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NEW YORK — Cardinal Edward Egan, a Vatican theological force who led the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York for almost a decade, will be eulogized from the pulpit where he once preached.

His successor, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, will be the celebrant for the funeral Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue on March 10.

Egan is then to be interred in a crypt under the main altar of the cathedral that is the seat of the archdiocese.

The 82-year-old Roman Catholic prelate died March 5 after suffering a heart attack following lunch at his Manhattan apartment.

At a viewing attended by thousands on March 9, he lay in the vast stone cathedral where his rich, booming voice once rang out from the altar. His open casket rested on the altar steps, tilted toward the pews and members of the public paying their respects.

His hands were folded across his chest, with a rosary interlaced in his fingers. A viewing for the Cardinal also will be held March 10.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Egan had distributed hundreds of rosaries in a city mourning its dead.

“9/11 happened on his watch,” former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Hours after the two planes struck the World Trade Center, the Cardinal — in a simple black cassock — sat quietly at the edge of a loading dock leading to the emergency room of St. Vincent’s Hospital, expecting terror victims fighting for their lives. But only those with minor injuries came; more than 2,700 others died.

In the days that followed, Egan anointed many of them before performing their funeral rites.

In the years that followed, the cardinal helped those living in New York City — especially struggling immigrants looking for jobs, said Jose Pivar, who came to pay his respects on March 9.

He said Egan urged employers to pay workers more than the minimum wage and organized encounters between races in neighborhoods that experienced hostilities.

“He did a lot, a lot, because he believed they are all children of God,” said Pivar, 48, a Mexican immigrant from the Bronx who had helped Egan with outreach programs to minorities.

With the title of Archbishop Emeritus, Egan retired in 2009 after nine years of leading the archdiocese, which serves more than 2.6 million Catholics in about 400 parishes in parts of the city and its northern suburbs.

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, he was a tall, imposing man with a voice so deep his nieces joked that he sounded like Darth Vader. A classical music fan, he brought a piano to the Archbishop’s Madison Avenue residence and the finest musicians to church services.

The cardinal was an authority on church law and fluent in Latin — one of just a few experts tapped by Pope John Paul II to help with the herculean job of revising the Code of Canon Law for the global church, while deftly navigating the maze of Vatican politics.

He later oversaw an unpopular, thorny overhaul of New York church finances, eliminating a multi-million-dollar debt.

(VERENA DOBNIK)

 

Source: The National Herald
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