Anonymous petitions by priests in New York

Anonymous petitions by priests in New York

A group of priests in the New York archdiocese are circulating an anonymous letter seeking a no-confidence vote regarding Cardinal Edward Egan, recalling a similar petition signed by about 60 Boston priests in 2002 that may have led ultimately to the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law.

The anonymous New York priests say Egan has alienated his priests by his leadership style, and while some priests are willing to go on the record with the criticism, they say this isn’t the way to deal with it.

“There are serious problems with the cardinal’s administrative style, but this letter is not the way to go about it,” said Monsignor Harry Byrne, a retired New York priest who formerly served on Egan’s Priests’ Council and is known for speaking his mind. “I think this letter does more damage to the reform we seek, rather than advancing it.”

Byrne said he was put off by the anger in the letter - but said it came from the frustration of priests who felt they had little input during Egan’s tenure. For example, he said, during his three-year term on the Priests’ Council, which ended in 2004, priests were rarely able to get an issue on Egan’s agenda.

When Egan held a meeting with some 500 priests during the sex-abuse scandal of 2002, Byrne said, only the cardinal was permitted to speak.

“Many of the priests with whom I am in contact have given up trying to relate to the cardinal, but enthusiastically go their own way in their ministry in their local parishes,” he said.

Effective examples of leadership

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli