Edwin Frederick O'Brien
Edwin Frederick O'Brien
|Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem|
|Appointed||March 15, 2012|
|Predecessor||John Patrick Foley|
|Other posts||Cardinal-Deacon of San Sebastiano al Palatino|
|Ordination||May 29, 1965
by Francis Spellman
|Consecration||March 25, 1996
by John Joseph O'Connor
|Created Cardinal||February 18, 2012|
April 8, 1939 |
Bronx, New York
|Coat of arms|
Edwin Frederick O'Brien (born April 8, 1939) is an American Cardinal. He is the current 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. 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 
Edwin O'Brien was born in the Bronx, New York, to Edwin Frederick, Sr. and Mary Winifred O'Brien. 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.
O'Brien was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Francis Spellman on May 29, 1965. He then served as a civilian chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point until 1970, whence he became an army chaplain with the rank of Captain. He also took flight training that required him to parachute out of airplanes. 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 1st Cavalry Brigade (1971–72). While in Vietnam, he was based in a jungle and flew with a Protestant minister by helicopter to minister to soldiers. From 1972 to 1973, he was a post chaplain at Fort Gordon in Georgia.
O'Brien was then sent by Cardinal Terence Cooke to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome in 1973, and earned a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in 1976; his dissertation was titled: "The Origin and Development of Moral Principles in the Theology of Paul Ramsey." 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. 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. Between 1983 and 1985, he served as private secretary to Cardinal Cooke and then to his successor, Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor.
O'Brien was raised to the rank of Honorary Prelate of His Holiness in 1986. 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.
Episcopal career 
Edwin Frederick O'Brien
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
On February 6, 1996, O'Brien was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York and Titular Bishop of Thizica by John Paul II. 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. He selected as his episcopal motto: Pastores Dabo Vobis, meaning, "I will give you shepherds" (Jeremiah 3:15).
Archbishop for the Military Services 
O'Brien was later named Coadjutor Archbishop for the Military Services on April 7, 1997. 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. He also abdicated his titular see of Thizica on March 7, 1998.
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. O'Brien successfully petitioned the Vatican for Hamilton's early ordination, and ordained him a priest only hours before he died. In 1993, he initiated the cause of canonization for Emil Kapaun, a chaplain killed during the Korean War.
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. 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." 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."
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." 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." 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."
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." He became a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Roman Curia in May 2007.
Archbishop of Baltimore 
Pope Benedict XVI appointed O'Brien the fifteenth Archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland, on July 12, 2007. 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." 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. He succeeded Cardinal William Henry Keeler, and was formally installed as Archbishop at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on the following October 1. 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". The Baltimore Examiner described him as "Army jump school-qualified and troubleshooter for God at Catholic seminaries and remote Vietnam War firebases alike." 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."
On June 29, 2008, O'Brien was invested with the pallium, a vestment worn by metropolitan bishops, by Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Basilica. 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.
Archbishop O'Brien's reign, 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 
On August 17, 2011, after John Patrick Foley had reached resignation age, Cardinal Bertone asked Archbishop O'Brien during a visit to Rome to take the position of Pro-Grand Master; O'Brien accepted the next day, 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.
On January 6, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI announced that Archbishop O'Brien would be elevated to Cardinal, along with 21 other prelates in a ceremony on February 18, 2012, where he was created Cardinal-Deacon of San Sebastiano al Palatino, the same titular church held by previous Grand Master, Cardinal Foley.
On April 21, 2012 O'Brien was made a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum in addition to his membership of the Congregation for Catholic Education. These posts end when the holder reaches the age of 80.
Preservation of life 
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." 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," 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).
Capital punishment 
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."
Legionaries of Christ 
Since becoming Archbishop of Baltimore, O'Brien has been an outspoken critic of the controversial religious institute, the Legion of Christ. He has particularly objected to its alleged practice of "blind allegiance", lack of "respect for human dignity for each of its members," and "heavily persuasive methods on young people, especially high schoolers, regarding vocations." In June 2008, O'Brien called for greater "transparency and accountability" from the Legionaries and its lay arm Regnum Christi. 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. 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), 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." 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," and further criticized the "good deal of secrecy in [Maciel's] own life...[and] in the structures he created." 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."
See also 
- RINUNCIA DEL GRAN MAESTRO DELL'ORDINE EQUESTRE DEL SANTO SEPOLCRO DI GERUSALEMME E NOMINA DEL PRO-GRAN MAESTRO DEL MEDESIMO ORDINE EQUESTRE
- "Most. Rev Edwin Frederick O'Brien". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.
- "Archbishop Edwin Frederick O'Brien". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.
- "Edwin F. O'Brien: Highlights". Baltimore Sun.
- "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.
- Corrigan, G.M. (August 4, 2007). "Archbishop O'Brien to Begin Stewardship with Listening Tour". The Baltimore Examiner.
- Palmo, Rocco (July 12, 2007). "Balto Goes Gotham". Whispers in the Loggia.
- Riggs, Christopher (July 17, 2008). "Canonization cause formally opened for Father Kapaun, Korean War hero". Catholic News Service.
- Filteau, Jerry (September 16, 2006). "Homosexuality question for seminary visitations sparks flap". Catholic News Service.
- "Archbishop: Seminaries should not accept even celibate homosexuals". Catholic News Service. September 7, 2005.
- "Archbishop says he's not speaking for Vatican on gays in seminaries". Catholic News Service. September 30, 2005.
- Linskey, Regina (December 14, 2006). "Iraq: More deaths, few stories of hope leave many asking what's next". Catholic News Service.
- Asher, Julie (May 30, 2007). "U.S. must honestly assess what is achievable in Iraq, says archbishop". Catholic News Service.
- O'Brien, Nancy Frazier (October 4, 2006). "Proposal on chaplains' prayers could hurt military, archbishop says". Catholic News Service.
- "Pope names North Americans to two Vatican offices". Catholic News Service. May 24, 2007.
- O'Brien, Nancy Frazier (July 12, 2007). "Cardinal Keeler retires; Archbishop O'Brien succeeds him in Baltimore". Catholic News Service.
- Donovan, Doug and Nicole Fuller (July 13, 2007). "Ministering to military has bracketed O'Brien's career". Baltimore Sun.
- "Baltimore's new archbishop talks about hopes, challenges". Catholic News Service. January 11, 2008.
- Glatz, Carol (June 30, 2008). "Pope gives palliums to archbishops, says church's mission is to unite". Catholic News Service.
- Kelly, Jacques (October 24, 2008). "An urban 'sanctuary'". Baltimore Sun.
- Archbishop O'Brien holds press conference on appointment to Rome
- 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.
- Palmo, Rocco (October 1, 2008). "O'Brien O'Baltimore: The Maryland Tradition, Vol. XV, Day One". Whispers in the Loggia.
- Palmo, Rocco (October 15, 2008). "The Way of Life". Whispers in the Loggia.
- Matysek, Jr., George P (April 7, 2009). "Archbishop is ‘disappointed,’ ‘bewildered’ by honor to Obama". The Catholic Review.
- "Death Penalty – Testimony of Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. August 19, 2008.
- Allen, Jr., John Allen (June 12, 2008). "Baltimore archbishop demands greater accountability from Legionaries of Christ". National Catholic Reporter.
- Matysek, Jr., George P (February 25, 2009). "Baltimore archbp concerned about Legionaries". National Catholic Reporter.
- Allen, Jr., John Allen (April 3, 2009). "Abolition of Legionaries should be 'on the table'". National Catholic Reporter.
- Allen, Jr., John Allen (June 27, 2008). "Legionaries of Christ: Legionaries face restrictions in Baltimore". National Catholic Reporter.
- Alessi, Scott (February 22, 2009). "Revelations of founder's double life rocks religious order". Our Sunday Visitor.
- "Legionaries of Christ acknowledge founder’s 'inappropriate' behavior". Catholic News Agency. February 3, 2009.
- Archdiocese of Baltimore
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services
- Edwin Frederick O'Brien Catholic-Hierarchy.org
|Catholic Church titles|
Alfonso Nava Carreón
Bishop of Tizica
|Titular Archbishop of Thizica
April 8, 1997 – March 7, 1998
Bishop of Thizica
Joseph Thomas Dimino
|Archbishop for the Military Services
August 12, 1997 – July 12, 2007
Timothy P. Broglio
William Henry Keeler
|Archbishop of Baltimore
July 12, 2007 - August 29, 2011
William E. Lori
John Patrick Foley
| Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
August 29, 2011 - present