Four Americans Among New Cardinals

Monday, February 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ROME (AP) — When Archbishop Edward Egan returns to New York after a short but momentous trip to Rome, he will do so as a cardinal.

Egan is among a record 44 new cardinals Pope John Paul II will induct as ``princes'' of the Roman Catholic during a solemn ceremony Wednesday.

Three other Americans — Washington Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick; Fordham University theologian Avery Dulles; and Monsignor Lubomyr Husar, archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine — also will receive cardinal rings and red hats Wednesday at St. Peter's Square.

For Egan, leader of the New York Archdiocese's 2.4 million Catholics, being in Rome was ``like coming back home.''

On Monday, he revisited the marble hallways and gardens at the Pontifical North American College just up the Janiculum hill from St. Peter's where he studied and taught. He visited the chapel where he was ordained in 1957.

Egan, 68, held several posts at the Rome seminary, and from 1971-85, served as a Vatican judge and law professor.

After 12 years as archbishop of Bridgeport, Conn., he was appointed in May to succeed the late Cardinal John O'Connor as head of the prestigious New York archdiocese, home to 2.4 million Catholics.

He recalled his decision at age 13 to begin seminary studies.

``My big hope then was to become a pastor of a church. That was all I had in mind,'' Egan said.

A staunch opponent of abortion, letting women become priests and allowing divorced Catholics to receive Communion, Egan reasserted his commitment Monday to upholding the pope's hard-line stance on these divisive issues.

Egan's rise to cardinal — the traditional rank for the New York post — immediately will make him a potential power broker in the event of a conclave to pick a new pope, a job that falls to the College of Cardinals, said John L. Allen Jr., Vatican correspondent for the Kansas City-based National Catholic Reporter.

``He knows the Vatican and curia (Vatican administration) and is very much a creature of that world,'' Allen said. ``Many will be looking to him for guidance, and he will be a leading voice in that conservative camp.''

McCarrick said he was looking forward to the moment when John Paul ``puts that red hat on my head.''

``I will be thinking: 'Is this the man — me — that the Lord wants for this?'' McCarrick said Monday at the North American College. ``My 43 other classmates are extraordinary confessors of the church. I'm not sure I fit into this group.''

``But I will pray,'' he said, leaning forward in his armchair. ``I will pray that God gives me the grace to fulfill my duties.''

Husar, now a U.S. citizen, left his native Ukraine in 1944 during World War II and studied at Catholic University in Washington and at Fordham in New York. He recently was named to head the Greek Catholic church in Ukraine.