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John Cardinal O'Connor

John Joseph O'Connor, later John Cardinal O'Connor, (January 15, 1920 - May 3, 2000) was the eleventh bishop (eighth archbishop) of the Roman Catholic diocese of New York, serving from 1984 to 2000.

He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a family of Irish descent, and ordained a priest on December 15, 1945. He was initially assigned to St James High School in Chester, Pennsylvania. He obtained a master's degree in advanced ethics from Villanova University and a doctorate in political science at the Catholic University of America[?]. He joined the Navy in 1952 as a Korean War chaplain, rising through the ranks to become rear admiral[?] and chief of Navy chaplains. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of United States of America, Military by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1979 and ordained a bishop on May 27, 1979 with the titular see[?] of Curzola. He was appointed Bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania on May 6, 1983 and installed in that position June 29, 1983. He was appointed Archbishop of New York, New York on January 26, 1984 and installed in that position on March 19, 1984. He was elevated to Cardinal on May 25, 1985. As Archbishop of New York, later Cardinal Archbishop of New York, O'Connor was a complex figure. He proved very media-friendly with his effective use of soundbites and his ability to charm journalists. Nevertheless he was a stern critic of New York's political leaders. He was also a close associate of President Ronald Reagan and was an outspoken critic of abortion and gay rights. John Cardinal O'Connor opposed every gay-related bill considered on the city and state level during the 16 years of his tenure. He condemned proposed legislation backed by Catholic mayor Rudolph Giuliani that would grant homosexuals, lesbians, and unmarried couples the same legal rights as married couples. He opposed Mayor Ed Koch's executive order requiring all social service agencies, including those run by the Church, to provide equal services to homosexuals. The cardinal refused on the grounds that it would make the Church appear to be sanctioning homosexual practices and lifestyle. He also prohibited a pro-homosexual group from meeting in New York parishes, while at the same time celebrating Mass with Father John Harvey's Courage, a ministry to homosexual men and women who seek to live by the Church's teachings on human sexuality. He supported and defended efforts of the Ancient Order of Hibernians[?] to prevent groups representing gay Irish people from marching in New York's St. Patrick's Day parade.

In 1999 O'Connor was diagnosed as having a brain tumour[?]. On March 7, 2000 O'Connor was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. He died of a brain tumour in the Archbishop's residence, and is interred in the crypt under the altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Cardinal O'Connor was postumously awarded the Jackie Robinson Empire State Medal of Freedom by the Governor of New York, George Pataki on December 21, 2000.


see List of Roman Catholic Bishops and Archbishops of New York

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