Cardinal Egan & his diocese.
The latest issue of New York magazine contains David Gibson’s revealing, well-reported article on the state of the Archdiocese of New York, its priests, and its archbishop. Those of you keeping tabs on ArchNY may recall the controversy surrounding an anonymous letter that was quite critical of Cardinal Egan’s leadership. Here’s Gibson on that dustup.
The letter, signed by an anonymous “Committee of Concerned Clergy,” said that the relationship between the priests and a New York archbishop—the mortar that binds the hierarchy—had never “been so fractured and seemingly hopeless as it is now.”
The authors, who claimed they had to remain nameless because of “the severely vindictive nature of Cardinal Egan,” collated every criticism ever circulated about him—he was “arrogant and cavalier,” and especially “cruel and ruthless” toward priests, whom he treated with “dishonesty, deception, disinterest and disregard.” Egan had “an unnatural fear of the media” and had abdicated his role as a public figure and leader of the Catholic Church. And it called on the priests to act so that the Vatican would find a better man for the job.
Egan opened the session by reading, in full, an abject apology written to him by Monsignor Howard Calkins, a popular Westchester priest who, the previous day, had given an interview to the Daily News, in which he said that the letter reflected real anger at Egan. That was tantamount to betrayal in Egan’s mind, and Calkins, realizing he’d made a mistake, quickly wrote a personal letter to Egan offering to resign as head of the local vicariate, or region, and apologizing again for his “careless and ill-considered comments.” After reading Calkins’s letter, Egan called over his spokesman, Joseph Zwilling, and ordered him to release it to the media.
According to several accounts from those who were present, Egan went on to claim that his enemies were priests accused of sexual abuse who thought that Egan hadn’t adequately defended them. “When I hear stories about what those priests do, I have to do No. 2,” he spat in disgust. Then Egan widened his target to the entire priest corps: Of the 2,000 priests and bishops in the archdiocese, he lamented, not one stood up to defend him. “I was loyal to Cardinal Cody to the end,” he insisted in the stentorian affect he uses to complement his imposing height and girth. “Let me tell you, that is manliness! That is priestliness! That is Edward M. Egan!”
For much, much more, read the whole article.