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New Yorkers pay respects to Cardinal Egan at public viewing

March 9, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — Cardinal Edward Egan, who anointed the dead, distributed rosaries and presided over funerals after the World Trade Center attacks, lay in repose Monday in the vast stone cathedral where his voice once rang out from the pulpit.

Members of the public paid their respects to the former archbishop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, where his open casket rested on the altar steps, tilted toward the pews.

The cardinal rested with his hands folded across his chest, a rosary interlaced in his fingers; to the side was a huge bouquet of red roses with a gold ribbon that read “Beloved Uncle.” He was flanked by two uniformed police officers and two honorary guards, representing the Knights of Jerusalem and the Knights of Columbus.

“He did a lot, a lot, because he believed they are all children of God,” said Jose Pivar, 48, a Mexican immigrant from the Bronx who had helped Egan with outreach programs.

“And now, he’s an angel — but he’s still here with us,” said Pivar, tapping his palm over his heart.

Egan died Thursday at 82. He retired in 2009 after nine years of leading the Archdiocese of New York, which serves about 2.6 million Catholics in about 400 parishes in parts of the city and its northern suburbs.

His funeral will be Tuesday.

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. Soprano Renee Fleming sang at his installation in 2000 at St. Patrick’s.

An authority on church law and fluent in Latin, Egan was one of just a few experts chosen by Pope John Paul II to help with the massive job of reviewing the revised Code of Canon Law for the global church.

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