Cardinal Edward Egan, the former archbishop of New York who oversaw a broad and sometimes unpopular financial overhaul of the archdiocese and played a prominent role in the city after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, died Thursday. He was 82.
Egan, who retired in 2009 after nine years as archbishop, died of cardiac arrest at a New York hospital, the archdiocese announced. As a child he survived polio, which affected his health as an adult, and he also used a pacemaker. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the current archbishop of New York, asked for prayers for Egan and for his family. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Egan "was a generous man who committed his life to serving others."
In 2000, Egan was chosen by Pope John Paul II for the difficult job of succeeding larger-than-life Cardinal John O'Connor, who was a major figure not only in the city, but in the country. From him, Egan inherited an annual deficit of about $20 million. Egan cut spending and laid off staff — and said he wiped out the shortfall within two years.
Yet Egan bristled at the suggestion that he was more a manager than shepherd. In a 2001 interview with The New York Times, he said, "I am about, first and foremost, serving 413 communities of faith," he said, referring to the archdiocese's parishes.
On Sept. 11, after a call from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the cardinal spent the day anointing the dead, distributing rosaries to workers as they searched, mostly in vain, for survivors. Egan later presided over funerals for the victims, sometimes three a day. (AP)