Edward Egan

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Edward Michael Egan
Cardinal, Archbishop emeritus of New York
EdwardEgan Cardinal NY.jpg
SeeNew York
AppointedMay 11, 2000
InstalledJune 19, 2000
Term endedFebruary 23, 2009
PredecessorJohn Joseph O'Connor
SuccessorTimothy M. Dolan
Other postsCardinal-Priest of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo
OrdinationDecember 15, 1957
by Martin John O'Connor
ConsecrationMay 22, 1985
by Bernardin Gantin
Created cardinalFebruary 21, 2001
by John Paul II
Personal details
Birth nameEdward Michael Egan
BornApril 2, 1932
Oak Park, Illinois, U.S.
DiedMarch 5, 2015(2015-03-05) (aged 82)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
BuriedSt. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, New York, United States
DenominationRoman Catholic
ParentsThomas J. and Genevieve Costello Egan
Previous post
MottoIn the Holiness of Truth
Coat of armsEdward Michael Egan's coat of arms
Ordination history of
Edward Egan
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated byBernardin Gantin (Pref. Cong. Epis.)
DateMay 22, 1985
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Edward Egan as principal consecrator
Josu IriondoDecember 12, 2001
Timothy Anthony McDonnellDecember 12, 2001
Dominick John LagonegroDecember 12, 2001
Robert Joseph CunninghamMay 18, 2004
Gerald Thomas WalshSeptember 21, 2004
Dennis Joseph SullivanSeptember 21, 2004
Charles Daniel BalvoJune 29, 2005
Robert E. GuglielmoneMarch 25, 2009
Styles of
Edward Egan
Coat of arms of Edward Michael Egan.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeNew York (emeritus)

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. He was the twelfth bishop, ninth archbishop, and seventh cardinal of the See of New York.

Early life and education[edit]

The third of four children, Edward Egan was born in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of 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,[1] causing them to miss two years of school while convalescing at home.

He graduated from Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary,[2] 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, 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 associate pastor of Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago, assistant chancellor for the archdiocese, and secretary to Cardinal Albert Gregory Meyer until 1960.[1] 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 doctorate. 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.[3]

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[edit]

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

Bishop of Bridgeport[edit]

Egan was later named the third Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, on November 5, 1988.[4] 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. To support the 12 Hispanic parishes in the diocese, he brought Spanish-speaking 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[edit]

Egan was appointed Archbishop of New York on May 11, 2000, a week after O'Connor's death, and installed in that position on June 19, 2000. Soprano Renée Fleming sang at the ceremony.[5]

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, although they were unable to reverse the declining trend.

He was elevated to the Cardinalate by Pope John Paul II at the Consistory of February 21, 2001,[6] 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 new Cardinal Egan 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., to the faculty. The minor seminary, then in Riverdale, Bronx, was moved to the campus of the major seminary. To maintain regular contact with the seminarians, Egan invited them 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 personally led a day of prayer and reflection for the seminary students and faculty.

Egan was a prominent and steadying influence in New York after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 at the World Trade Center.[7] "The cardinal responded to the disaster – ministering to the injured and anointing the dead at St. Vincent's Hospital and at Ground Zero itself, chairing committees and planning a center for victims' families at the New School and an interfaith service at Yankee Stadium, and offering Masses at St. Patrick's Cathedral in the immediate aftermath and funerals there and around the archdiocese for months."[8]

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

For retired priests of the archdiocese, Egan established the John Cardinal O'Connor residence in 2003, at the previous site of the minor seminary in Riverdale.[9] In June 2003, Egan was accused of concealing the names of priests who had 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.[10]

On January 19, 2007, after several years of study and consultation, Egan announced that ten under-utilized parishes of the archdiocese would be canonically suppressed and eleven would be merged with other parishes, "based on the migration of Catholics in the inner-city to the outer boroughs". 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.[11] The closures caused some discontent.[12]

On December 15, 2007, Egan celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches on January 26, 2008. Egan then hosted the papal visit to New York during April 2008, marking the 200th anniversary of the diocese. In January 2009, Egan publicly condemned controversial statements made by Society of Saint Pius X Bishop Richard Williamson about the Holocaust.[13]

Resignation and final years[edit]

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.[14]

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, experiencing stomach pains. After undergoing various tests, he was released from the hospital on April 7, and was later given a pacemaker in a low-risk surgery.[15][16] He was well enough to preside over major liturgical services for the April 9–12 Easter Triduum, days before the arrival of his successor.[17]

Death and legacy[edit]

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 Manhattan, New York City, after suffering cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead at 2:20 PM.[18] 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.[18] Many other bishops released statements mourning Egan's abrupt death.[19][20][21]

Views and controversies[edit]


In a strongly worded article published next to a photo of an unborn baby in the womb, Edward Cardinal Egan compared tolerating abortions to the reasoning used by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin to commit mass murders.[22] 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.[23]

Gay marriage[edit]

Edward Cardinal 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.[24]

Alleged abuse in Bridgeport[edit]

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in May 2009 that records detailing allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese of Bridgeport should be released. 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.[25]

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."[26] Ten years later, in February 2012, the retired archbishop 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.[27][28]

In August 2018, Father Boniface Ramsey said that he once tried to speak with Egan concerning the sexual activities of then-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who after Egan's death was publicly accused of sexual misconduct against seminarians and minors, but that Egan "didn't want to hear it."[29] McCarrick maintained his innocence[30] but the Vatican found him guilty and dismissed him from the clergy.[31]

In October 2019, former Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert Holzberg released the results of his investigation, commissioned by Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano, into the diocese's handling of accusations of sexual abuse by its priests. Holzberg found that all three of Bridgeport's bishops over forty years had consistently failed to fulfill their moral and legal responsibilities. Holzberg found that Egan took a "dismissive, uncaring, and at times threatening attitude toward survivors"; he characterized Egan's behavior as "profoundly unsympathetic, inadequate, and inflammatory". Holzberg said that Egan broke a 1971 state law by not reporting abuse allegations and that he deliberately concealed the reasons for abusive priests' transfers.[32]

Among other findings, in a July 12, 1993 letter to diocesan counsel Renato Ottaviani, explaining his refusal to seek the involuntary laicization of serial abuser Father Raymond Pcolka, Egan wrote: "... it is obvious that there can be no canonical process either for the removal of a diocesan priest from his priestly duties or for the removal of a priest from his parish when there is serious reason to believe that the priest in question is guilty of the sexual violation of children, and especially when he has confessed such a violation to the bishop or a delegate of the bishop. For the bishop who would countenance such a process would be opening the way to the gravest of evils, among them the financial ruin of the diocese which he is to serve."[33]

Clerical celibacy[edit]

In a radio interview given on March 10, 2009, at the end of his tenure as archbishop, Egan stated that clerical celibacy in the Latin Rite could be open to discussion.[34][35] 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."[36]


  1. ^ a b c McFadden, Robert D., "Cardinal Edward M. Egan, 82, Dies; Led New York Archdiocese in Trying Time", The New York Times, March 5, 2015
  2. ^ Brachear, Manya A.; Ramirez, Margaret (September 20, 2006), "Archdiocese to close historic Quigley Preparatory Seminary", Chicago Tribune, p. 3
  3. ^ Roman, Bob (February 2002). "Cardinal Egan Brings Holiness and Unity To Our Great Parade". Irish Connections. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  4. ^ "Death of Cardinal Egan", Catholic New York, March 5, 2015
  5. ^ Barron, James; Nemy, Enid (June 16, 2000). "Public Lives". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Howe, Bob. "Edward Cardinal Egan 1932-2015", Fordham News, March 5, 2015
  7. ^ Desmond, Joan Frawley (September 6, 2011). "Cardinal Egan Remembers 9/11". National Catholic Register.
  8. ^ Poust, Mary Ann (September 9, 2011). "Cardinal Egan Remembers New Yorkers Pulling Together on 9/11". Catholic New York.
  9. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (September 5, 2003). "Rest, Prayer, and a Happy Hour; At a Home in the Bronx, Retired Priests Ponder Eternity". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "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. December 6, 2006. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015.
  11. ^ Eyewitness News Team (January 19, 2007). "Catholic church closures announced". WABC-TV. Archived from the original on March 18, 2007.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Statement on Remarks by Bishop Richard Williamson". Archdiocese of New York. February 5, 2009. Archived from the original on June 13, 2012.
  14. ^ "Archbishop Dolan Tapped for New York". Zenit News Agency. February 23, 2009. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  15. ^ "New York Cardinal Egan hospitalized". UPI. April 6, 2009.
  16. ^ Palmo, Rocco (April 7, 2009). "Hosannas in Gotham". Whispers in the Loggia.
  17. ^ Palmo, Rocco (April 9, 2009). "He Is Risen". Whispers in the Loggia.
  18. ^ a b Dolan, Timothy Cardinal (March 5, 2015). "Cardinal Dolan's Statement on the Passing of Cardinal Egan, Archbishop-Emeritus" (Press release). Archdiocese of New York. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  19. ^ "Statement from Bishop Robert J. Cunningham on the passing of Cardinal Edward Egan, former Catholic Archbishop of New York" (Press release). Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. March 6, 2015. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  20. ^ "Statement of Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio on the Passing of Cardinal Egan" (Press release). Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. March 5, 2015. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  21. ^ "Cardinal Edward Egan, Oak Park native and Chicago priest, dies". Catholic News Service. March 22, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  22. ^ Cardinal Egan: Abortion support equal to Nazism
  23. ^ "April 28, 2008 Statement of Cardinal Egan". Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  24. ^ "RIPS GAY WEDDINGS; Egan: Society's making a mockery of marriage". Daily News. New York. February 9, 2004.
  25. ^ "Conn. court seeks release of church abuse papers". Associated Press. May 21, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Newman, Andy (February 7, 2012). "Cardinal Egan Criticized for Retracting Apology on Sexual Abuse Crisis". The New York Times.
  28. ^ Connor, Tom (February 2012). "Cardinal Egan: Ten Years After". Connecticut Magazine. Archived from the original on March 12, 2012.
  29. ^ Guidos, Rhina (August 14, 2018). "Abuse letter to Cardinal O'Malley was second priest sent officials about McCarrick". Crux. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  30. ^ Pattison, Mark (June 21, 2018). "Abuse allegation against Cardinal McCarrick found credible". CNS. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  31. ^ Pentin, Edward (February 16, 2019). "Theodore McCarrick Dismissed From the Clerical State". National Catholic Register. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  32. ^ Altimari, Dave; Blanco, Amanda (October 1, 2019). "Bridgeport Diocese report on sex abuse among priests blames former Archbishop Edward Egan; nearly 300 individuals allegedly abused by 71 priests since 1953". Hartford Courant. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  33. ^ Holzberg, Robert L. (October 1, 2019). "Investigation into Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Diocese of Bridgeport" (PDF). Diocese of Bridgeport.
  34. ^ "NY cardinal predicts 'discussion' on celibacy". Our Sunday Visitor. March 10, 2009.
  35. ^ "Cardinal Egan says possibility of married priests not to be dismissed". Catholic Review Online. March 12, 2009.
  36. ^ "Cardinal Egan and Celibacy". Catholic New York. March 26, 2009. Archived from the original on April 19, 2009.

External links[edit]

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