Opera-Loving Catholic Cardinal Edward Egan Of NYC Dies At Age 82
Cardinal Edward Egan listens to opera tenor Bryan Hymel at the Waldorf-Astoria in October 2014
"Cardinal Edward M. Egan, a stern defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who presided over the New York Archdiocese for nine years in an era of troubled finances and changing demographics, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 82. Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said Cardinal Egan died of cardiac arrest at NYU Langone Medical Center. As archbishop of New York from 2000 to 2009 — the spiritual head of a realm of 2.5 million parishioners, an archipelago of 400 churches and a majestic seat at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan — the cardinal was one of America’s most visible Catholic leaders, invoking prayers for justice when terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001, and escorting Pope Benedict XVI on his historic visit to the city in April 2008. In February of 2009, the pope announced that Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee had been selected to replace Cardinal Egan in New York on April 15, concluding a reign that had not been popular with many Catholics but had come to grips with hard decisions on church finances and had walked the line of Catholic doctrine against winds of change. But a month before retiring, Cardinal Egan seemed to soften his stance on the centuries-old requirement of priestly celibacy by suggesting the church would someday have to consider allowing priests to marry. 'I think that it’s going to be discussed; it’s a perfectly legitimate discussion,' he said on the Albany radio station Talk 1300. He added: 'I think it has to be looked at. And I am not so sure it wouldn’t be a good idea to decide on the basis of geography and culture not to make an across-the-board determination.'" New York residents know that Cardinal Edward Egan was known for his strong Catholic faith, but few had the knowledge that it was his love of opera that carried on a tradition of bringing operatic talent of the highest level to St. Patrick's Cathedral. Annually at services for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass visitors can hear the likes of Susan Graham, Renée Fleming, Hei-Kyung Hong, James Valenti, Danielle de Niese, Carl Tanner, Joyce DiDonato, Stephen Costello, Ramón Vargas, Maureen O'Flynn, Marcello Giordani, and Michael Fabiano. In 2007/2008, the Archdiocese of New York celebrated its Bicentennial with many celebratory Masses and events. Edward Cardinal Egan hosted a much-heralded concert featuring various choirs and stars from the Metropolitan Opera. [Source, Source, Source] Read more biographical information about Cardinal Egan here.