday". KDKA. April 5, 2009.
  8. 1 2 Palmo, Rocco (April 9, 2009). "He Is Risen". Whispers in the Loggia.
  9. Palmo, Rocco (April 7, 2009). "Hosannas in Gotham". Whispers in the Loggia.
  10. "New York Cardinal Egan hospitalized". UPI. April 6, 2009.
  11. 1 2 Dolan, Timothy Cardinal (5 March 2015). "Cardinal Dolan's Statement on the Passing of Cardinal Egan, Archbishop-Emeritus" (Press release). New York, NY: Archdiocese of New York. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  12. "Statement from Bishop Robert J. Cunningham on the passing of Cardinal Edward Egan, former Catholic Archbishop of New York" (Press release). Syracuse, NY: Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. Press Office, Diocese of Syracuse. 6 March 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  13. "Statement of Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio on the Passing of Cardinal Egan" (Press release). Brooklyn, NY: Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. Press Office, Diocese of Brooklyn. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  14. "Cardinal Edward Egan, Oak Park native and former assistant chancellor, dies". Archdiocese of Chigaco. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  15. "Telegramma di cordoglio del Santo Padre per la morte del Card. Edward Michael Egan" (Press release). Rome: Vatican Information Service. Press Office of the Holy See. 6 March 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  16. "Statement Of Mayor de Blasio" (Press release). New York, NY: City of New York. Press Office, City of New York. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  17. "Statement of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo" (Press release). Albany, NY: New York State. New York State Press Office. 6 March 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  18. Cardinal Egan: Abortion support equal to Nazism
  19. April 28, 2008 Statement of Cardinal Egan
  20. "RIPS GAY WEDDINGS Egan: Society's making a mockery of marriage". Daily News. New York. February 9, 2004.
  21. Conn. court seeks release of church abuse papers
  22. Murphy, Dean E. (April 21, 2002). "SCANDAL IN THE CHURCH: THE NEW YORK CARDINAL; Egan Says He May Have Mishandled Sex Abuse Cases". The New York Times.
  23. Newman, Andy (February 7, 2012). "Cardinal Egan Criticized for Retracting Apology on Sexual Abuse Crisis". The New York Times.
  24. Connor, Tom (February 2012). "Cardinal Egan: Ten Years After". Connecticut Magazine.
  25. "NY cardinal predicts 'discussion' on celibacy". Our Sunday Visitor. March 10, 2009.
  26. "Cardinal Egan says possibility of married priests not to be dismissed". Catholic Review Online. March 12, 2009.
  27. "Cardinal Egan and Celibacy". Catholic New York. March 26, 2009.

External links

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Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Walter William Curtis
Bishop of Bridgeport
Succeeded by
William E. Lori
Preceded by
John Joseph O'Connor
Archbishop of New York
Succeeded by
Timothy Michael Dolan
Cardinal-Priest of Santi Giovanni e Paolo
Succeeded by
Jozef De Kesel
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