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If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at and I have a Facebook page.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cardinal Egan's Future in Question

Dear Blog Visitors:

Many Catholics who live in New York State are anxiously awaiting word from the Vatican, concerning whether or not Pope Benedict XVI will accept the resignation of Cardinal Egan. I, for one, hope the resignation is accepted.

What follows are two items: 1.) feature article from the New York Sun on Cardinal Egan's future; 2.) my follow-up commentary, which was also published in the New York Sun.

Cardinal Egan's Future Rests in Pope's Hands

BY GABRIELLE BIRKNER - Staff Reporter of the Sun

March 28, 2007


Catholic scholars are divided over whether Pope Benedict XVI will accept the letter of resignation that Cardinal Egan is required to submit on Monday, his 75th birthday. Some predict the cardinal would be permitted to stay on, while others expect the pope to accept the resignation.

Canon Law asserts that Catholic bishops, upon turning 75, must offer up their resignation, which the pope can accept or reject. Pope John Paul II rejected Cardinal O'Connor's resignation in 1995, and the cardinal continued to lead the Archdiocese of New York until his death five years later.

A professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, the Reverend Richard McBrien, said politics often played into Pope John Paul II's decisions about resignations. Prelates who were "theologically conservative and completely loyal to him" were permitted to continue working, he said. Pope Benedict XVI has yet to establish a pattern, according to Rev. McBrien. "Cardinal Egan's resignation will be an excellent test case," he said.

Rev. McBrien predicted that Cardinal Egan's resignation would be accepted, noting, "The word has been around for quite some time that he wants to retire, which was not the case with Cardinal O'Connor."
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, Joseph Zwilling, said the cardinal has written "a basic form letter" that will be sent to the Vatican next week. "It will not state a preference, but the cardinal has joked with priests that he will be around for 150 years," Mr. Zwilling said.

The president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, William Donohue, said bishops typically advise the Vatican of their desire to stay on or to retire. "Clearly he has some pull in the Vatican, and his view is likely to be respected," he said. "Essentially the ball is in Cardinal Egan's court."

Mr. Donohue did not dismiss the possibility that the 79-year-old pontiff would see Cardinal Egan's resignation as his only opportunity to effect change in the Archdiocese of New York. "New York is the cultural center of the country, and it may be that the pope wants someone more vocal in that position — now that Cardinal Egan has tended to the financial concerns," he said.

During his nearly seven-year tenure at the helm, Cardinal Egan has succeeded in erasing the sprawling, 10-county archdiocese's $20 million annual operating deficit — in part by making tough choices to close parishes and schools.

The cardinal's low profile has been a source of criticism from some New York faithful who miss his more gregarious predecessor. Last fall, a group of archdiocesan priests published an anonymous letter that accused the cardinal of devoting attention to fiscal matters at the expense of the "spiritual needs and concerns" of his flock — and encouraged Pope Benedict XVI to consider accepting his resignation.

The archdiocese next month will begin a year-long bicentennial celebration. The Reverend Richard John Neuhaus, the editor of a religion journal, First Things, surmised that Cardinal Egan would stay on the job for the anniversary festivities, which run through April 2008. "I would be surprised if his resignation were accepted immediately," Rev. Neuhaus said.

Hoping for Cardinal Egan's Retirement
Reader comment on: Cardinal Egan's Future Rests in Pope's Hands
Submitted by Rev. Ray Grosswirth, Mar 28, 2007 12:56

I, for one, hope that our pontiff, Benedict XVI, will accept the resignation of Cardinal Egan. While Cardinal O'Connor wasn't perfect, he nevertheless had a much stronger respectability record than Cardinal Egan.

The fact that many priests in the New York Archdiocese are disatisfied with their cardinal is strong indication that a new leader with strong pastoral skills is needed.
When one adds the number of parishes slated to close or merge in New York State, we can no longer count on a status quo church to satisfy the needs of the faithful. Furthermore, in light of sexual abuse scandals and the shrinking pool of seminarians, it is time for the Roman Catholic hierarchy to rethink its outdated policy of mandatory celibacy for priests.

By adding married priests to the existing clergy, we can perhaps avert some of the parish closings anticipated for the New York Archdiocese, and the dioceses Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse and Rochester. The ordination of women is also a viable and acceptable option the hierarchy should be considering. You may be asking what this has to do with Cardinal Egan. The fact remains that Benedict XVI has indicated that he will listen to his cardinals when they have important matters to bring before him. We therefore need a cardinal for the New York Archdiocese who is not afraid to articulate the needs of the clergy and laity to our pontiff, even when these needs are reflective of controversial issues such as clerical celibacy and the ordination of women.

In conclusion, I pray that our pontiff will accept Cardinal Egan's resignation and give us a cardinal with the courage to be a pastoral leader.

Ray Grosswirth (Married priest from Rochester, NY)


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