O'Connor Named Cardinal-Elect With PM-CardinalsAP , Associated Press
Apr. 24, 1985 7:31 AM ET
NEW YORK (AP) _ In his first year as archbishop of New York, John J. O'Connor has become known for his tough stand on Roman Catholic teachings and his easy manner in meeting members of his flock of more than 1.8 million.
O'Connor and Bernard F. Law, archbishop of Boston, were among 28 cardinals named today by Pope John Paul II.
''I am deeply grateful to the Holy Father for the extraordinary honor extended to me,'' O'Connor said in a statement. ''I consider this a mark of his affection for the people of all New York, of all religious persuasions.''
Since his arrival in New York in 1984, O'Connor has not hestitated to take on the state's top politicians over abortion and homosexuality. In their style, if not substance, his stands also drew objections from clergy of other faiths and even from the neighboring Catholic diocese of Brooklyn.
At the same time, the 64-year-old former chief of Navy chaplains captivated the news media with an easy humor and willingness to don a seemingless endless variety of headgear, from an Indian headdress to a Yankee's baseball cap.
O'Connor also took a crash course in Spanish, the language of a growing number of Catholic New Yorkers. He spoke out for programs and policies, private and public, to help the poor and dispossessed among the nearly 5 million people who live in the 10-county New York Diocese.
O'Connor won the praise of labor leaders during a seven-week strike against 45 hospitals when he told struck Catholic hospitals not to join the others in a threat to hire permanent replacements. O'Connor, whose father was a union man, said he regarded such a tactic as union-busting.
He is perhaps best known for tussles involving abortion and homosexuality.
His clashes with Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic candidate for vice president, and Gov. Mario Cuomo became part of the controversy over the church's role in politics during last year's presidential campaign.
O'Connor, who has said that politically he is an independent, condemned the idea that a politician could oppose abortion personally while publicly supporting individual choice. He said the law must be changed and that he could ''not see how a Catholic in good conscience can vote for a candidate who explicitly supports abortion.''
O'Connor joked recently that as a relative newcomer to the city, ''I thought that Mayor Koch was God.'' But he has taken Mayor Edward Koch to court in a still unresolved battle over a city policy that would force private welfare agencies to pledge not to discriminate against homosexuals in hiring.
Being party to such a policy, O'Connor maintained, could make the church appear to condone homosexual behavior. He also said it represented state interference with church freedom.
Born Jan. 15, 1920, in Philadelphia, and educated at West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, O'Connor was ordained in December 1945.
He volunteered as a chaplain during the Korean War, a two-year commitment he stretched to 27 years on active duty at sea and ashore, in foxholes, submarines and warships.
In his 1968 book, ''A Chaplain Looks at Vietnam,'' O'Connor called that war a just one, in which ''the administration has opted to accept the tragedy of war as the only available road to meaningful peace.''
He left the Navy a rear admiral in 1979, the year he was consecrated a bishop and assigned as auxiliary bishop to the church's military vicar, Cardinal Terence Cooke. The vicarate is a department traditionally headed by the archbishop of New York.
During his assignment to the military vicariate O'Connor was appointed to the bishops' committee that drafted the pastoral letter on war. He fought against some of the language in the letter's early drafts but signed the final version, which condemned the nuclear arms race and nuclear war.
His next assignment, bishop of Scranton, Pa., lasted only eight months. After Cooke's death Pope John Paul II named O'Connor ''archbishop of the capital of the world,'' and on March 19, 1984, he was installed at St. Patrick's Cathedral.