Edwin Frederick O'Brien

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His Eminence
Edwin Frederick O'Brien
Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
Rome Consistory Cardinal O'Brien.jpg
See Baltimore (emeritus)
Appointed March 15, 2012
Predecessor John Patrick Foley
Successor incumbent
Other posts Cardinal-Deacon of San Sebastiano al Palatino
Orders
Ordination May 29, 1965
by Francis Spellman
Consecration March 25, 1996
by John Joseph O'Connor
Created Cardinal February 18, 2012
by Benedict XVI
Rank Cardinal-Deacon
Personal details
Born (1939-04-08) April 8, 1939 (age 75)
Bronx, New York
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Motto PASTORES DABO VOBIS (I Will Give You Shepherds)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

Edwin Frederick O'Brien (born April 8, 1939) is an American Cardinal. He has been the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on March 15, 2012, having previously served as Pro-Grand Master since his original appointment on August 29, 2011.[1] He had previously held positions as 15th Archbishop of Baltimore from 2007 to 2011, and as 7th Archbishop for the Military Services from 1997 to 2007.

Early life and education[edit]

Edwin O'Brien was born in the Bronx, New York, to Edwin Frederick, Sr. and Mary Winifred O'Brien.[2] One of three children, he has two late brothers, Ken and Tom. He graduated from Our Lady of Solace School in 1953, and attended St. Mary's High School in Katonah from 1953 to 1957. He then entered St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers in 1959, from where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts (1961), Master of Divinity (1964), and Master of Arts (1965) degrees.[2]

Priesthood[edit]

O'Brien was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Francis Spellman on May 29, 1965.[3] He then served as a civilian chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point until 1970, when he became an army chaplain with the rank of Captain.[2] He also took flight training that required him to parachute out of airplanes.[4] O'Brien was a chaplain at Fort Bragg in North Carolina with the 82nd Division (1970–71), and in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (1971–72).[5] While in Vietnam, he was based in a jungle and flew with a Protestant minister by helicopter to minister to soldiers.[2] From 1972 to 1973, he was a post chaplain at Fort Gordon in Georgia.

In 1973 O'Brien was sent by Cardinal Terence Cooke to study in Rome at the Pontifical North American College. He is an alumnus of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas Angelicum from which he earned a Doctorate in Sacred Theology in 1976 with a dissertation entitled "The Origin and Development of Moral Principles in the Theology of Paul Ramsey."[2] Upon his return to the United States, he served as both the vice-chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York and associate pastor at St. Patrick Cathedral from 1976 to 1981.[2] O'Brien coordinated Pope John Paul II's visit to New York in 1979, and was the archdiocesan Director of Communications from 1981 to 1983.[2] Between 1983 and 1985, he served as private secretary to Cardinal Cooke and then to his successor, Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor.[2]

O'Brien was raised to the rank of Honorary Prelate of His Holiness in 1986.[2] He served as rector of St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers from 1985 to 1989, and of the North American College in Rome from 1990 to 1994. Returning to New York, he served another term as rector of St. Joseph's from 1994 to 1997.[5]

Episcopal career[edit]

Styles of
Edwin Frederick O'Brien
Coat of arms of Edwin Frederick O'Brien.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See none

On February 6, 1996, O'Brien was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York and Titular Bishop of Thizica by John Paul II.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following March 25 from Cardinal O'Connor, with Bishops Patrick Sheridan and John Nolan serving as co-consecrators, at St. Patrick's Cathedral.[3] He selected as his episcopal motto: Pastores Dabo Vobis, meaning, "I will give you shepherds" (Jeremiah 3:15).[2]

Archbishop for the Military Services[edit]

O'Brien was later named Coadjutor Archbishop for the Military Services on April 7, 1997.[3] He succeeded Joseph Thomas Dimino as Archbishop for the Military Services upon the latter's retirement on August 12 of that year. As archbishop, O'Brien served as head of the American Catholic military ordinariate, ministering to 1.5 million Catholics in the armed forces and providing oversight to 300 Catholic chaplains.[6] He also abdicated his titular see of Thizica on March 7, 1998.[3]

During his decade-long tenure, he divided his time between visiting American troops and working with the North American College. He was greatly involved in the case of Eugene Hamilton, a 25-year-old seminarian who was diagnosed with terminal cancer during the course of his studies.[7] O'Brien successfully petitioned the Vatican for Hamilton's early ordination, and ordained him a priest only hours before he died.[7] In 1993, he initiated the cause of canonization for Emil Kapaun, a chaplain killed during the Korean War.[8]

From September 2005 to June 2006, the Archbishop served in the additional role of the Vatican's coordinator for the Papal Visitation of Seminaries and Houses of Priestly Formation.[2][9] He expressed his personal opposition to admitting homosexuals to seminaries, a position he said was "based on 12 years' experience as rector of two U.S. seminaries."[10][11] His report also called for a stronger focus on moral theology, increased oversight of seminarians and greater involvement of diocesan bishops in the formation process. He was recognized as being "instrumental in Catholic seminary reform in the wake of clergy sex abuse disclosures."[6]

In 2006, O'Brien noted that declining public support for war in Iraq was also leading to a decrease in morale among the troops, adding, "The news only shows cars being blown up, but the soldiers see hospitals being built and schools opening."[12] By 2007, he believed that the state of the operation "compels an assessment of our current circumstances and the continuing obligation of the Church to provide a moral framework for public discussion."[7] He refused to "question the moral integrity of our military personnel," but added, "[O]ur nation must honestly assess what is achievable in Iraq using the traditional just war principles of 'probability of success'...Our troops should remain in Iraq only as long as their presence contributes to a responsible transition."[7][13]

He opposed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007, claiming it "would seek to impose a legislative mandate for military chaplains without considering the religious needs of all military members...[and] may well result in less public prayer and marginalization of military chaplains."[14] He became a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Roman Curia in May 2007.[15]

Archbishop of Baltimore[edit]

Pope Benedict XVI appointed O'Brien the 15th Archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland, on July 12, 2007.[3] Recalling the call he received from the Apostolic Nunciature, O'Brien immediately accepted the appointment and later remarked, "I guess that's one thing I take from the military. When you're given an order, you accept."[16] He also felt "deep sadness" over leaving the military archdiocese, but pledged to give himself "to the task of making Jesus Christ known by preaching his word and serving his people" in his new post.[16] He succeeded Cardinal William Henry Keeler, and was formally installed as Archbishop at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on the following October 1.[3] As head of the nation's oldest diocese, he served as the spiritual leader of over 500,000 Catholics in Maryland and held the status of primus inter pares in the American hierarchy.

Commenting on O'Brien's appointment, The Baltimore Sun said, "He has leapt from military airplanes, served in jungles during the Vietnam War and travelled extensively to current battle zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. From his working-class roots...to the upper echelons of Catholic power—carrying a Christian message of peace and love to some of the world's worst war-torn terrain".[17] Following his tour of the Archdiocese, O'Brien lamented the large presence of poverty and violence in Baltimore, saying, "I think anybody who wants to take a walk can find areas with very nice homes, well-kept lawns, good streets and sidewalks, and maybe 15 minutes later find themselves in a neighborhood that is just racked, torn apart, as if a war had just been fought."[18]

On June 29, 2008, O'Brien was invested with the pallium, a vestment worn by metropolitan bishops, by Pope Benedict at St. Peter's Basilica.[19] He dedicated the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden, which he has called a "sanctuary in a suffering city," in downtown Baltimore in October 2008.[20]

O'Brien's reign as archbishop, at just 3 years and 11 months since his October 2007 installation, was one of the briefest among the see's ordinaries. John Carroll's immediate successor, Leonard Neale, SJ died in a carriage accident in June 1817, barely 18 months after acceding to the archbishopric upon Carroll's own death. His departure also marked the first time since 1947, when Archbishop Michael Curley died after a 26-year reign, that the see of Baltimore fell vacant.

Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem[edit]

Cardinal Grand Master O’Brien, Pilgrimage OESSH in Rome 2013

On August 17, 2011, after Cardinal John Patrick Foley had reached retirement age, Cardinal Bertone asked O'Brien during a visit to Rome to take the position of Pro-Grand Master; O'Brien accepted the next day[21] and was appointed on August 29, 2011.

O'Brien's health, in addition to his enjoyment of travel and knowledge of geopolitical situations during his decade as head of the archdiocese for the Military Services, are thought to have been part of the reason for his appointment.[citation needed] He was succeeded as Archbishop of Baltimore by William Edward Lori.

Pope Benedict XVI elevated Archbishop O'Brien to Cardinal, along with 21 others on February 18, 2012. O'Brien was created Cardinal-Deacon of San Sebastiano al Palatino, the same titular church held by previous Grand Master, Cardinal Foley.

Cardinal O'Brien was named Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on March 15, 2012.[22][23]

On April 21, 2012 O'Brien was made a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum[24] in addition to his membership of the Congregation for Catholic Education. Assignments to these posts end when the occupant reaches the age of 80.

Views[edit]

Preservation of life[edit]

Abortion[edit]

O'Brien opposes abortion, calling it the "greatest civil rights issue of our time" and saying, "[The right to life] will determine whether America remains a hospitable society: committed to caring for women in crisis and their unborn children; committed to caring for those with special needs; committed to caring for the elderly and the dying; or whether America betrays our heritage and the truths on which its founders staked its claim to independence."[25] During the 2008 presidential election, he lamented that the "clear and unchanged teaching of our Church from its earliest days has been so distorted in political debate and commentary,"[26] an indirect criticism of remarks made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Senator Joe Biden concerning the Church's teaching on abortion. In March 2009, he said he was both "disappointed and bewildered" by the decision of the University of Notre Dame to have President Barack Obama deliver the commencement speech and receive an honorary degree at the university's graduation ceremony, given Obama's support for legal abortion and embryonic stem cell research (which O'Brien opposes).[27]

Capital punishment[edit]

Archbishop O'Brien expressed his opposition to capital punishment, citing the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life) published by John Paul II, although he had previously "thought it served a purpose."[28]

Legionaries of Christ[edit]

Since becoming Archbishop of Baltimore, O'Brien has been an outspoken critic of the controversial religious institute, the Legion of Christ.[29][30][31] He has particularly objected to its alleged practice of "blind allegiance",[29] lack of "respect for human dignity for each of its members,"[30] and "heavily persuasive methods on young people, especially high schoolers, regarding vocations."[32] In June 2008, O'Brien called for greater "transparency and accountability" from the Legionaries and its lay arm Regnum Christi.[29] He initially intended to expel the Legionaries from his archdiocese, but was persuaded by the Vatican instead to engage in dialogue with the institute's superior general, Álvaro Corcuera Martínez del Río.[29] He has since directed both groups to disclose all activities within the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and to refrain from spiritual direction with anyone under eighteen years of age.

In February 2009, when the Legionaries acknowledged that their founder, Marcial Maciel, had engaged in "inappropriate" behavior (including accusations of drug and sexual abuse as well as fathering a child[33]),[34] O'Brien told his archdiocesan newspaper that the institute must offer "full disclosure of [Maciel's] activities and those who are complicit in them, or knew of them, and of those who are still refusing to offer disclosure," adding that the institute's finances should also be subject to "objective scrutiny."[31] He called Maciel "a man with an entrepreneurial genius who, by systematic deception and duplicity, used our faith to manipulate others for his own selfish ends,"[30] and further criticized the "good deal of secrecy in [Maciel's] own life...[and] in the structures he created."[31] The Archbishop welcomed the Vatican's decision in the following March to conduct an apostolic visitation of the Legionaries, and said that the institute's abolition "should be on the table."[31]

Just War[edit]

As Archbishop for the Military Services, O'Brien has been an outspoken proponent of the Just war theory. Sometimes called the "Warrior Cardinal", he is seen as a controversial figure and is considered to have given moral justifications for the US military intervention in Iraq[35][36] which had terrible consequences on the Christianity in Iraq with its almost annihilation ten years later under a Shiite regime allied with Teheran.[37][38] Early 2003, O'Brien preached to the soldiers at West Point saying openly at mass : “I know that a lot of people have said that the Pope is against war with Iraq... But even if he did, you are not bound by conscience to obey his opinion. However, you are bound in conscience to obey the orders of your Commander-in-Chief, and if he orders you to go to war, it is your duty to go to war”.[39]

A few days after the military invasion of Iraq, O'Brien sent March 25, 2003 an explicit letter to US Catholic military chaplains,[40] writing "Given the complexity of factors involved, many of which understandably remain confidential, it is altogether appropriate for members of our armed forces to presume the integrity of our leadership and its judgments, and therefore to carry out their military duties in good conscience (nota : "our leadership" is not referring to the Pope) ...It is to be hoped that all factors which have led to our intervention will eventually be made public, and …will shed helpful light upon our President's decision”. Knowing to be a target for Catholic war opponents as increasingly distancing himself from the Pope’s sayings[41][42][43] and from some statements expressed at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ("A preemptive war against Iraq is an unjust war"),[44] O’Brien wrote this letter without endorsing the motives of the war. However, it is acknowledged that the proponents of the Iraki war cause were comforted by his positions.[45] Nevertheless, after the war has started, his spiritual direction proved to be efficient in helping calm the doubts of soldiers,[46] advising them that they can safely leave the responsibility for moral decision-making to the Government. On several occasions, US Army chaplains including O'Brien were asked by Catholics “to call on all Catholic soldiers to leave Iraq” : O’Brien gave flat refusals for discussions.[47] O’Brien thinks that, to make Just War, the role of chaplains becomes essential[48] to help soldiers perform their fighting duties, to ease relationships with local populations and to avoid gross misconducts (such as torturing in the Abu Ghraib prison).[49] In such a context, O’Brien is often complaining that the paucity of priests serving in active duty in the US Army is nearing disaster.[50]

In July 2009, at the U.S. Strategic Command Deterrence Symposium, O’Brien explained Just War theories, inter alia saying “The moral end we seek ought to shape the means we use”,[51] saying also that the U.S. must "move beyond nuclear deterrence as rapidly as possible" and urging the world leaders to "stay focused on the destination of a nuclear-weapons-free world and on the concrete steps that lead there.",[52] reasserting the Just War traditional position of the U.S. bishops[53] who called already for nuclear disarmament in 1983.[54]

More recently, in September 2013, when President Obama was officially considering the option to use military force in Syria, O’Brien did not openly condemn a military intervention against Syria, rather saying that "whatever we do will contribute to peace in that part of the world.",[55] an opinion standing in stark contrast to warnings sent by the local Catholic Authority.[56] Being often quoted (“no matter what transpires, prayer is urgently needed”), O’Brien’s positions are still fueling the debate about Just War.[57]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ RINUNCIA DEL GRAN MAESTRO DELL'ORDINE EQUESTRE DEL SANTO SEPOLCRO DI GERUSALEMME E NOMINA DEL PRO-GRAN MAESTRO DEL MEDESIMO ORDINE EQUESTRE
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "His Eminence Edwin Cardinal O'Brien". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Archbishop Edwin Frederick O'Brien". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. 
  4. ^ "Edwin F. O'Brien: Highlights". Baltimore Sun. 
  5. ^ a b "Pope Accepts Resignation of Archbishop Dimino; Names Archbishop O'Brien to Succeed Him in Military Archdiocese". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. August 12, 1997. 
  6. ^ a b "Historical Perspectives,The rich heritage of Baltimore". Cathedral of Mary our Queen. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d Palmo, Rocco (July 12, 2007). "Balto Goes Gotham". Whispers in the Loggia. 
  8. ^ Riggs, Christopher (July 17, 2008). "Canonization cause formally opened for Father Kapaun, Korean War hero". Catholic News Service. 
  9. ^ Filteau, Jerry (September 16, 2006). "Homosexuality question for seminary visitations sparks flap". Catholic News Service. 
  10. ^ "Archbishop: Seminaries should not accept even celibate homosexuals". Catholic News Service. September 7, 2005. 
  11. ^ "Archbishop says he's not speaking for Vatican on gays in seminaries". Catholic News Service. September 30, 2005. 
  12. ^ Linskey, Regina (December 14, 2006). "Iraq: More deaths, few stories of hope leave many asking what's next". Catholic News Service. 
  13. ^ Asher, Julie (May 30, 2007). "U.S. must honestly assess what is achievable in Iraq, says archbishop". Catholic News Service. 
  14. ^ O'Brien, Nancy Frazier (October 4, 2006). "Proposal on chaplains' prayers could hurt military, archbishop says". Catholic News Service. 
  15. ^ "Pope names North Americans to two Vatican offices". Catholic News Service. May 24, 2007. 
  16. ^ a b O'Brien, Nancy Frazier (July 12, 2007). "Cardinal Keeler retires; Archbishop O'Brien succeeds him in Baltimore". Catholic News Service. 
  17. ^ Donovan, Doug and Nicole Fuller (July 13, 2007). "Ministering to military has bracketed O'Brien's career". Baltimore Sun. 
  18. ^ "Baltimore's new archbishop talks about hopes, challenges". Catholic News Service. January 11, 2008. 
  19. ^ Glatz, Carol (June 30, 2008). "Pope gives palliums to archbishops, says church's mission is to unite". Catholic News Service. 
  20. ^ Kelly, Jacques (October 24, 2008). "An urban 'sanctuary'". Baltimore Sun. 
  21. ^ Archbishop O'Brien holds press conference on appointment to Rome on YouTube
  22. ^ http://press.catholica.va/news_services/bulletin/news/28922.php?index=28922&po_date=15.03.2012&lang=en
  23. ^ Pattison, Mark (2012-01-06). Cardinal-designate O'Brien used to new and varied assignments. Catholic News Service, January 6, 2012. Retrieved on 2012-01-07 from http://www.catholicreview.org/subpages/storyworldnew-new.aspx?action=11209.
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ Palmo, Rocco (October 1, 2008). "O'Brien O'Baltimore: The Maryland Tradition, Vol. XV, Day One". Whispers in the Loggia. 
  26. ^ Palmo, Rocco (October 15, 2008). "The Way of Life". Whispers in the Loggia. 
  27. ^ Matysek, Jr., George P (April 7, 2009). "Archbishop is ‘disappointed,’ ‘bewildered’ by honor to Obama". The Catholic Review. 
  28. ^ "Death Penalty – Testimony of Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. August 19, 2008. 
  29. ^ a b c d Allen, Jr., John Allen (June 12, 2008). "Baltimore archbishop demands greater accountability from Legionaries of Christ". National Catholic Reporter. 
  30. ^ a b c Matysek, Jr., George P (February 25, 2009). "Baltimore archbp concerned about Legionaries". National Catholic Reporter. 
  31. ^ a b c d Allen, Jr., John Allen (April 3, 2009). "Abolition of Legionaries should be 'on the table'". National Catholic Reporter. 
  32. ^ Allen, Jr., John Allen (June 27, 2008). "Legionaries of Christ: Legionaries face restrictions in Baltimore". National Catholic Reporter. 
  33. ^ Alessi, Scott (February 22, 2009). "Revelations of founder's double life rocks religious order". Our Sunday Visitor. 
  34. ^ "Legionaries of Christ acknowledge founder’s 'inappropriate' behavior". Catholic News Agency. February 3, 2009. 
  35. ^ "Edwin O'Brien appointed Cardinal, in a confusing blow to the core non-violent message of Christianity". January 7, 2012. 
  36. ^ "A New Warrior Cardinal". January 8, 2012. 
  37. ^ "How the Iraq War Became a War on Christians". May 9, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Christianity Could Become Extinct in Iraq as Islamists Drive Out Believers". April 29, 2013. 
  39. ^ "A New Warrior Cardinal". January 30, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Letter from Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien". March 25, 2003. 
  41. ^ "At Odds with the Pope : Legitimate Authority & Just Wars". May 23, 2003. 
  42. ^ "The Pope, the President, and How U.S. Catholics Engaged the War Effort (in "Sign of Peace", Vol. 2-2, pages 4-5)". Easter 2003. 
  43. ^ "Bishops called to speak out against Iraq war". December 24, 2004. 
  44. ^ "Statement of Most Rev. Arthur N. Tafoya, Bishop of Pueblo". February 15, 2003. 
  45. ^ "Authority, Lies, and War : Democracy and the Development of Just War Theory (in "Theological Studies"; Vol. 67, Issue 2, page 388)". June 2006. 
  46. ^ "Winning the war on terror". February 1, 2009. 
  47. ^ "A call to repentance on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq". March 19, 2013. 
  48. ^ "The Chaplain's Dilemma". November 17, 2008. 
  49. ^ "The Role of Military Chaplains". October 25, 2007. 
  50. ^ "US Military Catholic Chaplains : serious concerns". December 4, 2010. 
  51. ^ "Nuclear Weapons and Moral Questions: The Path to Zero". July 30, 2009. 
  52. ^ "U.S. must quickly move beyond nuclear deterrence, Archbishop O'Brien urges". July 30, 2009. 
  53. ^ As seen often in their literature. Just War is now referring to Paragraph 2309 of the Catechism regarding legitimate defense by military force (inside Article 5, the 5th commandment) : “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated”
  54. ^ "The Challenge of Peace : God's Promise and Our Response". May 3, 1983. 
  55. ^ "Cardinal O'Brien says Syria needs urgent prayer". September 5, 2013. 
  56. ^ "U.S. Military Action in Syria Could Spark World War, Syrian Bishop Warns". August 28, 2013. 
  57. ^ "Special Report : Crisis in Syria (see quote under the picture)". September 6, 2013. 

External links[edit]


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Patrick Foley
Croix de l Ordre du Saint-Sepulcre.svg Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
August 29, 2011 - present
Incumbent
Preceded by
William Henry Keeler
Archbishop of Baltimore
July 12, 2007 - August 29, 2011
Succeeded by
William E. Lori
Preceded by
Joseph Thomas Dimino
Archbishop for the Military Services
August 12, 1997 – July 12, 2007
Succeeded by
Timothy Broglio
Preceded by
Alfonso Nava Carreón
Bishop of Tizica
Titular Archbishop of Thizica
March 25, 1996 – March 7, 1998
Succeeded by
Louis Dicaire
Bishop of Thizica
Academic offices
Preceded by
Lawrence M. Purcell
Rector of the Pontifical North American College
1990–1994
Succeeded by
Timothy M. Dolan