Remembering: the church and 9/11

I'm not sure I am ready to dwell on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack with the intensity that the news coverage marking its 10th anniversary will summon, but this interview AP religion writer Rachel Zoll did with Cardinal Edward Egan was well worth reading. Catholicism is an important but often unnoticed influence on the life of the nation's largest city. It came to the fore in the days after 9/11, though, and this is what comes through in Egan's personal story of how he tended to survivors and relatives of the victims.The sticky point is that Egan is often remembered for not being in New York City after 9/11; he attended a synod in Rome and was present for the opening Mass on September 30, 2001. Zoll notes in the article:

Egan was the target of criticism when he left the grieving city for a Vatican synod, a monthlong international meeting of bishops convened by the pope. Egan, who was to work as an aide to John Paul in leading the meeting, said he asked repeatedly for permission to stay in New York, but the pope said Egan was needed in Rome. The cardinal now calls that time, when his loyalty to the city was questioned, "the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life."

If so, it was a poor decision on Pope John Paul's part (and one that Egan defended at the time, however reluctantly).

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York’s Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads