Edwin Frederick O'Brien
Edwin Frederick O'Brien
|Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre,
Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore
|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
by Benedict XVI
April 8, 1939 |
Bronx, New York
|Motto||PASTORES DABO VOBIS
("I Will Give You Shepherds")
Edwin Frederick O'Brien
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
Edwin Frederick O'Brien (born April 8, 1939) is an American Cardinal prelate of the Catholic Church. He has been the Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre since March 15, 2012, having previously served as Pro-Grand Master since August 29, 2011.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Priesthood
- 3 Episcopal career
- 4 Views
- 5 Legionaries of Christ
- 6 Just War
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
- 10 Episcopal succession
Early life and education
Edwin O'Brien was born in 1939 in the Bronx, New York, to Edwin Frederick, Sr. and Mary Winifred O'Brien. One of three children, he had two brothers, Ken and Tom, now deceased. He graduated from Our Lady of Solace School in 1953 and attended St. Mary's High School in Katonah from 1953 to 1957. He entered St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers in 1959, 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 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. 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 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (1971–72). While in Vietnam, he was based in the 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.
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. 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.
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.
During his decade-long tenure, he divided his time between visiting American troops and working with the North American College. He was 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, O'Brien 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, saying 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 15th 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". 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 Pope Benedict 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.
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
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 and was appointed on August 29, 2011. 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.
On April 21, 2012, O'Brien was appointed 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.
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).
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
As Archbishop of Baltimore, O'Brien was an outspoken critic of the religious institute the Legion of Christ. He 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, to include consecrated and non-consecrated members. 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 controversially directed both groups to disclose all activities within the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and directed them to refrain from spiritual direction of anyone under eighteen years of age. Due to dropping enrollment after the Archbishop's expressed displeasure with Regnum Christi as a lay movement and the subsequent scandal of the founder, the Catholic Woodmont Academy was closed.
In February 2009, when the superiors of the Legionaries acknowledged that their founder, Marcial Maciel, had engaged in "inappropriate" behavior (including 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.". The Archbishop welcomed the Vatican's decision in the following March 2009 to conduct an apostolic visitation of the Legionaries, and said that the institute's abolition "should be on the table."
In 2010 the Vatican agreed to a request by the consecrated lay branch for their own Apostolic Visitator, "The Holy Father will send a visitator to the consecrated members of the "Regnum Christi" Movement, who have insistently requested this." At their own request, all the lay consecrated have become more autonomous. In 2013 they elected a general director and a five-woman council, each with a term of six years. They have developed an eight-year discernment process for consecrated women.
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 which had terrible consequences on the Christianity in Iraq with its almost annihilation ten years later under a Shiite regime allied with Teheran. 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".
A few days after the military invasion of Iraq, O'Brien sent March 25, 2003 an explicit letter to US Catholic military chaplains, 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 and from some statements expressed at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ("A preemptive war against Iraq is an unjust war"), O'Brien wrote this letter without endorsing the motives of the war. However, it is acknowledged that the proponents of the Iraqi war cause were comforted by his positions. Nevertheless, after the war has started, his spiritual direction proved to be efficient in helping calm the doubts of soldiers, 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. O'Brien thinks that, to make Just War, the role of chaplains becomes essential 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). 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.
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", 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.", reasserting the Just War traditional position of the U.S. bishops who called already for nuclear disarmament in 1983.
In September 2013, when President Obama was considering the use of 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." an opinion standing in stark contrast to warnings sent by the local Catholic Authority. Being often quoted ("no matter what transpires, prayer is urgently needed"), O'Brien's positions are still fueling the debate about Just War.
- Catholic Church hierarchy
- Catholic Church in the United States
- Chaplain Corps (United States Army)
- Historical list of the Catholic bishops of the United States
- Insignia of Chaplain Schools in the US Military
- List of Catholic bishops of the United States
- List of Catholic bishops of the United States: military service
- Lists of patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops
- Military chaplain
- Religious symbolism in the United States military
- United States military chaplains
- RINUNCIA DEL GRAN MAESTRO DELL'ORDINE EQUESTRE DEL SANTO SEPOLCRO DI GERUSALEMME E NOMINA DEL PRO-GRAN MAESTRO DEL MEDESIMO ORDINE EQUESTRE
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- "Edwin F. O'Brien: Highlights". Baltimore Sun.
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- Filteau, Jerry (September 16, 2006). "Homosexuality question for seminary visitations sparks flap". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on September 17, 2005.
- "Archbishop: Seminaries should not accept even celibate homosexuals". Catholic News Service. September 7, 2005. Archived from the original on September 8, 2005.
- "Archbishop says he's not speaking for Vatican on gays in seminaries". Catholic News Service. September 30, 2005. Archived from the original on October 5, 2005.
- Linskey, Regina (December 14, 2006). "Iraq: More deaths, few stories of hope leave many asking what's next". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on December 30, 2006.
- Asher, Julie (May 30, 2007). "U.S. must honestly assess what is achievable in Iraq, says archbishop". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013.
- O'Brien, Nancy Frazier (October 4, 2006). "Proposal on chaplains' prayers could hurt military, archbishop says". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on October 10, 2006.
- "Pope names North Americans to two Vatican offices". Catholic News Service. May 24, 2007. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013.
- O'Brien, Nancy Frazier (July 12, 2007). "Cardinal Keeler retires; Archbishop O'Brien succeeds him in Baltimore". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013.
- 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. Archived from the original on May 21, 2008.
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- Kelly, Jacques (October 24, 2008). "An urban 'sanctuary'". Baltimore Sun.
- on YouTube
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- Palmo, Rocco (October 15, 2008). "The Way of Life". Whispers in the Loggia.
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- "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.
- "Woodmont Academy to close due to enrollment issues". Catholic Review. April 12, 2011. Retrieved April 2011. Check date values in:
- Alessi, Scott (February 22, 2009). "Revelations of founder's double life rocks religious order". Our Sunday Visitor. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
- "Legionaries of Christ acknowledge founder's 'inappropriate' behavior". Catholic News Agency. February 3, 2009.
- Holy See Press Office. May 1, 2010 http://www.regnumchristi.org/english/articulos/articulo.phtml?se=359&ca=84&te=782&id=29478
- "Graduate students help with renewal of religious order". Archived from the original on July 3, 2015. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- "Edwin O'Brien appointed Cardinal, in a confusing blow to the core non-violent message of Christianity". January 7, 2012.
- "A New Warrior Cardinal". January 8, 2012.
- "How the Iraq War Became a War on Christians". May 9, 2013.
- "Christianity Could Become Extinct in Iraq as Islamists Drive Out Believers". April 29, 2013.
- "A New Warrior Cardinal". January 30, 2012.
- "Letter from Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien". March 25, 2003. Archived from the original on August 1, 2011.
- "At Odds with the Pope : Legitimate Authority & Just Wars". May 23, 2003.
- "The Pope, the President, and How U.S. Catholics Engaged the War Effort (in "Sign of Peace", Vol. 2-2, pages 4-5)" (PDF). Easter 2003. Check date values in:
- "Bishops called to speak out against Iraq war". December 24, 2004.
- "Statement of Most Rev. Arthur N. Tafoya, Bishop of Pueblo". February 15, 2003. Archived from the original on August 1, 2011.
- "Authority, Lies, and War : Democracy and the Development of Just War Theory (in "Theological Studies"; Vol. 67, Issue 2, page 388)" (PDF). June 2006.
- "Winning the war on terror". February 1, 2009.
- "A call to repentance on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq". March 19, 2013.
- "The Chaplain's Dilemma". November 17, 2008.
- "The Role of Military Chaplains". October 25, 2007.
- "US Military Catholic Chaplains : serious concerns". December 4, 2010.
- "Nuclear Weapons and Moral Questions: The Path to Zero". July 30, 2009.
- "U.S. must quickly move beyond nuclear deterrence, Archbishop O'Brien urges". July 30, 2009.
- 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"
- "The Challenge of Peace : God's Promise and Our Response" (PDF). May 3, 1983. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 24, 2014.
- "Cardinal O'Brien says Syria needs urgent prayer". September 5, 2013.
- "U.S. Military Action in Syria Could Spark World War, Syrian Bishop Warns". August 28, 2013.
- "Crisis in Syria (see quote under the picture)". September 6, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-10-20.
- Archdiocese of Baltimore
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services
- Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, official website
- Archdiocese for the Military Services of the United States. GCatholic.org. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
Lawrence M. Purcell
|Rector of the Pontifical North American College
Timothy M. Dolan
|Catholic Church titles|
John Patrick Foley
| Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
2011 - Present
William Henry Keeler
|Archbishop of Baltimore
William E. Lori
Joseph Thomas Dimino
|Archbishop for the Military Services
1997 – 2007
|Auxiliary Bishop of New York
1996 – 1997
Alfonso Nava Carreón
Bishop of Tizica
|Titular Archbishop of Thizica
1996 – 1998
Bishop of Thizica