Cardinal Egan, retired archbishop, dies at age 82

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Cardinal Egan, retired archbishop, dies at age 82
The former Archbishop Cardinal Edward Egan died at the age of 82 on Thursday afternoon in a Manhattan hospital.
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: Cardinal Edward Egan attends the 68th annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner at The Waldorf-Astoria on October 17, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Norfleet/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 20: U.S. Cardinal and Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan (L) and U.S. Cardinal Edward Egan leave the Paul VI Hall after an Extraordinary Consistory on the themes of Family on February 20, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis will create 19 new cardinals during his first consistory on February 22, 2014. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17: His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan attends Richard Tucker Music Foundation's 38th annual gala at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on November 17, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2011 file photo, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, left, and Cardinal Edward Egan, former archbishop of New York, stand together at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Lower Manhattan before a holding a service to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Dolan is one of 22 prelates who will be elevated to cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church in a formal ceremony on Feb. 18, 2011. Pope Benedict XVI announced in Rome on Friday, Jan. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
Cardinal Edward Egan, former archbishop of New York, left, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo attend the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a charity gala organized by the Archdiocese of New York, at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Cardinal Edward Egan, left, former archbishop of New York, greets parishoners after delivering a homily during services at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Lower Manhattan, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, near the ceremony at National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Archbishop Timothy Dolan is greeted by Cardinal Edward Egan during his installation Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York wednesday, April 15, 2009. Dolan, 59, succeeds Cardinal Edward Egan to be the 10th Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York. (AP Photo/Lucas Jackson, Pool)
In this still image made from video taken on Aug. 19, 2011, Cardinal Edward Egan, 79, reacts during an interview in New York. Egan, who had been appointed New York’s Roman Catholic archbishop the year before 9/11 and now retired, recalled his role in the aftermath of the attacks. He spent the next several days after the attacks anointing the dead, distributing rosaries to workers as they searched, mostly in vain, for survivors, and presiding over funerals, sometimes three a day. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Cardinal Edward Egan greets people in the procession of banners during a Solemn Vespers ceremony at St. Patrick's Cathedral Tuesday, April 14, 2009, in New York. Archbishop-designate Timothy Dolan is 59 will succeed New York's Egan, who is retiring at age 77. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, Pool)
Cardinal Edward Egan, left, embraces Archbishop-designate Timothy Dolan during a Solemn Vespers service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, Tuesday, April 14, 2009. Dolan will be installed Wednesday as the 10th Archbishop to lead the Archdiocese of New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, Pool)

NEW YORK (AP) -- 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.

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.

The cardinal was the target of criticism when he later left the still-grieving city for a Vatican synod, a month-long international meeting of bishops convened by the pope. Egan, who was to work as an aide to John Paul there, said he asked repeatedly for permission to stay in New York, but the pope said Egan was needed in Rome. In a 2011 interview with The Associated Press, the cardinal called that time, when his loyalty to the city was questioned, "the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life."

Egan was a tall, imposing man with a voice so deep that his nieces joked he sounded like Darth Vader. He was known for his love of classical music, bringing a piano to the archbishop's residence in New York. Soprano Renee Fleming sang at his installation in 2000 in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

But unlike many previous New York archbishops, Egan did not embrace the chance for a large public presence in New York. He rarely gave news interviews. He was derided by critics as cold and distant.

An expert in church law and fluent in Latin, Egan served on the Roman Rota, a tribunal of Vatican judges who hear appeals in church law cases, such as marriage annulments. He was one of just a few experts chosen by John Paul to help with the massive job of reviewing the revised Code of Canon Law for the global church.

A native of Oak Park, Illinois, Egan decided early on to enter the priesthood, entering a junior seminary for young men, then earning a bachelor's degree in philosophy from St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. He completed studies for the priesthood at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, considered the West Point for U.S. priests, and was ordained there in 1957.

He received a theology degree at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, then his doctorate.

Egan first became a U.S. bishop in 1985, starting as an auxiliary bishop in the New York archdiocese when O'Connor was the leader. Three years later, Egan was named to head the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

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