NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Roman Catholic Cardinal Edward Egan, the former archbishop of New York, has died. He was 82.
Current Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Egan died without pain Thursday afternoon, collapsing during a lunch at his home, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.
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“At the end of the lunch, he simply let out a little groan, and he slumped over and died,” Dolan said.
Egan was pronounced dead at 2:20 p.m. at NYU Langone Medical Center. The cause of death was cardiac arrest.
Pope John Paul II appointed Egan as leader of the archdiocese in 2000 to succeed the late Cardinal John O’Connor.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, Egan was archbishop during the Sept. 11 terror attacks. He spent that day anointing the dead at a lower Manhattan hospital and presided over many funerals for victims.
“His thoughtful and compassionate stewardship helped New Yorkers grieve and recover following the events of September 11, 2001. Cardinal Egan had a powerful and positive impact on our state and the world that will continue to be felt for years to come,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
He was a scholar of church law and spoke Latin fluently. John Paul chose him to help with the massive job of reviewing a revised canon law code for the global church.
During his tenure as New York’s archbishop, the number of registered parishioners increased by 204,000, the budget of Catholic Charities more than doubled and enrollment in Catholic schools grew by 15,400, according to the archdiocese.
In an era of financial challenges and changing demographics Egan was forced to make tough choices, closing schools and churches with dwindling attendance.
Dolan praised Egan for making those tough decisions.
“Thanks be to God,” he said. “The diocese is much stronger. It’s on sturdier foundations. I’m sure glad he was my predecessor.”
“He was a generous man who committed his life to serving others. His compassion was reflected in his deeds, and his ability to inspire those around him. As Archbishop-Emeritus, 12th bishop and 9th archbishop and 7th Cardinal of the See of New York, Cardinal Egan spread love and knowledge, and brought comfort to countless New Yorkers and others across the country and the world who sought his guidance and counsel – especially in the aftermath of 9/11,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
A native of the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Egan retired in 2009. Even after his retirement, he continued to assist the archdiocese while serving on a number of offices for the Vatican.
“It’s bittersweet. It’s sad to lose him, but it leaves us grateful for who he was and thankful to God that he had a very happy death,” Cardinal Dolan said.
Cardinal Egan will be buried in a crypt below St. Patrick’s and had insisted on showing it to Cardinal Dolan.
“We went down, and I teased him about this forever. He said, ‘you see that spot, that’s mine. You see those two spots? Those are yours,'” Dolan said.
Egan also served as the archbishop in Bridgeport, Connecticut, from 1988-2000.
On Thursday night, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton offered his and the department’s condolences:
“On behalf of the men and women of the New York City Police Department, I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Edward Cardinal Egan and the Archdiocese of New York. His devotion and service to this city will never be forgotten. In the days following September 11, 2001, Cardinal Egan stood with first responders and victims at the site of the World Trade Center Towers, offering comfort when it was most needed. We are truly grateful for the knowledge and guidance that he shared with this city during his many years of service. He was an inspiration to both Catholics and non-Catholics alike and will be truly missed.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.
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