Skip to comments.Mutiny in the Big Apple - New York Archdiocese
Posted on 10/13/2006 5:48:15 AM PDT by Maeve
Mutiny in the Big Apple *EXCLUSIVE -- MUST CREDIT WHISPERS*
In 1983, the new bishop of Scranton was consulted on the appointment of a new archbishop of New York.
John O'Connor was familiar with the See given his long service as a Navy chaplain, culminating with his four years as auxiliary bishop to the Military Vicar, Cardinal Terence Cooke. O'Connor later made it known that, while the new archbishop would inevitably face some difficulties, he opined that none would be due to the New York presbyterate, who served well, loved the church and were loyal to their archbishop.
Less than seven months after his installation in Scranton, Bishop O'Connor was promoted to the Big Apple. He may only be gone six years, but how times change.
Long-simmering tensions among a broad cross-section of the archdiocese's priests broke into the open today with the circulation of an anonymous letter under the authorship of a group calling itself "A Committee of Concerned Clergy for the Archdiocese of New York." Saying that, "At no time has the relationship between the Ordinary and the priests of the Archdiocese been so fractured and seemingly hopeless as it is now," the authors have urged their confreres to lodge "a formal vote of 'NO Confidence'" (emphases original) in Cardinal Edward M. Egan, who became archbishop in 2000. Using strong language throughout the 950-word missive, the authors allege a widespread finding that Egan's relationship with his priests has been "defined by dishonesty, deception, disinterest and disregard."
The cardinal turns 75 on 2 April, when he must submit his letter of resignation to Pope Benedict XVI.
In its entirety, the letter and accompanying ballot are published below for the first time outside of the New York presbyterate. As he recovers from a September knee-replacement, the cardinal's intense displeasure at the move has already become known.
Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese, declined comment on the document.
Dear Brother Priest:
A Committee of Concerned Clergy for the Archdiocese of New York has met to discuss the critical condition of the Archdiocese of New York. As you would understand, because of the severely vindictive nature of Cardinal Egan,this committee must remain anonymous. This letter is being sent to many priests throughout the Archdiocese so that at each Vicariate meeting a formal vote of NO Confidence can be exercised with regard to Cardinal Edward Egan in his role as Archbishop of New York. As you know, the collective memory of the presbyterate cannot recall a time in recent history when the morale of priests has been so broken and low. Some of our elderly priests can well recall the Cardinal Spellman years. Many remember the tenure of Cardinal Cooke and certainly everyone remembers Cardinal OConnor. At no time has the relationship between the Ordinary and the priests of the Archdiocese been so fractured and seemingly hopeless as it is now.
Since his arrival in New York, the Cardinal has given his time, attention and interest to matters financial while paying little or no attention to the spiritual needs and concerns of the priests and faithful of the Archdiocese. During the last six years the Priests of the Archdiocese of New York have been patient, understanding, tolerant and loyal. Several attempts have been made to open avenues of communication with the Cardinal but to avail. During the last six years, the Cardinals relations with the Priests of New York have been defined by dishonesty, deception, disinterest and disregard. Far too many of our brothers can speak personally of the arrogant and cavalier manner in which they have been treated by the Cardinal. Early in his tenure, the cruel and ruthless way in which several priests who served on the seminary faculty were dismissed, was an adumbration of how many other priests would also be treated. Time and again, the Cardinal fails to be the Father that every bishop must be to his priests.
With regard to important policies and decisions that impact upon the welfare of the Archdiocese, it is evident that the Cardinal does not seek advice or counsel from the many competent and experienced priests who so faithfully serve as pastors and members of his chancery staff. Instead, it is regrettably and seemingly apparent that the Cardinal relies on the advice of his priest-secretary [Msgr Gregory Mustaciuolo] who enjoys a most limited and meager pastoral experience.
The Fifth Anniversary of September 11th was a sad reminder of the Cardinals decision to leave New York only two days after the attack, during a time when the city desperately needed a spiritual leader. How sad, painful and disappointing it was to hear the tabloids referring to the then Mayor Giuliani as the Shepherd of the City. Since that time, the Cardinal has continued to fail in his role as Shepherd. Pope John Paul II referred to New York as the Capital of the World. How unfortunate it is that the voice of the Archbishop of New York is almost never heard in that Capital. The Cardinal demonstrates an unnatural fear of the media and he forfeits the great opportunity to employ the media as a means of addressing the many contemporary questions of faith and morals. It is unthinkable that in this millennium a Successor to the Apostles would shrink from such a valuable opportunity for evangelization and hide himself within the walls of his residence.
Sadly, it is evident that this Cardinal is unable to deal with the complexities, problems and challenges of an Archdiocese of the magnitude and diversity of New York. For these reasons and more, the Priests of the Archdiocese of New York must express a vote of NO CONFIDENCE. Such a vote would encourage the Papal Nuncio and the Holy Father to strongly consider accepting the Cardinals resignation in April,2007, when he reaches the age of retirement, rather than at a future and uncertain date before his 80th birthday, as can often be the case with retiring Cardinals. The search for a new Archbishop should begin sooner rather than later. Rome must know that the priests and people of New York desperately need a Bishop who will be strong, loving and wise (II Timothy: 1:7): a Bishop who will love his priests, seeing them as his spiritual sons and faithful assistants: a Bishop who will begin the healing that is so desperately needed in this Archdiocese: a Bishop who will preach and teach without fear of seeing his name in a newspaper: a Bishop who will truly see holiness in Truth.
The Committee suggests that at each vicariate meeting a secret ballot be taken in which each priest who is present could vote. It was thought that only priests and no deacons should participate in this vote. The votes should be counted at that meeting and the tally registered on the enclosed form. The form should be signed by two witnesses and a copy sent to each of the Vicars General. It would be incumbent upon the Vicars General to report the vote to the Papal Nuncio. At this important and critical moment, let us move forward with prayerful courage.
After prayeful consideration, I cast my vote as:
NO CONFIDENCE in Cardinal Egan: _____
CONFIDENCE in Cardinal Egan:_____
Each Vicariate should send a copy of this form to each of the Vicars General-
Date of Meeting:________________________
Number of Priests in attendance: ____________
Number voting - NO CONFIDENCE: __________
Number voting CONFIDENCE: _____________
Number voting ABSTENTION: _____________
These vote was taken and counted in the presence of all those in attendance at the Vicariate meeting. Witnessed by:
pinging to the fray....
"And a jolly good day to you" ping.
OK, how about some background on this one?
Well, he's a Cardinal Archbishop of New York, and I cannot think of single good thing to say about him. He forced the Armenian Catholics out of their Cathedral (St. Ann's) so he could sell it and make money off of the land. That's for starters...
I have nothing good to say about this Prince of the Church, and thus, shall endeavor to minimize what I say.
You are always a Catholic gentleman. I admire that. (Me I like a street fight ... but there we go...)
Maybe you have an opinion about this???
Thanks. He's on my Rosary bishops list (for conversion before it's too late).
The cardinal is too liberal..............too conservative.......too homosexual friendly ........too anti-homosexual......??
What actually is their beef with him??
All I can gather from the letter is that they simply don't like the guy. I'm not defending Egan. It's just that the letter comes across as a whine.
If he's screwed up, document it. Points a), b) and c) etc.
This tells me nothing.
If you want on (or off) this Catholic and Pro-Life ping list, let me know!
Schism is coming. The SSPX has built a facility to retrain N.O. Priests in the Latin Mass and orthodoxy. Rome is ready to help. The Lavender Mafia is going NUTS. This is the last hope for the Anglican Church world wide, as they get thousands of 'liberal' and 'former' Catholic clergy. A fair trade, as we will soon get hundreds of their Orthodox clerics.
The battle is joined and the Paraclete gave as a truly Holy Father to help set the Church in order. Deo Gratias!
In our normal discourse, they haven't said enough. In Vatican-speak they have almost said too much. I suppose they could have written that he's a money-grubbin' homo who makes a mockery of the faith, but that would have really ensured he stays until he's 80.
I'd vote "no confidence" in Egan. He was a bad appointment, IMO.
Has anyone met some of the Anglican priest converts to the RC Church??????????
Lavender indeed - even some of the "married" ones.
Thank you, Maeve, for posting this thread! The low morale of priests in this Archdiocese is pervasive, and felt around the entire state of NY.
is there a reader's digest version of this?
The dispute is that Egan is not a shepherd. He does little of nothing. The following article may help shed some light on the situation.
BY GABRIELLE BIRKNER - Staff Reporter of the Sun
July 28, 2006
When President Bush deployed the first veto of his presidency on a bill that would expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research last week, Edward Cardinal Egan was not available for comment. A few weeks earlier, after New York's highest court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage, the cardinal, spending two weeks in Vatican City for a series of meetings, was silent.
Had Cardinal Egan's predecessor, John Cardinal O'Connor, been at the helm of the powerful Archdiocese of New York, some said, decisions about embryonic stem cell research or gay unions, both of which the Catholic Church explicitly opposes, might have warranted a public statement, even a press conference where reporters could all but count on a witticism or two.
Cardinal Egan is 74, and papal law requires bishops to submit an offer of resignation at age 75, when the pope can accept or reject the proposition.
If Benedict XVI were to review Cardinal Egan's record now, he'd find that the cardinal has erased the archdiocese of New York's $20 million annual operating deficit, in part by making tough decisions such as closing 16 diocese schools. He'd also find that Cardinal Egan, the former bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., keeps a more modest public profile than did O'Connor, who led the Archdiocese of New York for 16 years until his death in 2000.
The sprawling archdiocese is home to about 2.5 million Catholics, and comprises Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx, in addition to Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties.
The editor in chief of a New York-based religion journal, First Things, Father Richard John Neuhaus, said the cardinal's priority seems to be reconciling church finances. He praised the cardinal for facilitating a smooth church realignment, including school closings, which has been "relatively peaceful" when compared to diocese shake-ups in cities like Boston, Detroit, and Cleveland.
Father Neuhaus, speaking by phone from Krakow, Poland, where he teaches during the summer, said he knows of few people who have cultivated an intimate personal relationship with Cardinal Egan. "He seems to have great confidence in his own judgment," he said. "New York is the capital of the world, and it's certainly the communications capital of the world. It strikes many people as strange that the institutional leadership personified in the archbishop of New York is largely absent from public life. I, too, think that is missed."
Being an extrovert is not a prerequisite for Cardinal Egan's job, an area Catholic lay leader, Peter Flanigan, who lives in Manhattan, said. "Cardinal Egan wouldn't get up with a Yankees' baseball cap while giving a homily at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and he wouldn't stand on a soapbox at the strike of Daily News typesetters," Mr. Flanigan said, referring to two of O'Connor's headline-making feats. "It is a legitimate comment that Cardinal Egan is less gregarious, and that people find him somewhat less easy to relate to, but I have always found him to be an extremely warm and compassionate human being."
A founder and board member of two programs that subsidize Catholic School tuition for poor, inner-city students, Mr. Flanigan has worked closely with Cardinal Egan since the latter was the New York Archdiocese's Vicar for Education in the 1980s. Mr. Flanigan hailed Cardinal Egan's efforts to confront the debt that the church had incurred under the leadership of his predecessor. "Cardinal Egan turned that around, cutting expenses and raising money," he said. "Neither of those seem like very pastoral activities, but they are the responsibility of the cardinal."
Calling Cardinal Egan "a good CEO," another New York Catholic who had spent 17 years as a brother in the Marist order before retiring, Francis Sheridan, said the cardinal's leadership style reflects his formation, working for 14 years as a Vatican Court judge. "He was trained in the bureaucracy of the Vatican," Mr. Sheridan said. "He wasn't trained as a pastor. I don't think he looks for wisdom from the bottom not from the lay people and not from the clergy."
An archdiocese spokesman, Joseph Zwilling, said Cardinal Egan's personality and leadership style differ from his predecessor. "Any religious leader needs to be true to himself, and be genuine and sincere in his own beliefs," he said. "Cardinal O'Connor wouldn't have been successful trying to be like Cardinal Cooke," who preceded him "and Cardinal Egan is not Cardinal O'Connor. He is who he is."
Mr. Zwilling said the cardinal is committed to improving the financial wellbeing of the diocese and to moving resources to stay current with demographic shifts. The archdiocese eradicated its $20 million annual operating deficit within two years of Cardinal Egan's appointment and is now paying down the money it owes to the church's loan fund, he said.
Mayor Koch was close friends with O'Connor the two dined together about six times a year, and, co-authored "His Eminence and Hizzoner: A Candid Exchange," in 1989. He said he has great respect for the current cardinal. "He doesn't have the same charisma, but intelligence, courage, integrity he has all of that," Mr. Koch said. "Did people respond more warmly to one over the other? Yes, to Cardinal O'Connor. But do people have a sense of respect and affection for Cardinal Egan? Yes, it's just different."
It's a mistake to judge Cardinal Egan by the "headlines he makes," a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, Dennis Poust, said. "There is no single mold of a cardinal," he said. "It's like corporations. Some have charismatic CEOs like Lee Iacocca, and some have quieter, behind-the-scenes leaders. That doesn't necessarily make one more effective than the other."
Howard Rubenstein, whose public relations firm handles press for the archdiocese, said the contrast between Cardinal Egan and O'Connor is marked. "Possibly, more people had personal access to the other cardinal," he said. "It's two absolutely different styles. Same religion, different people."
Mr. Rubenstein applauded Cardinal Egan for his absolute devotion to the church, his graciousness, quiet humor, and humility. "I'll say, Why don't you do this or that?' and he'll say, I'd rather not,'" said Mr. Rubenstein, at whose home the cardinal, a classical pianist, has played. "I'm in the publicity business, and I'm impressed with his modesty. He holds back. He's not a showboat."
A Catholic priest and theology professor at the University of Notre Dame, Richard McBrien, said Cardinal Egan "is obviously different from Cardinal O'Connor in preferring anonymity over the public stage. Indeed, he seems to have made only a slight impact in New York and even less nationally. I assume that's exactly the way he wants it."
The pastor emeritus of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Tappan, N.Y., John Dwyer, who has met with Cardinal Egan four times, said though the leader may not wow crowds, one-on-one or in small groups he is warm and personable. "He does the job as well as you can do it, but the expectations are somewhat unrealistic," said. "We look back fondly on the past, and say, Why can't he be like his predecessor?' It's the incumbent that takes the heat, and only later can we say that he did a good job all things considered."
A spokesman for the conservative Catholic lay organization, Opus Dei, Peter Bancroft, said the cardinal is competent and likeable. "People who have had an opportunity to talk to him know he's very personable and kind," he said.
At Fordham University's Francis and Ann Curran Center for Catholic Studies, the co-director, James Fisher, said some of the cardinal's detractors might be forgetting the controversies that at times marked O'Connor's career. Shortly after he was appointed to lead the New York Archdiocese, there was a public feud with then Governor Cuomo, after O'Connor said he would not rule out excommunicating the governor because the politician favored abortion rights; and a comment conflating abortion with the Holocaust, angering Jewish leaders.
"There's always a tendency to soften things in retrospect," Mr. Fisher said. Despite a rocky start, Catholic-Jewish relations flourished during O'Connor's tenure. The cardinal was recognized for his efforts to establish diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel, which were formalized in 1993; and for his public statement to the Jewish community six years later, expressing "abject sorrow for any member of the Catholic Church, high or low, including myself, who may have harmed you or your forebears in any way."
The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, praised O'Connor's commitment to bolstering the relationship between Catholics and Jews. "That's a hard act to follow," he said.
Mr. Foxman said Cardinal Egan's May address at the Jewish Center, an Orthodox synagogue on Manhattan's Upper West Side, lacked substance. In the speech, the Catholic leader joked about acquiring a taste for smoked salmon and gefilte fish. "His presence, being invited and accepting the invitation, is more significant that the message he delivered," Mr. Foxman said.
Cardinal Egan, while more reserved, is a good friend of the Jewish community, Mr. Foxman said. "He's not demonstrably warm and fuzzy, and that's okay as long as the essence is respect and appreciation for each other," he said. "That's what really counts not theatrics. I know some people miss the theatrics."
The Curran Center's Mr. Fisher said he does not see the contrast in personality or leadership style as emblematic of any major shift within the Catholic Church or the Archdiocese of New York, where the cardinal's residence has long been known as "the Powerhouse." "There's no reason to think we won't see another highly charismatic cardinal in New York," he said. "I don't think we're necessarily moving away from that."
But others say the era of the enchanting, larger-than-life cardinals with ostensibly unlimited access to the political powers-that-be is over. The editor of the biweekly Catholic opinion journal, Commonweal, Paul Baumann, said the shift has everything to do with the demographic profile of America's Catholics. "It has changed so dramatically, "Mr. Baumann said."It's no longer an ethnic subculture; it's no longer largely an urban community like everyone else, they've taken off for the suburbs; it's no longer a largely poor and working class community, for whom the Catholic Church historically provided schooling, and jobs and hospitals. That world has disappeared, and with it that temporal political power of the cardinal."
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