New York, 4 (NE) Cardinal John O'Connor, Archbishop of New York, was called yesterday night to the Father's House. "His Eminence John Cardinal O'Connor has completed his earthly journey and has gone home to God. The cardinal died May 3, 2000, at 8:05 p.m., in his residence on Madison Avenue," said the statement read by the Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling, who announced the news of the Cardinal's death shortly after 10 p.m.

Today at the Holy See, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Office Director, said that "the Holy Father is deeply saddened by the news of Cardinal O'Connor's death. Cardinal O'Connor was an extraordinary figure in the Catholic Church in the United States. He was a truly faithful shepherd and an outstanding witness to faith and human dignity. He performed his priestly duties in the most passionate manner, always helping those in need. His presence will surely be missed". Navarro-Valls also informed that the Holy Father has decided to send Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, as a personal envoy to Cardinal O'Connor's funeral.

Cardinal O'Connor's health began to fail after he had a brain tumor removed in August last year.
He had been experiencing a growing weakness over the past month and a half. This weakness caused the Cardinal to limit his public activities and appearances in early March, and to cease other official archdiocesan acts in late March. In the official statement read by the Archdiocese, it was informed that Cardinal O'Connor had received the sacrament of the sick last Saturday and on several other occasions during his illness.

"One of the Cardinal's most passionate beliefs was that by uniting our suffering with the suffering of Christ on the cross, we can be instruments of enormous good in the world,", said the communique. "The Cardinal united his own illness and suffering of these past eight months with the suffering of Christ, and always accepted the changes in his condition with great faith in God, and in His mercy and gentle goodness."

Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor was born in Philadelphia, in January 1920. He entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia at age 16 and was ordained nine years later. He spent most of his religious life in military uniform, joining the Navy in 1952 in answer to a call for more chaplains during the Korean War. After leaving the Navy in 1979, he was made an Auxiliary Bishop and assigned to the military vicariate under Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York. In May 1983 he was appointed Bishop of Scranton, and in 1984, he was named Archbishop of New York. Pope John Paul made him Cardinal in May 1985.